The Ladies' Tea Guild

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's Iced Tea Month -- despite the rain!

Moroccan Mint tea by Nicolas Mailfait.
June is Iced Tea Month here in the United States, and while the recent rain reminds us that it's technically still spring, the month of June can experience temperatures high enough here in the Santa Clara Valley to make iced tea really refreshing.  While cold tea, served with or without ice in the glass, has been a familiar drink in the United States since the middle of the 1800s, especially in the warm Southern states, “iced” tea is generally agreed to have been “invented” – at least formally introduced – to Americans at the 1906 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.  Iced tea became a sensation and has remained a popular warm-weather beverage ever since then. 

What makes iced tea different from regular cold tea?  Traditionally, cold tea starts out as hot tea made in the standard way with about 1 teaspoon of tea leaves for every 6 to 8 ounces of water, and it is allowed to cool gradually to room temperature, when it is chilled further with the addition of ice.  Iced tea starts out as hot tea, made double-strength with more tea leaves, and then simultaneously diluted and chilled by the addition of lots of ice.

Since physicians and health experts advise us all to drink plenty of fluids all year long, but especially during the summer, and tea (plain and unsweetened) is an almost-calorie-free, flavorful beverage that some believe is better for you than plain water (due to the antioxidants present in tea), it is a good idea to keep some iced tea in the fridge every day during the late spring, summer and warm days of fall, so that you can grab a nice cold glass of tea whenever you want. 

For more information about making iced tea, herbal teas or tisanes, and recipes for mixed drinks that use iced tea, check out these articles:

"Iced Tea" recipe ca. 1887
“Iced tea punches and mocktails: variations on a theme.”
“Tea is not just for teatotallers!” 
“Using tea in mixed drinks”
"The sweet Southern elixir is seeping into scores of recipes" by Andrea Weigl, Food & Wine Magazine.
"Algabar's Marie Antoinette Iced Tea" recipe
"Chai Milkshake" recipe

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)