With summer quickly approaching and the need for a refreshing drink to carry us through those extra hot days increasing, we thought it best to talk about our go-to summer beverage: Iced Tea. Now before we dive into some delicious recipes, it’s always nice to understand a little bit of history, especially one as unique and diverse as this.
Iced Tea is around 250 years old and originated in 17th Century America. The refreshing beverage was predominantly viewed as a novelty, however its popularity rapidly increased with recipes appearing in cookbooks, hotel menus and even at railroad stations!
But where did this amazing idea come from? Well, in the late 1700s the French botanist and explorer Andre Michaux introduced a certain tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) to the young United States and soon feasible crops were harvested on plantations in South Carolina. Whilst this was happening, sugar was also grown in plantations in Cuba and Louisiana (for those of you who, like me have questionable geographic knowledge, this is all happening in the southeastern side of the states). This southerly region soon started to add the freshly harvested tea and some sweet sugar to a nice helping of ice and just like that our beloved Iced Tea was created!
As popularity grew, new innovative ways to serve Iced Tea naturally followed suit. Standard cutlery sets became essential: the iced tea spoon (a teaspoon with a long handle suitable for stirring sugar) and tall glasses.
There are now hundreds of variations of Iced Tea stemming from different cultures around the world with changes implemented in all aspects of the beverage. One example is the method of adding sweetness: although sugar is the main form of this, some alternatives such as lemon, lime and honey are also used.
So, now that we’ve had a look at some of the history of Iced Tea, I think it’s about time we show you some of our favourite recipes:
Iced Green Tea - The Original
Iced Green Tea gained popularity with a recipe from Marion Cabell Tyree published in the magazine "Housekeeping in Old Virginia" in 1879. The recipe is a classic, simply calling for green tea to be poured over goblets filled with ice, with two teaspoons of granulated sugar and a touch of lemon added for flavour. The lighter, more refreshing profile of green tea can be enhanced with elderflower or mint.
Iced Black Tea - A Southern Classic
Black Iced Tea (also known as Sweet Tea), became the most popular tea based drink in the U.S and synonymous with the South. Served simply over ice with sugar added during the brew many variants of Sweet Tea have been developed in modern times: from classic lemon, through to mint and raspberry variants.
American Style Half and Half - The Ultimate Golf Course Drink
A "Half and Half" is an iced tea that is half black tea and half lemonade. Lovingly referred to as an "Arnold Palmer" by fans of the legendary golfer whose favour for the drink popularised it. Adding vodka to the drink makes it a "John Daly" in honour of the two-time major winning golfer who was famously not afraid to play after imbibing an alcoholic beverage or two.
Iced Fruit & Herbal Infusions - Fruity, refreshing and low calorie
Delicious fruit and herbal infusions are a popular alternative for those who want a zero calorie and caffeine free alternative to tea, coffee and cocoa. When preparing a fruit infusion iced tea you have complete control over the sweetness levels. Honey or Stevia offer a great natural alternative to granulated sugar whilst many fruit teas are delicious without any sweetener.
Regent's Punch - Fit for a King
One of the very first iced tea cocktails recorded, is really more of a cocktail with a small amount of green tea added! Regent’s Punch as it was known, originated from the Regency era and was a favourite of George IV of England. George had a reputation for his desire of good things so it would be no surprise to read the cocktail ingredients contained the best brandy, cognac and champagne with the green tea perhaps adding a little caffeine!
Combined with orange, pineapple and lemon juices, Regent’s Punch cocktail is perhaps best enjoyed on very rare, special occasions and with very small glasses!
Mint Tea Julep - A fierce combination
Mint Julep and Sweet Tea are the two flagship drinks of the American south. Combine them together and the result is a fierce competitor to the Mojito for those more inclined to bourbon over rum.