Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A European serch for...Iced Tea

I drink iced tea.  It’s my beverage of choice when I’m not enjoying a fine glass of wine or a cocktail.  And not flavored iced tea, no lemon, no sugar, just plain black tea served over lots of ice.  Lots of ice.  I don’t like warm iced tea.  Then it’s not iced tea, it’s just bad tea.  Iced tea, it’s the pause that refreshes.

Iced tea is not common in Europe.  Not common? That’s an understatement.  While Lipton has founds its way into some of the grocery stores, it’s all sweetened, lemoned and or peached.  Not my cup of tea.  So after many many bottles of water (we did hit Spain right after the cold spell snapped directly into unseasonable warm humid weather) I was thrilled when on Day 7 I spied a Starbucks in Madrid.  Starbucks, a Tazo Black Iced Tea, Unsweetened, extra ice…I could visualize it.  Oh happy days.

We enter, they have the usual suspects, Caramel Frappuccino, Iced Latte, Mocha Iced Coffee and tea.  Not iced tea, just tea.  So how hard can it be? I’ll just tell them how to make an iced tea.  They have tea, they have ice, they have iced tea and just don’t know it yet.  My husband speaks good Spanish so I set him to the task.  ”Tell her” I say, “that I want a tea and a venti cup filled with ice (I know y’all speak Starbucks, but just in case you don’t, venti is the tallest cup, with tall being the smallest cup).  She looks at him, puzzled.  He repeats it, in a slightly different way.  She again looks puzzled…”You want me to put a tea bag into a cup of ice?” she asks him in Spanish…”No” he explains, “make the tea and then pour it over the ice”.  She shrugs, but goes on to get a cup with hot water, puts in the tea bag and gets the big (I mean venti) cup of ice.

While the tea brews we stand aside.  There is here, as in most Starbucks, a line.  About 6 people stand in line when my tea is ready.  She looks over at us, a questioning look in her eyes, my husband demonstrates the move, pour the hot tea over the ice. She does.  The line gasps.  They start talking amongst themselves.  They have never seen anything so crazy before, they are all a twitter.  I walk up and take my prize.  Their mouths gape as I take my first delicious sip.  AWWWW…yes!  Heaven.

We move on.  Day 10 approaches.  We are in Freiburg, Germany (Deutchland)…viewing a wonderful old church.  The town of Freiburg was totally demolished in WWII, but it was generally understood that churches were to be spared, it’s one of the reasons there are so many beautiful churches to see.  This particular church did suffer some damage and the results of the bullet holes caused by strafing are evident on the exterior.


The boys see the results of shell damage to the church


The interior

It’s another hot, and unseasonable humid day.  We are walking when off to the left, right under the historic archway entry into the city, what should I see?  McDonald’s!  Another of my best places to get an iced tea, since they are still one of the few that actually does fresh brewed tea.  Well, I reason, if they don’t have it on the menu, I can certainly explain once again how to make one.


Not your typical golden arches


Different McDonalds Menu

First problem, they don’t have it on the menu.  Second problem, none of us speak German.  OK…we can do this.  So again, I order a hot tea, and a large cup of ice (eis).  The young girl at the counter shrugs, and brings me my hot water, tea bag and glass of ice.  Life moves on to the next person in line.  I go over to a table and brew my tea; wait, I need a top for my big cup of ice so once I pour the water in I have a proper McDonald’s Iced Tea.  I go back and ask the young lady for a top, she gives me one for the tea.  No, I need one for the ice.  Confusion on her face, but shrug, she gives me one.  I complete my iced tea…good to go.  But my hubby says “You should go show it to her”…so I do.


Everything you need, for a proper iced tea

I walk up to the counter and she looks at me.  I open the lid with the straw in it and show her, perfectly brewed black tea poured over ice.  She looks at it…surprised.  ”Ja??? Just tea on ice????  ”Ja”, I say.  ”I’ve never seen such a thing” she says.  ”It’s on every menu at McDonald’s in America” I reply.  An incredulous “NO” is the response.  ”Ja Ja” I say, “and at Starbucks too.”  She was stunned.   I’m sure she Googled it that night while trying to prove to her boyfriend that such insanity did exist, but only in America.

LindySez: Imagine the pure joy of arriving at Dulles International Airport.  Walking up to the Starbucks counter.  Ordering a Venti Black Iced Tea, unsweetened, extra ice…that’ll be $2.40 is the only reply.

Recipe for a Perfect Iced Tea

4 tea bags (your choice, I like black or green, but use whatever)
2 cups water (preferably filtered or spring)
Additional Water (same as above)

Put the tea bags in a 2 cup glass measuring cup.  Add 2 cups water.  Place in microwave for 4 1/2 minutes.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes.  Remove tea bags squeezing out any excess water.  Pour tea into a 1 quart container and add water to fill.  Pour over a large glass filled with ice.

If you have to add a sweetener use a simple sugar.  Put 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar into the 2 cup measure.  Microwave for 2 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved.  Add, as desired, to your tea.  (This way you don’t have to stir stir stir trying to mix the sugar with the ice cold drink).

You can also muck this up with lemon.

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