I’m a southern girl and it would be a crime not to include an ode to sweet tea on my lifestyle blog. Sweet tea IS a lifestyle down here! When talking grandmothers, Mudder (Geraldine) was the queen of sweet tea. She always had a pitcher of sweet tea (and unsweet tea. I realize, total southern sacrilege, but a testament to southern hospitality) on hand at all times. They would be in plastic Tupperware jugs and I don’t think I recall the tea supply ever running out. It was a miracle, or just proof of how hard she always worked to keep her family happy.
Thing is, I’m hesitant to say this so please keep it quiet, but I didn’t love Mudder’s sweet tea. I would give my right arm to have a glass of Mudder’s tea again, don’t get me wrong, but her brew wasn’t my favorite. It was a little weak for my liking. Sorry, Mudder!
As legendary as sweet tea is, I’ve found there’s really a shortage of recipes for the stuff. I love to collect old recipe books, but I’ve never seen a recipe for the libation in any old Junior League or church lady cookbooks. Probably because its understood that a southern woman should never need lessons in etiquette and sweet tea, she should already know them both or her momma failed her.
I prefer a bit of a strongly brewed tea. I loved Mudder’s tea, and I drank gallons of the stuff in my lifetime, but my tastes have changed as an adult to prefer a more lively tea. I’ve worked hard to craft my own recipe for the “house wine of the south”. I’ve tinkered with the formula for a while and have finally created one that checks off all the boxes for my ideal sweet tea:
- It must be a stout enough brew
- It must not be bitter
- It must be sweet enough (This isn’t the time for moderation. And I promise, we don’t always keep it in the fridge- its a special treat around here these days!)
- It must be cold
Today being the official second day of autumn doesn’t make this ode to sweet tea any less timely. Sweet tea isn’t a seasonal beverage. In the summer it’s especially delicious with a wedge of lemon or a sprig of mint, but it isn’t inappropriate to drink it in fall and winter. We drink the iced elixir year-round. I have just as many memories of drinking sweet tea at Christmas as I do alongside a slice of watermelon in Mudder and Grandy’s back yard.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to brewing the perfect sweet tea:
6 Bags of black tea (I love the Community brand and Lipton)
2/3 Cup of granulated sugar
2 Quarts of Water
Method: Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a saucepan or kettle. Once boiling add tea bags and allow to steep for 5 minutes then remove the bags. Pour warm tea into pitcher with sugar. Stir to combine and dissolve sugar. Add remaining quart of cold water to pitcher. Serve over ice, preferably in a mason jar.
I’ve been told to never refrigerate the tea until it was down to room temperature, as it would make the tea taste bitter. I haven’t ever noticed it being a problem, but it’s obviously a tradition that I rarely tamper with! Some things are sacred.
Cheers to making your own bit of southern folklore in a glass.
And cheers to fall in the south, which feels a bit more like August than we ever really expect.