Today is National Tea Day and every day more than 160 million Americans enjoy iced tea, helping to make it the country’s most popular beverage besides water.

That’s a lot of tea at 84 billion servings a year.

Iced tea has a history of being served in the South, because it was first grown in South Carolina in the late 1700s. In 1870, it started to spread as it appeared on hotel menus and in print, but it really took off after 1904 World’s Fair.

Richard Blechynden, an American Tea merchant, was offering taste samplings of hot tea. Because of the summer heat few wanted to sample hot tea, so he cooled it with ice and the rest is history. Not long afterwards, Thomas Sullivan, another tea merchant, would send his tea samples in silk bags. Customers assumed they should be placed in hot water.

Tea was very expensive and not very affordable until Thomas Lipton opened a tea packaging company in New Jersey. He came up with ways to cut the cost and saw the future in tea bags. Lipton was the first to start selling tea bags that also included a tag with direction for brewing.

After 1917, World War I Americans were buying special tall glasses and long spoons that were called, you guested it “iced tea” glasses and spoons.

Now how about Sweet Tea. Here in the South that is the king of tea. In the South, tea was often served with alcohol. When probation took effect, it caused more people to drink tea, which was served in the crystal glasses used for alcohol.

I worked for a Southern-based restaurant chain for many years and the most profitable units were in Georgia and South Carolina, because of the sales of sweet tea. Sweet tea is a very profitable beverage!

Southerners are particular about their tea. They all wanted the black tea, not green tea. Lipton is popular in Georgia and, in Louisiana, Tetley Tea is more popular because of its stronger flavor blend.

In all locations the one constant was the tea had to be fresh brewed, period. A special tea machine was used, similar to commercial coffee makers. Measured tea was placed in the basket and temperature-controlled water would drip over the tea. I do that at home with a pod coffee maker.

My wife loves tea. The only problem with that is she has a cabinet full of different tea boxes that always fall out when I open the door, but that’s another story. Tea is healthy for you, just be careful with the sugar. Now here is a great shrimp recipe to go with that sweet tea.

2 to 4 servings with French bread for sopping and peel your own!

Creole Shrimp

Ingredients

11/2 pounds unpeeled shrimp (16-20 count)

1/2 cup butter (cut into 8 pieces)

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce or hot sauce of your choice

3 small garlic cloves, pressed

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning

Juice of 1 lemon

Directions

Combine butter, Worcestershire, Tabasco, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, thyme and Creole seasoning in a large skillet over medium high heat. Stir until the butter melts and begins to bubble. Add the shrimp to the skillet, tossing to coat with the butter mixture. Sauté until the shrimp turn pink and cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. This recipe is easily doubled if you like. Enjoy!

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or costa_magoulas@daytonastate.edu.

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