I don’t know who comes up with these designations; however, tomorrow, June 10, is National Iced Tea Day in the U.S. and parts of Canada; therefore, I decided to celebrate by pulling out my brand new iced tea pitcher. For the past 30 years, I’ve pretty much used the same Princess house clear pitcher for my iced teas. But now I’ve gotten myself a fancy infuser model :-). Spice Merchants in Laguna Beach carries a nice variety of iced tea infusers and tea pots. I love it and it works well for hot tea too. It’s a good size, holds 68 ounces of fluid, which makes plenty for a gathering. When making iced tea, use double the amount of tea leaves as you would for a hot cup. Once steeped, remove the leaves, let the strong tea cool, add equal parts pure, fresh water. Chill. Add ice as you serve the tea. This makes for the best iced tea.
In sunny So. Cal., iced tea in consumed in massive quantities. In fact, over 90% of tea consumed in the United States is the iced variety. It is said that iced tea was discovered at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair when on a very hot day, a tea merchant (Richard Blechynden), found that no one wanted his hot tea. He borrowed ice from another vendor, poured his tea over it and there you have it, iced tea discovered. While I believe this story to be true, and this certainly may have created the tipping point in exposing a broad population to the concept of iced tea, it seems that sweet iced tea existed in the American South long before 1904. I read many civil war books and there’s definitely sweet iced tea being consumed and that was the middle 1800’s. In any case, a freshly brewed jug of iced tea is my favorite thirst quencher…unsweetened for me. Our Southern relatives call that “yankee style iced tea.” If you are sweetening your tea, make a simple syrup by bring equal parts cane sugar and fresh water to a boil in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Cool it and you now have a sugar that is already dissolved as it hits your iced tea.
My absolute favorite iced tea away from home is Starbucks unsweetened black iced tea…shaken over ice. It is just sooooo good.
Drink freshly prepared, whole-leaf steeped iced teas. They are good for you. And if you order iced tea in a restaurant and get something that tastes “off putting”…send it back. It’s probably old. Iced tea should be made fresh daily!