Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Art of Sweet Tea

Outside of the Southern United States, there is nothing more coveted by a Southerner than a good glass of sweet tea. Sweet tea is an art developed over the centuries to comfort the poor sweaty people of the South, despite what you will hear the native English say.
To make a good glass of sweet tea, you must remember four principles:
It must be strong.
It must be sweet.
Sugar does not dissolve in cold water.
Brand matters! Don't use fancy tea bags - Lipton and Tetley make the best tea and can normally be purchased for under a dollar a box.
After that, the rest is easy.
To make the concentrated tea:
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
2. Add 4-6 Lipton or Tetley family sized tea bags to the boiling water and reduce the heat.
3. Let the tea bags steep for at least 10 minutes.
4. Remove the tea bags, squeeze them out (but don't break them!) and discard.
5. Add at least 2 cups of sugar to the concentrated tea and stir until it is all dissolved.
6. Turn off the heat and let the tea cool for at least 30 minutes.
To make the sweet tea:
1. Fill a pitcher halfway full with ice.
2. Add the sweet tea concentrate to the halfway point of the pitche
Fill the rest of the pitcher with cold water. 3.
Refrigerate until cold. 4.
To dispense the sweet tea:
1. Get a large glass and add ice cubes.
2. Pour the sweet tea into the glass.
3. If you want to be fancy, garnish with a lemon or a sprig of mint. If you are rebellious, garnish with a lime.
In the South, sweet tea is the ultimate equalizer. You can be dirt poor or filthy rich, but if you are in a home in the South, you will probably find a pitcher of sweet tea in the fridge. It doesn't matter if it's served from a jug from Mrs. Winner's or from a crystal decanter, it all tastes the same. It's even more popular than The Varsity Restaurant, fried green tomatoes, and fresh vegetables. Sweet tea has made its mark on the world, and no self respecting Southerner can travel without it.


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