Americans have become avid consumers of iced tea with figures from market researcher the NPD Group showing 54 percent of the US population drinks iced tea, up from 49 percent in 2002, with adults and children choosing tea over wine or soda.
Restaurants ranging from steakhouses and upscale eateries such as the Tribeca Grill in New York to fast-food chains like Dunkin' Donuts have picked up on this latest trend and are responding by increasing their selection of iced teas.
"Iced tea has taken on a new dimension," said John Crabtree, owner of Crabtree's Kittle House in Chappaqua, New York, an upscale restaurant where some diners are foregoing the 70,000 bottle wine cellar for one of 20 designer iced teas.
"As martini sales have gone down at business lunches, iced tea has gone up," said Crabtree, recalling a group of six doctors getting through three gallons at one sitting.
McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts have both jumped onto this trend, realising that iced tea, once a regional favourite of the south, is fast becoming one of the nation's favourite drinks.
McDonald's added iced tea to its menu several years ago, but has since expanded its selection and availability.
Restaurateurs cite several causes for iced teas growth.
One is the decline in alcohol consumption during the day, and also the fact that iced tea is low-cost and profitable.
Reports about the health benefits of tea, especially green tea and black teas, are also cited as a major influence.