"Iced tea” (cited since at least the 1830s) is a popular drink in the South. About 1868, iced tea became popular in New York City. In early cookbooks, the drink is also sometimes referred to as “Russian tea.”
There is a myth that iced tea was invented by Richard Blechynden at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, but iced tea had been known in America for over two generations by the time of the 1904 fair. See also “Champagne of the South” (sweet tea).
Wikipedia: Iced Tea
Iced tea is a form of cold tea, often served in a glass over ice. Any variety of dry tea may be iced, according to one’s tastes. All one has to do is brew the tea and then chill it, or purchase a pre-bottled or -canned tea. It is often helpful to allow iced tea to cool to room temperature before refrigerating it to prevent the formation of condensates, which may give the tea a cloudy appearance and a chalky taste. Warm tea may be poured over ice to chill it (if filtered water is used, the tea may not cloud at all, and flavor is usually unaffected), but prolonged storage in a refrigerator may still render the tea cloudy in any conditions.
Iced tea is commonly available sweetened (as sweet tea) or unsweetened. When using cane sugar, iced tea is best sweetened with simple syrup if cold, or with granulated sugar before cooling, as granulated sugar doesn’t completely dissolve in the cold tea.
In the United States, iced tea (often sweetened) is very popular as an alternative to carbonated soft drinks, especially in the hotter Southern states: it is ubiquitous in restaurants, convenience stores, vending machines, and groceries. It may be freshly made on premises, or available in bottles and cans, and at many self-serve soda fountains. Restaurants sometimes give the customer the choice of sweetened or unsweetened tea.
Sweet tea, sometimes known as “Southern Table Wine”, is tea brewed very strong with a large amount of sugar added while the tea is still hot. The mixture of sugar and tea is then diluted with water and served over ice and garnished with lemon. Sometimes the diluted mixture is allowed to cool to room temperature. Other times the sugar and tea mixture is not diluted at all but rather poured hot over a full tumbler of ice to cool and dilute it. The oldest printed recipe of sweet tea dates back to a community cookbook “Housekeeping in Old Virginia”, by Marion Cabell Tyree, published in 1879.
Iced tea was popularized and believed to be created at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis by Richard Blechynden, but recent evidence has refuted this. Iced tea’s popularity in the United States has led to an addition to standard flatware sets; the iced tea spoon is a standard flatware teaspoon, but with a long handle, suitable for stirring sugar into the taller glasses commonly used for iced tea.
Freshly-brewed iced tea
Iced tea is traditionally served in the United States with a slice of lemon on the rim of the glass. In the Southwest United States (or at least in restaurants with a Southwest theme), lime is also very popular (especially in Mexican restaurants). It is not entirely uncommon for establishments to put out slices of both lemon and lime for the customer to take for themselves.
Because of the varieties of eateries in the United States, as well as climatic and cultural differences, a variety of iced teas are available. Most prominent are:
In barbecue, soul food, and Southern cuisine-style, establishments, along with greasy spoons and general eateries, black tea is iced, often available sweetened and unsweetened. This is by far the most commonly available form of freshly brewed iced tea, to which the above statements apply. Fruit flavored and herbal flavored brewed iced takes a close second in fresh brewed iced tea within the United States.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
iced, ppl. a.
Covered with ice; cooled by means of ice.
1877 Forest & Stream VIII. 411/1 Courtney..became very sick immediately after taking a glass of iced tea after his dinner, and was unable to row.
1880 Amer. Punch Jan. 4/1 Some were talking of..the cooling and invigorating influences of ‘iced tea’.
Domestic economy, and cookery, for rich and poor:
Containing an account of the best English, Scotch, French, Oriental and other foreign disher; preparation of broths and milks for consumption; receipts for sea-faring men, travellers, and children’s food. Together with estimates and comparisons of dinners and dishes. The whole composed with the utmost attention to health, economy and elegance
By a Lady
London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green
Iced Tea, Coffee, and Chocolate.
Put four pints of good cream on the fire, with eight yolks and a quarter of a pound of sugar ; let it thicken, turning it with a whisk. Dissolve half a pound of vanilla or chocolate, and mix it in well; strain, cool, and ice it.
The Idler in Italy
By Marguerite Blessington
Philadelphia, PA: Carey & Hart
The evenings are passed in enjoying the delicious freshness of the Cascina, or in driving in the pleasant environs; until the shades of night send us home to enjoy iced tea and sorbetto in our charming pavilion overlooking the Arno, where a few friends assemble every evening.
Russia. St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kharkoff, Riga, Odessa, the German Provinces on the Baltic, the Steppes, the Crimea, and the interior of the Empire. [Abridged from the German.]
