Southern Sweet Tea

I spent 15 years of my life in Alabama during which time I became a Milo’s Sweet Tea junkie.  Now, unless you live in Alabama or have a connection to the “Heart of Dixie” you might not get a heart tremor at the mention of Milo’s Sweet Tea.  Let me just tell you that it is the best; the absolute best sweet tea any southerner could drink.  If you are not one raised in the south, sweet tea is more than likely not a staple in your home but in most southern homes I know, sweet tea is consumed more than any other beverage.  I for one make a gallon every other day and I know I am not an exception.

So after moving to South Carolina in 2000 I was quite put out that Milo’s had not ever made it’s way to the “Palmetto State” so that I could continue my obsession with that incredible beverage.  Never fear, I did not let it put me off.  I just perfected my sweet tea recipe (if that is what you call it) and did not skip a beat.  So for those of you who are not totally satisfied with your sweet tea or for those of you who have not yet come to the southern side, this is for you.

                                                                     Southern Sweet Tea

For the past 5 years I have relied on my trusty tea kettle to make my sweet tea.  It lives on my stovetop filled with water just waiting to boil and steep my tea bags.

Now before I had my tea kettle, I used my everyday medium sized pot.  So grab yours and fill it 3/4 with water and set it on your stove.

Turn your stove on high and bring the water to a boil.

While waiting patiently for the water to boil. Take out 7 individual sized tea bags.  I buy much of my groceries from Aldi so that is the tea I have been drinking for years now but which ever one floats your boat, grab it.  If you have family sized tea bags, get 3 of those.

Unwrap the tea bags and twirl the strings round and round so the bags are a tight bundle and set aside.

Your water is boiling so you are ready to add the tea bags.

Slide the tea bags into the water and hang their strings over the edge of the pot.  Now go ahead and turn your burner off and allow the tea to steep (tea bags sit in water for a time; or something like that.)  for 20 minutes. This isn’t a science, a little more, a little less time depending on if you like weak, medium or strong tea.  20 minutes makes a medium tasting tea, just right.

Grab your favorite gallon pitcher and add 1 and 3/4 cups sugar.  For those of you not used to sweet tea, you might want to only add 1 cup of sugar and work your way up.  This is called SWEET tea.

Your tea has steeped for 20 minutes; longer for stronger tea or less for weaker tea.  Everyone has their preference.

After 20 minutes, pull the tea bags out of the water carefully and hang them over the side of the pitcher.   Using a spoon (only wooden ones for me but whatever your hand grabs is perfect), squeeze out all the tea that is hanging on inside those bags.  (This is the best part of the tea so don’t skip this step!)

Slowly pour your hot tea into your waiting pitcher.

Stir the tea and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved.

I know many who now will just fill the pitcher up with water and stir and that is fine but at this step I’m advising you to add ice instead of water. There is a taste difference between a tea finished with water and one finished with ice.  Just take my word for it and add the ice.

Fill your tea pitcher up with ice until the tea level almost reaches the top of the pitcher.  Stir the ice and tea completely.

Grab your favorite tall glass, fill it with ice and pour yourself a glass of sweet tea.  Now down here in South Carolina, there isn’t anything better than a mason jar to serve as your larger- than- life- glass and a front porch swing.  What’s even better than this is inviting your friends over to share the sweet tea and the front porch.  (Ginger and Leigh, meet me on my front porch on Saturday afternoon!)

T

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