Over the years, tea has been adapted in different regions of the world to suit local tastes and preferences. Yet, hot tea is more popular around the world than Iced Tea.
Hot tea has been in existence for centuries, and has a long and complex history. The beverage was initially consumed for medicinal purposes only. Over time, tea leaves were boiled or steeped in water in order to prepare a stimulating, yet healthy drink for daily consumption.
Iced tea was introduced years after its traditional counterpart, with the oldest known recipes for iced tea dating back to the 19th century. It was a result of experimentation, upon the invention of refrigeration and ice boxes. There are many versions of iced tea with different preparation methods - most involving the addition of sugar, while some calling for tea to be brewed and steeped with hot water before refrigerating and serving with ice.
One of the oldest recipes to prepare iced tea was published in a booked titled “Housekeeping in Old Virginia” by Marion Cabell Tyree in the year 1979.
The recipe asked for adding two teaspoonfuls of green tea to one quart of boiling water, then steeping it for a day. The infusion was then to be poured into a glass containing ice and sugar, with a dash of lemon to balance the flavours.
During the early stages of introduction, sweetened iced tea was considered a luxury due to the value of ice, given that refrigeration was just invented. Today, iced tea is available in bottled packs, powdered form, liquid concentrates, and loose-leaf tea to be brewed and refrigerated overnight. Most convenience packs contain sugar or sweeteners, while loose-leaf tea offers the option to avoid sweeteners. Loose-leaf tea is usually brewed for a longer time in order to make it stronger, as the ice eventually dilutes the flavour. Iced tea accounts for more than 80% of the tea consumed in America, and is gaining popularity in other parts of the world too.
So does iced tea offer the same health benefits as a freshly steeped hot cup of tea? It is a common belief that hot teas contain more antioxidants than iced teas, but detailed studies have proved otherwise.
According to research, a refreshing glass of iced tea, if prepared well, contains equally as many antioxidants as its hot counterpart.
The antioxidant levels in any kind of tea differ with every cup. This is because it is dependent on the conditions in which the plant has grown, the manufacturing and blending techniques, and the brewing temperature and time. However, the health benefits are compromised in case of sweetened iced teas, due to the high sugar content.
There can never be a universal answer to the question “Which is better?”. One thing is for sure - home-made teas, whether hot or iced, are healthier options than processed teas. The preference for hot tea or iced tea would largely depend on an individual’s tastes and likings. Iced teas are usually preferred during summer, as a refreshing and hydrating alternative to processed juices and soft drinks, while hot teas are a favourite during winter. To get you started, choose from our range of hot teas and iced teas to brew your perfect cup.