Lemony summer in a tall glass

As soon as summer arrives, everyone starts craving for refreshingly cool lemonade iced tea served in tall glasses with generous cubes of ice. A very common drink in the south, it has been noted that iced tea makes for about 85% of the total tea consumption in the United States. The reason for such a high margin is pretty simple, iced tea is a healthy alternative to carbonated beverages.

Iced tea is available in many flavors, the most common among them being fruit-based flavors. Many novel flavors of iced tea have now been introduced. These include iced jasmine tea, herbal iced tea and the like. However, despite these new-age flavors and so much variety, the good old lemonade iced tea is still a favorite among many people.

Easily made at home, lemonade iced tea is healthy as well as quite versatile since it can be an accompaniment to any meal or had as a standalone drink. Generally made with green tea leaves, it has all the health benefits of tea including a high proportion of antioxidants. It is also known to be good for the heart, especially its unsweetened variant. The addition of lemon gives the drink an astringent quality, which is known to be good for your gums and teeth.

The first known recipe of lemon-flavored iced tea was developed in 1879 by Marion Cabell Tyree, the author of the book ‘Housekeeping in Old Virginia’. The book was very influential down south.  Cabell had apparently collected the recipes in the book from “two hundred and fifty of Virginia’s noted housewives”. In the book, the recipe for lemonade iced tea calls for green tea. The tea is boiled and then steeped for the whole day. After the tea has been steeped, tall glasses are filled with ice and two heaped teaspoons of granulated sugar and  lemon juice is squeezed over them before the tea is poured into these glasses.

Three years after Cabell published her recipe for iced tea with lemon, D. A. (Mary) Lincoln, head of the Boston cooking school developed her own variation which used black tea instead of green tea, as prescribed by Housekeeping in Old Virginia. Despite the existence of these recipes, lemonade iced tea, or iced tea in general, was made popular and sold commercially only in 1904 by Richard Blechynden at the World’s Fair in St.Louis. Blechynden saw a huge number of fair-goers looking for something cold to drink on that hot summer’s day. Seeing an opportunity, he started chilling his hot tea and sold iced tea to his customers. The beverage became an instant hit.

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