I first started coming to visit the Philippines in the year 1990. I came back for visits many times during the 90’s, before finally settling here permanently in 2000. My goodness how things have changed in that short amount of time! I have witnessed the part of the country where I live move from mostly dusty dirt roads to quite modern highways. I have seen structures in this area move from Nipa Huts to glass and steel skyscrapers. Such changes have crept their way into the Filipino diet as well, and believe it or not, I made quite a contribution on that myself!
It all started on one of my trips here in the early 1990’s. If I recall the trip correctly, it was in 1992. Feyma and I got married on my first visit here in 1990, and 1992 was our first visit back to visit her family. In addition, we were bringing our oldest son, Chris for his first trip to the Philippines.
One of the things that is really a staple in my diet, something that I love to drink is Iced Tea. You see, I lived in the Southern United States for about 10 years (in the state of Louisiana), and Iced Tea is really a popular drink in the South. For those of you reading this from other places, like Europe, I believe that Iced Tea is not well known in those areas. Basically, it is just tea, which most people normally drink hot, but it is chilled and put on ice. Some people like Iced Tea sweet, others drink it unsweetened. I prefer to drink it sweetened with Spenda, since I am diabetic and must avoid sugar.
Anyway, when I came here in 1992, I really wanted some iced tea one day. I asked one of Feyma’s sisters if they could make some iced tea for me and she responded, “What is that?” Well, obviously, iced tea was not something that people drank here! Well, I decided that I would solve that, I went to the store and bought some tea bags and some mineral water. I took this all home to Feyma’s house and I proceeded to make some iced tea. People asked me what I was doing, and I explained it to them, they laughed, saying “you will drink tea cold?” Yep, that was my plan! People just couldn’t understand it, though. The word actually spread around the neighborhood, and people thought I was crazy, I’m sure. I proceeded to make my iced tea, and I enjoyed it immensely! It was so refreshing in the heat of the day! Well, I trained some of my sisters-in-law how to make iced tea for me, and it became a daily treat at the house!
By the time that I moved to the Philippines, Iced Tea was already a very popular drink all over the country! However, they don’t brew tea here and put it on ice. They drink the prepared mixes, like Nestea. Personally, I don’t like those, I prefer to make my iced tea fresh from tea bags. The prepared mixes are way too sweet, and they also don’t really taste like tea, in my opinion.
So, now I am wondering, did my days of making iced tea in 1992 here in the Philippines lead to a national market for the stuff? Ha ha… I doubt it, but I still think that people like Nestea might owe me a founder’s fee! What do you think?