Sweet tea. It can make or break a restaurant in the South. And if you live in the South you’d better make it well and have it handy. In fact, the uber-prepared hostess these days has not just sweet and unsweet tea, but also half-sweet (half unsweetened, half sweetened). And some lemonade in the fridge in case anyone wants an Arnold Palmer (half tea, half lemonade). McDonald’s, ever the one to capitalize on a trend, even coined a phrase of their own for half-sweet tea: Half-Cut. Go on, go through your nearest McDonald’s drive-thru and order a large half-cut tea. Of course McDonald’s sweet tea isn’t as good as Chic-Fil-A’s, but they do try.
My friend Kim makes the best sweet tea in the world, and I’ve watched her make it oodles of time and mine is never quite as good as hers, but it’s pretty darn good. I think it’s just one of those “tastes better if someone else makes it” things. So here’s my recipe:
Run six cups of water through your coffee pot with a Lipton family-size tea bag in the pot. Yes, I said Lipton, there’s no need to get fancy with this. And the bag should go in the pot, not where the coffee grounds go. Let it sit for five minutes or so, and then remove the tea bag in stir in one cup sugar (or Splenda or whatever) until dissolved. Fill a two-quart pitcher with cold water and pour the hot tea into it. Serve over lots of ice. Do not refrigerate – that makes it cloudy. My husband likes a wedge of lemon in his, but I usually drink mine straight. This is a beverage appropriate for any time of the day, and any season.
*disclaimer: This is MY sweet tea recipe. It’s not the way my mother makes sweet tea, or my aunt makes sweet tea, or my neighbor makes sweet tea. Everybody has their own recipe. If you don’t like yours or if you’ve never made sweet tea, start with this one and change it to suit your taste. Just don’t add sugar after the tea has cooled – that’s NOT sweet tea and any waiter or waitress who suggests it is needs remedial tea training.
What’s your favorite summer beverage? Got a fabulous adult beverage I need to know about? A kid-pleaser you make by the cooler-full? Jump in and share it (or any of the other prompts) at Mama Kat’s Writers’ Workshop!