Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Time for Tea

The information below is
not at all spiritual in anyway.
Reading this post may cause
severe desire for an ice cold
glass of tea!

I remember growing up with dad and mom and the choice of beverage always being iced tea.  Now let me say, I've seen my dad put down some Pepsis in his life.  As a young boy, I remember taking the glass bottles back to the store with us and I being the one to put the bottles on the rollers and send them flying back to....actually, I never knew where they went; but I always sent them there fast!

Pop (soda, coke, whatever you call it) soon was set aside at our home and we all became tea drinkers.  By this I mean iced tea.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a spot of hot tea in the winter made with my Keurig machine with a just a bit of honey dripped in.  But my beverage of choice to this day is iced tea.  I've been a regular iced tea drinker since I was about 10.  I remember I had a blue Mickey Mouse tall mug that I had purchased at Disney.  This was my tea drinking glass (I started it way before Uncle Si).  My blue plastic glass would lose its Mickey insignia on the outside, but the brown stained inside spoke of its regular use.

Mom always made tea with just a hint of sweetener in it.  I remember seeing those little pink packets around and I suppose that is what she used.  Regardless, I loved it.  As I grew older, my taste in tea moved on to unsweetened.  To this day, I like my tea "Straight on the rocks." (as I joke with my wife).  I don't need none of that sugar.  If I wanted Kool-aid, I would buy the packets.

After marriage, my wife became an iced tea drinker too.  But, she's a sweet one!  Stacey likes her tea all sugary.  That has not been an issue in our marriage though.  I was concerned at first, but thankfully, she can make it unsweetened and she is then content adding her own simple sugar solution to sweeten it to her liking.  I say all this to get to this point...we both like tea and we differ only in the sugar department.

A few weeks ago, Stacey and I were driving down the road and we wanted a tea.  We saw the signs of all the establishments ahead of us that sold our beverage of choice and began a conversation as to which tea we desired to purchase.  I decided to share that information with you, my friends, so that you too can make the right choice concerning your iced tea.

What is our tea judged by?  Well, we talked about this in great detail.  First, and most importantly, is the taste.  It must taste good.  It cannot have that "coffee ground" taste to it.  It should be pleasant to the pallet.  Then, we decided that the cup is of great importance.  What your tea is served in is of great importance.  You want a cup that holds enough to satisfy your tea desire, but that also can keep the tea ice cold.  As your ice melts, your tea becomes watered down.  The amount of ice is important too.  There is nothing worse than a tea that is luke warm that should be iced!  We also judge tea by its "smoothness."  Some teas just are "smooth" as it enters the mouth and travels down the throat leaving a pleasantness in your mouth and mind.  My wife, for all you sugar people, judges her tea by how much sugar is added.  There is a right balance that must be achieved.   The final criteria is consistency.  By this I mean, when you go to this place and order the tea, can you count on it being good every time?  That said, here is our top 10 teas based upon these credentials.

10. BOB EVANS:  At one time, Bob Evans was high on our chart, but the last year or so, the quality of their tea has gone down immensely.  The tea to ice ratio is poor.  The taste is just bad.  A missionary recently said while eating with us there, "This tea tastes like dirty dish water."  We agree.  If they could find their old recipe and get back to the "Old Paths", perhaps we can see them make their way back up the list.  For now...order a water.

9. PANERA BREAD:  Not the most manly place to eat; but when dieting, you sure can get a good amount of food that is tasty and low on calories.  On Stacey's list for sweet tea, not that good.  On my list for unsweetened, pretty good.  You control the ice to tea ratio.  The "smooth" factor is very good!  The cups are too small and flimsy and allow quick melting of ice.  Consistency is there.  Overall, you won't go wrong.  Problem is, I like my tea to be there all day.  A Panera Bread tea will last through lunch.  Thirty minutes later, it is a "Laodicean" mess.

8. BURGER KING:  Six months ago, I would literally gag at the thought of drinking a Burger King tea; but somebody is finally getting it right.  I am not sure what they changed, but the iced tea at Burger King is quite drinkable now.  The taste is good.  The ice to tea ratio is fair.  The consistency is there.  The cups are plenty big enough if you order a large.  The cups are the same as their soft drinks though and just don't quite hold up like we would like.  The unsweet seems to get a better review than the sweet version.  Either way, Burger King is serving a tea finally that is drinkable.

7. ZAXBYS:  Not sure if some readers will know of what I speak.  If Zaxbys were nearer to me, it would probably be higher on the list.  Zaxbys are located in Kentucky and Tennessee and southern locations.  I have never gone to Zaxbys and received a bad tea.  It is very smooth.  The sweet and unsweet are both fine beverages.  The cups are equivalent to Burger King.  You control the ice to tea ratio.  If there were some Zaxbys up north near us, we would rate them higher.  When traveling and you want a good tea and see a Zaxbys, don't hesitate in stopping in (plus the chicken is pretty good!)

