History of Baked Alaska by
What's Cooking America.
My Favorite Sweet Tea Recipes:
Andra's Sweet Tea Recipe
Juanita's Southern Ice Tea Recipe
Learn about the history of more of your favorite beverages:
Coffee Milk/Coffee Cabinet
New York Egg Cream
Comments from readers:
I stumbled upon your page about the history of iced tea...
pretty interesting! I liked it except for one thing... you say
"Outside of the southern states, iced tea is served unsweetened
or “black,” and most people have never even heard of sweet tea."
Not quite true! In Canada, sweetened iced tea is the standard
and people drink it at almost every meal and year round, like
the southern states. No self-respecting Canadian would drink
unsweetened iced tea... that's not iced tea, it's just black
tea, cold. :P This is why many unsuspecting Canadian tourists
have a rude shock in store for them when they order iced tea in
a northern state.
Thanks for the read! Rachael Frey (12/18/06)
Sweet iced tea in the American South tends to be a regional item. Sweetened iced tea was the norm when I lived in Georgia.
Louisiana if you ask for "iced tea" it will be unsweetened. The only
restaurants in Louisiana that tend to serve iced tea sweetened are the
regional chains like Cracker Barrel, and they have learned that
sweetened iced tea isn't as popular in Louisiana so, they offer both
really enjoyed your website on iced tea!
Tom Mungall (12/04/07)
Baton Rouge, La, USA
History of Iced Tea and Sweet Tea
There are two traditional iced teas in the
United States. The only variation between them is sugar.
Southerners swear by their traditional sweet ice tea and drink it by the gallons. In the
South, ice tea is not just a summertime drink, it is served year round with
most meals. When people order tea in a Southern restaurant, chances are they
will get sweet ice tea.
Outside of the southern states, iced tea is served
unsweetened or “black,” and most people have never even heard of sweet tea.
1795 - South Carolina is the first place in the
United States where tea was grown and is the only state to ever have
produced tea commercially. Most historians agree that the first tea plant arrived in this
country in the late 1700s when French explorer and botanist, Andre Michaux (1746-1802),
imported it as well as other beautiful and showy varieties of camellias,
gardenias and azaleas to suit the aesthetic and acquisitive desires of
wealthy Charleston planters. He planted tea near Charleston at Middleton
Barony, now known as Middleton Place Gardens.
1800's - English and American cookbooks shows us that tea
has been served cold at least since the early nineteenth century, when cold
green tea punches, that were heavily spiked with liquor, were popularized.
The oldest recipes in print are made with green tea and not black tea and
were called punches. The tea punches went by names such as Regent's Punch,
named after George IV, the English prince regent between 1811 until 1820,
and king from 1820 to 1830.
By the middle of the nineteenth
century, American versions of this punch begin to acquire regional and even
patriotic names, such as Charleston's St. Cecilia Punch (named for the
musical society whose annual ball it graced), and Savannah's potent version,
Chatham Artillery Punch.
Iced tea's popularity parallels
the development of refrigeration: the ice house, the icebox (refrigerator),
and the commercial manufacture of pure ice, which were in place by the
middle of the nineteenth century. The term "refrigerator" was used for the
first patented ice box in 1803 and were common in the mid 19th century in
the United States
1839 - The 1839 cookbook, The Kentucky Housewife, by
Mrs. Lettice Bryanon, was typical of the American tea punch recipes:
"Tea Punch - Make a pint and a half
of very strong tea in the usual manner; strain it, and pour it boiling
(hot) on one pound and a quarter of loaf sugar. (That's 2 1/2 cups white
sugar) Add half a pint of rich sweet cream, and then stir in gradually a
bottle of claret or of champaign (sic). You may heat it to the boiling
point, and serve it so, or you may send it round entirely cold, in glass
- The oldest sweet tea recipe (ice tea) in print comes from a
community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia, by Marion
Cabell Tyree, published in 1879:
"Ice Tea. - After scalding the
teapot, put into it one quart of boiling water and two teaspoonfuls
green tea. If wanted for supper, do this at breakfast. At dinner time,
strain, without stirring, through a tea strainer into a pitcher. Let it
stand till tea time and pour into decanters, leaving the sediment in the
bottom of the pitcher. Fill the goblets with ice, put two teaspoonfuls
granulated sugar in each, and pour the tea over the ice and sugar. A
squeeze of lemon will make this delicious and healthful, as it will
correct the astringent tendency."
