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​ The History of Sweet Iced Tea

Vicki Shivers - Thursday, October 08, 2015

 In 1795, South Carolina was the only colony in America producing tea plants. It was also the only colony to produce the plant commercially. The plant was introduced to the U.S in the late 1700s by French explorer and botanist, Andre Michaux, who was known for bringing many showy plants to SC during this time to satisfy the tastes of wealthy Charleston planters. Once the tea plant arrived in the U.S., different versions of iced tea began to appear almost immediately in the popular cookbooks of that time.


The first version of iced tea as we know it today was printed in 1879 in “Housekeeping in Old Virginia”. A recipe by Marion Cabell Tyree calling for green tea to be boiled then steeped throughout the day then poured into a glass with the addition of ice and two teaspoonful’s of sugar was officially the first documented sweet tea recipe. Ms. Tyree also added lemon in her tea.

Recipe for Sweet Tea

Take around six to eight regular size tea bags, or two family sized ones-put in a saucepan filled with water. Set pot on stove burner, turn on burner and watch pot carefully. Just as the very faintest wisps of steam start to rise, IMMEDIATELY turn off burner. IMMEDIATELY. NEVER BOIL THE TEA WATER. NEVER!

Let tea steep till the water is deep tea color. Meanwhile get a half-gallon pitcher and put a cup of sugar in it (more or less to taste)

When tea is done steeping take out tea bags and pour tea into container and stir till sugar is dissolved. Add water till container is filled, then set in fridge. Allow to chill till cold. Then put some ice in glasses, pour tea, and enjoy!