I think it must have been the mid 1990s when I first tasted peach iced tea. I was immediately hooked. The sweet fruityness, the dry tannins, I loved it all.
It hasn't always been that easy to come by: Snapple was available in Australia for a short period but then seemed to disappear and I've never seen it in the UK. Lipton Ice was overly sweetened but fairly reliable until they started to put vile stevia in it (you can still get it without, but apparently the warehouse pickers who pack my internet grocery shopping can't tell the difference). The Berry Company's peach white tea is delicious and lower in sugar than Lipton, but it seems to have disappeared from the shelves.
I took some pointers from a woman from America's South, where both peaches and iced tea seem to be a way of life, and set out to make my own peach iced tea. Her secrets to a good iced tea of any flavour are to start with a properly strong tea, diluting it to taste, and using a sugar syrup to sweeten. It took several goes to get a blend I was happy with, but here it is.
Peach iced tea (makes 1 litre - about 6 glasses)
3 English breakfast tea bags
4 tbs caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 sachet white peach bellini mix
Ice to serve
Place the tea bags in a 1l heatproof jug. Pour on 500ml freshly boiled water and allow to steep for 10 minutes, then remove the teabags.
In a small saucepan mix the sugar and a splash of water. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves completely. Allow to cool.
Pour the sugar syrup, lemon juice and bellini mix into the tea, top up with cold water to 1 litre. Taste for sweetness (it'll be quite strong, it gets diluted by the ice) and chill.
Half fill glasses with ice, stir the iced tea (the peach tends to settle at the bottom) and pour over the ice to serve.
I think a double quantity with a good cupful of Southern Comfort and some sliced fresh peaches would make a superb party punch. I'll have to try that next.