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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sweeten Ice Tea

Spring and summer brings out the desire for refreshing cool drinks. One of my personal favorites, is sweet tea. I can remember drinking this as a child during the many family gatherings while folks sat either on the patio, at the picnic bench or just coming in from out of the sun to relax with the splendid drink. It seems there is always somebody who makes a glass of tea better than some one else, and surely the southern states of America has a reputation for making the best sweet tea in the nation. Perhaps it is just the water. Maybe it is partially due to the tender loving care of those Southern Bells who pay close attention in making the finest Tea. Either way, I'll share the secrets of making a better brew.



First, let's understand something about tea. It's an ancient drink first known in 2737 BC when the second emperor of China, Shen Nung, discovers tea. The story indicates that the Emperor while holding a cup of hot water had several tea leaves blow accidentally into the cup mixing. The Emperor without notice of this, drank the water discovering what occur. He like it.

However, the Chinese language may have used the words, Erh Ya which translated as tea, it did not become sited in their dictionary until 350 AD. Although, we can all agree, tea is a product which made it's way from China to the rest of the world. First by the earliest explorers who brought the tea back to Europe long before the settlements of North America. 

While the south is credited for making the best ice cold sweet tea, "Ice Tea" is the creation of  Richard Blechyden who served up the first brew of tea on the rocks. Ice rocks during the 1904 World's fair in St. Louis, Missouri.  Since then, Southerns from just about any given state will declare they make the best Ice Tea in the world. Regardless who makes the best Sweet Ice Tea, it is one of my favorite drinks as summer approaches and there are some ways to make the Tea taste better.

Secret number one: Sun tea is allowing the tea bags to sit in a large jar or glass pitcher exposed to the open sun. This does make tea, but it does not kill any bacteria in the water and no true Southern Bell would ever stoop to be so lazy as to not boil water to make the best flavor for Tea. So, the secret, Boiling and not using sunshine.
Second important secret is using a pinch of baking soda in your mix. It helps remove any bitter taste while also allowing the tea to become darker. The dark appearance makes the tea rich and when following our directions, it should be full of flavor.
 
Ingredients 
3 Family size tea bags
2 Cups of cold water
1 Cup of sugar
1 Pinch Baking Soda (about 1/4) teaspoon

Directions
We recommend using Luzianne Tea Bags if available.
First place two cups of water into a pot and add the tea bags. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat once the water reaches boiling point. Do not continue boiling. do not continue boiling. Allow to sit where the tea will steep. After 15 minutes, pour into a one gallon size pitcher. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Fill remaining pitcher with cold water.

Optional - some Southern Bells say they use less water and add ice to the tea. You can also have mint leaves and or lemon available when serving.


Now, if you absolutely must have sun tea, well just follow the directions but ensure you use a clean glass jar to sit in the sun with clean water. 
Directions:Sun Tea - Put the water and tea bags in the pitcher. Put in the Sun and let sit. In about 30 minutes to an hour you have tea. Add cold water to desired strength. Added sugar and Refrigerate.

Note:
 If you do not like your tea sweet, make it the same way without adding sugar. Often during gatherings today, it has become custom to have one pitcher of sweet tea and one of unsweetened tea. Nevertheless, the sweet will seem to empty first with the need for keeping plenty of sweet tea on hand.

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5 comments:

  1. Living in New England my whole life I had never been exposed to Sweet Tea until my last visit to Corpus Christi. By the time I returned home, I couldn't remember the exact measurements, so I waited until I returned to enjoy it again.
    Thanks so much for information and recipe. I'm looking forward to making and enjoying a glass as soon as the weather my way gets warm.
    The Fibergoddess

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  2. Thanks so much for the recipe for sweet tea. It's not served here in northern Illinois, or anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon for that matter. I'm just a southerner who had the misfortune of being raised in the north!! The best sweet tea I've ever had was on the island of St. Croix. It was sweetened with brown sugar and served with a slice of lime. Try it, because I know you love molasses. It's just the best tea ever.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Now you've got me longing for San Antonio, where I lived for four years in the '70's. Gosh I miss Texas!!
    It gets in your blood.
    - Suzanne

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  3. Several natural ways to sweeten teas is using various syrups, honey, molasses and even nectar. Brown sugar is made from combining molasses with sugar forming the dark rich flavor that does go great with tea.

    I can also agree that Texas easily gets into your blood. It's a different southern attitude and friendly atmosphere to slow the pace down one notch and enjoy life. Look forward to more reviews and comments. Thanks for stopping by and don't be a stranger. Ya come back now ya hear.

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  4. Iced tea... I remember many years ago my husband and I trying to order iced teas up north. We were at a restaurant in North Dakota on one of our many visits to see my grandparents. The waitress paused, then gave us a confused look before asking what is "iced tea". We were equally shocked at the realization that people everywhere didn't drink iced tea with their meals. Since the waitress had no clue what we were referring to, we said simply bring us two glasses of ice water and two cups of hot tea.

    As we proceeded to make our "iced tea" I noticed the entire wait staff had congregated at a safe distance to watch us. They observed us like we were rats in some clinical study; no smiles or laughing, just intensely serious looks. We couldn't help but laugh. I'll bet we gave them something to talk about for some time... when these two Texans came in and asked for "iced teas".

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  5. This sweet tea recipe looks nice and delicious. Thanks for sharing. I seldom have access to such.

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