Sweet tea, in the South, is drunk all through the year. Glasses will hold as much ice in them, in the winter as they do in the summer. My papa made the best sweet tea in the world. Dark brown, like stout; fragrant, sweet as a baby’s smile, and satisfying as a long nap under a big shady tree on a summer Sunday afternoon.
If the tea is too sweet for you, back it off. I have given a low – high amount of sugar. Also, when possible, use Luzianne Tea – “brewed for iced tea”. I’m not advertising it or giving any special endorsements. We, like most folks around us, used Luzianne tea for our iced tea. If it isn’t where you live, use a good black and orange pekoe mix with plenty of tannins.
Tea Tip: Hot water causes the tannins to blend into the water. Sometimes, when tea gets cold, those tannins separate and cause the dreaded cloudiness. My papa always added a pinch of baking soda to his tea – it helped smooth out the flavor and reduced the risk of cloudiness. He also would never, never, ever put a container of warm tea in the refrigerator. He would wait until it cooled down. And…..you don’t want to bruise the tea – let it steep and not throw in the pot with the water to boil.
Recipe is below. Be sure you get a nice tall glass and fill with lots of ice. Don’t piddle around with one or two measly cubes. Also, you can certainly add mint and/or lemon to the tea as well. You can use artificial sweetners if you have to, but unless you have to, don’t. For myself, I like extra squeezes of lemon and then I chunk the slices down into the tea. At the end of several glasses of this, you get one of my favorite treats – tea marinated lemon slices. Dig the lemons out, bend the peel backwards and pull the lemon off with your teeth and eat. Y’all make think this is weird, but only if you are not from the South.
Papa’s Sweet Iced Tea
5 – 8 Family size Tea Bags. (or 12 regular Tea Bags)
1 Quart (4 Cups) – Boiling Water
3 Quarts (12 cups) – Cool Water
1 1/2 – 2 (one & a half) – Cups Sugar.
1/4 teaspoon – Baking Soda
Sprinkle baking soda into a pitcher (I use a large pyrex batter bowl or measuring cup). Add tea bags to the pitcher/baking soda. Pour boiling water over tea bags. Cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove and toss out tea bags. Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Add cool water. Serve over ice. Take a nice long swig. Ahhhhhhhh. Repeat.
Yowzer y’all…..Now this is what I’m talkin’ about. – Nectar of the gods.