A balmy summer afternoon is a perfect excuse to mix up a pitcher of frosty, refreshing iced tea. The iconic beverage has been linked to Southern hospitality so long, it is often called the “house wine of the South.” Although people around the world have been drinking hot tea for thousands of years, iced tea has only been an option for a couple of centuries.

According to food historians, the cold drink was created in America in the 19th century. However, they say it became an institution after people enjoyed it at the 1904 World’s Fair, held in St. Louis.

 

Since then, iced tea became a beloved beverage in the South. Not only do most Southerners drink it in the summer, but it is the go-to drink for all seasons. Many Northern people serve unsweetened iced tea (called “black” tea), so others can sweeten their tea to preference. To Southerners, “real” iced tea must be syrupy sweet with plenty of fresh lemons. The brand of tea and amount of sugar may differ by the cook, but they all agree on sweet Southern tea. 

Iced tea enthusiasts usually prefer to use a black tea variety, such as orange pekoe. Some people like to steep tea bags in a glass jar that is left in the sun for a few hours; others prefer to make a tea base by steeping tea bags in a pan of water on the stove. 

Either way you prefer, making homemade iced tea is simple and does not take long. June is National Iced Tea Month, so why not make a pitcher for your family? For a gallon of iced tea, most recipes call for between 8-10 tea bags for the base. You may adjust that number to make your beverage lighter or stronger. After the tea has steeped in boiling water for a few minutes, let it cool to room temperature. Then, you will dilute the base with cold water. 

If you want Northern “black” iced tea, leave it as is and serve in tall glasses over ice. For Southern sweet tea, you may either sweeten the pitcher with a simple syrup or add granulated sugar to taste. Be sure to serve your iced tea with a generous bowl of sliced lemons, and perhaps some mint leaves. For National Iced Tea Month, try some other exciting versions, or even a recipe that uses iced tea as an ingredient! Here are a few refreshing iced tea recipes to consider. 

Simply Unsweetened Iced Tea

Everyone’s taste in tea is different. The beauty of this ice tea recipe is that you can sweeten your glass as you please, or not at all. After brewing your tea bags and pouring the mixture into your pitcher, add cold water. It only takes about 15 minutes. Pour into glasses of ice and enjoy! 

Classic Southern Sweet Iced Tea

Is there anything more refreshing than a frosty glass of sweet tea while resting on the porch swing? This iconic Southern treat is easy to make with black tea and a simple homemade syrup you make on the stove. The secret to the smooth taste is a pinch of baking soda! 

Citrus Pomegranate Iced Tea

Do you want to amp up the flavor of your iced tea? Try this easy recipe, which is infused with sweet pomegranate juice and the tang of fresh lime juice. The tea and pomegranate provide plenty of antioxidants for your body. Use your favorite tea bags or another style to create your own version of this delicious drink. 

Delicious Sweet Ice Tea Cookies

What could make yummy cookies any better? Using a little sweet ice tea as an ingredient! Imagine the complex flavors of orange pekoe tea, refreshing mint, and a kiss of lemon in a delightful glazed cookie! Enjoy one of these tender treats with a mug of milk, or even a fresh glass of iced tea. 

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