Real Sweet Tea (pronounced thayyy) is an absolute lifestyle in the south. Whether served straight up, spiked with bourbon, or with a little mint or lemon, sweet tea is as much a part of summer as charred meat and bikinis.
Meaning that my first summer in Boulder was a bit of a shock. Boulderites don’t generally like their beverages caffeinated and tooth-crackingly sweet. Now I get that Kombucha is great for you, but it just ain’t the same. The solution? Make your own! It’s ridiculously easy, much cheaper, and nothing makes you feel like a retro southern hostess quite like offering the men in your life a tall glass of Sweet Tea.
white sugar, roughly a cup. If this is your first time be gentle and start with a half-cup. Just remember that you’re making at least a gallon, and that a whole cup of bad bad white sugar works out to around 30 calories per glass.
3 family size tea bags, I recommend Luzianne iced tea blend.
a big glass picnic jug, I found mine in the picnic section of the grocery store. Most stores carry these in summer, or you can find one at Goodwill. You could brew it in a pot but where’s the fun in that?
Pour your sugar into the jug. This is the most important part. If you add it later, you don’t get proper caramelization. Wrap the strings of the tea bags around a fork, and hang the fork over the outside edge of the jar. The bags should now dangle nicely, keeping the paper tags out of your tea. Bring a soup pot of water to a boil. Pour the boiling water over the tea bags and into the jar. See that insta-melt of the sugar? That right there is the difference between Sweet Tea and sweetened iced tea. Minimal stirring, and the sweetness should have a smooth mellow edge bordering on caramel. Let steep for about 5 minutes, then pop in the fridge. I always forget to remove the tea bags, but I like mine strong. Play around with it.
When cool, serve in a tall glass with ice and a lemon wedge. Sip on your porch while bitching about the neighbors.
If you’re using a glass jar with a plastic lid, heads up transporting hot tea. Heat makes things expand. Lifting by lid while hot = serious burns.
note: “Experience the Tradition” shamelessly pulled from the Luzianne homepage.