The month of June…
Suggests many things: there is the end of the regular school year, there are also high school and college graduation celebrations, and of course Father’s Day…but National Iced Tea month? Yes, June Is National Iced Tea Month!
Did you know…
That 85% of tea consumed in the United States is consumed as iced tea? This is quite a departure from tea culture in the rest of the world. Aside from America, Canada, and Thailand, most of the world drinks it’s tea hot. So, just how did iced tea become so popular in the United States?
Richard Belchynden, an American merchant, is often given credit for inventing iced tea at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. He was sampling and selling hot tea at his fair booth, but few fair goers were in the market for hot beverages in the intense summer heat. The problem was that a heat wave was burning across the Midwest on the morning when the India Tea Commissioner Richard Blechynden and his staffers set up the East Indian Pavilion for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Blechynden hoped that free cups of tea would convince people that his Indian tea had potential. But when the fair got underway, the temperatures did not subside. Instead, they rose and rose as more and more people gathered to see exhibits from 62 different countries.
Women wandered the fair in full-length dresses and wore wide-brimmed hats to protect them from the sun while the men wore three-piece suits. The fashion of the day meant that everyone was suffering from the high temperatures. Millions of people were visiting the fair and Blechynden was desperate to promote his tea to as many of them as possible, but in the heat, few fair goers were interested in a hot beverage. As more and more people passed his pavilion without a second glance, a delivery of ice to a nearby food stall caught Blechynden’s eye.
Now, at the time refrigeration had not yet been invented and ice was a luxury to many people. It had to be harvested in the winter and then insulated with sawdust and stored until summer. In places where the water didn’t reach low enough temperatures to freeze, ice had to be brought in by train. Desperate to promote Indian Tea, Blechynden bought several blocks of ice and his staffers began filling glasses with ice chips.
They poured in the hot tea with some sugar and served the refreshing beverage to whoever wanted it. And everyone wanted it! The drink was a huge hit as the overheating crowds grabbed whatever relief they could find. With an audience of millions, all clamoring for a respite from the stifling heat, Blechynden was able to cement a foothold for Indian tea in the American market and a thirst for iced tea that continues to this day.
So whatever your favorite iced tea flavor is …find some time this month to kick back, relax and savor its refreshing flavor!