If you travel in the South, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any menu that doesn’t include sweet tea. It’s a staple (Indonesians love it, too). Making it couldn’t be much easier, and it’s a perfect addition to your summer table.
The first recipe for sweet tea appeared in “Housekeeping in Old Virginia” in 1879. It called for green tea. This beverage is so beloved that in 2003 the Georgia Legislature proposed a bill that required restaurants to have sweet tea on the menu. It was an April Fool’s joke but very reflective of the Southern culture.
There are three ingredients in sweet tea: Black tea bags, water, and sugar. Some radical folk use flavored tea bags, but the adamant traditionalist will scoff at the notion. This recipe goes a little light on the sugar, but you can always add more. For a little flair, add a fresh mint leaf, a lemon or orange slice, and a piece of candied ginger to the glasses.
Southern Sweet Tea
- 8 cups water
- 6 black tea bags (8 if you want it strong)
- ⅓-1 ½ cups sugar **
- ** You can use honey or maple syrup instead
- Put the water in a pot and bring it to a rolling boil.
- Turn the heat off.
- Add the tea bags.
- Steep for about 15 minutes (longer if you want it stronger).
- Stir in the sugar so it dissolves in the tea. Add a little at a time tasting as you go.
- Remove the tea bags.
- Transfer the water to a pitcher.
- Let it cool to room temperature.
- Refrigerate for two hours before serving.
- Pour over ice.