Be it known right here and now ... I hate, I despise, with a passionately burning bright blue flame of loathing, that vile elixir known as "Paradise Tropical Tea". Also known as passion-fruit tea, or whatever poisons with which good iced teas are being adulterated these days.
It got to the point when I could no longer order real iced tea in a restaurant. All they had was this crap.
So, in frustration and with a need to vent my spleen, I posted an article to the local Los Angeles food-oriented Usenet newsgroup la.eats back in November of 1993 -- here it is:
From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Nov 23 00:21:23 PST 1993
From: email@example.com (Chuck Taggart)
Subject: The Insidious Invasion of Paradise Tea
Message-ID: <gumboCGt5EJ.firstname.lastname@example.org> Organization: Netcom On-Line Communication Services
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 1993 20:39:55 GMT
It began, for me, like this:
As I nearly always do when dining out, I ordered an iced tea. The waiter brought it to me, and I took a hearty gulp.
It nearly came back up. "Waiter," I beckoned. "Excuse me, but there's something wrong with this tea. I'm sorry, but it tastes like something got into it. May I have another one?" "Oh, I'm terribly sorry, sir. Certainly."
But of course, the next one was no better ...
I'm referring, of course, to this malevolent brew that has slowly been invading many of my favorite places to eat -- the dreaded passion-fruit-flavored "Paradise Tea."
Now, if folks want to drink this stuff and enjoy it, I'm happy for them. Believe me, this is not a flame against Paradise tea drinkers. This is a flame against the restaurants.
As an expatriate New Orleanian who grew up drinking gallons per week of the Real Thing, I just can't stand this stuff. No matter how much I try, no matter how often I hear, "Just try it, it's wonderful, everybody loves it, it'll grow on you ..." (Like fungus, no doubt!) And I don't like the fact that when I order an iced tea, I'm almost always brought this stuff without being forewarned.
My main objection is that real iced tea seems to be less and less available in restaurants in favor of this stuff. "Oh, we don't have regular iced tea anymore." Why can't they offer both? I don't believe expense is a factor, as iced tea is incredibly cheap to make.
And if restaurants list "iced tea" in the menu, they should offer it. If they're serving Paradise tea, it should be so indicated.
(Major kudos to John O'Groats on Pico, who not only have both kinds but always ask which one the customer wants. Of course, Brenda and Joanie already know which one I want ... :-)
All I ask is that restaurants offer diners a choice to those of us who enjoy real iced tea. I can't believe everybody likes this stuff.
Is it just me, or is there anyone else out there who can't stand this foul elixir? Please tell me I'm not alone! (Or flame me ... something tells me I should be steeling myself for that. :-)
(I may have to start keeping a 2-quart Thermos of Luzianne or Barry's in my trunk in case of emergencies ... sigh.)
Just mouthing off,
A couple of weeks later, I got email from a guy, <email@example.com>, who apparently works for The Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine. He thought it'd be good for the "Palm Latitudes" section of the magazine. With my permission, he forwarded it to his editor, who edited it and ran it in magazine on Sunday, January 16, 1994, the day before the big earthquake. Not surprisingly, anybody who might have read my article in the paper that morning promptly forgot about it the next morning after being shaken out of their beds at 4:31am by one of the worse quakes of the century.
And they still haven't paid me for the article, those bastards...
Here's how the edited article appeared in the magazine:
It began, for me, like this: As I nearly always do when dining out, I ordered an iced tea. The waiter brought it to me, and I took a hearty gulp. It nearly came back up.
"Waiter," I said, beckoning. "Excuse me, but there's something wrong with this tea. It tastes like something got into it. May I have another one?"
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry, sir. Certainly."
But the next one was no better. The taste was, I came to find out, intentional. It was, in fact, that malevolent brew that has slowly been invading hundreds of local restaurants -- from the Cheesecake Factory to Four Seasons -- the dreaded passion-fruit-flavored Paradise Tropical Tea.
Now, if folks want to drink this stuff and enjoy it, I'm happy for them. Believe me, this is not a flame against Paradise tea drinkers. This is a flame against the restaurants that do not clearly identify the beverages they serve. If restaurants list "iced tea" in the menu, they should offer iced tea, not Paradise Tropical Tea.
As an expatriate New Orleanian who grew up drinking gallons per week of the real thing, I just can't stand this stuff. And I can't believe I am alone in this. All I ask is that restaurants offer a choice. I may have to keep a Thermos of Luzianne or Barry's in my trunk in case of emergencies ... sigh.
Ah, how interesting the editing process is. And how interesting that the Usenet term "flame" was retained by the editor. Anyway, this was a neat experience, and would be even neater if the associate editor would send me my check. You know who you are ...
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