It occurred to me recently that I do not have a recipe for sweet tea on my blog. It’s just unacceptable for Sweet Tea Reads not to have sweet tea, so I knew that had to be my S post.
For those of you not in the know, sweet tea means cold (iced) tea with lots of sugar, served in copious amounts, sometimes with lemon or mint. It needs to be strong, and it needs to be sweet. The sugar also has to be added while the tea is hot. Bringing a glass of unsweetened iced tea with a sugar bowl or packets when someone asks for sweet tea is a bit like a restaurant bringing you flour and yeast if you’ve asked for bread. It’s just not right.
Sweet tea is one of most delicious things you can possibly drink. It’s refreshing, and it goes well with any meal. It’s also the perfect beverage to offer guests. Nothing says hospitality like a big glass of sweet tea.
Making sweet tea is a slow process. It cannot be rushed; there is simply no way to make good sweet tea in a hurry. Some things in life are worth waiting for. We southerners take our sweet tea very seriously, and pretty much constantly have a batch prepared, and a batch in the works. Growing up in the south it’s ingrained in you that you always offer guests sweet tea.
It took me a few years to come up with what I consider to be the perfect method for making sweet tea. I spent years watching my dad try and discard recipes and ask anyone, particularly older southern women, what their method for perfect sweet tea was. I didn’t realize it until fairly recently, but he was on a quest to duplicate the sweet tea his grandmother made.
I don’t actually remember what the sweet tea at her house tasted like. At least not consciously. I can remember drinking sweet tea out of big plastic cups there, and that it was the coldest, most refreshing thing. My dad swears that my sweet tea tastes exactly like hers did, and insisted that I come up with measurements and an exact method so he can make it at home. So here it is:
1 gallon of water, divided
3 family sized tea bags (I usually buy any whichever brand is on sale, but if forced to name a favorite, it’s the round Tetley ones)
1 ½ cups sugar (NOT artificial sweetener)
Place tea bags (with any tags or strings removed) and six cups of water in a medium sauce pan over high heat, and bring to a full boil. Boil for two minutes. Cover and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 6 - 12 hours (the longer the better). Pour the sugar into a one gallon pitcher. Remove tea bags and pour into the pitcher. Stir well. Add hot water to fill the pitcher completely, stirring constantly. Stir for another minute. Cover and leave the pitcher out on the counter for 2 - 6 hours, at least until the tea has cooled back down to room temperature. Then refrigerate. Serve cold, over ice.