My Momma’s Sweet Tea

Nothing is better on a hot sticky Southern summer day than an ice cold glass of sweet tea.  It’s just part of Southern culture. I love tea, truly, but you will never ever find me ordering it at a restaurant. Why?  I was spoiled by my Momma’s secret recipe. It’s exceedingly rare to find any place that makes decent tea in comparison. It’s always bitter and watered down…yuck!  Today, I’m teaching you the secret to smooth, sweet delicious tea. 

What’s in tea anyway?

As it turns out, there is only one plant that grows the leaves for black, white and green tea: Camellia sinesis. Guess who’s getting one of these bad boys soon? Yeah, that’d be me. Some places won’t ship to South Carolina though. Maybe it’s considered invasive here, but these pretty flowering shrubs won’t have a chance to get that big with the amount of tea we go through! Here’s a picture curtesy of Wikipedia 

Basically you pick the leaves and what you do with them after determines what flavor you get! I love a multipurpose plant. 

For sweet tea, you want black tea. If you don’t have a Camellia sinesis in your yard, Lipton or Luzianne will do. Lipton is my favorite because I get consistent taste, but I’ve also gone with the super cheap grocery store brand on occasion. 

Remember that my biggest complaints are watered down taste and bitterness. I fix the watered down taste by over boiling my tea bags. The bitterness is fixed by…baking soda. Yup, I said all that to tell you to put a pinch of baking soda in your tea pot. 

My tea making goes like this: fill quart pot halfway with water and plop on stove with burner set to high. Toss in a pinch of baking soda and a tea bag (2 if you have the small ones). Set lid on top but do not walk away! The baking soda makes the tea bubbly when it starts boiling and it has a tendency to overflow. Add 1-2 cups sugar to a gallon pitcher. When pot has been at a boil for a good minute or two, turn off heat and let sit until the bubbles stop. In about 5 minutes you will have a black liquid the color of soy sauce. Pour the hot tea into the pitcher of sugar, squeezing the tea bags out with a spoon and stir to dissolve the sugar (or Splenda or Sweet & Low). Add cold water (and maybe some ice if you want to serve right away) until the pitcher is full, stirring along the way. Fill a glass with ice, pour and enjoy!  You’ll notice this liquid is much much darker than what is served at restaurants even when poured over ice. No more watered down tea for you! Just delicious, sweet heaven in a glass. 

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