Iced tea is huge here in the South. It’s everywhere, but you are rather limited in your tea options. Most places offer sweet tea, and maybe unsweetened tea if it’s a fancy joint. I’ve even found sweet tea served out of a 55 gallon trash can. Gary Valentine (the guy who looks like Kevin James but isn’t) does a hilarious bit (1:33 in) about it. Sweet tea is definitely king, but Coke wants to replace the monarch with democracy.
Bloomberg News says in a press release that Coca Cola is field testing a machine, Flex Fresh, that makes iced tea on demand. It can make more than several different combinations of iced tea with the press of a few buttons. You can choose green or black tea, sweetened or unsweetened, and peach, raspberry, or lemon flavor.
Coke seems to be trying to tap a burgeoning market with this new contraption. The trade product sheet says that tea consumption increased 81% between 1997 and 2007.
I still don’t think it beats actually brewing and steeping whole leaf tea to make iced tea, but at least you won’t get sassed by a waitress if you want your tea sans sweet.