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Iced tea traditions from around the world

The season’s sweltering heat has got our creative juices flowing and inspired us to come up with some summer-esque literature. Teabox’s recently launched range of all natural iced teas got us thinking about how iced tea is enjoyed around the world. And we decided to put together a listicle about famed iced tea preparations from various parts of the globe. Curiously enough, we found that most countries famed for their iced teas are concentrated around the South-East Asian belt. Offshoots from China’s traditional tea culture could be a reason for these divergent evolutions. Nonetheless, each is its own kind of mouth-watering. So sit back, pour yourself a cold one and take a look.

1. Thai Cha Yen

Presenting a delicious offering from the land of hangovers. The ending of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 saw an influx of refugees into Thailand. They brought with them elements of Chinese culture including a rich tradition in tea. It led to the evolution of Thailand’s unique iced tea or Cha Yen. An amber-colored blend of Ceylon or Assam tea with sugar and condensed milk, with spices like star anise, tamarind and orange blossom, served over ice in a tall glass. An inviting ombre effect is often created by topping it off with evaporated milk. Cha Yen is sweet and spicy with a high calorie count that is outweighed by its reputation to be incredibly refreshing on hot days.

2. Taiwanese Bubble Tea

This Taiwanese treat is a modern take on Chinese tradition. Bubble tea is based on an iced tea (usually black, green, jasmine or oolong) combined with sugar syrup and powdered milk. It originated in 1988, when Lin Hsiu Hui, who worked at the Chun Shui Tang teahouse, added tapioca balls from her fen yuan dessert into her tea during a staff meeting. The resulting bubbles led to the naming of the beverage and before long, the teahouse started selling her fortuitous creation. In the years that followed, bubble tea became an international phenomenon with shops springing up all over Asia, Europe and even as far as the United States.

3. Malaysian Teh Tarik

Black tea, sugar, and condensed milk are what make up Malaysia’s signature brew. “Teh tarik” or “pulled tea” is unique owing to the way it is mixed. To achieve its distinctly frothy texture, the beverage is poured back and forth between mugs, giving the liquid repeated access to air as it flows from one glass to another. The making of Teh Tarik developed into an art form in its own right. To watch teh tarik being mixed is akin to watching an elaborate dance routine where the brew acts as a partner leaping from one mug to another under the watchful gaze of the skilful brewer. 

Malaysian Teh Tarik

Malaysian Teh Tarik

4. Hong Kong’s Pantyhose Tea

Hong Kong is famed for its rendition of iced milk tea known as pantyhose tea or silk stocking tea. The name is derived from its color which is similar to nude stockings. It is often brewed in a long tea sock that also resembles a pantyhose. Strong chilled black tea is combined with evaporated or condensed milk and served over ice. While traditional tea drinking leans towards green tea, white tea and strongly oxidized black tea, affordable Ceylon black tea is the preferred choice for Hong Kong-style milk tea, a legacy of British colonial rule, usually consumed at lunch.

5. America’s Sweetheart: Iced Tea

Iced tea is believed to have originated in the United States. The oldest iced tea recipe in print dates back to 1879 from a community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia. There are two traditional teas in America; iced tea and sweet tea with sugar being the only difference between them. Southerners are loyal to their sweet iced tea and consume it by the gallon. For them, it’s not just a summertime drink but one that’s served year round with meals. Outside of the Southern state, iced tea is mostly served unsweetened or “black”.

If all this talk about iced teas made you a little bit thirsty, check out Teabox’s all new real iced tea range. Made with real tea, real fruits and ingredients, every sip is pure indulgence. The lack of added sugars and preservatives make for a healthy, yet enjoyable experience designed to delight tea lovers all worldwide. Also compiled are a list of delicious recipes for cocktails and mocktails designed handcrafted for use with our iced tea blends. After all, an iced tea or two does do a great job of keeping summer at bay!

Read Ian Bersten’s post on The Irrationality of the Iced Tea Drinker

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