Spring Forth into a Summer of Tea

Iced Tea by Shangri La - Traditional Black Brew Bags
Iced Tea by Shangri La – Traditional Black Brew Bags

When it comes to tea, certain seasons are known for certain things. I’m drawing a blank when it comes to autumn and winter, though it’s safe to say those are times when the warming qualities of a nice hot cup of tea are much appreciated.

We are currently passing through spring, perhaps best known for being a time when the first tea harvests of the year take place. This gives us shincha, a Japanese term meaning “new tea,” and some of the finer of these varieties are among the most coveted of all teas.

Right now, the afternoon temperature in my part of the world stands at 92 degrees (with 5 percent humidity – truly a dry heat). So it seems very summery, even though summer officially does not commence for almost two months.

All of which means iced tea season is approaching. Never mind that for some of us, it’s always iced tea season. I’ve already written a few articles about my curious tea drinking habits and though my Esteemed Editor will surely cringe, I’ll direct you to one of them.

Rather than reinventing the wheel and writing yet another article about bold new ways to prepare iced tea and whatnot, I thought I’d direct you to a few of the fine articles already in the archives here as well as touching on some miscellaneous iced tea-related bits.

Such as iced tea consumption in the United States. I don’t doubt that Americans drink a lot of iced tea and that the majority of what we drink is of the iced variety. What I wonder about is that in the seven years I’ve been writing about tea the only number I’ve seen given for the percentage of tea we drink is 85%. Maybe this number hasn’t changed even one percent in seven years or maybe I’m just looking in the wrong place.

Then I got to thinking about the term iced tea itself and wondering when it first came to be. I found a travel book from 1845 that commented on the iced tea, coffee and chocolate in Naples. Three years earlier, a writer in the London Quarterly Review noted that the Russians cooled all of their warm weather drinks with ice, including tea. But the oldest reference I was found (in my not completely thorough search) was a passing mention of iced tea in the 1827 volume, Domestic Economy, and Cookery, for Rich and Poor.

If you’d like to brush up on various facets of iced tea knowledge you can check out the articles at this site by going here. Among some highlights, an article that takes a look at a few brewing methods, one that looks at iced tea tidbits and trivia, and an examination of the critical sweetened vs. unsweetened issue.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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