June is National Iced Tea Month. To celebrate we’ve got some fantastic iced tea recipes and information about iced tea through the years.
History of Iced Tea
While iced tea was popularized at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 (see our blog on the origin of iced tea) references to iced tea recipes appeared in cookbooks as far back as 1876. At that time, tea consumption was evenly split between green and black teas. According to the US National Library of Medicine, the breakdown of the tea consumed was 40% black teas, 40% green teas and 20% oolong. During WWII, due to public opinion and availability, tea importers were forced to switch their sources to Indian black teas, which were supplied by the British.
Many of the early recipes for iced teas combined tea with different spirits (whiskey, rum, etc.). By the late 1800’s ice was becoming more readily available and besides finding its way into cocktails, it also was used with beverages that people had traditionally enjoyed hot. A recipe for sweetened iced tea appears in an 1879 cookbook, Housekeeping in Old Virginia, and is today still the preferred style of iced tea enjoyed in the southeastern part of the US.
The Tea Association of the USA states that in the US 85% of all tea consumed is iced. While widely popular in the US, iced tea is also a part of many cultures around the globe. In the last ten years, the popularity of iced tea has soared with many bottled, ready-to-drink, brands appearing on grocery stores shelves. These ready-to-drink iced teas are available now in a variety of flavors, using different teas as the base and with varying degrees of sweetness. At home consumption is also on the rise with more people brewing iced tea and insisting on quality teas as their base. Traditional blends labeled as Iced Tea blends usually contain teas that are chosen because they tend to not brew cloudy in the cup when chilled. Any tea, however, can be brewed as an iced beverage. If you find that the teas are clouding when cooled, simply pour in some boiling water and this will dispel the cloudiness caused by the tannins in the tea.
Iced teas are generally served with ice cubes in the glass, which can dilute the tea. To counteract this and make the best possible glass of iced tea, you can either brew a stronger batch of tea or make ice cubes from tea to add to the taste and to not dilute the strength. For example we took our Tropical Papango herbal and blended it with mangoes, froze it and added the cubes to different iced teas.
Another recipe we created uses our Pomegranate Acai Yumberry Green tea and peaches to make frozen tea/fruit cubes for our summer concoctions.
The beverage recipe section of our website contains recipes for iced teas such as: our White Ambrosia tea (with Blackberry syrup), Green Guava tea with fruit, our black Iced Tea blend with basil and blackberries, and Burgundy Blast herbal, among others.
Visit our page of Simple Syrup recipes as well. These syrups can be used over fruit or ice cream and are a great addition to your iced teas and cocktails! We have suggestions for iced teas, but remember there’s no limit to the types of teas you can served chilled this Summer!
Alcoholic Iced Tea
Over the last five years, we’ve also seen the resurgence of teas used in alcoholic recipes. Teas and herbal tisanes make useful ingredients to add depth and a variety of flavors to traditional cocktail recipes. Teas infused in alcohol and concentrated to make flavorful bitters also add versatility and amazing possibilities for your next cocktail hour.
Of course, tea used in cocktail recipes is not a new concept or invention since it has historically been a component of cocktail blends. A recipe dating back to 1815 for Regent’s Punch blends green tea with champagne, brandy, rum, sugar, citrus and pineapple and is still popular today.
There are now a plethora of recipes available online and in books for tea cocktails. NPR’s The Salt published a great article entitled, As American As Iced Tea: A Brief, Sometimes Boozy History, that outlines the history of iced teas through the years.
We’ve created a few recipes that can be found on our website in the Recipe section under Alcoholic Beverages. As mentioned above, tea can be brewed and added to cocktails, or you can steep your teas in different types of alcohol. We steeped our Summertime Earl Grey in vodka to create a delicious and refreshing citrus peach blend. Also steeped in vodka was our Berry Nice herbal, which we then blended with triple sec, lime and seltzer to make a cocktail that’s perfect to sip on hot summer afternoons.
Lavender Lace herbal tisane, with lavender, rosemary, cinnamon, spearmint and lemon verbena, pairs perfectly with gin. Infuse the herbal blend in gin and use it to make a simple gin & tonic that has a surprising depth of flavor.
There’s no limit to the recipes you can create for iced teas and tea cocktails. We hope this information fuels your desire to discover some new and exciting concoctions! Drop us a line and let us know about some of your creations!