The History of Iced Tea

June is National Iced Tea Month! What a wonderful time to celebrate this refreshing drink. Did you know that iced tea was recorded as early as 1823 with Marguerite Countess of Blessington writing that she sipped this divine beverage in Naples?

According to Wikipedia, the oldest print recipes for iced tea date back to the 1870s after they first started to appear in the Southern United States in the 1860s. It was offered on hotel menus and at railroad states and its popularity increased exponentially once it was introduced by Richard Blechynden at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904.

The popularity of iced tea travels beyond the borders of the United States to countries like Austria, Canada, China, Demark, Germany, Hong Kong, and India as well as Japan which represents one of the most important iced tea markets.

A Tea By Any Other Name

Iced tea goes by many names depending on regional differences in preparation. Sometimes referred to as Sun Tea, especially in the Southern US, it is often served with lemon and is prepared by allowing the black tea to steep in the sun over several hours. Since the water never reaches the high temperatures required to eliminate bacteria, it presents concerns about the safety of the water for consumption.

An alternative to Sun Tea is Refridgerator Tea which is, of course, brewed in the refrigerator instead of the sun and eliminates the growth of bacteria.

Sweet Tea is made by combining hot tea with a large amount of sugar while hot then cooling or pouring hot tea directly over ice to cool. Iced tea can be either the sweetened version or the unsweetened version. Arnold Palmer even popularized a drink referred to as Half And Half (half iced tea and half lemonade) in the 1960s and is sometimes called an “Arnold Palmer”.

Which Type of Tea is Best

What type of tea is used to make iced tea? Well, you can use just about any tea you would like. Black teas have traditionally been used in North America like Orange Pekoe but you can use oolong or green. Although tea bags may certainly be more convenient, loose tea is also suitable. The sweet blends of herbal teas also lend themselves quite well to iced tea.

Making iced tea is not only a great way to cool down on a hot summer day but it is a fantastic way to use some of the teas that do not lend well to being served hot. And let’s face it, using some of your tea makes room for more. Who does not like buying more tea?

One thing is certain, the possibilities for Iced Tea are countless with many varieties of both teas and herbal blends offering infinite possibilities for refreshment. Additionally, you can use lemons and berries to garnish, infuse and flavor your iced tea.

What You Need

Iced tea doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need is water, ice, tea, a pitcher, sugar, if desired, and glasses. Traditionally, iced tea is served using a glass pitcher and tall glasses but you can easily use what you have on hand. Iced Tea spoons which are long and slender are practical for preparing and serving iced tea. At the end of the day, iced tea does not require a lot of pomp and circumstance. It can be as fancy or as ordinary as you choose to make it.

Try this delicious recipe we made using Harney & Sons Indigo Punch which is a gorgeous blend dry and a vibrant eye-pleasing blend when steeped! It is full of crisp, fruity flavors, with a delicate tang of rose hips and apple pieces. Add lots of ice and now you have the perfect drink to sit out sipping all afternoon!

Sweet Summertime Indigo Punch Iced Tea

This delicious and eye-pleasing iced tea from Harney & Sons is the perfect summertime drink!
Course Drinks
Servings 8 servings


  • Kettle, Pitcher, Spoon, Tea Strainer


  • 3 tbsp Harney & Sons Indigo Punch Looseleaf tea
  • 1 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (optional)


  • Boil 8 cups of water
  • Add 3 heaping tablespoons of Harney & Sons Indigo Punch looseleaf tea to a tea strainer
  • Steep Tea Approximately 5 minutes
  • Pour boiling water over tea and let cool for 30 minutes in a heat-proof pitcher
  • Add 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar
  • Stir gently until sugar is disolved
  • Once cool, add ice
  • Garnish with lemon slices as desired


Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice (Optional)
Keyword Iced Tea, Tea

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