Some Awesome Sweet Tea

I originally posted this along with some completely unrelated writing about Jeremy back in November 2009. It’s been bothering me for quite a while that it was hidden back there and I’ve finally remembered to update it and make this it’s own post….

Since being here in the South for nearly four months now (at the time that I updated this we’ve been here just shy of 2 years) I have sampled a wide variety of sweet tea. I have always loved iced tea and prefer it instead of soda anytime. Living on the west coast I have always sweetened my tea with any number of artificial sweeteners. Living here in Alabama has completely changed my understanding of iced tea. Anywhere you go to eat you are offered either sweet or unsweet iced tea. I’m not talking about the fake raspberry flavored iced tea that you can get most places, this is different and wonderful. I’ve tried so many recipes, some were too sweet, some were not sweet enough and I had to rely on the addition of my beloved Splenda or Equal. Finally, this morning I mastered it:

Sweet Tea

Bring 6 cups of water to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and drop in 3-4 regular black tea bags (or one big family size tea bag). Pop the lid on and let the pot sit for 10-20 minutes. The water will continue to boil for a minute or two from the heat still radiating from the pot, it’s okay. Meanwhile, fill up a 1-gallon pitcher about half way with ice.

Remove the tea bags from the darkly steeped tea. Add 1 cup of granulated sugar and stir it around until all the sugar is dissolved.

Pour the sweetened tea concentrate on top of the ice in the pitcher.

Stir in 1/4 tsp. of baking soda (this will take out the bitterness from the tea and leave it nice and smooth).

Top off the pitcher with cold water.

I find this perfectly sweetened to my taste. I tried another recipe that had 1 cup of sugar for every 6 cups of water (twice as sweet as my recipe) and I had to water it down considerably. There was another that had 1/2 cup of sugar to about 10 cups of water which I needed to further sweeten just a little.

To serve, fill a glass with ice and pour the tea. Simple simple! Feel free to add a wedge of lemon or some fresh mint. Split this 50/50 with some lemonade for a really good Arnold-Palmer drink. If you have some berries laying around, raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries are my favorite kind to muddle a bit into the bottom of the glass to naturally flavor the tea. You know what is extra fun, pop a berry or two into each section of an ice tray, fill with water, and freeze. Use those fancy ice cubes in your tea to make it look pretty, then when the ice melts you can eat the berries. 🙂

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