Sweet Southern Perfection, er, Tea

The other night I was absolutely craving a taste of home, but I didn’t have much in my mini pantry that seemed just right. Then I noticed the teabags. PERFECT! I could make sweet tea! With the limitations of what can be made in a dorm, I was estatic, completely elated. So I made it. And drank almost half a gallon before midnight, when I realized the brilliance had only gone so far.

Let me tell you about this bit of heaven that most of the world has yet to figure out. Sweet Tea. No, it’s not anything you buy as a powder or drink from a can, and it is not merely adding a couple packets of sugar to that stuff they serve at restaurants here in the west. Sweet tea is what you get when sugar cane, and lots of it, is infused with tea. It really isn’t fair to say that it’s just tea with oodles of sugar, sweet tea is way more than that. Visiting my grandparents, it’s so common that it’s just called tea, and if you expect any of it without sugar you’re obviously in the wrong state. Even at home, we have friends who come over incredulous when we don’t have any in the fridge, it just never lasts long.

The way I was taught to make tea look about like this

Tea (makes one gallon)

  • 7-8 regular teabags, usually Lipton, but whatever we last bought works too.
  • Sugar. Just a touch less than two cups
  • Coffee pot. Yes, a regular old drip coffee pot.
  • Ice, and you don’t have enough yet.
  1. If you’re a hard-core coffee person, consider cleaning the machine a little, though we rarely bother anymore. It does leave a unique flavor though, so you’ve been warned.
  2. Place all those little tea bags to brew in the coffee pot with as 4-5 cups of water (usually the max a coffee pot can hold), and let it roar. Or trickle.
  3. Add the sugar to your pitcher now, maybe only 1 & 3/4 cups if this is your first time.
  4. When the tea is done brewing, add it to the pitcher right away and begin stirring. There is no way you could possibly get all that suger to dissolve in cold tea. Once the sugar’s melted, fill the pitcher to the brim with ice or cold water.
  5. Let the tea get very cold in your new fandangled ice-box, overnight is good.
  6. Fill your pretty, tall, flower painted, plastic glass (or what you use when you’re not trying to impress, and just want that comfy glass that everyone tries to use first) with ice to the very top. Add the chilled tea.
  7. Wait for condensation to form. Unless you’re in the south, then you’ve already got a pool under the cup, so no need to wait.
  8. Enjoy a sip of divinity.

Interestingly, this is what made me want to start a blog. I was wondering what other folks thought about sweet tea.


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