10 Jun 2022

Iced Tea Origins - A National Iced Tea Day Special

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Tea or Chai is one of the most popular hot beverages in the world and we sure do know why. All we need is a reason to brew our favourite refreshing tea and sit with our friends and family for a chit-chat. May it be a cup of black tea with added spices and lemon for health benefits or our favourite ‘Cutting Chai’, tea has its own royal place in almost every heart. While we love our cup of piping hot tea especially at the Milkbasket workspace, who would have imagined that tea, along with some ice would transform into a fantastic ‘Beat The Heat’ drink! However, the early versions of Iced Tea were very different from the one we are familiar with. 

Ps: There’s a fun fact about LIIT at the end, stay tuned!

★ The Origin ★

Iced Tea with lemon in a glass jug with background blur

It’s National Iced Tea Day today so let’s rewind to early 19th century and you’ll find that the oldest recipe for Iced Tea calls for green tea rather than black and the beverage was called ‘Punches’ such as The Regent’s punch (Named after George IV, the English Prince).

Later, an American version of this punch became popular with more regional and patriotic names. By the mid-19th century, consuming iced tea was more like a custom in American South, specifically North and South Carolina, especially after the American Civil War, 1861-1865. 

However, the one man who was the reason for the popularity of this amazing beverage was Mr. Richard Blechynden, during the 1904 World’s Fair held in St Louis. On the first day of the fair, more than 250,000 people attended the gathering to witness the awesomeness of modern times. 

Being one of the hottest recorded days of that time, no one was thrilled to taste the hot tea samples that Mr. Blechynden offered at the fair from his tea plantations. Desperate to gain the crowd’s attention, Mr. Blechynden did something that would totally change the way people perceived tea around the world and for generations to come. He decided to pour tea on ice and make a chilled concoction for everyone to beat the heat that day! 

Since then, the ice tea market has captured the attention of the world and is one of the most popular healthy cold beverages and a much loved luxury by millions.

★ Iced Tea Is Good For You ★

woman are drinking iced tea after workout exercising on sunset evening in park

Let’s clear out the fact that ‘Too Much Of Everything Is Bad’  before we dive into the benefits of Iced Tea. Keeping this very fact in mind, we shall look into the benefits of consuming Iced Tea in moderation. 

Hydration 🥛

Iced Tea is essentially made in water so one cannot ignore the fact that it does help in hydrating your body. A 2016 study found that caffeine levels under 300mg/day did not decrease the hydration value of tea when compared to drinking water. 

Considering a cup of black tea only has about 50mg of caffeine, that’s a lot of tea to drink before the caffeine starts to reverse the tide! 

Antioxidants ♻️

Iced Tea is rich in antioxidants and these are amazing. Antioxidants actively fight against free radicals and cell damaging in our bodies that are the main causes for aging. They also stand as a shield against many types of cancers and other chronic diseases, keeping you healthy and looking young.

A Healthy Heart 💚

Antioxidants are back in action. As there is a high concentration of these in tea, especially that of the ones called ‘Flavonoids’, drinking tea may result in reduced cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks. So, something that tastes delicious, beats the summer heat and also saves you from a heart attack is definitely worth drinking!

Shed Those Extra Pounds 🏋️

Iced Tea can definitely help you lose weight. The first sentence can only qualify if you do not pair this awesome beverage with added  sugar or pizzas! Any type of tea, if unsweetened, is naturally low on calories. 

Ditch those sweetened beverages and replace them with unsweetened Iced Tea and you are surely on your way to losing weight by cutting down your daily calorie intake. Tea is also known to boost metabolism, thus helping your body to consume energy effectively and not store it as fat. Iced Black Tea has all of the same health benefits of regular Black Tea or Chai due to its levels of caffeine, polyphenols, catechins, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Alert & Aware! All The Time 🤩

Iced Tea generally contains less amount of caffeine as compared to regular hot tea / Ghar ki chai. However, it still helps to a certain extent to keep you awake and mentally alert throughout the day.

