161/365: National Iced Tea Day*

Tea-totallers of the world unite: the 10th of June pays homage to a refreshing beverage that can be either sweet or tart. It’s National Iced Tea Day!

It is also Herbs & Spices Day and Black Cow Day. Technically we also celebrated the former since we cooked dinner using herbs and spices, but that’s hardly unusual. And with so many desserts in the month of June, the Black Cow just didn’t moo-ve us. So, iced tea it was!

There’s a myth that a plantation owner named Richard Blechynden invented iced tea in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair. According to legend, the weather was hot, and Blechynden’s tea wasn’t selling. So he added ice to the drink, and – voila! History was made. The only problem with this story is that recipes for iced tea date as far back as 1876 (Estelle Wilcox’s Buckeye Cookbook), plus the fact that iced tea was being sold at hotels and railroad stations during the latter half of the 19th century. Most likely Blechynden’s iced beverage merely helped to popularize the drink, especially when people realized how refreshing it tasted on a hot day. During Prohibition (1920-1933), iced tea’s popularity grew when liquor, beer, and wine were no longer available. Folks found it a decent enough substitute, but stumbled over the revised lyrics to the old ditty “99 Bottles of Iced Tea on the wall.”

Iced tea was originally made with green tea, but over the years black tea became the preferred choice thanks to inexpensive imports from India, Ceylon, South America, and Africa. Iced tea is most commonly served with a slice of lemon as garnish, and is often sweetened with sugar. In the South, “sweet tea” (a very strong brew with lots of sugar) is especially popular, helping Southerners deal with the heat and humidity. Bottled iced teas are available across the country, manufactured by brands such as Snapple, Lipton, and Nestea. In recent years, the Arnold Palmer (aka “Half and Half”) – a mixture of 1/2 iced tea and 1/2 lemonade, named after the legendary golfer who liked to combine the two at home – has become increasingly popular.

Iced tea is one of my favorite beverages, and I’m not alone: 85% of the tea consumed in America is iced. I’m not a big soda drinker, so 9 times out of 10 when I’m eating out I’ll order iced tea (assuming that alcohol is not in the mix, of course). (And sometimes when it is in the mix: vodka and iced tea ala Jeremiah Weed is a pretty tasty drink). So, I was more than happy to indulge! Tara and I love our Keurig coffeemaker, and have recently discovered Snapple Iced Tea k-cups. They come in both lemon and peach flavors, and each is delicious. We brewed some up tonight to go along with our dinner!

National Iced Tea Day

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Categories: Beverages | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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