Iced tea

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Iced tea with lemon

Iced tea (sometimes known as ice tea) is a form of cold tea, usually served in a glass with ice. It may or may not be sweetened. Iced tea is also a popular packaged drink. It can be mixed with flavored syrup, with common flavors including lemon, peach, raspberry, lime, passion fruit, strawberry and cherry. While most iced teas get their flavor from tea leaves (Camellia sinensis), tisanes are also sometimes served cold and referred to as iced tea. Unsweetened iced tea is sometimes made by a particularly long steeping of tea leaves at lower temperature (one hour in the sun versus 5 minutes at 80-100 °C). In addition, sometimes it is also left to stand overnight in the refrigerator.

Cultural variations

Ice cubes in a glass of Canadian iced tea, made from concentrate


Iced tea is popular in Austria, though the common name is Eistee (ice tea); it is usually drunk heavily sweetened. Rauch is one of the most popular manufacturers.

Belgium and the Netherlands

In Belgium, Netherlands and various other parts of Europe, "Ice Tea" is the brand name of a carbonation|carbonated variety of iced tea marketed by Lipton since 1978. They also market a number of other non-carbonated iced teas under the "Ice Tea" brand.


In Brazil, particularly in Rio de Janeiro, one of the most popular beverages is Mate cocido. Unlike the Argentinian or gaucho mate (also known as chimarrão), the carioca rendering is consumed iced and sweetened. A preferred flavoring is lime juice (not lemon), referred in Rio as "mate com limão". It is a part of the local beach culture, where it is sold by walking vendors in thermical tonnels. Mate dried leaves can be also bought in supermarkets to be made at home. The most popular brand is Leão, originally from Paraná, and later acquired by The Coca-Cola Company. It is generally left overnight at the refrigerator. Leão also markets mate as a non-carbonated soft drink.


In Canada, iced tea refers to sweetened iced tea, flavoured with lemon, although unsweetened or less sweetened iced teas are becoming popular. The iced tea is usually made at home from drink powder or obtained in cans or bottles. Sweetened green teas and those flavoured with raspberry, peach, or pomegranate are also becoming more common via marketing efforts. Sweetened iced tea is often served as an alternative to other soft drinks, prepared by companies like Lipton, Arizona Beverage Company, Nestle (Good Host and Nestea). Water, sugar and flavorings may exceed tea in terms of quantity in these drinks. Many health food and specialty stores carry iced tea made of whole leaf tea without additives. Fresh-brewed iced tea is also popular, particularly in smaller independently owned restaurants. Powdered or frozen iced tea is a common preparation at home, due to its ease of use.


Although not a traditional way to serve tea, iced tea gained wide spread popularity in even rural areas since the 1980s with canned or bottled tea. Many varieties of tea, including green tea, are available packaged and sold in stores. Many families make their own iced tea by either putting lots of ice in a small amount of strong hot tea or by putting hot tea in a fridge for some time. Common types of iced tea are black, green, oolong, and lots of tisanes as well. Iced tisanes are especially popular in the hot summers, where "yin" or cooling herbs are used to make tea such as chrysanthemum, kuding tea, etc. Cooled tea but still warm was already popular throughout ancient times but tea at cold temperatures was not as popular then.


Nestea and Lipton are the most dominant brands and lemon- and peach-flavored iced teas are the most popular variants. Lipton offers a number of non-carbonated iced teas under the "Ice Tea" brand and the carbonated variety under the brand "Ice Tea Sparkling". Iced tea is also available in many restaurants. Half-sweetened iced tea (i.e. 50 g/l sugar compared to the 100 g/l found in soft drinks) is also available in most big supermarkets; mainly "Lipton Green". Instant teas are available that can be used to prepare iced tea with cold or hot water which are often called "Krümeltee" (meaning crumb tea or crumble tea) because of the special appearance.

Hong Kong

Iced lemon tea is available at many Hong Kong restaurants. A strong black tea (e.g. Ceylon) is brewed at length in a metal pot over a burner, and prepared as follows: a large glass is filled with ice, a scoop of simple syrup is added (if desired), and the glass is filled to the top with hot tea. Slices of lemon are placed atop the mixture, which are then muddled into the tea by the customer, ensuring that the volatile oils present in the lemon peel are at their peak when consumed.

