|National Iced Tea Day on June 10th each year celebrates one of summer’s favorite drinks. Quite popular in the United States, iced tea makes up about 85% of all tea consumed. Iced tea started to appear in the United States in the 1860s and became widespread in the 1870s. During that time, hotels offered iced tea on their menus and railroad stations offered the beverage as well. Recipes for iced tea are found dating back to the 1870s starting with The Buckeye Cookbook, published in 1876, and Housekeeping in Old Virginia, published in 1877.|
In 1904, the beverage was introduced to a larger audience at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, causing its popularity to explode. Most historians give credit to Richard Blechynden, India Tea Commissioner and Director of the East Indian Pavilion, as being the one who popularized iced tea at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.
In the East Indian Pavilion at the Fair, Blechynden was offering free hot tea to everyone. Because of the intense heat, it was soon realized that the heat prevented the crowd from drinking his hot tea. Blechynden and his team took the brewed India tea, filled several large bottles, and placed them on stands upside down – thus allowing the tea to flow through iced lead pipes. This free iced tea was very much welcomed by the thirsty fair goers. After the fair, Blechynden took his lead pipe apparatus to New York City, offering free iced tea to shoppers at Bloomingdale Brothers Department Store, demonstrating iced tea is a desirable summertime drink.