Iced is Nice

By Andrea Graham – Maya Tea Company

In 1904, the World’s Fair in St. Louis was attended by one Richard Blechynden, a tea merchant from India. He’d come to the fair to promote tea drinking. It was a hot summer day and there was no interest in his hot tea. In order to boost sales, he added ice to his tea and created a new beverage, iced tea. It was a big hit and an American tradition was born.

Unlike our counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic, the majority of the tea consumed in this country is iced at about 85%. Most homes and restaurants from coast to coast offer some sort of iced tea option. And the options are many. The Nestea plunge in the form of crystals or liquid concentrate is still available along with tea bags and loose tea especially blended for iced tea. Southerners have been drinking sweet tea on steamy summer days for generations, many restaurants now carry signature iced teas, and it is becoming more and more common to find bottled tea in convenience stores. In terms of popularity, iced tea is right up there with lemonade as refreshment on a hot summer day. In warmer climates, it is a mainstay.

Making a wonderful glass of iced tea is not difficult, but occasionally iced tea will turn out cloudy or bitter. It’s possible to avoid these problems by following a few guidelines. The first thing to consider is water. Tap water rarely makes good iced tea as it contains too many chemicals. Purified water on the other hand is too pure. The answer is filtered water. Water in hand, the next requirement is the tea. A good glass of iced tea requires a ratio of twice the tea to water. So, for a 16 ounce glass, use the amount of tea for a 16 ounce serving, but use 8 ounces of water to make a strong brew. After steeping for the suggested time, pour the 8 ounces of strong tea into a 16 ounce glass full of ice. Continue to add ice until the glass is topped off. In lieu of ice, you can also add cold water and refrigerate. This same formula of filtered water, twice the tea, and then ice will make any amount of iced tea needed.

Because of the recent popularity of tea, iced tea has benefited by emerging with better quality teas available and an abundance of flavors and scents. The many types of iced tea being brewed on hot summer days across the country are astounding. Passion fruit, Mint, Jasmine, Vanilla, and a variety of caffeine-free herbals are just a few to be had. Tea is also benefiting from a new crop of iced drinks that contain tea and are often a creative version of iced tea. Tea smoothies, juice/tea combos, bubble tea, tea frappuccinos, and even cocktails are appearing at coffee shops, juice bars, restaurants, and night clubs.

Over 100 years ago, a creative businessman added ice to a familiar drink and inadvertently created iced tea. Because of this, iced tea, in one form or another, has become one of America’s favorite drinks.

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