In dessert parlors (such as "Quickly"), iced green tea is often available (usually flavored with jasmine blossoms), both with and without tapioca pearls, as is Hong Kong-style milk tea (usually served warm in cafes, but poured over ice when served with tapioca, creating a very creamy iced tea).


Iced tea is a popular drink in Indonesia. It is served in a vast majority of foodservice businesses, ranging from street hawkers and traditional food corners to restaurants. Iced tea is sweetened; it is known as "es teh manis" and is served with a meal. Bottled brands include Sosro and Lipton.

Iced tea as served with Indonesian food


Iced tea is a popular drink in Italy and is widely available, generally only in lemon- and peach-flavored incarnations. Estathé, as well as Lipton, are well-known brands.


Japan is one of the most important iced tea markets in the world, with iced tea in bottles and cans a common sight in the country's ubiquitous vending machines. Japanese iced tea products mirror the market for hot tea in the sense that they are mostly green tea and oolong products, usually unflavoured and mostly unsweetened. Suntory, Kirin Brewery Company, and the Coca-Cola Company are some of the largest producers. Lipton, the world's largest tea brand, offers a range of iced tea products based on black tea through joint ventures with two local partners, Suntory and Morinaga Company.

It is Japanese-style products rather than the Western-style products that are penetrating the markets of East Asia. Several Japanese companies have also started exporting their products to Europe and North America, in particular Ito En, which markets a whole range of Japanese-style unsweetened green and oolong teas in the USA.


Iced Tea is very popular in Malaysia and is sold in most restaurants and grocery stores. The two most common types of tea are plain Chinese Iced Tea (teh ais) and Iced Lemon Tea (teh o' ais limau). Both varieties can be bought at most coffee shops and are both usually made by the outlet, though Iced Lemon Tea is also readily available at grocery stores in a canned form. Popular brands of Iced Lemon Tea are Lipton, Nestea, and F&N Coca-Cola. Despite the name, coffee shops usually serve Ice Lemon Tea with a lime rather than a lemon. This is probably because locally grown lime is cheaper than imported lemons, and it provides a similar citrus flavor.


Similar to the USA, iced tea is served in many bars, restaurants, grocery stores, schools and fast food outlets as an alternative to carbonated soda. In most areas,the Nestea brand is the most popular. It is also available in powdered form as well as in cans and bottles. Iced tea in the Philippines is very popular and it is almost always sweet, with a slight lemon flavor.


Iced tea has been a popular drink in Portugal since the early 1990s. It is sold in cans and bottles found in bars, restaurants, grocery stores and supermarkets. Lipton Ice Tea, Nestea and Frutea are the leading brands. The most common types of iced tea sold in Portugal are lemon, peach or mango flavored.

South Korea

Cold tea (usually without ice) is popular during the summer months in South Korea. Common varieties include Oksusu cha|corn, Roasted barley, and green tea. Premade iced tea is rarer but can occasionally be found.


Iced tea is a popular summer drink in Sweden, especially since Sweden is traditionally a tea-drinking country. The two dominating brands are Lipton, and Nestea, and the two best selling flavors are lemon and peach. FUN Light, a popular lemonade brand in Sweden, have begun selling iced tea, too. Iced tea is also sold in grocery stores and some restaurants.


Mass-produced iced teas such as Nestea (Nestlé), GreeNice and Lipton are popular refreshments, while fresh-brewed iced teas are seldom found outside the home. Iced tisanes, typically dominated by peppermint, are also readily available, as are flavored black teas. It is typically labeled as "ice tea".

Switzerland is considered as the motherland of bottled iced tea. Maks Sprengler, Swiss businessman, have tried the famous American iced tea and first suggested to produce ready-made iced tea in bottles. In 1983 Bischofszell Food Ltd. became the first producer in the world of bottled ice tea on an industrial scale.