1884 - This
may be the first printed recipe using black tea, which has become so
universal today, and could also be the earliest version of pre-sweetened
iced tea, the usual way of making it in the South today. Mrs. D. A. (Mary)
Lincoln, director of the Boston Cooking School, published Mrs. Lincoln's
Boston Cook Book: What to Do and What Not to Do in Cooking in 1884. On
page 112, there it is: iced tea, proving that the drink was not just a
"Ice Tea or Russian Tea - Make the
tea by the first receipt, strain it from the grounds, and keep it cool.
When ready to serve, put two cubes of block sugar in a glass, half fill
with broken ice, add a slice of lemon, and fill the glass with cold tea."
1890 - Professor Lyndon N. Irwin, of Southwest
Missouri State University and a member of the St. Louis World's Fair
Society, found an article from the September 28, 1890 issue of the Nevada
Noticer newspaper regarding the 1890 Missouri State Reunion of
Ex-Confederate Veterans. This article clearly states that iced tea had been
around prior to1890. The article states the following:
following figures will convey some idea of the amount of provision used
a Camp Jackson during the recent encampment. There were 4,800 pounds of
bread, 11,705 pounds of beef, 407 pounds of ham, 21 sheep, 600 pounds of
sugar, 6 bushels of beans, 60 gallon of pickles, and a wagonload of
potatoes. It was all washed down with 2,220 gallons of coffee and 880
gallons of iced tea. The committee expended $3,000, a little in excess
of the amount subscribed, for the entertainment of the old soldiers."
1893 - The 1893 Chicago World's Fair, also called the
Columbian Exposition, had a concessionair that grossed over $2,000 selling
iced tea and lemonade.
The Home Queen World's Fair Souvenir Cookbook
- Two Thousand Valuable Recipes on Cookery and Household Economy, Menus,
Table Etiquette, Toilet, Etc. Contributed by Two Hundred World's Fair Lady
Managers, Wives of Governors and Other Ladies of Position and Influence,
compiled by Miss Juliet Corson includes a recipe for variations on serving
1895 - The Enterprising Manufacturing Co. of Pennsylvania
distributed its popular recipe booklet called The Enterprising Housekeeper
by Helen Louise Johnson. In the recipe booklet, they advertise their popular
ice shredders and its many uses. One use was "for your iced tea."
1900s - After 1900, iced tea became commonplace in
cookbooks, and black tea began replacing green as the preferred tea for
serving cold. The preference for black over green tea in an iced beverage
came with of import of inexpensive black tea exports from India, Ceylon,
South America, and Africa.
1904 - It was at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis that
iced tea was popularized and commercialized (not invented).
Due to the hot summer of 1904, people ignored any hot drinks and went in
search of cold drinks, including iced tea. Because of this, it changed
the way the rest of Americans thought of tea, thus popularizing iced tea.
historians mistakenly give credit to Richard Blechynden, India Tea
Commissioner and Director of the East Indian Pavilion, as being the creator
of ice tea at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. In the East Indian
Pavilion at the Fair, Blechynden was offering free hot tea to everyone.
Because of the intense heat, it was soon realized that the heat prevented
the crowd from drinking his hot tea. Blechynden and his team took the brewed
India tea, filled several large bottles, and placed them on stands upside
down - thus allowing the tea to flow through iced lead pipes. This free iced
tea was very much welcomed by the thirsty fair goers. After the fair,
Blechynden took his lead pipe apparatus to New York City, offering free iced
tea to shoppers at Bloomingdale Brothers Department Store, demonstrating
iced tea is a desirable summertime drink.
According to the book Beyond The Ice Cream Cone - The Whole Scoop on Food
at the 1904 World's Fair by Pamela J. Vaccaro:
tea and iced tea appeared on most restaurant menus at the Fair - at the
Barbecue, Fair Japan, the Old Irish Parliament House, the Louisiana and
Texas Rice Kitchen, Mrs. Rorer's East Pavilioin Cafe, and so on. It is
highly unlikely that all these restaurants jumped on the bandwagon of
Blechynden's "new idea," and scurried to the print shops to have their
really "stirs the pot" is that "Richard Blechynden" was listed as an
official concessionaire (No. 325) "to serve tea in cups and packages" at
the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 - 11 years before the one in St. Louis.
