Iced and sweetened are two popular ways Americans drink their tea. Southern states are known to brew their iced tea sweet or to use lemon for plain. Other parts of the country also serve this beverage, but it is typically unsweetened black rather than lighter types. This drink was traditionally served hot, but cooling it with ice became popular in St. Louis during the 1904 World’s Fair when it was commercialized. Tea had been around long before then, dating back to the 18th Century.
The beginning of iced tea in America
The first place you could find tea being grown in America was in South Carolina during the eighteenth century. During the late 1700’s, French explorer Andre Michaux imported the first tea plant, along with other showy varieties of flowers to wealthy Charleston planters. Michaux farmed his own plants at Middleton Barony, now called Middleton Place Gardens, near Charleston.
Some of the oldest recipes found in cookbooks include green tea being served cold in punches and heavily spiked with liquor. These punches have names like Regent’s Punch, named after an English Prince who lived during the early 1800’s. During the mid-19th century, these drinks began to receive more regional and patriotic names such as Charleston’s St. Cecilia Punch or Chatham Artillery Punch.
The oldest sweet tea recipe found in print today was placed in a community cookbook, Housekeeping in Old Virginia, published in 1879. This recipe may be one of the first of its kind to use black tea, which is universally popular now. This is also the earliest form of sweet tea preferred in the South today.
During the World’s Fair of 1893 in Chicago, a vendor is said to have grossed more than $2,000 for his sales in lemonade and iced tea. By 1895, The Enterprising Manufacturing Co. produced a popular recipe booklet, written by Helen Louise Johnson, that included an advertisement for ice shredders to use for this beverage.
By the 1900’s, iced tea was common in cookbooks and black tea was starting to replace green as a cold beverage choice. With exports becoming more inexpensive from Africa, South America, and Ceylon, more Americans began using black tea. Special glasses and long spoons with lemon forks began to appear by World War I, specifically designed for drinking iced tea.
One point in history which helped to boost the popularity of this drink in the United States was the American Prohibition. When people had to find alternatives to illegal alcohols, they turned to strong brewed iced tea. Recipes began appearing in almost all southern cookbooks during this period for both sweet and unsweet varieties.
In an attempt to bring humor to the Legislature in 2003, John Noel, a Georgia State Representative, introduced House Bill 819. This Bill proposed that all Georgia restaurants be required to serve sweet tea. While it was meant as an April Fool’s Day joke, Noel said he wouldn’t have minded had it become law. Today, iced tea is a staple in restaurants and households throughout the country.
At Plains Dairy, we offer many products that can fit your unique needs, including Unsweet and Sweet Tea. We are proud to offer a large selection of high quality Milk and Cultured products as well. For more information, call us at (806) 374-0385 or Contact Us via email today. You can also Find a Store near you today and view Our Recipes!