Summer wouldn’t be the same without iced tea. In fact, even people that don’t necessarily drink hot tea can’t get enough of this sweet delight, especially during the hot weather. This refreshing and flavorful drink is so popular it even has its own day. The National Iced Tea Day is celebrated every year on June 10th, and the whole month of June was named the National Iced Tea Month.
Iced tea history
Tea is the most consumed drink after water – but in the United States, most of tea consumed is iced – 85%. So what exactly is iced tea? Real iced tea can be made with only three ingredients – real tea leaves, water and ice. But what we consider iced tea most of the time is sweet tea – a beverage made with the same ingredients with the addition of sugar. Therefore, iced tea can be sweetened or unsweetened, but sweet tea will always contain sugar.
Iced tea was very likely invented more than 150 years ago, but its popularity started at 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis, when a tea merchant on a hot summer day started adding ice to hot tea to make it more refreshing. Interestingly, iced tea was first served in tall glasses, a practice still used even today.
Which tea is used for iced tea?
Although iced tea should include green or black tea, or at least tisanes, many of the ready-to-drink iced teas don’t. Iced tea can be made with real tea, tea extracts, natural and artificial flavors, and even tea dust left after tea production. Although some high quality ready-to-drink iced teas may offer great health benefits, some of them may have very little or no antioxidants at all. If you want your iced tea to be both healthy and delicious, homemade iced tea is a good solution.
What are the best Iced Teas?
Ice tea is a very wide and versatile category. It’s possible to create thousands of flavors, strengths and colors, but some are a true classics:
- Peach Iced Tea
There is probably not a single country in the world where Peach iced tea is not available. This all-time favorite is often the main flavor many relate to iced tea and a must for any iced tea party. It’s sweet, it’s peachy and uses black tea as a base.
- Lemon Iced Tea
Lemon iced tea is simple, delicious and very refreshing, and very popular too. It’s usually made with black tea, but green or some flavored teas can be used too.
- Hibiscus Iced Tea
Hibiscus iced tea or agua de jamaica is an iced tea made with hibiscus flowers and sugar. It’s refreshing, sweet and tart, and a true delight for hot summer days. Other ingredients such as lime or mint may be used too.
- Mint Iced Tea
Mint iced tea can be made with both green and black tea. For a more fresh and green flavor use green tea, and for sweeter and stronger drink opt for the black one.
- Rooibos Iced Tea
Rooibos iced tea is much less traditional, but still very tasty and refreshing. Red bush or rooibos tea was still unfamiliar in western countries until about a couple of decades ago. Today, it’s one of the most popular herbal caffeine-free teas perfect for blending with other ingredients. Try it with strawberries, fresh or syrup, for a very refreshing summer drink.
How to boost the flavor of homemade iced tea?
If you want to make the most natural and healthy iced tea drink at home, flavors may not be as strong as in ready-to-drink iced teas from convenience stores. The benefit of making it at home is controlling ingredients and choosing those that suit your needs and preferences the best. Here is what you can do to make a glass of iced tea stronger:
- Brew it longer
- Use more tea leaves
- Choose fresh and properly stored tea
- Add fresh fruits when brewing
- Add the appropriate sweetener
Find iced tea recipes here and here.
Dislaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Every person is different and may react to different herbs and teas differently. Never use teas or herbs to treat serious medical conditions on your own. Always seek professional medical advice before choosing home remedies.