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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Iced Tea Day

Today’s iced teas include herbal varieties
like this hibiscus Superflower Tea
from RepublicOfTea.com.

June 10th is National Iced Tea Day. Bottled tea is the best-selling form of tea in the U.S. About 85% of the tea sold here is bottled, intended to be served cold. Most of it is sweetened.

While iced tea is not traditional in that stronghold of tea-drinkers, China, it has gained popularity over the past 30 years thanks to canned and bottled tea.

Many Americans enjoy sweetener in their tea, but “sweetened tea” is different from “sweet tea,” a Southern tradition. It is brewed strong, and served presugared (and heavily sugared) and served hot or iced (there are a brands of bottled tea that specialize in “sweet tea”).

There’s an iced tea maker from West Bend that has a “sweetness chamber” for sugar, so the sugar can be brewed right into the tea! The tea brews into a pitcher, ready to cool down with ice (or, you can drink it hot).

Iced tea began to appear in the U.S. during the 1860s and became widespread during the 1870s. The oldest printed recipes for iced tea date back to then.

Some sources cite that iced tea was invented, or at least popularized, at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis by Richard Blechynden, a tea plantation owner. The story goes that no one wanted his hot tea due to the heat; so he found ice and created iced tea—an instant hit. Given the historic record, however, this story is apocryphal.

Check out our Gourmet Tea Section for our favorite bottled teas and recipes, including lavender iced tea and tea cocktails.

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