At the St Louis World fair in 1904, Richard Blechynden, an English Merchant was in charge of the tea pavilion at the event. He did not realize the impact a hot summers day would have on the hot tea he was serving at the fair. Exhausted and desperate to sell his product, as a last ditch effort he served the tea cold in glasses filled with ice. It worked. He not only made a killing with sales, he managed to popularise the beverage which eventually came to being called ‘iced tea’.
Richard Blechynden is often called the creator of iced tea, but in reality he just popularized an existing drink. Iced tea was already created and documented in cookbooks in America and England in the late 1700’s.
Known as “tea punches,” the first iced teas were actually cocktails of tea and alcohol. Green tea was the preferred choice over black tea for such cocktails. In an 1839 cookbook entitled The Kentucky Housewife, author Lettice Bryan published her iced tea drink recipe:
Recipe: 750 ml of strong tea, 2 1/2 cups of white sugar, 1/2 pint of sweet cream, and a bottle of claret (dry red wine) or champagne. This beverage can be served hot or cold.
The first version of the non-alcoholic iced tea was made using green tea in 1879 by Marion Cabell Tyree and was published in ‘Housekeeping’ in Old Virginia.
Recipe: Take 2 teaspoons of green tea and add it to 1 litre of hot water and let it steep through the day. Once steeped, strain without stirring. Fill glasses with ice, add two teaspoons of granulated sugar in each glass and pour the tea over it. For a variant, squeeze some lemon into the drink and stir.
In 1884, the head of the Boston Cooking School, Mrs. D. A. (Mary) Lincoln printed her recipe for pre-sweetened iced tea. She used black tea, which is most commonly used for iced teas now. Cold tea was poured over ice to which lemon and 2 sugar cubes were added.
Today Iced tea is a very popular drink and is available worldwide across cafes and in bottled forms. Generally people use tea bags to make their iced tea. But iced tea made with loose-leaf tea is a gastronomic delight. The best technique for making iced tea is the “cold brew”. You would need double the amount of tea leaves for making this cold brew. So for every 200 ml use about 2-3 tsp.
Recipe: Combine cold water in a large container with the tea leaves and refrigerate overnight. Strain the water and serve over ice. Add sugar, lemon or mint as your desire.
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