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Celebrate one of summer’s favorite drinks on National Iced Tea Day

It’s National Iced Tea Day, a day to celebrate a beverage that Southerners swear by and will quickly take sides over whether it’s better sweetened or unsweetened.

There’s nothing like a glass of iced tea on a sweltering summer day in the South, but it’s not just a summertime drink here. In the Upstate and throughout the South, iced tea is served year-round with most meals.

The oldest sweet iced tea recipe in print comes from a community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia, by Marion Cabell Tyree, published in 1879. According to the history books, iced tea became commonplace in cookbooks after 1900, and black tea began replacing green as the preferred tea for serving cold.

But it was at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis that iced tea was popularized and commercialized. As the story goes, American merchant and tea plantation owner Richard Belchynden was sampling and selling hot tea at his booth, but few attendees were interested in a hot beverage in the intense summer heat. Belchynden added ice to the steeped tea and the rest is history.

For those new to these parts who didn’t cut their teeth on sweet iced tea, here’s a simple recipe:

  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat
  • Place 3 family-sized tea bags into water and steep the tea for 5 minutes
  • Add 1 cup granulated sugar to the tea
  • Pour the tea base into a pitcher
  • Top off the pitcher with water
  • Refrigerate until very cold
  • Serve over ice

For those wanting a twist to an old recipe, try this recipe for Three-Herb Iced Tea with Chamomile Syrup from The Ingles Table.

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Shopping List

  • 2 cup sugar
  • 3 chamomile tea bags
  • 8 sprigs fresh mint
  • 8 large basil leaves


  • Bring 3 cup water to boil
  • Pour over mint and basil
  • Let cool and sweeten with syrup

Recipe For Syrup

  • Boil 2 cup of water
  • Add 2 cups Sugar and dissolve
  • Add 3 chamomile tea bags to sugar water and let cool

For more iced tea recipes, check out these Top 7 iced tea recipes from Livin’ Upstate contributor Veera Gaul.

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