Iced Tea: America's Favorite Beverage

Posted by Siobhan Nasby on

Iced Tea: America's Favorite Beverage

Iced Tea: America's Favorite Beverage


Iced Tea is about as American as apple pie. Today 85% of tea consumption in the United States is consumed in this form.  While some think iced tea's origins started off as a fluke in the early 20th century, it has been found to be documented as far back as colonial America.

With the arrival of the first tea plant in the United States happening in the late 1700s, a silent and slow revolution began.  Originally only grown in the state of South Carolina the tea plant was used to impress the wealthy plantation owners of Charleston.  Once planted and harvested records of “iced tea punches'' began to show up in cookbooks and publications throughout the newly created United States of America and parts of England.  Contrary to how we consume it today which is mostly in a black iced tea form, socialites were consuming iced green teas.  Popular trends of the time shows they would use the green tea to create an alcoholic punch.  A popular recipe of the time was called Regent’s Punch, named for George IV, the English Prince Regent. 

The first documentation of an iced tea recipe in it’s straight, non-alcoholic form was printed in 1879.  The original recipe created by Marion Cabell Tyree, called for green tea leaves to be boiled and then steeped all day.  When served Ms. Tyree called for a glass filled to the brim with ice, two teaspoons of sugar, and then one is to pour the tea over the ice filling it to the top.  She also noted that a squeeze of fresh lemon was a lovely addition to the drink.

The first use of black tea leaves for iced tea was documented in 1884 when Mrs. D. A. Mary Lincoln, who was the head of the Boston Cooking School, released a recipe for pre-sweetened iced tea. Similar to Marion Cabell Tyree’s recipe, it called for the tea to be poured over cracked ice, two sugar cubes, and lemon.  This preparation is similar to what we are familiar with today, also showing that the south was not the only region to drink sweetened iced tea. 

Now is the time to tell the story that most people think is the origin story of iced tea, the story of Richard Blechynden and the 1904 World’s Fair.  It was a hot summer day in St. Louis and the World’s Fair was packed with thirsty fair-goers.  Mr. Blechynden was serving hot tea in his booth and quickly realized he could serve an iced version to quench the thirst of the masses.  It is with this quick thinking how iced tea was catapulted into the American public and it’s been on an upward trend ever since.

    Try our Teas! Best served iced in this beautiful weather.

    Visit us at Chado Tea Room to make a reservation and learn more about our teas!