6. CRACKER BARREL:  The iced tea at Cracker Barrel is consistent.  It is what it is, a pretty good glass of tea.  We have never had to ask for a different drink, as it is a good tea always.  It's not great, but good.  It's not the smoothest, but smooth.  The glass is fine, but the ice to tea ratio is always poor.  They never give enough ice in their teas.  Should you ask for a tea to go, then prepare to drink it all before you get to the car as the cup is way to small. It's good...a deserving 6 on our list...but it is what it is.

5. SONIC:  Now to some, you may have expected Sonic tea to be higher on the list.  First of all, all the fancy flavors do not interest us as we stick to sweet or unsweet.  On my personal list, it would have been higher, but on Stacey's list it is a lot lower.  So, we give it a 5 rating.  The pros are that the cup is by far the best!  You can get a tea from Sonic and have enough to sip on till you go to bed.  I recommend going early and ordering your .99 cent Route 44.  It's the only way to go!  Then the ice, by far the best of anyone else.  You just can't beat the small crushed Sonic ice.  Where Sonic falls is the taste.  For unsweet drinkers, it is fair.  At times, the unsweet has no taste at all, almost like water.  For sweet drinkers, the tea just isn't that good.  Consistency is poor too.  Sometimes, you get a good one, other times you are sure that tea has sat there in a pot for a couple of days.  Always a danger for the coffee ground taste at Sonic.  Not real smooth ever. So, the cup and ice are off the chart good.  The tea is fair.  In the morning, it is my tea of choice; for my wife, she'd pass every time.

4. CHICK-FIL-A:  No, the "Christian" friendliness has nothing to do with this selection.  We only are judging by the tea.  The tea is very good at here.  It has a good taste.  The tea always has a smoothness about it.  The tea is is very consistent.  We have never gone to Chick-fil-a and received a bad tasting tea.  The cups are insulated and large enough.  Stacey agrees that the sweet tea is consistently good as well.  The problem here (and it is a big one) is that Chick-Fil-A puts WAY TOO MUCH ICE in their cups.  You can order a large tea (and the cup is plenty big) and drink it all in about four drinks.  Now when dining in, those super nice employees are ready "to serve you" and refill those teas; but drive thru and carry out just doesn't work in the tea area.  Great tea! Great consistency! Good smoothness! Great cups!  Just back off the ice!

3. McDONALDS:  Yes, we are loving it!  McDonalds tea has come along way the last few years.  Quite frankly, we believe McDonalds is the first fast food chain to start the quality iced tea movement (if there is such a thing).  You just never saw a fast food chain push their iced tea until McDonalds.  In 2008, McDonalds rolled out their Sweet Tea and it all took off.  Why a number 3 rating?  Well, the cups are great.  Insulated, thick, and large enough make the cups a hit.  Most of the time, the ice to tea ratio is good.  Consistency is above average.  It is nice to know that pretty much anywhere in the country you can count of a pretty good iced tea from McDonalds.  Occasionally you will get that coffee ground flavor in a McD's tea, but over all its trustworthy.  The sweet tea is above average.  The sugar ratio is good for most sweet tea drinkers.  There is a pretty good smoothness to their tea.  It probably is the tea we drink the most, mainly because of convenience.

2. WHITE CASTLE:  While we love those sliders, their food has nothing to do with this choice. The aspect that puts White Castle tea this high is that flavor.  It is the most important aspect of course.  The cups are fair.  The ice to tea ratio pretty good.  The consistency is above average.  It is that flavor and the smoothness that makes the White Castle Tea sit so high on our list.  It really is good.  If you could put their tea in a Sonic cup and ice....HELLOOOOO TEA HEAVEN!  The sweet tea is sugared correctly.  The unsweet tea has such a good taste.  We love you White Castle!

Are you ready for it?

The Number 1 Tea of choice on our list?

We should first state that also receiving consideration were the following:  Skyline, Dunkin Donuts, Wendys (improving), and Starbucks.  Did you know that last year America spent nearly 8 billion dollars in Iced Tea at Fast Food chains?  This is serious!!!

OK...her it is...the number ONE choice of Travis and Stacey when it comes to Iced Teas is...

1. McALISTER'S DELI:  What makes this tea stand out?  Well first and foremost,
the taste is just out of this world.  There is a crisp taste to this tea.  It has tea
flavor that is perfection.  It is by far, the best tasting tea, both sweet and unsweet, that is out there.  This is a fine, high quality iced tea.  When it comes to smoothness, no other tea can compare.  It is the standard of taste and smoothness for all other teas.  Consistency is absolute perfection.  To have such a great tasting tea, that is perfectly smooth, and it be that way every time you purchase one is quite impressive.  The tea to ice ration is always perfect.  You can order this tea and eat lunch and sit and talk for 30 minutes and you will still be able to sip that extraordinary tea.  The cups are the perfect size for tea drinkers.  The only not perfect score this tea gets is the cup.  While the size is perfect, the plastic will allow ice meltage on a hot summer day.  But, in our minds, its way worth the cup to drink that delicious tea!    By far, the best!

Well, there you go.  I know everyone was wondering and now you know what teas Stacey and I drink.  So now when you are out there driving around and get that hunkering for a good iced Tea, you finally got something to go by.  I love my wife, and I am glad she loves iced tea too.  Enjoy my friends!