You might think that iced tea is a relatively new phenomenon… you’d be wrong, it’s actually been a bit of a trend for about 200 years in the USA, first appearing in South Carolina, the only tea growing area in North America. The popularity of iced tea has led to it’s own recognised national day – Iced Tea Day, which is celebrated every year on the 10th June.
Initially ice teas were cold green tea punches heavily spiked with booze! Inevitably these punches became popular… The oldest recipes found in print had names like Regent’s Punch, named after George IV, the English Prince Regent between 1811 and 1820, and later King from 1820 to 1830. During the American War of Independence, the acquired more patriotic names like Chatham Artillery Punch.
Iced tea as you might expect was a bit of a novelty at first, but with the introduction of ice houses, ice cabinets and later refrigerators and commercial ice production that all changed quite rapidly.
By the 1870’s it really started to take off, appearing in recipe books of the day particularly Housekeeping in Old Virginia and the Buckeye Cookbook. It’s popularity as a drink continued to gain momentum, with it being served at rail stations, hotels and cafes.
Things really changed, in 1904, when India Tea Commissioner and Director of the East Indian Pavilion Richard Blechynden decided to attend the World’s Fair, in St Louis. He initially gave away samples of hot tea but quickly realised that due to the heat he couldn’t shift his stock.
Blechynden and his team decided to transfer the hot tea they’d brewed it in to several large bottles and then placed them upside down on stands linking them up to several lead pipes surrounded by ice, which cooled the tea down rapidly and meant that he could give away free samples of his now chilled brew to hot and thirsty fair goers… a bold step you might think but Blechynden hit the jackpot!
Afterwards its popularity as a drink exploded – to the extent American households added a new piece of cutlery to their sets in the form of an iced teaspoon – essentially a long-handled teaspoon created to stir in the sugar added to the tea when served in a tall glass.
Prohibition certainly helped as well… between 1920 and 1933 and iced tea sales rocketed… ever since the drink has become a staple in the USA with huge variations in style appearing as numerous cultures adopted and adapted iced tea to sit alongside their cuisine styles.
Today iced tea can be found pretty much everywhere in the world in some shape or form… becoming one of the most popular beverages around the globe. Despite its relatively short history iced tea has travelled far from the heady early days as spiked punch to what it has now become a healthy drink alternative…
When is Iced Tea Day?
Iced Tea Day is celebrated annually on the 10th June. It embraces everything great about this refreshing summer drink from it’s roots as an American cocktail to how it’s enjoyed by people around the world today. Why not try and iced tea for yourself? Here’s a recipe for iced tea using our own Farrer’s Earl Grey or you could try this with one of our delicious tisanes…
How to Make Iced Tea
- This recipe serves 4 / makes 1 litre
- Pop 4 tea bags in to a 1 litre jug
- Add freshly boiled water until roughly a 1/3 full
- Let this brew for about 5 minutes or so
- Then add cold water to top up the other 2/3 of the jug
- Pour over ice and serve – Enjoy!