A Brief History of Iced Tea
The first known recipes for iced tea started appearing in cookbooks around the US and Great Britain back in the early 19th century. Surprisingly to most, at that time green tea was the tea of choice and was always mixed with a whole lot of sugar. Partially because green teas imported at that time were of lower cultivars plus quite astringent. The second reason was the fact that when we mix tea with ice, it becomes diluted and loses much of its flavor (this is a reason why we often like to recommend cold-brew instead).
Considering the tea was already of low quality and didn’t have too strong of a flavor to begin with, it was brewed extra strong and for a long time (a foolproof step to a bitter tea).
A traditional recipe from the early 1800s called for a pint and a half of strongly brewed green tea mixed with “a quarter loaf of sugar” (which was roughly 2.5 cups). Next, half a pint of rich sweet cream would be mixed in (more sugar!), followed by a bottle of champagne. Lastly, the “tea” would either be boiled and served hot or served iced. Although these types of recipes were rather tea punch, more so than the iced tea we know of today.
Modern Day Iced Tea
The most common recipe for iced tea that is still used today came out in the 1880s. At that time green tea was rarely consumed anymore as there was a steady sourcing of Indian black tea. Green tea became too expensive and lost its popularity. The recipe called for brewing black tea as per instructions, leaving it to cool then pouring it into a glass filled with sugar and ice. Lemon slices were a popular accompaniment, while other variations included mint, strawberries and other fruits.
At Path of Cha, we always recommend cold brew as the best way for extracting all the flavors and components out of a loose leaf tea. However, during the summer’s heat if you're in the mood to have a certain tea iced and just don’t want to wait a few hours for a cold brew, there is an alternative method for making iced tea.
Shaked iced tea recipe:
What you will need:
- loose leaf tea of choice
- a shaker (a classic cocktail shaker or a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid)
- something to steep the tea in (your go-to teapot or mug)
- brew your loose leaf tea as per instructions (we suggested making it stronger than usual, for this you can use 1.5 to 2 times the amount of tea leaf)
- pour 1.5 cups ice and the brewed tea into your shaker of choice
- shake your tea vigorously for about 30 seconds
- pour the tea into a glass. You can choose to strain the ice for a more potent flavor or add more ice if you prefer your drink to keep cool
Making your iced tea the “shaked way” allows for it to chill quickly without waiting for it to cool first, and less diluted if you choose to skip adding more ice in the end. This is also the method many bubble tea shops prefer for quickly making the iced versions of their beverages since most shops brew their loose leaf teas hot.