UPDATE: Well, that was a bust! I schlepped over the river and down to Union Square in my cute pink dress, only to find a dark, empty bar with cavernous scaffolding outside, a couple of women with a blender filling tiny plastic cups with tea smoothies, a guy on the corner handing out free tea, and nothing else. Even the PR flack there admitted there was nothing for me to do. So after several conference calls with Lipton and Ogilvy being briefed about the product, about a million emails, and too many minutes on the hell-hot platforms of the 2 and 4 trains, I flipped around on my kitten heel and left. What a giant waste of time! So, skip this, and hey, make your own iced tea. Much better, cheaper, and less sweet. Save your sugar for PIE! And note to self, and all others: don't shill for a fat corporation unless they're paying you real cash.
Want to meet the Pie Queen? And quench your thirst with some nice chilly iced tea on this hot summer afternoon? I'll be at the Union Bar at 200 Park Avenue South near 17th St just off Union Square, in Manhattan today, from around 11am to 3pm. There's a promotion going on for Lipton's new Pure Leaf bottled iced teas, so there will be free tea samples and tea smoothies and tea cocktails, all kinds of tea-related festivities going on. Not to mention the usual farmers' market around the corner.
Why will the PQ be there? Because someone at Lipton (owned by corp giant Unilever) via ad agency Ogilvy thought it would be a snappy marketing idea to get some of those kooky bloggers the kids like so much to do some promoting--for free!--of their product. Yup, they did send me (via K.) 54 bottles (4 1/2 cases! sheesh! luckily K. has an elevator to her fifth-floor apt) of tea for sampling and recipe-testing, but otherwise PQ's not getting paid.
Which, in retrospect, seems a little dumb. Why would I want to promote a corporate product for anything but cash? (Ok, I do repeatedly sing the praises of the microplane grater and the jam-jar lifter here for free. But that's evangelism, and better kitchen living through invention, not shilling.)
However, K.'s been enjoying the tea, and she's a tried-and-true, Southern-born sweet tea lover. So far her favorite is the red fruit-flavored rooibos tea, followed by the white tea with tangerine. Also in the line-up: plain old black tea that's unsweetened, thank you, which is a hard, hard type of cold tea to find, as all of us unsweet-tea lovers know. As far as I've ever been able to find, Tejava is the only fairly common unsweetened tea out there, and it's more health-food store than kwiki-mart. What else? Green tea with honey, and a sweetened black tea with lemon.
All of these, except the unsweetened black tea, are sweetened with sugar (cane and beet) not the usual h/f corn syrup, and don't have any weird chemicals in them. Interestingly, you might think the redbush (rooibos) tea is extra-healthy for you, what with the blueberry & pomegranate touted on the label. But nope, as the bottle will tell you if you look hard, there's no actual blueberry and pomegranate juice in the tea, just "natural fruit flavors." Thanks, New Jersey!
(Yes, PQ grew up in Jersey. Which meant high school chemistry class involved mixing things in test tubes to make liquids that smelled exactly like banana, or grape, or sour-apple chewing gum. That's my home state, providing better living through chemistry, candy-aisle division.)
Well, how do they taste? Well, K. says they're pleasant and refreshing, without that weird puckery too-much-citric acid flavor that mars most bottled tea. Even without the corn syrup, though, they're plenty sweet for a non-soda-drinker like moi. There's about 27 grams of sugar per 16-oz bottle, or a little over 6 teaspoons. Probably more than you'd put in your own made-from-scratch tea, but less than a can of soda, which have about 38-48 grams per 12-oz can, on average.
Anyway, much as I like a nice iced tea, I can't really drink it, since the caffeine gives me a debilitating rebound headache the next day. Much better: iced peppermint tea, watermelon agua fresca, or limeade with mint (what Valencia Street's Luna Park dubs a 'nojito'), especially with a little salt added, Vietnamese-style.