Saturday, December 11, 2010

Potluck Saturday: Southern Iced Tea

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Every good GRITS girl (girls raised in the South), ought to know how to make a gooooooood pitcher of sweet tea! I don't often claim my southern roots, but when it comes to my cooking, it is hard to deny them. The story handed down through the generations is that my great-grandmother made her iced tea so sweet that the wooden spoon would stand up in the pitcher!

Did you know that sweet tea is a supersaturated substance?

You won't ever see the awful instant tea served in my home. ;) A sweet tea afficionado like myself knows which restaurants serve instant (don't even bother ordering it) and which serve fresh brewed! I like to bring a gallon jug of sweet tea to potlucks because 1) it's a frugal addition to the drink table 2) no one around here makes it just right.

There are probably thousands of ways to make sweet tea. I know girls who make it in a coffee pot, or who make a concentrate, but this is the way I like it, and this is the way my mama taught me to do it, so that means it's the right way: :)
  • Only Lipton black tea will do (cheap brands leave more dregs in your tea - yuck!)
  • The correct sugar/water ratio is 1 c. per gallon
  • The correct tea bag ratio is 6 per gallon
  • 20 minutes is the proper steeping time
The process:
  1. I get out my big stock pot and pour in about 1 gallon of fresh cold water. Filtered is best.
  2. Boil the water on the stove. Putting a lid on the pot will help it boil faster and will save energy.
  3. Once boiling, turn off the heat and if you have an electric stove, move the pot to a cold burner. Steep your 6 tea bags for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the tea bags with tongs and gently squeeze out the tea. (Compost your tea bags!)
  5. Measure 1 c. of sugar and pour into the tea. (Now I admit, I use less for daily drinking. I always use 1 c. for company though!) Gently stir with your tongs until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  6. Allow the tea to cool, then pour into your pitcher for refrigeration.
  7. Sip over ice and enjoy!
See how easy that is? Don't waste your money on gallon jugs from the store - just make it yourself!

I really am very interested in the methods other people use for making sweet tea. I'd love to hear your tips, techniques and methods. Even though this is the "right way", I'm still open to new ways of doing things, so please share!

1 comment:

  1. Well, I am a grits girl, too, but I don't care for sweet tea, so I suppose that makes my provenance suspect! I make plain tea because everybody in our family likes to do different things to it. I do make it the way my mother taught me, even though now she uses a Mr. Coffee Iced Tea machine:
    Bring 2 qts. water just to a boil. Off heat, add 4 tea bags, tied together for easy retrieval later. Cover container with plastic wrap; let stand at room temp. or refrigerate. At serving time, add 2 qts. cold water to make 1 gallon tea. Tea bags can be removed then or left in, but more water may need to be added to leftover tea if it gets too strong.

    The only sugar-sweet tea lovers we have here are visitors. For them, I try to have on hand some simple syrup:
    Mix equal parts granulated sugar and water together in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar completely. Cool and chill in a pitcher or glass jar. Keeps for weeks. Add to tea, coffee, etc. to taste.

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