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History of Iced Tea in America

June 18, 2007


It might be surprising to learn that tea has been served cold in this country for centuries.  In fact, in the early 1800s, cold tea was served in the form of green tea punches, spiked with alcohol such as claret or Champagne.  By the middle it the 19th century, versions of these punches acquired regional and patriotic names like Charleston’s St. Cecilia Punch, named for the annual musical ball at which it was served, or Savannah’s Chatham Artillery Punch.

Later, sweet tea became a staple beverage in the South.  The oldest sweet tea recipe on record dates back to 1879.   However, iced tea was really commercialized at the World Fair in St. Louis in 1904.  Due to a particularly hot summer that year, fair goers turned to the refreshing flavor of cold tea to cool themselves off. 

Any form of dry tea may be iced according to one’s tastes.  It is commonly available sweetened or unsweetened and served with a slice of lemon.  However, throughout the country, iced tea has been adapted to meet climate and cultural preferences.  In the Southwest, for instance, iced tea is more often accompanied by lime than lemon.   

Although fresh brewed iced tea is most often black tea, such as Orange Pekoe, fruit flavored teas and herbals teas are now not far behind.  Jasmine Tea, Earl Grey and Spiced Chai over ice are among the other popular variations.  Cool off with your favorite Bigelow tea over ice today!!!



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