Bubble tea is usually a strong black tea, sweetened with sugar and condensed milk. It is served cold usually with tapioca pearls. There are many variations of it, with different types of teas; fruit-flavored bubble teas are popular as well. Sometimes pudding, jelly, or chunks of fruit are put into it instead of tapioca pearls.


A glass of Thai tea

Thai iced tea or cha yen (|ชาเย็น) in Thailand is a drink made from strongly brewed black tea. This tea is sweetened with sugar and condensed milk and served chilled. Evaporated milk, coconut milk or whole milk is generally poured over the tea and ice before serving to add taste and creamy appearance. However, in Thailand, condensed milk and sugar are mixed with the tea before it is poured over ice and then topped with evaporated milk. In Thai restaurants worldwide, it is served in a tall glass, though in Thailand it is more typically poured over the crushed ice in a clear (or translucent) plastic cup.

Additional variations include:

  • Dark Thai iced tea (Thai: ชาดำเย็น, cha dam yen): Thai tea served chilled with no milk content and sweetened with sugar only. The concept is based on traditional Indian tea, which is used as the main ingredient.
  • Lime Thai tea (Thai: ชามะนาว, cha manao): Similar to Dark Thai iced tea, but flavored with lime as well as sweetened with sugar. Mint may also be added.


In a traditional tea-drinking country such as Turkey, iced tea became popular when Lipton introduced it in the 2000s. Iced teas are a popular alternative to soft drinks. Lipton and Nestea were the two major brands until 2012, when the contract between Coca-Cola Coca Cola İçecek A.Ş. and Nestea expired, Coca Cola replaced Nestea with its Fuze Beverage brand, renamed as "Fuse Tea" as fuze means "missile" in Turkish language|Turkish. Since the introduction of Fuse Tea, Lipton IceTea has become harder to find in local stores.

United Kingdom

Although iced tea is not as widely consumed in the United Kingdom as the rest of Europe, the drink became more popular in the 2000s. Lipton sold their carbonated iced tea, similar to the one sold in Belgium, in the 1990s. Recently, Lipton has returned to general sale of non-carbonated tea, quickly followed by Nestea and Twinings.

United States

Iced tea poured

In the United States, iced tea makes up about 85% of all tea consumed and is very popular as an alternative to carbonated soft drinks, especially in the hotter southern states: it is ubiquitous in restaurants, convenience stores, vending machines, and grocery stores. It may be freshly made on premises, or available in bottles and cans, and at self-serve soda fountains. Restaurants typically give the customer the choice of sweetened or unsweetened.

The oldest printed recipes for iced tea date back to the 1870s. Two of the earliest cookbooks with iced tea recipes are the Buckeye Cookbook. Iced tea had started to appear in the USA during the 1860s. Seen as a novelty at first, during the 1870s it became quite widespread. Not only did recipes appear in print, but iced tea was offered on hotel menus, and was on sale at railroad stations. Its popularity rapidly increased after Richard Blechynden introduced it at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis.

Iced tea's popularity in the United States has led to an addition to standard cutlery sets: the iced tea spoon is a teaspoon with a long handle, suitable for stirring sugar into glasses. In the summer, iced tea is at its most popular.

It is a common stereotype of the Southeastern United States due to the popularity of sweet iced tea in that region that unsweetened iced tea is not available and/or frowned upon. It is true that often the term "iced tea" is assumed to mean sweetened iced tea by default in that region.

Iced tea varieties

Iced tea is traditionally served with lemon slice used as a garnish, which is often placed on the rim of the glass. In the Southwest United States (or at least in restaurants with a Southwest theme), lime is also very popular (especially in Mexican restaurants). It is not entirely uncommon for establishments to put out slices of both lemon and lime for the customer to take for themselves.

