Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Put Your Tea on Ice!

Guess what folks?!? June is national iced tea month, so I thought it would most appropriate to offer a blog entry to that affect. I will share with you some history on iced tea, as well as providing you some brewing methods and some recipes.

While it would be unfair to say that iced tea was created in 1904 (there is significant evidence that this is not the case), it's very much the case that Iced Tea was, in popularized in 1904, the circumstances of which are as follows:

It was a particularly warm summer day in Saint Louis, Missouri. This was were the World's Fair was being held that particular year. An Englishman named Richard Blechynden was manning a concession stand selling tea. Not surprisingly, hot tea was not a big hit with the crowd, who were too busy wiping the sweat from their eyes to notice him. Not wanting to put up with poor sales all day, Mr. Blechynden turned on his English ingenuity, and began pouring the tea over a cup of ice. The beverage was a big hit, and the world quickly caught on and followed suit, hence the popularization of iced tea in the US.

I could tell you a great deal about the history of iced tea prior to this event, but since this is national iced tea month, and the nation I am in happens to be the US of A, I seems fitting only to emphasize the American portions of this tale.

Quite nearly any tea can be turned into in iced tea by being brewed a tad stronger and poured over ice. Some times with certain teas this process will cause the beverage to cloud, causing no difference in flavor, but perhaps making it a bit less aesthetically pleasing. A couple suggestions that sometimes work is to add a small amount of lemon juice or boiling water. Another suggestion if your going to use a tea prone to temperature clouding, is to simply allow the tea to cool slowly instead of pouring it over ice. This will take some time, but will be worth it if you aim to eliminate cloudiness.

One very popular way to create iced tea is to place a large, specially made tea bag into a massive pitcher of cold water and allowing it to sit overnight. Those of you that are aware of my thoughts on tea bags can predict what I will say next - that this is not a proper way to make any sort of tea, even iced tea. The tea used in any teabag is almost always broken into too small of bits, and is generally of much lower quality.

A second popular way is to use instant or powdered iced tea. This is an abomination to the world of tea, and does tea tradition a huge disfavor. Using this method, you have zero control over flavor blending, and zero control over quality - you're simply stuck with whatever they happened to put in that mix (generally ungodly things like processed sugars or corn syrup.)

I maintain my position that loose leaf is still the best way to go, even for iced beverages.

And now, I would offer you some links to delicious iced tea recipes. I hope you will enjoy them, but what I hope even more is that you'll experiment and create your own delicious concoctions.

The links are as follows:

Saigon Iced Tea

A few recipes and some great suggestions and ideas (although with this one take care to avoit the teabag recipes.)

A great from-scratch Thai Iced Tea recipe (although I recommend you leave out the food coloring).

Cheers, and enjoy the tea!



veralicious. said...

here here!
ima fan of iced tea.
this was very informative.
hooo-ray for life.

Relznuk said...

Thanks for the amazing comment, and I am most pleased that you are a fan of the Tea of Iced-ness. Hooray for life.