The financial records from the exposition do not list any ledger entries
for Blechynden - which raises the question of whether he actually showed
up or was just late with his report. But, if he had been there, it would
have been odd that he would not have realized that his product was
already being sold in hot and cold versions. It would likewise be odd
that, in the 11 intervening years, he would have been totally oblivious
to the drink's inclusion in cookbooks and on menus."
1917 - By World War I, Americans were buying special tall
iced tea glasses, long spoons, and lemon forks. By the 1930s, people were
commonly referring to the tall goblet in crystal sets as an "iced tea"
1920-1933 - The American Prohibition
(1920-1933) helped boost the popularity of iced tea because average
Americans were forced to find alternatives to illegal beer, wine, and
alcohol. Iced tea recipes begin appearing routinely in most southern
cookbooks during this time.
1928 - In the southern cookbook, Southern Cooking, by
Henrietta Stanley Dull (Mrs. S.R. Dull), Home Ecomonics Editor for the
Atlanta Journal, gives the recipe that remained standard in the South for
decades thereafter. It is a regional book that very much resembles the
many “church” or “ladies society” cookbooks of that era.
"TEA - Freshly brewed tea, after
three to five minutes' infusion, is essential if a good quality is
desired. The water, as for coffee, should be freshly boiled and poured
over the tea for this short time . . . The tea leaves may be removed
when the desired strength is obtained . . . Tea, when it is to be iced,
should be made much stronger, to allow for the ice used in chilling. A
medium strength tea is usually liked. A good blend and grade of black
tea is most popular for iced tea, while green and black are used for hot
. . . To sweeten tea for an iced drink-less sugar is required if put in
while tea is hot, but often too much is made and sweetened, so in the
end there is more often a waste than saving . . . Iced tea should be
served with or without lemon, with a sprig of mint, a strawberry, a
cherry, a slice of orange, or pineapple. This may be fresh or canned
fruit. Milk is not used in iced tea."
1941 - During World War II, the major sources of green tea
were cut off from the United States, leaving us with tea almost exclusively
from British-controlled India, which produces black tea. Americans came out
of the war drinking nearly 99 percent black tea.
1995 - South Carolina's grown tea was officially adopted as
the Official Hospitality Beverage by State Bill 3487, Act No. 31 of the
111th Session of the South Carolina General Assembly on April 10, 1995.
2003 - Georgia State Representative, John Noel, and four
co-sponsors, apparently as an April Fools' Day joke, introduced House Bill
819, proposing to require all Georgia restaurants that serve tea to serve
sweet tea. Representative John Noel, one of the sponsors, is said to have acknowledged that the bill was an attempt
to bring humor to the Legislature, but wouldn't mind if it became law.
The text of the bill proposes:
(a) As used in this Code
section, the term 'sweet tea' means iced tea which is sweetened with
sugar at the time that it is brewed.
(b) Any food service
establishment which served iced tea must serve sweet tea. Such an
establishment may serve unsweetened tea but in such case must also serve
(c) Any person who
violates this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high
and aggravated nature.
1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair - The Iced Tea Question, by Lyndon N.
Beyond the Ice Cream
Cone - The Whole Scoop on food at the 1904 World's Fair, by Pamela J.
Vaccaro, Enid Press, St. Louis, 2004.
Boston Cooking School
Cook Book, by Mrs. D.A. Lincoln, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1996
GA: Food Establishments Must Serve Sweet Tea!,
Political State Report, Tuesday, April 1, 2003.
Georgia General Assembly, House Bill 819.
Have What They're Having - Legendary Local Cuisine, by Linda Stradley,
Globe Pequot Press, 2002.
Mint Museum of
Art in Charlotte, NC, Features Works by Pierre-Joseph Redouté, April Issue
2002, from Carolina Arts Magazine, by Shoestring Publishing Company,
South Carolina General Assembly, 111th Session, 1995-1996.
Steeped in Tradition - Sweetened or not, Iced tea is
Southerners' drink of choice, by Linda Dailey Paulson, writer for
Atlanta-Journal Constitution newspaper.
Taste of Luzianne, Luzianne