The majority of iced tea consumer today is a poor relative of the original iced tea, which dates back to the 19th century, the modern-day version being akin to sugary, flavoured water.
The oldest recipes were made with green tea and were popularly known as punches such as Regent’s punch (Named after George IV, the English Prince Regent 1762-1830) – the recipe being rather aristocratic and highly alcoholic, including rum, cognac and champagne, topping up the green tea!
The punch became known in America, but was a novelty until the turn of the 20th century.
At the 1904 World Fair in St Louis [home also of the Olympic Games in the same year], the crowds were served with free hot tea, which didn’t work so well in the heat of the day. It was India Tea Commissioner, Richard Blenchynden and his team, who realised this and so set in stone the primary American tea drinking habit of the future.
Blechynden and his team took a hot brewed India Tea and filled several large bottles. Standing them upside down they allowed the liquor to flow through iced lead pipes. This free iced tea was very well received and appreciated at the fair.
With this success, Blechynden took his lead pipe apparatus to the city of New York, offering free iced tea to shoppers at Bloomingdale Brothers Department Store. This demonstration of iced tea was a massive hit again and resulted in making it a desirable summertime drink.
It’s so easy to make great iced tea, either with green tea or black - Ceylon tea works especially well as it remains very clear as it cools. It can be made cold with a bit of planning [add tea to cold water and brewing for a day] or made hot and iced water added. Honey or a natural cordial to taste, some lemons and limes, some alcohol if you must. The opportunities are endless. We have a few to share in our EIC Recipe Book, we would love to hear yours.