★ Variations Of Iced Tea ★

Three glasses of different iced tea, black, green with lemon and mint, hibiscus tea on the wooden background, Close-up

It may sound unusual that a beverage as simple as Iced Tea can have variations in terms of its taste, brewing method and tea types. 

Regular Iced Tea

Regular Iced Tea is nothing but a recipe that is extremely similar to the one used by Mr. Richard Blechynden himself, back in 1904. It is regular black tea, hot brewed to the desired strength and chilled with ice. Sugar is optional while honey is a great substitute. 

Cold Steep Iced Tea

If you wish to have a milder and a smoother flavour, Cold Steeped Iced Tea is the way to go. Regular tea / tea bags are allowed to soak in water at room temperature for atleast 8 hours and then sweetened with sugar, honey or natural stevia. This is served with ice added to the steeped tea for chilling. 

Iced Green Tea

Similar to hot steeping method, green tea bags are allowed to sit in boiling hot water for about 5 minutes. The tea is then cooled to room temperature and poured over ice cubes to be served chilled. This type of iced tea usually does not have sugar as a sweetener but honey or stevia can be used. Lemon works as a good natural flavouring agent that goes well with green tea. You can easily order green tea bags from the Milkbasket’s Online Grocery Delivery App and get it by 7 AM the very next morning. 

Similar to ‘Cutting Chai’, you can also source green tea leaves and boil them in water to the desired strength. Cool the tea and serve with ice cubes. 

★ Long Island Iced Tea ★

Hand-drawn Long Island Iced Tea on grunge background

Long Island Iced Tea or better known as LIIT is an extremely popular cocktail among the masses. It’s sheer size, presentation and ingredients make it a fantastic choice at the bar. 

The main ingredients of LIIT are equal quantities of vodka, tequila, white rum, gin and orange liqueur, lime juice topped with an aerated cola, energy drink or cranberry juice. Long Island Iced Tea alcohol content ranges anywhere from 22% to 25%.

Wait a minute! There’s No Tea? 

Well, there isn’t any tea in LIIT. Shocking as it is, Long Island Iced Tea simply has the word ‘tea’ in its name because the concocted cocktail visually resembles Iced Tea. That’s where the similarities end. 

The phrase ‘Long Island’ comes from the tale that the cocktail derives its origin from 1920s where a man named Old Man Bishop concocted the recipe in a local community named Long Island in Kingsport, Tennessee and called the drink ‘Old Man Bishop’.

Later in the 70s, Robert “Rosebud” Butt a.k.a Bob Butt claimed that he was the inventor of this fascinating cocktail and he mixed the LIIT for the first time in the world at a Cocktail Creating Contest. However, the 2 theories clash and we are yet to find out who was the actual inventor of LIIT.  

★ Let’s Brew Some Iced Tea ★

Now that we know the tales behind the origin of Iced Tea, let’s check out some simple yet refreshing iced tea recipes that you can easily make at home in bulk and enjoy it throughout the week. While you can definitely order iced tea premix packs from online grocery delivery systems such as Milkbasket to save a whole lot of time, you can surely concoct Iced Tea at home, given you have the patience and the time to brew a batch. 

Lemon Iced Tea

iced tea with lemon and fresh mint in transparent glasses

Lemon Iced Tea is the most popular and simple flavoured iced tea you can get. In fact, it is the only flavour of iced tea that a lot of people know iced tea comes in. How to make lemon iced tea? The easiest way to make this is by using the regular tea or tea bags and the hot brew method.

