Summer has arrived and with it my annual dilemma. Do indulge myself with sweet iced tea? Or stick to standard, unsweetened iced tea? I find both delightfully cooling on hot summer days and warm evenings.
In the winter, I find the choice easy: hot tea with sugar and milk. Sometimes I’ll vary the taste with 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, my decision is harder.
Whether unsweetened or sweet, iced tea helps keep me hydrated in the warm weather because I drink it instead of sodas.
The origins of Sweet Tea
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.
Some say sweet tea is a Southern thing. That may be. Traveling through the South, you’ll find that in many establishments the waitress will automatically serve you sweetened instead of unsweetened tea. 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!
How to make Iced Sweet Tea
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.
You, of course, can add the above recipe or any variation you choose to your own family cookbook
So, I guess this year iced sweet tea wins out. How sweet it is!