The 'Triangle Trade' between America, the West Indies and Africa influenced a distinct cuisine, legendary, to the South. These recipes remain today and are closely guarded secrets.
TEA PUNCH emanated from the English societies in India. The root word, “panch” for “punch” stems from the Hindustani word for five, referring to five ingredients in the blend: tea, sugar, lemons, water & arrack (liquor distilled from fermented coconut palms, molasses & sugarcane).
British sailors adapted quickly to these concoctions. The importation of lemons, Seville oranges, limes, pineapple & spices from the West Indian & Portuguese Portolean routes to England & the New World, cradled an urgency.
Our English, Huguenot, Scots-Irish forefathers arrived on the shores of the New World as early as 1620, with a passion for freedom and thirst. Water was considered a carrier of disease, therefore, adequate supplies of green tea, wines, & malt for brewing traveled with the settlers to ensure a steady supply of drink.
Unaccustomed to climate change, European vines & grains failed to take to the soil. As a result, wines for punch were imported. Fine for the gentry, but could not appease popular demand. The colonists, then, resourced local blends to recreate tea punch drinks of the old world.
Displaying the patriotic spirit, the colonists fermented whatever native flavors were at hand herbal infusions, fragrant bark, pine needles, roots & fruit skins. Peaches were distilled into brandy & added to green tea. Plain green tea was very bitter.
By 1753, all green tea punch was served hot with spirits & loaf sugar in “punch” bowls. Every punch house pleaded for an exotic ingredient added to make it their signature. Hot punch, a legacy of the British drink culture, was favored in any weather. Sweat drew heat from the body & as a result, the inner skin was cool.
The ‘Triangle Trade’ between America, the West Indies and Africa inﬂuenced a distinct cuisine, legendary, to the South. By 1888, hot tea punch was ladled into cups filled with bourbon or rum soaked sugar-cubes. These recipes remain today and are closely guarded secrets.
Characteristic of her forbears, Founder and President, Leslie Mckinney Bass, was the first of 11 generations to move outside of her south to Chicago, in 1983. As therapy for her homesickness, she began trading blues harmonica riffs with ﬁddle players and mandolin strummers. But the songs of the South hit home hard, thus, she re-kindled the drink of her youth. With a little business savvy and keynote vibrating her patriotic grit, Delta Blues Iced Tea Co. was founded and the rest they say is history.