The Shady Reason You Probably Shouldn't Order Iced Tea At Restaurants

Glass of iced tea
Glass of iced tea - Hyeong-Taek Lee/Shutterstock

There is nothing like a tall glass of iced tea to wash down your favorite meal, but wait — what is floating in it? As you cautiously take a sip, hoping it might be a stray tea leaf, we're here to inform you otherwise. Those tiny, drifting specks could be a result of mold lurking in the tea brewer's pour spout. Ideally, this spout should be removed and cleaned at least once a day or between brews to maintain sanitation. However, this is not always the outcome.

And because of all the tiny mechanisms (three, to be exact) in the tea pour spout, it's remarkably easy for bacteria to become trapped. If not cleaned thoroughly, this bacteria can eventually evolve into mold. This mold is called Aspergillus, or a group of fungi. Consuming moldy or poorly cleaned iced tea machines can pose significant health risks. Mold exposure can lead to respiratory issues, allergies, and even more severe health complications.

It's essential to be vigilant when ordering iced tea. Check for off-putting odors, flavors, or an unusual appearance that might indicate mold contamination. If you believe that skipping the freshly brewed option for the tap version is a safer choice, you might reconsider. Even soda guns can become moldy if not cleaned properly.

Read more: Mistakes Everyone Makes When Brewing Tea

Iced Tea Isn't Always Fresh

Glass of iced tea with lemon
Glass of iced tea with lemon - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Given that 75 to 80% of tea consumed in the U.S. is iced tea, the prevalence of mold becomes a valid concern (per Consumer Reports). While most clean-up typically occurs at the end of the shift, iced tea machines should be emptied, washed, and sanitized. Despite this industry standard, oversights can occur.

For example, if an employee's shift ends at 3 p.m. and the next restaurant worker comes in at 4 p.m., how can you be sure the iced tea is fresh? Interestingly, some restaurant workers have admitted to forgetting to make a fresh brew, prompting us to speculate further about how often restaurants clean their machines. TikToker @mz_pupluv received thousands of comments when they revealed restaurant iced tea's well-dirty secrets.

Despite these revelations, abandoning your favorite beverage isn't necessary. Instead, you might opt to savor it in the comfort of your home, where you can oversee the Iced tea brewing process. Alternatively, bottled tea may also be a safer option, but these are lower in antioxidants than freshly brewed teas.

Read the original article on Mashed.