Thursday, June 2, 2011
JUNE = NATIONAL ICED TEA MONTH
It all began on a hot summer day in June 1904, in a city on the banks of the Mississippi River. It was the Worlds Fair and exhibitors throughout the grounds were working to attract fair goers to their booths and ultimately promote their ideas or products. Among them was Englishman Richard Blechynden, representing Indian tea growers; he was overseeing one of the opulent pavilions. Decorated in the finest silks, and staffed by Indian men dressed in traditional garb, who were all meticulously trained in proper tea service, Richard anxiously awaited the opportunity to introduce the finest black teas India had to offer to the crowd of fair goers. The U.S. tea market was dominated by China and believe it or not, green tea was the best seller in the Midwest.
When a heat wave hit St. Louis, Blechynden’s hopes for a successful tea party were dashed. Absolutely no one was lining up to sip hot tea in the sweltering heat and pavilion remained empty.
While contemplating what to do next, Blechynden noticed an ice delivery at a nearby food stand and the idea struck him! He purchased several blocks of ice, borrowed ice picks and put the well dressed staffers to work chipping away and filling glasses, first with ice, and then with brewed tea. The tea was a hit! Cold and refreshing was a sure fire winner on the hot, humid summer days, and crowds lined up to get a taste and cool off. India had finally made a dent in the U.S. tea market and iced tea clearly became the tea of choice for Americans; now 85% of the tea consumed in the US is served over ice.