Because of the varieties of eateries in the United States, as well as climatic and cultural differences, a variety of iced teas are available. Most prominent are:

  • In barbecue, soul food, and cuisine of the Southern cuisine-style, establishments, along with greasy spoons and general eateries, black tea is iced. This is by far the most commonly available form of freshly brewed iced tea, to which the above statements apply. Fruit-flavored teas and tisanes are also popular iced.
  • In some coffeehouses, more exotic varieties may be iced, such as Jasmine tea or Earl Grey tea.
  • Thai iced tea is common in Thai restaurants.
  • Chai (spiced Indian tea) is available from some restaurants and stores. While not traditionally served iced, in the U.S. chai is frequently served iced, with honey as a sweetener, or pre-sweetened when bottled.
  • Iced Jasmine tea, Genmaicha, and Hojicha are available from some Chinese cuisine or other Asian cuisine restaurants, but rarely. It is more common to find one of these varieties hot, where the patron may pour the tea over ice.

Bottled iced tea

Manufacturers of bottled or canned iced tea include: Honest Tea, Lipton, Nestea, Snapple and Turkey Hill. Such tea can be found on the shelves of most Western groceries and convenience stores, or online, in a variety of flavors, and leaf types (usually black or green, occasionally white). With iced tea mass-produced at this scale, unsweetened varieties are somewhat rare: most are sweetened with corn syrup, and their sweetness places them in the same market as soft drinks. Brands such as Snapple and Lipton offer iced teas sweetened with sugar in place of corn syrup. Both the sweetened and unsweetened varieties usually contain the Food additives|additive citric acid, labeled either "for flavor" or as a "preservative." Canned varieties are canned under high pressure to prevent the cans from being crushed, which may result in very mild effervescence.

Health food and some other specialty stores often carry a different set of iced tea bottlers which may include Tazo, Sweet Leaf Tea, various U.S. brands of the Japanese green tea giant Ito En, and other small companies. These are also available in a variety of flavors, although there is less emphasis on fruits and sweeteners, and greater emphasis on traditional tea spices and herbs (which can range from mint to oil of bergamot). Corn syrup as a sweetener is rare, with cane sugar, honey, and other sweeteners being more prominent. Citric acid as a stand-alone ingredient (i.e., present as a chemical additive and not because of the addition of citrus) is less common. Also, with these alternative producers, unsweetened tea with no additional ingredients (just tea-infused water) may be available, as well as uncommon varieties such as chai, white tea, Genmaicha, Jasmine tea, Earl Grey tea, and Hojicha.

Sweet tea

Sweet tea is tea that is brewed very strong with a large amount of sugar added while the tea is still hot. The mixture of sugar and tea is then diluted with water, served over ice and is occasionally garnished with lemon. Sometimes the diluted mixture is allowed to cool to room temperature. Other times the sugar and tea mixture is diluted by pouring the hot tea and sugar over a full tumbler of ice to cool it instantly. Sweet tea is traditionally the most common variety of iced tea in the South; elsewhere, unsweetened iced tea is more common, although there has been a growing trend of offering both sweetened and plain since the early 2000s.

Half and half (Arnold Palmer)

There is also a growing popularity in the United States of a mixed drink called "half and half". Often called an Arnold Palmer, the drink was eventually marketed by Snapple, Nantucket Nectars, and AriZona Iced Tea; half and half is a mix of both iced tea and lemonade, giving the drink a much sweeter taste as well as a bite. A John Daly is an alcoholic version of the drink, often made with sweet tea, vodka, and lemonade.

Another popular use for the term half and half is that of a mixture of sweetened and unsweetened tea at a restaurant or fast food establishment that offers both choices. This provides a middle ground for those who want sweetness but not as much as the sweet tea being served. In some parts of the southeastern United States, a half sweetened/half unsweetened tea is ordered as a "Chris Rock", named after the comedian originally from Andrews, South Carolina. Also, in certain areas of Florida, this drink can be ordered as a "Caddy Cooler".

Boston Iced Tea

This is an iced tea variation that is half iced tea and half cranberry juice. In Scranton Pa the variation of this is a 70% to 30% mix of raspeberry iced tea and cranberry juice. This is commonly referred to as the Dan G. In Kingston Pa the variation of this is a 70% to 30% mix of green tea and cranberry juice. This is commonly referred to as The Imperial Sunrise.


In Vietnam, iced tea is often served free in coffee shops and some restaurants while the customer is deciding what to order.

See also

  • Sweet tea