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Celebrate summer a few days early

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National Iced Tea Day steeped in tradition

By Greg Summers

The official start of summer is just a few days away.

But there’s nothing wrong with getting started 12 days earlier by grabbing a tall glass of iced tea and sitting beneath a shade tree to enjoy it.

This is the perfect time to do it, too. Thursday, June 10, is National Iced Tea Day.

Americans have enjoyed a love affair with iced tea for more than 100 years.

The beginnings of iced tea as America’s drink of choice are steeped in legend.

According to the Tea Association of the United States of America, Englishman Richard Blechyden started the craze at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair.

A tea plantation owner, Blechyden was offering hot tea to passersby on a sweltering day.

But according to tea historian Steven L. Wright, that story is only partially true.

Blechyden had been the tea commissioner of India since 1896 and was trying to introduce the black teas from India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to the American market.

“Up to this point, a majority of the tea imported to the United States was green tea from China and Japan,” Wright wrote. “To most Americans of the late 19th and early 20th century, when they heard ‘tea,’ they thought immediately of China.

“The black teas of India and Ceylon were largely unknown to the American palate, something Blechyden intended to change,” Wright said.

With no interest in the hot tea, Blechyden and his team put the freshly brewed beverage into several large bottles and placed them upside down on stands so the tea could flow through iced lead pipes.

The free iced tea was such a big hit that after the fair, Blechyden took the lead pipe cooling gizmo and handed out free samples to Bloomingdale shoppers.

The word of iced tea was soon spread by many women’s magazines that were laden with instructions and tips on how to correctly brew iced tea, along with recipes for tea punches that included fruit juices and fruits.

The drink grew in popularity in 1916 thanks to the invention of the durable Thermos, which kept “hot things hot and cold things cold.”

By the end of World War I, Americans had developed a preference for black tea.

From those early days, tea has become the second-most consumed beverage in the world, behind water. Eighty percent of the 2.2 million gallons consumed in the United States each year is served over a glass of ice.

Now that you are in the mood to celebrate National Iced Tea Day, here are three recipes to break the ice.

With five simple ingredients, Minty Green Tea Lemonade is the perfect introduction to green tea. It can be garnished with a sprig of mint or a lemon wedge.

Strawberry Lemonade Tea combines two of summer’s favorite tastes into a refreshing punch that revolves around iced tea.

If you want to try tea outside of the glass, Tea Stir Fry may be what you’re looking for. It is a quick and easy dish on a hot summer night. 

Did you know?

Numerous scientific studies suggest that tea – hot and iced alike – may provide health benefits because it contains phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals are naturally occurring plant compounds that play a role in helping the body fight certain types of cancer. Phytochemicals also help maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels and support a healthy immune system. Scientific research also reveals that the antioxidants in tea may inhibit the growth of cancer cells and support cardiovascular health.

Tea Stir Fry

Ingredients

1 cup water

4 Lipton Green Tea with Mandarin Orange Tea Bags

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips

2 cups stir-fry vegetables or 1 16-ounce package frozen stir-fry vegetables, thawed

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

– Bring water to a boil over high heat in a 1-quart saucepan. Remove from heat. Add green tea bags; cover and brew 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and squeeze; cool slightly. Stir in soy sauce, brown sugar and cornstarch; set aside.

– Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook pork, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove and set aside.

– Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in same skillet and cook vegetables, stirring frequently, 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Stir in tea mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute or until sauce thickens. Return pork to skillet. Reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes or until pork is done. Serve with hot rice, if desired.

– Recipe from Lipton Tea

Strawberry Lemonade Tea

Ingredients

6 lemon tea bags

4 cups boiling water

24 ounces strawberry puree

1 bottle club soda or sparkling water

Directions

– To make the puree, place fresh or frozen strawberries in a blender for 1 minute. Steep tea bags in boiling water for five minutes. Gently squeeze the tea bags and remove them.

– Allow the tea to cool. In a large pitcher, combine tea concentrate with strawberry puree. Add sparkling water. Stir well and serve over ice.

– Recipe from www.cdkitchen.com

Minty Green Tea Lemonade

Ingredients

4 cups boiling water

6 green tea bags

2 1/2 cups cold water

1 12-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

Directions

– In teapot, pour boiling water over tea bags. Cover and brew two minutes. Remove tea bags and let cool. In a 2-quart pitcher, combine all ingredients; chill at least two hours. Strain, if desired. Serve in ice-filled glasses. Garnish, if desired, with lemon wedges.

– Recipe from Lipton Tea