April 22, 2024
Iced Tea

Iced Tea – A Refreshing Summer Beverage

Summer is synonymous with hot weather and staying hydrated. While water is the most obvious choice to quench thirst on a scorching day, iced tea is a refreshing alternative that has gained widespread popularity globally over the past few decades. Originating from Britain and later adopted across America, iced tea is now enjoyed in many parts of the world as the perfect summer drink.

Origin and History of Iced Tea

While ice was used to cool drinks for centuries, the practice of making tea and serving it chilled only caught on in the late 19th century. Some historians point to Richard Blechynden, a tea planter from South Carolina, as popularizing the concept of iced tea in 1904. He noted that locals would often drink cold tea during hot summer months. Around the same time period, iced tea began being served at exhibitions and was gaining acceptance across America as a regional specialty.

The popularity of Iced Tea skyrocketed after the 1920s during Prohibition when Americans turned to non-alcoholic drinks in a big way. Restaurants seeking thirst-quenching refreshments added iced tea to their menus. By mid-century, it had firmly cemented itself as part of Southern culture and hospitality. Global exposure from US soldiers serving abroad during World War II also helped spread awareness of the uniquely American drink worldwide.

The Rise of Commercial Iced Tea Production

In the early 1960s, instant tea powders entered the market allowing for easy preparation of sweetened iced tea without prior steeping. This led to mass adoption of the beverage beyond the South. Companies like Lipton and Arizona saw opportunity and began large-scale production and marketing of bottled and canned iced tea geared for nationwide consumption. While traditional sun tea still enjoyed homemade popularity, commercial options helped drive unprecedented growth.

By the 1980s, annual US iced tea consumption had reached over 1 billion gallons a year, higher than any other country. Innovations in flavored teas like green tea and herbal varieties further boosted the category. Today, over 3 billion gallons are consumed annually in America with the beverage worth an estimated $10 billion market size globally. Iced tea stands as one of the most ubiquitous hot weather drinks worldwide owing to its crisp, refreshing qualities.

Brewing the Perfect Glass of Iced Tea

While commercial options offer convenience, nothing beats a home brewed glass of sun tea or freshly steeped then chilled tea. Here are some tips for perfection:

– Sun Tea: Place 3 family-sized tea bags in a clear glass jar filled with water. Leave in direct sunlight for 4-6 hours to brew and cool naturally. Add sweetener to taste once chilled.
– Stovetop Tea: Bring water to a boil then remove from heat. Add 3-4 tea bags and steep covered for 5-10 minutes. Remove tea bags, add sweetener and chilled water then pour over ice.
– Herbal Iced Teas: Fruity varieties like peach and hibiscus offer antioxidant benefits and natural sweetness without caffeine. Steep as above in boiled water then chill.
– Sweetness: American southern style uses 1/3 cup sugar per gallon iced tea but amounts vary by taste. Honey, agave or stevia are healthier options.
– Storage: Keep tea chilled in the fridge for 3-5 days. Replenish ice daily to stay fresh tasting. Warm weather calls for refreshment often!

Regional Flavor Profiles

While a simple brew with lemon or sugar is refreshing on its own, various locales have developed culturally significant twists on the tea. Exploring regional flavors offers an exciting culinary adventure this summer:

Arizona: Known for its iconic canned “Arnold Palmers”, this blend mixes lemonade into unsweetened black tea for a tangy thirst quencher.
South Carolina: Sweet tea here uses 2/3 cup sugar per gallon, brewed strong with orange pekoe black tea. Often served “glossy” in chilled glass mason jars.
Texas: Many prefer unsweetened tea to drink with barbecue. They add sugar separately by the teaspoonful to taste.
India: Inspired by Britain’s affinity, masala chai uses spiced black tea as its base served with milk and sugar.
Japan: Instead of sugar, Japanese sencha green tea incorporates fresh sliced ginger and a sweet rice syrup called amai for floral coolness.

Whether enjoying a tall glass solo or sharing a pitcher with friends, taking time to appreciate the ritual of crafting iced tea leads to a more meaningful summer experience. Experimenting with recipes offers variety while still quenching heat-induced thirst. So grab a sunhat, lace up sandals, and indulge in this delicious and refreshing beverage as the warm weather rolls on. Cheers to summer!

*Note:
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it.