First, a note – Sorry that I have not posted in a while! Things have been crazy busy lately (in a good way, though!). I am going to be posting here again, as well as writing my Riverdale New Jersey news column, my posts on Cranford Patch, and my Tea Love talks (speaking of which, little children in West Milford, New Jersey should mark their calendars on July 11th for a children’s talk!).
And now, onto tea…
June is a time of hot summer days, relaxation by the beach, and ice cold glasses of tea. It’s a time of relaxation, spending time with family and friends, and allowing the days to drift on by.
No wonder why June was chosen to be National Iced Tea Month. Iced tea has been popular in the United States prior to the Civil War. According to Upton Tea, the first iced teas were actually most of a mixture of tea and alcohol dubbed “tea punches”.
Cookbooks like The Kentucky Housewife would print recipes calling for readers to scald their teapots, put the green tea in the boiling water (being that general stores in the 19th century mostly stocked green tea from China or Japan and was thus more accessible), allow the mixture to stand and finally pour it over ice, sugar, cream, and a bottle of red wine or champagne. The reason recipes started becoming more popular was because of the increased availability and popularity of harvested ice from the New England lakes and rivers.
However, though cookbooks and magazines were advertising iced tea and an article in the Nevada Noticer explaining the meal requirements for the 1890 Missouri State Reunion of Ex-Confederate Veterans called for 880 gallons of iced tea, the drink’s popularity really got its boon from an English entrepreneur named Richard Blechynden.
Blechynden, often incorrectly named the inventor of iced tea, did help the drink get its start to fame. In 1904, Blechynden was put in charge of the drink pavilion at the St. Louis World’s Fair, also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. He was competing with merchants from all over the world, including Indian and Ceylon who were also trying to promote their own tea.
The fair that day, however, was blistering hot. No one wanted to buy any of the equally hot tea that Blechynden was trying to sell. Soon, the merchant became exhausted. There seemed to be no way that people would want to buy his ware. So, desperate, Blechynden tried serving the tea cold in glasses of ice. His plan worked, and his drink became an instant success, helping to popularize the drink from then on.
Now, iced tea is the most common way that the United States enjoys its tea, with over 80% of consumption being iced rather than hot. While many do enjoy to have the instant, bottled, and bagged iced tea, iced loose tea does hold a certain flavor to it that one cannot get in a plastic bottle from a vending machine.
Brewing iced tea is also a simple process – simply brew your hot tea and then allow it to cool in the refrigerator. This method can produce a cloudy tea, but it will not affect the taste. However, if you would like a clear look, Upton Tea also recommends to simply add double or triple the amount of tea leaves you would normally use for a hot brew into a cold bath and allow that to steep overnight. This, they explain, should help produce a wonderful taste and is simple to execute.
However you wish to brew your tea, make sure to grab your mug or your cup, go outside, and enjoy the gorgeous June weather while keeping cool sipping on your healthy beverage.