Tallying the Tea Total



In this week's review of lunch at Mambu, Dose and ChaChah, I buried a small detail about the iced tea at ChaChah, where chef-owner Arnold Myint serves a cool, sweet, dark-brewed blend of black tea and earthy spices.

While it is always a treat to drink an assertive glass of iced tea — rather than the wimpy leaf-water served at so many eateries — that pleasure compounds in the hot, sunny months, when the sweat beading on a tall glass cools the palm of your hand and the frigid brew washes away the tight thirst of a Tennessee summer. And yet, so many places skimp on the tea, delivering a weak steeping of vaguely beige-tinted water.

Are such insipid sippers the result of pound-foolish penny-pinching, sub-par raw materials or simply bad kitchen math? Who knows, but when the offending beverage arrives in a red plastic tumbler, I can only assume there is an element of subterfuge aimed at concealing the color — or lack thereof.

ChaChah's sweet iced chai sets a high bar for bold-flavored tea that satisfies with caffeine, coldness and color. We've also noticed robust brews at Belle restaurant at Belle Meade Plantation and At the Table on 12th Avenue South. And remember that gorgeous tea in Mason jars at Sharon Johnson's Southern Bred restaurant on East Trinity Lane?

Where else have you found the simple pleasure of exceptional iced tea?

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