Sunday, February 27, 2011

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times – Chapter 65

Photo is of my brother JS's class on their senior trip to Mexico. JS is second from the top on the far left. Handsome dude!!

#65 – “Before a meal, pour the tea last so the ice won't melt and dilute the tea.”

I just assumed that iced tea was a southern thing; however (and this seems completely illogical to me), the largest consumer of ice tea in the world is Japan. It is also very popular in Austria and Canada. Go figure.

We always had iced tea when I was growing up – unsweetened ice tea. Out in our neck of the woods families were either sweetened tea drinkers or unsweetened tea drinkers.  The sweetened tea drinkers were the ones missing teeth.  

Being the youngest in a family of five and having a mom who was probably very tired by the time I came along, left me to become a relatively feral kid.  I ran loose in our little town of 1,200 people, foraging for meals at my friends’ houses. I remember sitting down at their dinner tables  (every meal was at the dinner table back then) and staring at the sweating glass of tea in front of me wondering, “Sweetened or unsweetened?” One little sip and I knew whether or not I’d be returning to that home for meals. When you’re raised drinking unsweetened tea, sweetened tea is an abomination, and vice versa.

Now Kool-Aid, that’s a different deal all together. I can’t help but snicker when I read stories about horrible mothers who let their children drink beverages with caffeine and sugar. I vividly recall standing in a circle of wide-eyed kids as one of the moms poured a cup of sugar into a pitcher of Kool-Aid. My mom didn’t believe in buying Kool-Aid or sugar (except for pies), so homes that served Kool-Aid with meals were my favorite dining places. Click on Read More Below...

Mom’s lesson about not pouring the tea until the last minute was all part of her extreme and inflexible meal-serving ethic. To this day if I go to dinner at someone’s house and the drinks on the table have little pods of obviously melted ice floating around the top of the glass, I’m incensed - likewise if the flatware is incorrectly placed and ordered, or if there’s no tablecloth or placemats!

I also think that not putting ice in the glasses and pouring the tea until the last possible minute was about the shortage of ice and the importance of the strength of the tea. For some reason we always had just two ice cube trays. I remember thinking that when I grew up and got rich I was going to have four ice trays in my freezer. The strength of tea was very important too. Every family had it’s own standards. Ours was on the weak side, a nearly clear but rich reddish-amber. No cloudiness, no leaves floating around.

Mom’s tea service protocol was that you only poured the tea as people were sitting down at the table. A carefully timed procedure performed with precision.  Of course there were also the issues of how full to pour the tea, where to put the tea pitcher, and dozens of other little details about which I’ll probably blog later.

But bottom line, ice tea must be served at certain strength and temperature, so mom was right, before a meal, pour the tea last so the ice won't melt and dilute the tea. 

1 comment:

  1. Now Sue Anne, I never knew that you were so picky about your ice in your tea and how many years have I known you?
    I'll be nervous the next time I serve you!HA
    Linda Sue