What’s My Summertime Drink? Sweet Tea, of Course!

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!

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11 thoughts on “What’s My Summertime Drink? Sweet Tea, of Course!”

  1. All those years living in Mississippi and I still cannot STAND iced tea. Like, I will spew it all over the place if I accidentally take a swig from my husband’s straw instead of my own diet Coke. My kids all LOVE it (of course they do) and I feel like I’m not a true southerner!! I can, however, drinks pot upon pot of hot tea. How weird is that?!?!

    My favorite summer drink is crystal lite lemonade. Isn’t that pathetic?!?! I just love it. I like chik fil a lemonade well enough, but man do I love crystal lite. SO GROSS!!! But so good. Ugh.

    1. I promise not to tell anyone that you don’t like sweet tea if you don’t tell anyone that I live in Kentucky and am not all that fond of basketball, bourbon, or horses. I think they may have a 3-strikes-you’re-out rule 😉

  2. I am Canadian and I had no idea that there was a difference between iced tea and hot tea.
    When we ask for an iced tea it was your version of a sweet tea.
    When we ask for an iced tea in ‘Murica it was literally iced tea – with nothing in it.
    BITTER….ack!!!
    The more you know 🙂

    1. How funny! Now I’ll know what to order when I visit Canada! Hoping to plan a visit there since my husband loved Toronto when he visited, and I hear Nerium is making a huge splash since the Canadian release last year – exciting opportunities!

  3. I tried. I really tried. When we lived in Texas I tried to like sweet tea, but I just can’t. I like my tea (iced or hot, doesn’t matter) without sugar, and sweet tea just makes my teeth ache and my spleen scream. Blarg.

    I really did give it the old college try, but in the end, just give me a cup of plain black tea and I’m golden.

    The weird part? I like bubble tea. For some reason it doesn’t seem as sweet as sweet tea, so I don’t get as grossed out by it. Maybe chewing on the pearls helps too. I know- I’m just a little psychotic.

      1. It’s a milky tea over ice with giant tapioca pearls in it (thus the bubbles). Some places make it into a shake type mixture, but I prefer mine just as a latte over ice. You can also have them put flavored syrups in it. We originally discovered it when we lived in Austin, Texas, then reignited our love for it when we visited Tokyo four years ago. A tea bar opened by us about two years ago and they have both regular pearls and popping pearls (ones with juice in them) and we go so often the people know us. It’s like having a drink and a snack all in one! It’s also known as pearl tea or boba. Worth seeking out. If you have an Asian market in your area, you can get the tea and the pearls there and make it yourself.

        1. Oh, I’m going to have to find this for my husband! And my son and daughter-in-law live in Austin, so I’ll send them in search of a new treat, as well! Thanks!

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