Nowadays coffee maintains its position as the number one beverage consumed by Americans but let’s not forget tea has its place coming in at third. Being from the Southeastern region, tea is still king thanks to the most magnificent elixir known as Sweet Tea. Now living in Los Angeles for decades, I’ve grown accustomed to this not being available in the city. There are only a few restaurants in the entire state that have even heard of Sweet Tea. In fact, Sweet Tea is so rare, when guests from home come to visit, they unknowingly ask for it as if asking for a glass of water and the waitron looks confused. They look as if something had been added to the menu they somehow didn’t know about. For my guests, there is such a look of disappointment when the waitron ultimately says, “I’m sorry, we don’t have that, I can get you a glass of unsweetened tea.” Followed by, “No, that’s ok” from my guests because we all know unsweetened tea just isn’t the same.
Hardly any place in California serves tea presweetened. Suffice it to say native Californian’s don’t know what they are missing. I’m convinced Sweet Tea is blessed by the one and true most living God. Therefore, it is my obligation to help spread the good news about this delicious, thirst quenching beverage. It’s bound to knock the dryness out of any throat and can revive weakened and weary souls. Oh, what a mighty and wondrous beverage it is. Being able to concoct this right, and (by “right” I mean palate pleasing) for Southerners, it’s a rite of passage.
I keep black tea in the pantry at all times. It’s a habit I picked up from the matriarchs in my family. They always said if you had tea on hand then you could always offer your guests something more than water. I prefer a fresh brewed batch of black tea made with spring or filtered water. The technique for perfectly made Sweet Tea is achieving a harmonized sugar to water ratio. If the ratios aren’t balanced properly the result is flavorless tea. In my family the result is giggles for the many jokes being told about the flavorless tea. They wouldn’t be able to understand how someone could be born into this family and not make a decent pitcher of tea. Thank goodness for the opportunity of redemption if the ratio is slightly off just once. Every Sunday sweet tea is available for the weekly family dinner party. It’s usually made early during the day, so there is time for it to chill in the refrigerator before dinner starts. We are all likely to add ice anyway especially if it’s summertime, as ice becomes a requisite or it won’t satisfy the same. We have a no fail recipe in our family handed down among generations of the finest southern tea drinkers. You will need only a few casual ingredients to achieve optimal results.
Six Lipton iced tea bags
2 Cups of water for boiling
¾ Cup of sugar
6 cups of cold water
Bring to boil two cups of water.
After the water begins to boil, remove from heat and insert the teabags.
Allow the bags to steep for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove the bags and discard.
Add the sugar. Stir and allow the sugar to dissolve.
Add six cups of room temperature or cold water.
Add a squeeze of lemon and ice as desired.