In 1904, at the St. Louis World’s Fair (also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition), Richard Blechynden, an enterprising English merchant, stood at his tea pavilion offering free hot tea to the many fairgoers. However, because of the sweltering heat, his tea samples remained untouched. Exhausted and desperate to showcase his product, Blechynden tried serving the tea in glasses filled with ice. The scheme was an instant success.
Because of this account, Richard Blechynden is often credited as the inventor of iced tea. Actually, it is more accurate to describe him as someone who popularized the drink, for, in reality, English and American variants of iced tea had been in existence since the early 1800s.
On September 20-21, 1890, the Missouri State Reunion of Ex-Confederate Veterans was held in Nevada, Missouri. Fifteen thousand veterans converged on the city of Nevada including several hundred from St. Louis. This event was held at the Artesian Park where an encampment was set up with rows upon rows of tents. The encampment was called Camp Jackson.
On the first day a huge meal was served, the magnitude of which was absolutely stunning. For example, there was over 11,000 pounds of beef, and 4,800 pounds of bread. The biggest surprise, however, is that the meal included iced tea – 880 gallons of it! Below is a clipping that appeared as part of a write-up about the Confederate reunion which appeared in the September 28, 1890 issue of the Nevada Noticer newspaper.
This article was published fourteen years before the World’s Fair. It also seems notable that the article is written in a style which infers that the newspaper assumed its readers knew what iced tea was. This leaves little doubt that iced tea was invented quite some time before the St. Louis World’s Fair.
I love iced tea. Although my family usually drinks it plain, a slice of lemon or some mint makes a lovely change.
To finish up this post, I have gathered a handful of delightful looking iced tea recipes.
- Five Minute Raspberry Iced Tea
- Perfect Peach Iced Tea
- Sweet Thai Iced Tea
- Iced Green Tea With Ginger, Mint And Honey
- Orange Vanilla Iced Tea
- Blueberry Iced Green Tea
- Lemonade Iced Tea
- Coconut Iced Tea