By Johann Georg Kohl
London: Chapman and Hall
Throughout the summer, ices are sold in the streets of every Russian town, and not only iced water, iced wine, and iced beer, but even iced tea is drunk in immense quantities.
Notes of a Travel:
Being a journal of a tour in Europe
By John P. Hiester
Philadelphia, PA: J.M. Campbell
I found the iced tea, coffee and chocolate very palatable and refreshing.
January 1852, Ladies’ Repository, pg. 34, col. 1:
An immense quantity of ice is consumed in Russian housekeeping. Throughout the summer, ices are sold in the streets of every Russian town; and, not only iced water, iced wine, and iced beer, but even iced tea is drank in immense quantities.
Making of America
Title: A treatise on the diseases of females. Disorders of menstruation. By John C. Peters, M.D.
Author: Peters, John C. (John Charles), 1819-1893.
Publication Info: New York,: Radde, [etc., etc.], 1854.
The patient may do much for herself, without consulting a physician, if she will but spare herself as much as possible for a few days before and during the flow; but moderate exercise, and little labor, especially lifting, should be permitted; warm drinks, even of black tea, should be avoided; cold water, or cold, and even iced tea should be taken;...
Wright American Fiction 1851-1875
Title: Home Comforts, or, Economy Illustrated by Familiar Scenes of Every Day Life (1855)
Author: Robinson, Solon, (1803-1880)
New York : Bunce, 1855.
“Last summer we got in the habit of taking the tea iced, and really thought it better than when hot.”
14 February 1857, Saturday Evening Post, pg. 2:
TEA AS A SUMMER DRINK.
Frederick Sala, writing from Russia to Dickens’s Household Words, mentions that on a table near him stands “a largish tumbler filled with a steaming liquid of a golden color in which floats a thin slice of lemon. It is TEA: the most delicious, the most soothing, the most thirst-allaying drink you can have in summertime, and in Russia.”
Tea, flavored with the slice of lemon, we have never tried; neither are we prepared to recommend as a summer beverage tea steaming hot, as Sala does. But tea made strong, (as we like it—or as strong as you like it,) well-sweetened, with good milk or better cream in it in sufficient quantity to give it a dark yellow color, and the whole mixture cooled in an ice-chest to the temperature of ice-water, is “the most delicious, the most soothing, the most thirst allaying drink” we have ever treated ourselves or friends to. We know of nothing to compare with it for deliciousness or refreshment. It cheers, but not inebriates. Its stimulus is gentle; make a note of this now, and when the summer fervor visits you, and you feel, with Sydney Smith, that for the sake of coolness you could get out of your flesh and sit in your bones, try our specific of ice-cold tea. Juleps, cobblers and such things, sink to utter insignificance beside it. They are only temporarily refreshing, and fire the blood after the five minutes following their imbibition. Soda is folly; it inflates one painfully with carbonic gas, and adds to the discomfort heat produces. Ice-water is unsatisfying; you drink till you feel water-logged, and derive no benefit. Ice-cream is the only preparation fit to be mentioned with out cold tea. Some of our restaurant and saloon keepers would do well to keep this mixture among their summer refreshments. We feel sure that it would pay them pecuniarily to do so. The beverage only needs to be known to be popular.
29 August 1857, Saturday Evening Post, pg. 2:
TEA AS A SUMMER DRINK.—A little editorial of ours with the above caption has been going the rounds of the city and country press without credit. Of course, the latter circumstance is, as Toots would say, of no consequence, but one of the country papers prints the article with the concluding remark, “So says Dickens,” which induces us to say that Dickens never said anything ofthe kind, but that ours is the voice that sounded the praise of iced tea. And, by the way, let us remark that iced coffee, with sugar and cream, is a summer beverage that goes to the exhausted spot most effectually. We wonder that some of our saloon keepers don’t advertise those delightful drinks “which cheer but not inebriate,” among their sodas and water ices and creams, all of which are inferior to them both in refreshment and sustaining power. But improvement, as Burke said of confidence, is a plant of slow growth, and we suppose it will be a century before the public finds out what luxuries iced tea and coffee are in the summer solstice.
21 August 1863, New York (NY) Herald, “The Navy,” pg. 1:
Tanks have been placed in different parts of the vessel, which are to be filled with iced tea and coffee, and in fact everything has been done to make her indeed a “home.”
21 July 1868, Daily State Register (Des Moines, Iowa), pg. 2:
During the heated term there is nothing so invigorating as iced tea. A slice of lemon no thicker than a wafer placed in each tumbler adds to the relish.
