Sun-brewed tea a taste of home for troops in Kuwait deserts
Stars and Stripes June 30, 2003
CAMP FOX, Kuwait — Nothing beats a cool sip of iced tea on a hot day, especially in the scorching Kuwaiti desert.
“It tastes like you’re back at home,” said Marine Lance Cpl. Michael C. Hassler, who’s from Lexington, S.C., and currently with the Combat Service Support Operations Center at Camp Fox.
Hassler and fellow Southerner Lance Cpl. Brandon Perry, true to their Southern roots, started making sun-brewed tea in tall water bottles.
“I just made it one day. I made it for myself,” Hassler says. But it was so good he started making it for others.
The tea is made by throwing a few tea bags purchased from the post exchange into bottles of water and leaving them in the sun to work its magic. For those who like it sweetened, sugar from individual sugar packets is added.
The result goes down smooth and sweet.
The two have been making the brew for about a week. They’ve christened their thirst-quencher Hassler and Perry’s Southern Comfort, and have developed a label bearing their likeness.
The pair — or fill-in Lance Cpl. Tony Pinella, when Perry’s doing his day job with his nuclear, biological and chemical warfare unit — brew three to five cases of tall water bottles, as many as 60 bottles, a day. It comes with or without sugar.
“It does taste like home,” Pinella says, even though home for him is Death Valley, Calif., quite a way from the South.
The tea is especially important given the sheer volume of liquid required to stay hydrated in the desert. Servicemembers in Kuwait are advised to drink four to six tall bottles of water a day. Tea is a welcome alternative for many.
It’s also welcomed since there’s no alcohol for U.S. forces in Kuwait. It’s the only Southern Comfort they get.
People can make a contribution to the tea fund but the drink is free, Hassler said.
Sitting before a mess of bottles capped with tea bags in the 110-plus degree sun, a box of sugar packets open before him, master-brewer Hassler fills orders from his fellow Marines and contemplates a future in the industry:
“I might start up my own brewery one day,” he said.