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Three towns, three teas, lots of opinions on which tastes best

There are many great foods and drinks that come from right here in northeastern and central Pennsylvania, and sometimes that sparks debates.

The communities of Tamaqua, Lehighton, and Hazleton are separated by about 20 miles, two county lines, and the residents love of their hometown tea.

"I like to think we're the best because we taste the best, but a lot of people say it tastes the same. A lot of people say no, it doesn't taste the same. Everybody's a little bit different," said Dave Zimmerman, part of the fifth generation of family ownership of Zimmerman's Dairy in Lehighton.

In Carbon County, "Gimmie a Zimmie" is a way of life.

"I think we're the best because we're the small guy. We're the little guy. We're the ones that are trying harder. We're the small dog in the fight," Zimmerman said.

A bigger dog looms just to the southwest in Schuylkill County.

Guers Dairy just outside Tamaqua churns out up to 55,000 pints of tea each week.

Like Zimmerman's, Guers started making its own tea in the 1960s and 1970s as milk consumption in America began to drop.

Iced tea is now the dairy's biggest seller, and Guers has been using the same formula all along.

"I can't give it out, but it's pretty basic," said Matt Thomas, Guers sales manager. "The purest cane sugar, the mix, and the fresh water. Everything, you just combine it, and that's what makes it really stand out."

Thomas says the taste stands out. The carton really does not. You have to look very closely to even see the difference between Guers and Zimmerman's, the latter using a slightly darker shade of orange.

So we asked if the taste is just as similar, could the makers even tell the difference?

"I would," said Thomas. "I think I would."

Thomas is confident that Guers' passionate customers would be able to taste the difference, so we put that to the test. First, outside Fegley's mini-market in Tamaqua.

Danny Matika is a Guers drinker from Summit Hill.

That's Guers," said Matika. "The taste of it, more lemony."

Back in Lehighton, Deanna Semanoff has a unique perspective.

"I like Guers, but because I live in Lehighton, they don't really sell Guers, so I guess I switched over to Zimmerman's," Semanoff said. "I like it. it's good."

As quickly as Guers gives way to Zimmerman's when you cross from Schuylkill County into Carbon, both take a back seat when you arrive just a few miles away in Hazleton.

There, the orange cartons are nowhere to be found, replaced by the familiar green and gold of Farmers Iced Tea.

At John's Restaurant in the Mountain City, Farmers is all that's sold, and Farmers is what everybody drinks.

Three towns, three teas, thousands of opinions of which one tastes the best.

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