As we pointed out yesterday in our previous article, 16 Refreshing Summer Fruit Drink Recipes and Ideas to Help You Cool Off and Quench Your Thirst, here in the South where the four seasons of the year are Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer and Christmas, one essential way to stay cool and hydrated is to make sure to drink enough beverages.
While such drinks as water, soda, lemonade, and fruit juice based punches are as served down here much as they are elsewhere in the United States, no other cold beverage er–warms the heart of a Southerner quite like iced tea (which is known here as sweet tea or unsweet tea, depending on the presence of sugar).
Called the wine of the South, here in South Carolina there are few (if any) restaurants down here that don’t serve freshly made sweet iced tea all year round; from casual neighborhood BBQ joints to the most upscale restaurant.
In fact, sweet tea is so popular, that when a Charleston distillery brought out an alcoholic version of classic Southern sweet tea called Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, it was an overnight sensation both locally and nationally.
Needless to say, at Hugging the Coast we’re thrilled that June has been named National Iced Tea Month. You might be surprised to learn that 80% of all tea consumed in the United States is now used to make iced tea.
There are many ways to make classic Southern sweet tea, but the secret is to use a good strong orange pekoe tea (a few popular brands down here are Luzianne, Lipton, or Tetley). It’s also important to make sure the sugar or sweetener you use melts well enough to fully release its sweetness and flavor into the infused tea itself (as is shown in the two short videos below).
Once you try this method, you’ll find that adding sugar in your glass after the water has cooled or been iced isn’t nearly as effective or flavorful as mixing it with a combination of cool water and the hot tea concentrate itself. It’s also important not to steep your tea any longer than 10 minutes so that you sweet iced tea doesn’t become bitter from excessive tannins.
Classic Southern iced tea doesn’t usually use lemon or mint, but don’t let that stop you if that’s the way you prefer it. The brewing tips below will help you make ice tea that will cool down much more quickly than the giant pot of boiling water method more commonly used, so however you like to drink your iced tea, you’re bound to find them useful.
Here are two video recipes that will help you make fresh iced sweet tea quickly and easily like a pro.
A Video Recipe For Modern Iced Tea That Uses Loose Tea (in This Case Rooibos) and Lemon
Also, the folks at the Southern Plate Food Blog have two simple recipes for making Southern style sweet tea using either a saucepan or a well cleaned coffee maker which you can see here.
Please join us tomorrow to enjoy June’s Special Free Cookbook of the Month: The U.S. Navy Cookbook of 1920.
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