21 July 1868, Flake’s Bulletin (Galveston, TX), pg. 8:
Iced tea with a slice of lemon in it is said to be decidedly ahead of lager.
30 July 1868, Baltimore (MD) Sun, pg. 4:
Iced tea is the latest fashionable drink in Gotham—a beverage easily prepared, costs little, does not intoxicate, and can be taken at any hour. Sweeten the hot tea to suit your taste; then pour it, spoonful by spoonful, into a tumbler filled with ice.
2 August 1868, New Orleans (LA) Times, pg. 3:
Iced tea with lemon juice is said to be a popular and healthy drink at the North.
5 August 1868, Janesville (WI) Gazette, pg. 1, col. 3:
Iced tea is becoming very popular. It is a beverage easily prepared, costs little, does not intoxicate and can be taken any hour. Sweeten your hot tea to suit your taste; then pour it, spoon full by spoon full, into a tumbler filled with ice.
15 August 1868, Baltimore (MD) Sun, pg. 1 ad:
THE AMERICAN TEA COMPANY,
No. 164 Lexington street,
Between Howard and Entaw streets,
Are now supplying dealers and families throughout the country with the finest qualities of
TEAS AND COFFEES.
is the latest fashionable drink in Gotham—a beverage easily prepared, cost little, does not intoxicate, and can be taken at any hour. Sweeten the hot Tea to suit your taste, then pour it, spoonful by spoonful, into a tumbler filled with ice. Caall and try out
on Saturday evenings, when we will furnish it to our customers
Free of Charge.
4 August 1869, Flake’s Bulletin (Galveston, TX), pg. 4:
We shall cease drinking soda water and take to iced tea, which, after all, is by far the most pleasant beverage.
15 July 1870, Trenton (NJ) State Gazette, pg. 2:
Iced tea, which we should think would be a comfortable drink, is served at Long Branch restaurants.
27 July 1872, Dallas (TX) Weekly Herald, “An Excursion to Galveston During the Heated Term,” pg. 2:
We would have enjoyed an occasional drink of ice water and would have gladly exchanged coin for ice cream, sherbit, soda, iced tea or coffee, but the refreshment boy deluged us with stale sandwiches and cake, half ripe fruit, prize candy and flash books and papers instead.
10 August 1872, Daily Constitution (Middletown, CT), pg. 2:
The practice of drinking iced tea, without milk, is becoming very usual. Some persons add a slice of lemon to it, which is said to be an improvement.
21 September 1872, Morning Republican (Little Rock, AR), pg. 4:
Iced tea will soon vanish at hotel tables.
26 July 1873, Appletons’ Journal, pg. 102, col. 2:
I am going to order some iced tea at once. How refreshing it is to get home after such a day!—Don’t you think it is very warm, Mr. Martindale?
1 November 1873, Appletons’ Journal, pg. 549, col. 3:
I told him that, if we were very good, perhaps you would give us some iced tea and bread-and-butter.
28 May 1874, Sioux City (Iowa) Daily Journal, pg. 1:
A prominent physician declares that since iced tea came into fashion the digestion and the nerves are disappearing more rapidly than ever.
by Estelle Woods WIlcox
Minneapolis, MN: Buckeye Publishing Company
Prepare tea in the morning, making it stronger and sweeter than usual; strain and pour ointo a clean stone jug or glass bottle, and set aside in the ice-chest until ready to use. Drink from goblets without cream. Serve ice broken in small pieces on a platter nicely garnished with well-washed grape-leaves. Iced tea may be prepared from either green or black alone, but it is considered an improvement to mix the two.
12 September 1878, Indiana (PA) Progress, pg. 3, col. 3:
Singular enough, science has not yet assailed iced tea. But it will not do to permit people to enjoy this cool, delightful beverage, simply because its taste is grateful to the wearied system during the scorching weather. We must do our duty, though science may shrink from it, and the people may cry out against us. There is danger in iced tea, and if you would live long and well, shun the cooling cup.
Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book
by Mary Johnson Bailey Lincoln
Boston, MA: Roberts Brothers
Iced Tea, or Russian Tea.
Make the tea by the first receipt, strain it from the grounds, and keep it cool. When ready to serve, put two cubes of block sugar in a glass, half fill with broken ice, add a slice of lemon, and fill the glass with cold tea.
Boston Cooking-School Cook Book
by Fannie Merritt Farmer
Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company
4 teaspoons tea.
2 cups boiling water.
Follow recipe for making tea. Strain into glasses one-third full of cracked ice. Sweeten to taste. The flavor is much finer by chilling the infusion quickly.