East Texans Drink Up, Feel Better For National Iced Tea Month

June is a special month for one of the South's favorite beverages. It's National Iced Tea Month, and recent studies show tea might be more than just tasty and refreshing.

It might be good for your health.

The morning rush at Le Peep restaurant in Tyler means it's time to make the tea.

"Especially in the summer time," manager Kenn Tellman says, "we serve gallons of iced tea and in the winter time we serve hot tea and ice tea as well."

Texans love ice tea, drinking it by the gallon, and it seems like everybody has their favorite tea.

"We get requests for peach or raspberry," Kenn says, "but I have had someone who wanted vanilla tea. You get all kinds of requests."

You can make it fancy, but Kenn says most of his customers just want plain old iced tea. Meanwhile over at McAlisters Deli, their customers demand it. Two-thirds of the drinks they serve are glasses of tea, and that adds up to about a hundred gallons a day.

You don't need to designate a special month for Texans. For some of them, iced tea is a longstanding family tradition.

"It's just kind of something I was brought up on," Melissa Lewis says, sipping her glass of sweetened tea. "I've always had tea, it's the drink of the South."

New studies suggest tea may do more for you that quench your thirst. It may reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and certain cancers. Daily doses of green or black tea may also help lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce DNA damage for smokers.

And as many tea drinkers told us, it's also pretty tasty.

So drink up, East Texas, for National Iced Tea Month. It's cool, refreshing, and it just might be good for you.

Reid Kerr (rkerr@kltv.com) reporting.