National Iced Tea Day is celebrated annually on June 10, and with summer officially beginning in only a few more days, the timing couldn’t be better.
Next to water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. Americans consumed more than 3.60 billion gallons of tea in 2014. In the U.S. nearly 85% of the tea consumed is iced tea. Here are some interesting facts about iced tea.
Tea is a Healthy Beverage Choice
According to studies that can be found on the Tea Association of the USA webpage, drinking tea has been associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, heart disease and stroke. It is also said to possibly improve brain health, weight management and the risk of osteoporosis. Tea has no carbonation, fat, sodium or sugar and is nearly calorie-free.
Tea contains phytochemicals (naturally occurring plant compounds). Phytochemicals help to decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer and boost the immune system. Some of the phytochemicals found in tea, such as tea flavonoids, are also antioxidants.
Both black and green teas contain epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This is a strong antioxidant that has proven to reduce the formation of esophageal, lung, and skin tumors.
Also found in tea is theanine. Theanine is an amino acid that can reduce physical and mental stress, and produce feelings of relaxation. This happens when the theanine increases the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), dopamine, serotonin, and alpha wave activity in the brain.
History of Iced Tea
Though tea has been around for nearly 5,000 years, iced tea is much younger. Iced tea began making an appearance in the 1860’s in the U.S., but became more prevalent in the 1870’s when recipes began to appear in print. Its popularity quickly grew in 1904 when Richard Blechynden introduced it at the World’s Fair in St. Louis. Americans were buying the tall iced tea glasses, long spoons, and lemon forks for their homes by the First World War. The prohibition era (1920-1933) helped to boost the popularity of iced tea as people were looking for tasty alternatives to beer, hard liquor, and wine.
Drink it up
Iced tea is and iconic hot-weather drink that can be enjoyed sweetened or unsweetened, and is often times mixed with other flavors such as apple, cherry, lemon, mint, peach and strawberry. It is commonly served in a glass with ice. In the U.S. iced tea is also a popular packaged drink.
According to the Tea Association of the USA, all tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is a warm-weather evergreen. The way the fresh leaves of the plant are processed and their level of contact with oxygen will determine which type of tea it will be. Throughout oxidation the tea leaves go through natural chemical reactions that bring about individual taste and color characteristics. Black tea is allowed to oxidize for 2-4 hours, whereas green tea is not oxidized at all. Oolong tea leaves are only partially oxidized, so it falls somewhere between black and green teas. Tea is grown around the world. Each tea gets its name from the region in which it’s grown and, like wine, each region is known for producing tea with its own unique characteristics and flavor.
Herbal teas (tisanes) are often made into iced teas, but they do not come from the Camellia sinensis plant. Herbal teas are an infusion of leaves, bark, roots, flowers or seeds of other plants. Herbal teas are not linked to the research of the possible health benefits of traditional tea.
Iced tea is sometimes made by placing tea bags in a large glass container with water and leaving the container in the sun for a number of hours (this method is often called “sun tea”). Sun tea is sometimes served with syrup or lemon. Sometimes it is also left to stand overnight in the refrigerator, which is a preferred method because the tea will already be cold.
Whether you have it plain or add a slice of Arizona grown lemon, or sweeten it with sugar, enjoy a nice TALL glass of iced tea to celebrate National Iced Tea Day!
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