I was brought up drinking it very sweet with lemon and mint. I don't think I even knew what tea actually tasted like by itself. I learned to like it unsweetened when I was in college. I didn't have time to fool with all the sugar and stuff then...just bolted it down and ran.
1920-1933 - The American Prohibition (1920-1933) helped boost the popularity of iced tea because average Americans were forced to find alternatives to illegal beer, wine, and alcohol. Iced tea recipes begin appearing routinely in most southern cookbooks during this time.
1928 - In the southern cookbook, Southern Cooking, by Henrietta Stanley Dull (Mrs. S.R. Dull), Home Ecomonics Editor for the Atlanta Journal, gives the recipe that remained standard in the South for decades thereafter. It is a regional book that very much resemblances the many "church" or "ladies society" cookbooks of that era.
TEA - Freshly brewed tea, after three to five minutes' infusion, is essential if a good quality is desired. The water, as for coffee, should be freshly boiled and poured over the tea for this short time . . . The tea leaves may be removed when the desired strength is obtained . . . Tea, when it is to be iced, should be made much stronger, to allow for the ice used in chilling. A medium strength tea is usually liked. A good blend and grade of black tea is most popular for iced tea, while green and black are used for hot . . . To sweeten tea for an iced drink-less sugar is required if put in while tea is hot, but often too much is made and sweetened, so in the end there is more often a waste than saving . . . Iced tea should be served with or without lemon, with a sprig of mint, a strawberry, a cherry, a slice of orange, or pineapple. This may be fresh or canned fruit. Milk is not used in iced tea.
I've been to places that the first sip of ice tea is a religious experience.
If you've been drinking from a can, you just don't know.
My odyssey through the southern regions left me with the impression that the only cold beverage consumed was Dr Pepper. In addition, on special occasions R.C. Cola could be found.