The Origin of Iced Tea

In this lesson, we will explore the origin of iced tea, one of the coolest ways to enjoy Camellia sinensis. While the exact origin story of iced tea may not be entirely accurate, it is still a refreshing tale. As the story goes, in 1904, America was ready to showcase its development at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Richard Blechynden, an English tea plantation owner, planned to give away free samples of his hot tea to attendees. However, when a heat wave hit, visitors were more interested in finding a cooler refreshment. To save his investment, Blechynden dumped a load of ice into the brewed tea and served the first iced tea, which became a hit at the fair.

However, it is important to acknowledge that tea was often enjoyed at cooler temperatures in the South long before the World’s Fair. For similar reasons, tea was allowed to cool before serving, sometimes with ice if available. This was typically served with sugar, known as Sweet Tea, which is still enjoyed today in the Southern United States.

The Bad Reputation of Contemporary Iced Tea

Unfortunately, contemporary iced tea in the US has received a bad reputation. Most of the iced tea consumed in the country is in a form that bears little resemblance to tea, such as syrupy, over-flavored, stale, and artificial beverages.

New Ideas in Iced Tea

Fortunately, new ideas in iced tea are emerging that focus on simple, pure, and delicious tea. Instead of using loads of sugar and artificial flavor, this new tea movement retraces its steps to create refreshing and healthy beverages that are worthy of being called Tea. While black tea is the popular standard for iced tea, any type of tea can be iced, including Black, Oolong, Green, White, and even Pu’erh. Additionally, many companies are turning to non-caffeinated herbals, such as Iced Red (Rooibos) “tea,” Iced Ginger “tea,” and Iced Mint “tea,” to provide a perfect alternative for the caffeine-sensitive or those trying to get some sleep.

Making Iced Tea

Making iced tea is easy, and when made from real tea leaves, it tastes great. Simply double the amount of tea leaves, usually making it two teaspoons per cup of water, and steep as usual. Once the tea is ready, dilute it with an equal amount of ice, and garnish with mint or lemon for a great taste. Some teas, particularly tippy black teas, may cloud when iced quickly. This is just visual and won’t affect the flavor. To prevent clouding, dilute the double-strength brewed tea with cool water instead, and serve over ice only when ready to enjoy it. When making iced tea for a group of friends, keep the serving pitcher at room temperature and add ice to drinking glasses. Refrigeration dulls the flavor, and adding ice to a big pitcher of tea will water it down over the afternoon. Enjoy within 12 hours of brewing.

Quality is Key

Regardless of the type of tea or herbal used to make iced tea, the most important thing to remember is quality. To enjoy the best iced tea, use the best tea.

Leave a Reply