With the arrival of summer comes a dilemma I always face. Do I make and drink standard unsweetened iced tea or indulge myself with iced sweet tea? Both are delightful on hot summer days and warm summer evenings.
In the winter, the choice is easy for me: hot tea with sugar and milk. Sometimes I’ll vary the taste with hot tea that features different flavors, such as:
- Chai (with its warm rich blend of cinnamon cardamom, and cloves)
- Fruit flavored teas (such as peach, mango, raspberry)
- Green teas (fresh leafy tasting)
- Flower-flavored teas (such as jasmine or rose)
- Herbal teas or tisanes (no caffeine style chamomile, mint, rose hip, or lemon verbena)
But in summer, I have to decide between standard iced tea and the sweet tea that is becoming very popular, especially among those who find sweet tea a novelty. Some say sweet tea is a Southern thing. That may be. Traveling through the South, you’ll find sweet tea is automatically served instead of unsweetened tea in many establishments. That’s just the way it is. If you know enough to order unsweetened tea, you might get a look like you’re from Mars.
Whether unsweetened or sweet, iced tea helps keep me hydrated in summer because I drink iced tea or cool water instead of sodas. I’m not much for adding lemon or orange slices to my iced tea beverages (although they look nice and do offer a change of taste), but I do like them in my water glass.
Making iced sweet tea is very easy. To make a gallon of sweet tea, tie 2-4 large family size teabags (your favorite brand) together and add to a quart of boiling water (filtered or bottled water is nice but not necessary). Turn off the burner and steep tea for 5-10 minutes (up to 30 minutes if you want it stronger, but remember it can go bitter if steeped too long).
While tea is steeping, measure 1- to 1-1/2 cups sugar and add to a 1 gallon pitcher. Pour hot steeped tea over sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add water to fill the pitcher and let cool on counter or in refrigerator. Pour over ice and enjoy.
According to Wikipedia, the oldest known recipe for sweet iced tea was published in 1879 in a community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree, who was born in Texas. You, of course, can add the above recipe or any variation you choose to your own family cookbook
Click here to see some suggestions for making iced sweet tea.
So, I guess this year iced sweet tea wins out. How sweet it is!