  1. Add the first 5 cups of water to a saucepan and heat until it just begins to boil. 
  2. Place 10 tea bags into a large bowl. Make sure the string is hanging off the edge, or you can tie all the bags together. Pour in the hot water and let it steep for 5 minutes. Want a stronger tea? Steep for an extra 5 minutes. 
  3. Pre-measure freshly squeezed lemon juice, but if you wanna do it Southern-style, just grab about 5-6 lemons and squeeze the juice directly into the tea!
  4. Measure out 1 cup of sugar and slowly pour it into the tea while stirring and occasionally tasting. If you can still taste a bit of the bitterness from the tea, throw in an extra ¼ cup and it should be perfect.
  5. A lot of people also claim that baking soda makes their sweet tea less cloudy.  Throw in some baking soda and stir constantly until the fizzing subsides.
  6. Pour in cold water: Lastly, add the remaining 5 cups of water and give the tea a few more good stirs. 
  7. Chill the tea overnight in the fridge. Add wedges of lemon and mint leaves before serving.

Peach Iced Tea

Mason Jar filled with fresh peach iced tea with whole peaches kept at the side on a kitchen towel.

Peach Iced Tea is an exotic flavoured iced tea that has now picked up popularity in India, spcially after Nestle started retailing peach iced tea premix powder in the Indian market (available on Milkbasket). 

It is sort of an acquired taste but once you develop it, you will surely have your new favourite iced tea flavour as ‘peach’. It’s peach season in India and if you have time in your kitty, it’s the best moment to cold brew a batch of tasty peach iced tea!

You’ll Need:

  • 3 Peaches (sliced): Can’t have peach iced tea without the peaches! Make sure to use fresh ripe peaches for this recipe. Order fresh peaches from our grocery delivery app and get them delivered to your doorstep.
  • Orange peel: This helps to infuse the iced tea with so flavour and make it even more delicious.
  • 3 springs of Mint: for a refreshing taste.
  • Sugar: to sweeten. You can substitute any type of sweetener you like such as honey, corn syrup or even stevia.
  • 5 Good quality tea bags of your choice.
  • 1 Litre water
  1. Add the peaches to the bottom of a pitcher and muddle with a wooden spoon just enough to smash them.
  2. Add the slices of orange zest, mint, sweetener of choice, tea bags, water and mix until combined.
  3. Cover and place in the fridge for 6-12 hours.
  4. Remove the tea bags, sieve if desired and serve over ice.

Iced Chai Latte

milk being poured  into a glass with cold brewed tea on a black background

Iced Chai Latte is one of the most exotic cold tea with milk that you could ever brew at home. Sweet, spicy and milky, this is one recipe you will make over and over again.

This recipe is even easier to make for us here in India as Masala Chai tea bags are readily available here that eliminates the need to source spices individually, unless you want a blend of specific spices of your choice. Generally, there is no set measurement of choice of spices you can use to make Iced Chai Latte. However, this specific recipe calls for some very simple spices that can be obtained easily. 

Apart from the milk delivery service, you can also order all of the needed ingredients from the Milkbasket app and get them delivered to your doorstep. Easy, isn’t it!? Now let’s get brewin’!

You’ll Need

2 cups Full Fat Milk4 cups Ice
2 ½ cups water10 whole cloves
5 Black tea bags
(masala tea bags can be used to replace all the spices)
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons honey1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cinnamon stick¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 star anise¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
10 cardamom pods

The Brewing Process

  • Add the water, lightly crushed spices and tea bags in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer it for 10 minutes to brew. 
  • Strain the tea and then add the vanilla essence and honey. Let it cool. Incase you wish to use stevia drops to sweeten the drink, add those once the tea is at room temperature.
  • Chill the tea in the fridge for 2 hours or 15 minutes in a freezer.
  • Pour the chilled chai concentrate into a glass. Then add ice and top it with milk. Use equal parts of tea and milk. 
  • Enjoy! 

We all crave our ‘cutting chai’, ‘shaam ki chai’ or ‘chit-chat wali chai’, but we cannot deny the fact that on a hot summer day back in 1904, Mr. Blechynden added ice to a not-so-cold beverage and sure did grab the attention of not only the crowd at the fair but the world, leading the entire population to celebrate Iced Tea in one accord, calling it as the ‘National Iced Tea Day’.

Do try out these amazing recipes and let us know in the comments which one did you like the most or your own version of iced tea and get a chance to feature your recipe on Milkbasket!



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