Sweet tea is a Southerner’s dream come true when made right (not green tea…there’s a big difference).
As with anything else in the South (or anywhere else, for that matter) there are lots of variations of standard classics.
The German did not make sweet tea. She wasn’t Southern, after all.
Yet, it was one of my favorite drinks as a kid. It followed right after grape Kool-Aid and the occasional ice cold Coke.
I grew up in a diverse neighborhood.
I was fed, and loved, Menudo and homemade tortillas from my neighbor from Mexico.
I ate potato pancakes with applesauce and schnitzel at home.
I drank gallons of sweet tea from the Southern crew.
When I got to the age of interest, I asked several moms how they made their sweet tea and each had a different answer.
Today, I have two go-to methods, dependent on how much time and effort I want to expend.
Easy Method for 1 gallon of Sweet Tea (seems like a large amount, but trust me, once your family starts drinking it, a gallon doesn’t go far)
~ Boil 4 cups of water.
~ Take off heat.
~ Place 4 large tea bags in water and let steep 5-7 minutes…go 10 if you’re feeling crazy.
~ In gallon pitcher, place 1 cup of sugar, or more/less to taste (if I’m making sweet tea for company, I ALWAYS use 1 cup of sugar, or more…mmmmm).
~ Discard tea bags and pour hot concentrated tea into pitcher and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
IMPORTANT STEP: fill the remainder with cold water from fridge. Tap water isn’t cold enough. This step helps prevent the tea from clouding.
Pour over ice, garnish with lemon or orange slices and drank.
Best Tasting Method (or at least I think so) for 1 gallon of Sweet Tea (with pics!)
~ Using large sauce pan, pour in 4 cups of water.
~ Turn heat to high.
~ Gently sprinkle 3 heaping tablespoons of loose tea on top of water.
~ DO NOT mix or stir.
~ Let the loose tea rest on the surface.
~ Watch the water carefully: you DO NOT want to let it come to a boil, because it will turn the tea bitter.
~ Once bubbles start appearing along the outer circle of the pan, remove from heat and let steep 5-7 minutes. (see the tiny bubbles?)
~ In gallon pitcher, place 1 cup of sugar, or more/less to taste.
~ Place a strainer over the top of pitcher and pour in hot tea concentrate, letting strainer catch the loose leaves.
~ Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
~ IMPORTANT STEP: fill the remainder with cold water from fridge. Tap water isn’t cold enough. This step helps prevent the tea from clouding.
~ Pour over ice, garnish with lemon or orange slices and drank.
Can you taste it? This is the taste of summer time/fall time/winter time/spring time.
Now go and impress your Southern friends with your knowledge of a classic tradition.
If you bring your six-shooters to show off too, well, we may have to make you an honorary Belle.