Thursday, December 29, 2011

How do you make iced tea?

It's no shock to anyone around me that I'm not southern. I wasn't born in the south. I wasn't raised in the south.  I came here when I was 20.  There are many thing about me that will always be particularly northern.  I talk fast, faster when I'm around my northern family.  I always have a clean and dry walkways and stairs after every snowstorm even when my only tools are a dustpan, some kitty litter and a box of salt from the kitchen, and I pronounce the word OIL as though there is a Y in the middle of it (vs the more southern pronunciation of 'ole.')  However, after spending more than half of my life here, I have adopted a few southern habits.  I say "Y'all" a lot.  It's so much nicer than the northern version "you guys" and I drink iced tea all year long. Not just iced tea, but sweet iced tea. And yes, there is a difference.

It didn't take long for the iced tea habit to start.  It's available everywhere here, is generally bottomless where some restaurants charge for refills of soda (oh, and I call it soda!) and it's nice on a hot day and let's face it, we have a lot of hot days!  In New England, if we wanted iced tea, our options were canned, powdered, or simply unsweetened hot tea left to cool. They are all pretty horrible. I had no idea how bad things were until I tasted the real thing! The tea here is sweet and cold and clear.  It seemed so simple, yet trying to recreate it at home never seemed to work.  Thankfully, I met and married a southern man, who came armed with the secret to making iced tea at home.  He taught me how to do it, probably so I'd stop asking him to make more.  Once I had the knowledge, I became the person in charge of making the tea at my family functions, partly because the tea is good, partly because my cooking is that bad! Now I'm at a place in my life where I feel this knowledge needs to be shared not just with the world, but with my children!  Kids, the next time you ask me to make more tea, I'm emailing you a link to this page.  All this stuff is in the kitchen!

It's simple really.  You'll need a gallon pitcher, some tea bags, some sugar, a measuring cup, and a way to heat water.

Here I have Lipton.  Usually I use Luzianne but I was out and grabbed these at the pharmacy.  I also have a kettle for boiling water, you can use a plain old sauce pot. The crock pot in the back of the picture is not required, it's just holding up the tea bags!

Put teabags in the pitcher. How many varies- For gallon size or family size tea bags, 2 or 3, if it's a cup sized tea bag you may want 5 or 6.  This Lipton tea is very dark, I only needed 3 cup sized bags.
Measure 3/4 cup sugar into the pitcher (I can go 1/2c but the kids prefer 1c, we've found 3/4 to be a good compromise between not sweet enough and 'makes my teeth hurt.')
Boil a half gallon of water and pour it into the pitcher.

Let it steep for about 15 minutes, until it looks like the picture.
Pull out the tea bags, I use my handy dandy pasta strainer/server,  but DO NOT SQUEEZE THE TEA BAGS! I can't stress this part enough.  Yes, you may take away a few tablespoons of water and drip on your counter, but squeezing them will make the tea bitter.  Stir the tea until any sugar at the bottom is dissolved.

Add cold water until the pitcher is full and stir again.  Some folks add ice to fill the pitcher, but I find that when I want to drink it right away, I end up with a glass too full of ice and tea that is too strong until the ice melts.  I just use water, then add ice to my glass.

Toss some ice in a glass and pour! Store the rest in the fridge and hope your kids don't drink it all before you get another glass! If they do, you can email them a link to this page and tell them to make it themselves!

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