While tea has an impressive history stretching back 5,000 years, iced tea has a history stretching back only as far as the discovery of preserving ice. After all, what good was iced tea in the winter time?
While popular lore has iced tea being discovered by accident in the early twentieth century, there are documents dating the use of iced tea in the seventeenth century. In 1795, South Carolina was the only colony in America producing tea plants. It was also the only colony (later state) to produce the plant commercially. The plant arrived in the late 1700s thanks to French explorer and botanist, Andre Michaux. Michaux brought many showy plants to South Carolina during this time to satisfy the tastes of wealthy Charleston planters.
Once the plant arrived, accounts of iced versions of tea began to appear almost immediately in cookbooks of the day. Both English and American cookbooks show tea being iced to use in cold green tea punches. Heavily spiked with alcohol, these punches were popular and made with green tea, not black as iced tea is made today. One popular version was called Regent's Punch, named after George IV, the English prince regent in the early nineteenth century.
Stand time 3-5 hours