We have been enjoying a real summer here in the pacific northwest. In fact, we’ve been breaking records and while the temperature today here on Whidbey Island will probably only make it to the high 70s, by early next week we anticipating temperatures approaching 100! And that, is too hot by most anyone’s standards, certainly mine.
With all the sunny days we have been steeping and pouring fresh iced tea like crazy and we thought you might enjoy learning a bit more about this wonderful refreshing beverage.
Antique cookbooks show us that tea has been served cold since at least the early 19th century in both England and America. The oldest recipes called for green tea, not black tea, and were called punches. Frequently spiked with liquor, these punches were very popular. (You’ll find a recipe for Pomegranate White Tea Spritzer in our Recipes section.)
During the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis iced tea was popularized and heavily commercialized. As the story goes, a group of Far East tea producers lead by Englishman Richard Blechynden traveled from Calcutta, India to the World’s Fair to sell their tea. The group set up a tea pavilion and sold cups of hot tea to the passing visitors. Unfortunately, it was a very hot summer and tea sales were dismal. People were passing right by the brightly-colored, Indian-inspired pavilion and heading to the booths with ice-filled drinks. Being a good businessman, Richard saw an opportunity, filled glasses with ice cubes and poured hot tea over them. Word spread quickly throughout the Fair and customers lined up outside the tea pavilion to buy the cooling beverage. Iced tea began appearing on the menu of nearly every restaurant and by the time the Fair closed, iced tea had become extremely popular.
Today, iced tea is America’s national summertime drink. More iced tea is consumed in the U.S. than hot tea. In fact, we drink more iced tea than any other country in the world.
To sweeten iced tea, make a simple syrup by boiling one cup water with one cup sugar. Cool and store covered in the frig. Try adding fresh sliced berries or peaches to your favorite iced tea for flavor and interest.