No other drink recalls a hot summer more than a large, refreshing glass of homemade iced tea. Whether you like it straight up or sweetened, with a twist of lemon or fresh mint leaves, iced tea is surely a favorite drink to cool you down this summer.
The Origins of Iced Tea
Iced tea is not surprisingly very popular in its home country, the U.S. According to the Tea Association of the USA, Americans consume well over 2.2 billion gallons of iced tea every year, with 60% sipped in the Southern states alone. Iced tea dates back to the 17th Century, when the US state of South Carolina was, at that time, the only colony in America producing tea plants. The plant arrived in the late 1700s thanks to French explorer and botanist, André Michaux, to satisfy the tastes of wealthy Charleston planters. Accounts of iced versions of tea soon appeared in cookbooks, and the drink was also used in cold green tea punches mixed with alcohol, which were very popular in the 18th and 19th century. In 1879, the first recipe of iced tea by Marion Cabell Tyree was published in Housekeeping magazine in Old Virginia. The original recipe called for green tea leaves to be boiled and then left to infuse for a day. Poured in a glass filled with ice and sweetened with granulated sugar, the iced tea was ideal as is or with added lemon.
The 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis was a key event in the story of iced tea. Its popularity spread throughout North America thanks to one man, a vendor named Richard Blechynden, who is said to have realized that an iced version of his free hot tea would be more appealing during the hot summer days on the fairground. Fair-goers from around the country loved it so much, they took the idea of iced tea home, and the rest is history.
Today iced tea is commercialized all over the world and crosses oceans in bottles or cans. I do prefer mine homemade though, with sugar on the side please!
A Story of Taste
Iced tea has become very popular all over the world. The taste and recipes vary from one country to the other.
- The original recipe calls for cold water, poured over green or black looseleaf tea, and left to infuse outside in the sun. Strain out the tea then refrigerate up to 72 hours. Before serving over ice, you can add sugar, lemon or anything else you might like.
- In India, Chai is available almost everywhere and is spiced up with local flavors.
- The Thai version is sweetened with sugar and condensed milk, then served over ice with evaporated milk and coconut milk.
- In the United States, sweet tea is THE drink in the Southern states. In other parts of the country, iced tea is usually served unsweetened, with sugar cane syrup served on the side.
- In the state of South Carolina, a half sweetened/half unsweetened is ordered as a ‘Chris Rock’, named after the comedian originally from the city of Andrew, South Carolina.
- Iced tea mixed with lemonade is known as an Arnold Palmer.
- Add some rum and pineapple liqueur to some iced tea and you have a Cuba Ice Tea cocktail.
- For a Sweet Tea Sangria, simply add lots of fruits and sweet white wine to your iced tea.
Did you know?
- June is National Iced Tea Month.
- June 10th is National Iced Tea Day in the U. S.
- More than 85 percent of all tea consumed in the USA today is served over ice.
- In 2003, Georgia state representative John Noel tried to pass a house bill making it mandatory for all restaurants to serve sweet tea.
- The surge in interest in iced tea led to increasing sales of tall glasses in the early part of the 20th century. People called them ‘iced tea glasses’. They also started to buy long stirring spoons and tiny forks to spear lemons.
- The teaspoon was developed to easily add sugar to tall glasses full of iced tea.
- In the 1920s, iced tea found new thirsty advocates in bars and clubs during prohibition.
- The famous Long Island iced tea cocktail doesn’t have one drop of tea in it!
The best time to visit Savannah is either Spring or Fall – not only is the weather at its best but the city hosts a number of activities and festivals at this time.
Travelling to Savannah by air you’ll likely fly into Savannah Hilton Head (SAV). There are direct flights from New York, Chicago and other major metropolitan areas – otherwise you’ll need to catch a connecting flight in Atlanta or Charlotte. If you prefer a more laid-back approach to travelling you can also try catching the Amtrak train or hop on a Greyhound bus.
Wandering around the charming streets and parks of Savannah is like taking a trip back into time. The Spanish moss trickeling down the branches of the huge trees adds a ghostly atmosphere to this southern beauty. Just go with the flow, take your time, sit back and enjoy a nice large glass of sweet tea.
Check out these online resources for more information on planning a memorable trip to Savannah: