If you grew up anywhere besides the South, you might have been taught that iced tea is seasonal...only for the summer months. Your mom probably brewed it in a pitcher bathing in the hot sun on your back porch, then served it unsweetened. I remember my mom doing this, and I loved it.
It wasn't until the fall of 2000, when I moved down south to college, that I was introduced to sweet tea. It was by accident. I ordered iced tea at a restaurant and when I took my first sip I had quite the unexpected sweetened surprise! Sugary tea? No thanks! I quickly tracked down my server and ordered something else to drink.
I can't remember exactly what converted me. I don't even recall my second encounter with sweet tea. Did I feel forced to "fit in" and keep trying it until I liked it? Did I continue accidentally ordering it and tasting it until I liked it? I have no idea, but somehow, for some reason, it didn't take long to adapt to the new-to-me version of iced tea and I never went back.
One of my best friends, who I get to visit at least once a year in Tennessee, always makes sure to serve me sweet tea when I'm there. She shared her recipe with me, and I've adapted it to our tastes. We use the decaf Lipton tea bags, but you can use caffeinated and whatever brand you like.
Fortunately, Ben grew up with sweet tea so that was a natural attraction for us when we met. 😉 We drink it all year, and almost always have it in our fridge. That's another thing I quickly learned: Sweet tea is not seasonal, it's favorable every month of the year, every week of the month and every day of the week. Lesson learned. Lesson loved.
Southern Sweet Tea
- 1 gallon (16 cups) water
- 4 family sized (16 individual sized) tea bags (I use Lipton decaf, or Luzianne)
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar
- In a large stock pot, bring the water to boil over high heat. Turn off the burner and add tea bags. Cover and steep for 6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pour desired amount of sugar into a gallon-sized pitcher. When the tea is done steeping, pour into the pitcher and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Serve immediately into a glass full of ice. Store in the fridge.
- *Note - Recipe can be halved.