The Quick and Easy Guide to Great Iced Tea

The first printed sweet tea recipe (iced tea) appeared in 1879 in a community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia, by Marion Cabell Tyree. However, it was the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis where it was popularized. Richard Blechynden had a pavilion in which he was offering free hot tea. Due to the hot weather, no one was interested. He quickly improvised a way to make iced tea by running the tea through chilled pipes. The free iced tea was a huge hit with the fair goers and Blechynden's new invention was taken to New York City and used in Bloomingdales to help serve this new summertime drink to shoppers.

Since then, iced tea has become a universal drink offering.There are many cultural variations and preparation methods, but all of them are essentially based on brewing a tea that is then served chilled. The two simplest ways to make a great iced tea from loose tea leaves are:

  • Hot Brewing: Hot brewing involves heating the water to the temperature appropriate for a particular type of tea, steeping it for the proper time, letting it cool and then pouring it over ice. This method pushes the flavor out of the tea leaves at a faster rate and produces a stronger tasting tea. Click here for our easy to use Takeya Iced Teamaker.
  • Cold Brewing: Cold brewing is a slower and more gentle process. The tea leaves are allowed to steep for a much longer period of time in water that is never heated. The flavor is slowly pulled out of the leaves in this way and produces a softer but no less flavorful tea.This method is great for larger amounts of tea. Click here for our easy to follow Cold Brew Iced Tea Recipe.

Now both of these preparation methods are using loose tea leaves. This is the best choice for any kind of tea making for the following reasons:

  1. To harvest whole tea leaves, more care has to be taken. This means they are picked by hand or by gentle machines that mimic handpicking.
  2. Loose leaves come from the top most part of the tea bush which is where the flavor and health benefits are more concentrated.
  3. Whole tea leaves still have their botanical benefits intact, as opposed to cut or chopped leaves that lose them into the air leading to quick degradation.
  4. Wholes leaves are infused more slowly which allows the complex flavors and aromas to shine.
  5. Using loose leaves opens to the door to a world of different types of iced teas. Greens, Oolongs, Whites and Herbals all make wonderful tasting iced teas.
  6. The health benefits associated with loose leaf teas are the same in both hot and iced versions.

Popular iced tea blends often include fruit due to the compatibility of flavors. There are however many people that enjoy their iced tea made from a basic black tea blend.

Make sure to try our brand new award winning iced tea blend called "Soak Up the Sun". It is a special blend of leaves from the Nilgiri region in southern India.

Click here for a quick note about Sun Tea. Please be cautious if you choose this method.

Now is definitely the time to break out the iced tea glasses and start sipping no matter what method you choose. If you are like me, then iced tea is a drink to be enjoyed year round.


Shawn Geitner