NATIONAL ICED TEA MONTH
( Google Images)
June has arrived again and it's time for all the iced tea drinkers in the Blogosphere to celebrate this National Iced Tea month. I can't think of a better way to pay homage than to delve into the history of the beverage. Just how, when, and why did someone come up with this idea?
1800's - English and American cookbooks state that tea has been served cold at least since the early nineteenth century, when cold green tea punches, that were heavily spiked with liquor, were popularized. The oldest recipes in print are made with green tea and not black tea and were called punches. The tea punches went by names such as Regent's Punch, named after George IV, the English prince regent between 1811 until 1820, and king from 1820 to 1830.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, American versions of this punch began to acquire regional and even patriotic names, such as Charleston's St. Cecilia Punch (named for the musical society whose annual ball it graced), and Savannah's potent version, Chatham Artillery Punch.
Iced tea's popularity parallels the development of refrigeration: the ice house, the icebox (refrigerator), and the commercial manufacture of pure ice, which were in place by the middle of the nineteenth century. The term "refrigerator" was used for the first patented ice box in 1803 and was common in the mid 19th century in the United States.
( Above information is taken from an article by Linda Stradley at What's Cooking America. )
The general consensus seems to be that Iced Tea was popularized(not invented as has been mistakenly attributed) at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. According to "legend", the heat was so sweltering at the event that visitors passed on the offer of free hot tea. It was then that a tea vendor ran tea through iced pipes to cool and chill the beverage. When people heard that there was free "cold" tea offered they eagerly tried this new way of serving their favorite beverage. The rest, as they say, is history.
I must admit, I prefer hot tea over iced. I know to some that is a bit of a sacrilege for anyone born south of the Mason Dixon Line. However, in spite of my affinity for the hot brew, during the summer months there's always fresh iced sweet tea available around here and I certainly enjoy more than my fair share. Cheers everyone!