It's cool and refreshing, potentially good for your health, and almost universally loved all across the U.S. In fact, so popular is iced tea that the entire month of June has been set aside in celebration and recognition.

This year, during the Seventh Annual National Iced Tea Month, Americans are encouraged to drink a tall, cool, healthful glass of iced tea every day in June ... and what better time, as the mercury starts rising, the picnic basket comes out of storage, and the pool is officially opened for the season.

Chillin' in the U.S.A.

Iced tea was created in America nearly 100 years ago, so perhaps it's only fitting that ours is the only country where the majority of tea is enjoyed cold. In fact, iced tea was invented because visitors to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair weren't interested in drinking hot tea on a hot day ... so quick-thinking English tea merchant Richard Blechynden added ice, and the rest is history.

Today, 80 percent of the 2.2 billion gallons of tea consumed by Americans each year is served over ice. And, during the "go-go 90s," convenient ready-to-drink iced teas skyrocketed in popularity, with sales soaring from $200 million in 1990 to $1.65 billion in 1999.

Not Just Good ... Good For You

Yes, it's delicious. Yes, it's refreshing. But more importantly, numerous scientific studies suggest that tea -- including iced tea -- may provide certain health benefits. In particular:

-- Tea contains phytochemicals - naturally occurring plant compounds that may play a positive role in helping the body fight certain cancers, maintaining healthy blood cholesterol levels and supporting a healthy immune system.

-- Specific phytochemicals called flavonoids, found in both black and green tea, may have even stronger antioxidant properties than many fruits and vegetables ... and antioxidants are believed to neutralize free radicals, which scientists believe may play a role in the development of chronic illnesses such as some types of cancer and heart disease.

-- Tea contains approximately the same amount of fluoride as fluoridated water. Drinking tea may help support healthy tooth enamel.

-- Drinking tea plays a significant role in maintaining fluid balance, which is crucial for normal body function. Most adults need about two quarts of fluid daily, which should come from beverages and some fruits and vegetables.


"Tea is a smart choice ... the perfect brew for today's healthy lifestyle," advises Joe Simrany, President of the Tea Council of the USA. "We hope that Americans will embrace iced tea during National Iced Tea Month this June, and then continue enjoying both its refreshing flavor and its impressive health benefits 12 months a year."