Southern homemade ice-tea (methods)

I fill a 2-quart pot about two-thirds of the way up. Just a tad bit more. I turn the burner on high, and set the pot of water on it.

I make a sugar slurry in the bottom of a half-gallon pitcher that I have in the sink. Maybe just a pint or so. A bit more. This is so the hot tea doesn’t scald or candy any of the sugar, were I not to make a slurry.

When the pot has come to a rolling boil, I turn the burner off. I dunk two combined family-size tea bags (Lipton, of course — no other brand will do… except for Great Value, which is what we use because it is cheaper, and it tastes good) several times in the boiling water, and then just leave them to rest in the now covered pot, their tags barely hanging out and over the handle.

After about twelve-and-a half minutes (I can do anywhere from 10 to 15), I bring the pot to the pitcher. I pull out the tea bags and dangle them inside the pitcher, while I pour in my hot tea. I do pour over the bags, but when the pot is empty, I do not squeeze the bags. (It makes the tea too bitter, until it has set overnight.)

I set the tea bags aside, usually in the left-side sink corner. (They’re too hot and too wet to toss in the can just now.) I use a long wooden spoon to stir the tea-and-slurry mixture, until the sugar is well dissolved. Then I pour in water, at a moderately slow rate, stirring all the while.

When it reaches the knotch on the pitcher, I stop the water, stop stirring, and put on the lid just to check that the level is right. (This is for consistency)

Those tea bags? By now, they’ve cooled considerably. At least enough that I can squeeze them nearly dry — taking care that the liquid deep inside the bags can still be pretty hot. I toss them in the can, and then just set my tea in the fridge.

Unlike most Southern “just made tea”, this method produces a ready-to-drink (with plenty of ice, of course) glass of tea.

And please. Do not pull out the lemon on me. I will take your lemon and fling it out the bay window — thirty feet off the ground — long before your knife of doom touches it.

Mmm, that sounds delicious. Sounds a bit like a Zen type activity- ‘The Art of Sweet Tea’. :slight_smile: It reminds me of that Robert Fulghum essay on ironing a white dress shirt.

My location is more Midwestern than Southern, but people here do say ‘y’all’ on a fairly regular basis, so maybe my recipe qualifies:
Use a pot and bring 4 cups water just to a boil, or whatever your pitcher can hold. Stop when it starts boiling!
Take the pot off the heat.
Add 3 family size tea bags (We use Lipton and also a brand called China Mist).
Add anywhere between 1 cup to 1 1/2 cup of sugar- whatever level your sweet tooth demands.
Add a pinch of baking soda (my mother used to call this The Secret Ingredient with a gleeful, half crazed look in her eye).
Let it sit off the hear for about 15 minutes.
Take out the tea bags, stir to make sure the sugar dissolved, and voila! Some damn fine sweet tea.

Usually I like to know why you use a certain ingredient, but I’m actually not sure why you use baking soda. I’ve tried making a batch without it, and I do think the tea is more bitter that way.

Liberal, that sounds delicious and is very similar to my own recipe.

Another thing I like to do when I feel like really ‘showing up and showing out’ is make it the way my Virginia Grandma used to make it.

In the summer, take a big ol’ jar that used to be a pickle jar, fill it with water and teabags. Sit it out on the porch in the sun. Bring it back in after several hours, remove the bags and pour it into a picture with some ice and sugar and stir it all up. Yum!

This is the sole ‘southern’ thing that I actually do, outside of eating lots of southern soul food.

Sure does, but the acronym needs work.

“Y’all wanna glass of S.H.I.T.? It’s fresh made!”

I miss sun tea. My grandma made it too.

My iced tea recipe is pretty similar to Liberal’s also, except I sissify it up a little bit by adding in a couple of raspberry-flavored teabags as well. Sometimes in summer I will also toss in some fresh mint.

You make iced tea and then you put sugar in your glass of tea as appropriate.

Why anyone would drink it this way, or with lemon, is beyond me.

Am I the only one who just leaves the bag in the water until it gets warm? Is that why, every time I’ve had tea anywhere else, it’s so extremely light? I always thought it was because there were a lot of people, and we just wanted to water it down so it would go further.

And no, the bag doesn’t burst, either. And, although I make it the same as my mom and her mom before her, each of out teas taste different.

The problem is that supersweet pre-sweetened tea, “southern” style, is making inroads into restaurants north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Now, I like sugar in tea. A little sugar. You don’t have to dump a whole pot in there.

Besides, there’s a well-known correlation between heavily oversweetening beverages and being evil.

Take Vinnie in the later Spenser novels and his six teaspoons of sugar in a cup of coffee.

I rest my case.

:smiley: Holy mother of earth, that was funny!

Everybody’s variations are interesting. The pinch of baking soda might help de-bitter what we in the South call “just made tea”. The phrase “just made tea” evokes bitterness, and is used as an expression — for example, “That cider was awful… tasted like just made tea.” But I find that simply not squeezing out the bags does the trick. It’s tempting to do, but alas I give them a final dunking and just set them aside all wet and full of concentrated bitter tea. Squeezed-out tea is just too bitter, and really isn’t ready for consumption until the next day or so.

My sugar ratio I forgot to mention. I use about a cup per quart.

Yes, very sweet. I know. And I sip on it all day long. (That or Folgers coffee with enough sugar and Coffee-Mate that it tastes like a Cappuccino.) Yet, I 've lost more than 80 pounds now. (About 30 more to go.) How so? Well, sugar is surpisingly low in calories. It’s only about 25 calories per teaspoon.

Anyway, thanks everyone for contributing. I really didn’t know whether there’d be much interest in this. I’m glad to see there is indeed an art to making SHIT.


By the way, the sun made tea like Nzinga mentioned really is the very best.

We don’t put the teabags in until the water has come to a rolling boil. I use Luzianne brand. I take the red tags off and toss them in the water. Then I turn the burner off and put a lid on it.

After it’s steeped a good ten minutes or so, I pour it up in the pitcher, to which I’ve already added sugar. I put a cup-and-a-half in a gallon.

I let mine sit out on the counter until it’s cooled off. I find that putting it in the fridge right away makes it cloudy.

Liberal, yours sounds sweet enough to be “fish house tea”. So syrupy you could use it on your pancakes ! :stuck_out_tongue:

Near 'bouts. :slight_smile: I like it as sweet as a honey-suckle blosssom.

Also, good to hear that nobody puts lemon in properly made Southern homemade ice-tea.

I’ve been wanting to try and make some sweet tea for my southern husband, your method looks a lot like the way I saw my mother-in-law make it. (Well, he’s from Texas. There was debate in some other thread about whether Texas is actually part of The South, but you’d offend his confederate-soldier-decended honor by saying that.)