Tea should be fun, and even though I’m generally not a fan of foods/beverages pretending to be something else, I have to say that Creamsicle tea is surprisingly like its namesake—you know, the summer treat with orange sherbet wrapped around vanilla ice cream—and surprisingly delicious, especially iced.
In this case, I’m talking about a rooibos blend from TeaHaus. Naturally caffeine free, with negligible if any calories, this blend is ideal as an after-dinner treat, for children, for late-night sipping. Iced, its creamsicle flavor is accentuated, and it would be delicious frozen.
The tea made me curious about the original.
The Predecessor to the Tea
What we now call popsicles were invented in 1905—by 11-year-old Frank Epperson.
Well, sort of. It actually began as an accidental discovery, when Epperson found that a stirrer left in a soft drink overnight in cold weather resulted in a frozen chunk stuck to a handle of sorts.
The revelation stuck with Epperson, and he later developed a process for making such a frozen treat commercially. In 1924 he applied for a patent, describing his equipment as a way:
to provide a method or process for making a frozen confection of attractive appearance, which can be conveniently consumed without contamination by contact with the hand and without the need for a plate, spoon, fork or other implement, which process can be expeditiously carried out at small expense with simple apparatus, without the need for expert care and in thoroughly sanitary manner.
Although this sounds obvious now, Epperson was the first to figure out how to freeze fruit juice around a stick, no easy feat. Reading his patent application, it’s clear that Epperson was innovative and practical.
There was a lot involved in his creation, such as getting the concoction to both freeze correctly and to stay on the stick. He ensured that the stick “neither conduct[ed] the cold of the confection to the hand of the consumer, nor the heat of the hand to the confection,” and that the product could be removed from the mold without damage.
Originally called an Epsicle, Epperson later changed the name of the frozen treat to Popsicle, which is what his kids called their dad’s invention.
Shortly after applying for a patent, Epperson sold the rights to the Joe Lowe Company, but evidently continued to develop frozen treats. He is thought to have had a role in—or inspired—twin Popsicles, Fudgsicles, Creamsicles, and Dreamsicles (MIT).
Frozen treats may not have grown in popularity except for the advent of refrigeration, which, when combined with automobiles, resulted in the ice cream truck.
In 1920 or 1921, Harry Burt had developed the “Good Humor” chocolate-covered ice cream bar, also frozen to a stick (which makes me wonder whether Epperson knew about Burt’s frozen treat and that’s why he decided to apply for a patent in 1924).
At the same time, Burt was using a delivery truck to supply ice cream to wholesale customers.
He then brilliantly combined the two concepts and began to sell the Good Humor bars directly from the refrigerated truck—the ice cream truck! Of course, popsicles were soon part of the mix.
Creamsicle Rooibos, the Tea
Returning to the tea, this blend is a mix of rooibos slivers, orange peel, freeze-dried yogurt granules, and natural flavor.
I used 1 heaping teaspoon for 8 ounces of boiling water and brewed the tea for 10 minutes, during which the orange peel pieces reconstitute. You can’t overbrew rooibos so you needn’t worry about timing.
The brick red brew has an aroma—and flavor—akin to an actual Creamsicle!
I prefer this blend iced, which accentuates the fruitiness—so refreshing on a hot day! It’s terrific made with cold sparkling water for a caffeine-free, nearly sugar- and calorie-free, refreshing substitute for soda.
Rooibos is purported to have some health benefits (see What Is Rooibos Tea?) but there’s always the question of whether your body can actually use the micronutrients found in the brew. Rather than worry about that, I just enjoy this for its flavor, solid in the knowledge that it doesn’t have anything bad and is more probably beneficial.
–Landis, E., “The cool history behind the truck serving sweet treats in sweltering heat,” Wide Open Eats, 8/7/21.
–Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Frank Epperson, the popsicle,” Lemelson-MIT, accessed 5/2/22.