diamond geezer

 Saturday, January 04, 2003

You want ice with that?

Coffee is clearly the beverage of choice of the modern San Franciscan. Most inhabitants can barely stumble out of bed in the morning without feeling the urge to wander out to the nearest Starbucks and reach for a grande latte moccachino, or whatever. People walk down the streets clutching hot cups of coffee in much the same way that we Brits insist on walking everywhere fingering our mobile phones. Having said that, I still think there are more Starbucks per square mile in London than San Francisco.

Tea, however, is another matter. Order 'tea' in a restaurant and you'll be presented by a liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. This abomination is called iced tea, and for some reason it appears to be remarkably popular over here. This may be because you can get endless free refills of iced tea in restaurants, or it may be because Americans like drinking cold weak brown liquids resembling week-old flat cola in large quantities. This evil drink is a criminal waste of good honest hot tea, poured over mountains of ice to instantly remove all its natural appeal.

Of course, there is 'real' tea in America, but you have to be sure to ask for hot tea instead. At this point you're offered a number of herbal abominations or else a bag of Liptons, the one ubiquitous brand of American 'normal' tea. I'm sure most Americans believe that Mr Lipton lives in London, wears a bowler hat and sells in huge quantities in the British teabag market. Sorry to disillusion y'all, but Liptons - the 'Brisk' tea - is unknown in England. Admittedly Liptons did try launching their iced tea in the UK a few years ago, but we weren't to be persuaded and the whole Liptonice brand folded very fast. And alas, their teabags make equally bland hot tea too.

So, if there is a reason why I'm looking forward to getting back to the UK it's to enjoy a freshly-brewed cup of Typhoo. But I will admit I'd be even more pleased if London branches of Starbucks ever decided to stick caramel apple cider on their menus.

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