There's a little breeze in the treetops, which moves the branches like the tentacles on a sea anemone, but really it's just blowing the hot around. St. Louis at its worst: July during the Greenhouse Years. Doldrums compounded by the lightheadedness of exhaust inhalation. They say it's 94 and feels like 104, but we say more like 168 from where we're standing, in an asphalt parking lot in front of the Pitted Olive on Hampton. From here, the little shop/café resembles a well-stocked refrigerator. A couple of pedestrians walk down Hampton, and through the fumes it looks like they're starting to melt.
The Pitted Olive has been around for seven months and originally opened as a foodie market selling take-out goodies fancy cheeses, meats and a small but sturdy selection of beers and wines. All of those things are still available, but the grocery has ceded space to a few more tables as the Olive evolves into less of a market and more of a restaurant that also sells foodstuff to go.
When it's this hot out, hunger takes a backseat to thirst, and while water water water is the mantra on a day like today, we're looking for flavor, for substance. Soda pop? Nah, too syrupy and sweet (plus, it goes straight to our thighs). Beer on a weekday afternoon is tempting but, again, too much for the heat. Wine a nice rosé perhaps? Always an option. But, nah. Iced tea is the obvious solution, and by this point in the summer we're a little sick of it.
But there, nestled in the corner of the Pitted Olive, is a fridge, and inside are bottles from Honest Tea, a Bethesda, Maryland, tea brewer. In the past two years, Honest Tea (honesty get it?) successfully moved from being a minor concern to being the largest purveyor of organic bottled tea in the nation; according to Fortune Small Business magazine, Honest Tea's 24 flavors and styles comprise 64 percent of the market share.
"Real tea. Real taste. Honest" is their motto, and their offerings live up to it. Their Gold Rush Cinnamon with cinnamon, rosehips and orange peel will forever change your taste buds. Their Mint White Tea is flavored with spearmint and vanilla. And the glorious Black Forest Berry, which we're drinking today with an excellent Thai chicken wrap, is red velvet in a bottle.
Ingredients are simple and, like all of Honest Tea's offerings, entirely organic: purified water, cane sugar (rather than the corn syrup that ruins most bottled tea), hibiscus, blackberry leaves, blueberries, raspberries and berry blend flavoring. The result is perfect: not too sweet (sixteen grams of sugar), filled with flavor not only of berries, but of cherry, as well and more quench-per-ounce than even Gatorade.
Honest Tea includes thoughtful quotables on its bottle lids, and ours is a good one for the times: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world," said Mahatma Gandhi, no stranger to heat. If only it were that simple, we think as we walk to our car, vowing to ride our bike to work more often. We'll change, we think. But will the rest of you?