Have you ever stopped to think of iced tea as a creative innovation? It's such a common drink that it didn't occur to me that icing tea was at one point impossible. Tea is one of the oldest drinks on earth, with a rich history dating back to ancient China and India. Its popularity surpasses thousands of drinks and has remained for centuries as one of the most loved drinks of all time. The one downside is that it's almost exclusively brewed with hot water, which puts a damper on its deliciousness in the summer months. Sometimes it's just too toasty outside for a hot drink.
Here's a little history of human innovation that would lead to what is now one of the most popular drinks around the world. I'm not talking about putting a man on the moon, splitting the atom, or climbing Mt. Everest. I'm talking about iced tea. Good old-fashioned iced tea.
Where Did Iced Tea Come From?
When you think about how long iced tea has been around, it's probably good to remember that iced tea couldn't be preserved without refrigeration, not to mention that you need ice when you make iced tea. So it's safe to say that it's a relatively new invention and, at the very least, has to come after the invention of the refrigerator box.
There are records of iced tea in cookbooks and recipe booklets dating before the early 1900s, but the moment it became popular and began its surge commercially was in 1904 at the St Louis World's Fair. Richard Blechynden was offering hot tea, but there was little interest, probably because of the warm weather. He decided to serve it chilled, and before he knew it, this new drink began to grow in popularity. This was not the first time iced tea was served, but it was the pivotal turning point in commercializing iced tea. Ever since then, iced tea has only grown in popularity, with large commercial companies such as Lipton of Belgium and Tetley of England pouncing on its marketability and accessibility. Today, more than 75% of tea in the U.S. is served and sold iced. Thousands upon thousands of variations of iced tea have taken the tea industry by storm, from the classic sweet tea of the South to the unique boba tea of Taiwan. Iced tea is one of the most impactful drinks in history, and it's hard to go anywhere and not find iced tea somewhere on a menu.
How Do You Brew Iced Tea?
Making iced tea is pretty simple. Using our recommended Brewing Guide, you brew your tea with hot water and refrigerate it overnight. After it has chilled, add as much or as little ice as you would like. That's it; you just chill your hot tea. There's no need to brew at a different temperature, no need to steep it any differently than your usual method. All you do is serve it cold. There seems to be an assumption that iced tea is much more of a hassle to brew, but it really isn't! In fact, in the long run, it's much easier. All you need is some extra time or a night's sleep to have it fully chilled. If you brew a pitcher's worth of tea and drink just a cup's worth, then you don't even need to brew anything the next day; all you have to do is pour a cup from yesterday's brew. It's as simple as that!
What Teas are Best Iced?
Like any food or drink, how "good" a tea tastes depends on your preferences and tastes, but there are teas that fare better when iced. Fruit teas are a great example. Fruit is naturally refreshing to eat, making a crisp cold cup of any fruit tisane a perfectly balanced iced drink. But if you're not a fan of fruit teas, or you're more of a tea purist, black, green, or white loose-leaf teas are perfect for iced tea. You can even enjoy fancy matcha iced. When you live in an area as we do here in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area, iced drinks are a must, especially on blazing hot summer days. Maybe that's why there's a bottled iced tea called Arizona. But that's not the only kind you can find bottled and sold. There's Snapple, Pure Leaf, Lipton, Brisk, and many more. But often, you don't always know what's in those bottled teas, and often they are filled with sugar and sweeteners. We recommend using our teas at Hackberry and chilling overnight so you can enjoy a fresh cup of iced tea at your leisure. You may look at our website and not know where to start. I'll share some recommendations for every type of tea we sell if you need help deciding.
Here are my recommendations for iced tea for each type of tea we sell at Hackberry Tea.
Ceylon Black is classic black tea from Sri Lanka. If you like traditional black iced tea, this is a perfect tea.
Silver Needle is one of our most premium teas. It’s savory, aromatic and is among some of the most sought after tea.
Blueberry White is a mildly tart and refreshing. White tea is brewed at lower temperatures so be sure to follow brewing guide.
Jasmine Love is a traditional green tea with floral flavor notes.
Wild Cherry Green is delicious if you’d like to add some fruit flavor to your green tea.
Fruit and Herbal Tea
It’s difficult to narrow down the selection of our fruit and herbal teas. You really can’t go wrong with any of them.
Here’s a list to get you started.
Fun Recipes for Iced Tea
Here are some videos on how to make some interesting drinks with iced tea. If you’re hosting a party or just looking for some variety, check these out.