Traditionally, the U.S. is not as well-known for it’s tea culture, at least compared to many countries like Great Britain, China, or Japan. Still, tea plays a role in everyday life here as well. Americans sometimes drink tea in the morning as an alternative to coffee. Tea can be had with meals and oftentimes people enjoy a nice cup of tea with their favorite dessert. In the U.S. though, the huge difference is that the great majority of tea is served ice cold and is often sweetened. For the past sixty years or so, the majority of teas available in U.S. were black teas. In recent years, green tea, oolong tea, and white teas have become more popular as there has been growing interest in the cuisines around the world and as the possible health benefits of tea have been advertised.
New York City is known for it’s many world-class restaurants and we thought it would be interesting to take a look at what’s on the menu at some of the local restaurants. At Union Square Cafe, rated the most popular restaurant in the world by Zagat’s (restaurant review) eight years in a row, the tea menu includes an interesting mix of high-end teas from various cultures. The specialty teas ranged from the Hojicha from Kyoto, Japan to organic chamomile tea from Egypt to the Four Seasons Oolong tea from Nantou, Taiwan. The variety of high-end teas reflect the growing gourmet interest in the tea cultures of the world.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is Shake Shack, a hugely popular casual burger restaurant in the city. It is not unusual to see two hour lines at it’s flagship location, even on a weekday!
On the Shake Shack menu, we see a more casual everyday tea menu. There is the fresh brewed iced tea (which is generally iced black tea), which can be sweetened or unsweetened. We also see the Arnold Palmer, a delicious half and half mix of lemonade and iced tea, named after the great American golfer.
Shake Shack reflects the great popularity of iced teas in America, particularly in the younger crowd. In fact, on a hot summer day, whether you are dining at a hole-in-the-wall or at a fine three-star restaurant, don’t be surprised if the most popular drink being ordered off the menu is a simple and refreshing iced tea.
Photos from Shake Shack
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