This recipe will make 1/2 gallon of pure honest to goodness sweet tea, not some lightly colored sugar water that you find in many of the fast food restaurants. Here's what you will need to get started;
- 3 Family size tea bags
- 2 Quarts spring or purified water
- 1/2 to 1 cup raw cane sugar
- 1 quart Pyrex measuring cup
- 2 quart pot with lid
- 2 Quart carafe or pitcher
- 1 stirring spoon
As far as the hardware, your measuring cup will need to be tolerant of being put in the freezer for an hour or so. More about that later.
- Ignore the directions on the tea box. We're not making sissy tea here.
- 4 cup size tea bags are the equivalent of 1 family size tea bag.
- Only make enough tea that can be consumed within several days, three to four max.
- Don't dunk the tea bags in rapidly boiling water.
- Don't squeeze the tea bags when removing them from the pot.
Why can't I toss my tea bags in rapidly boiling water? The internet says that if you do this the tea will become bitter. We wouldn't want to disappoint the internet now would we? Let the boiling water calm down a few seconds before dunking the tea bags. If you're a thrill seeker then totally ignore this suggestion. For the same reason, squeezing the tea bags will turn the tea bitter or that's what they say. In all honesty, I can't tell the difference but for the sake of compliance I stopped squeezing the bags. Your mileage may vary.
One other thing I've heard is that if you put a pinch of baking soda in your brew then the tea will not get cloudy. All I have to say to that is my tea doesn't get cloudy and quite frankly I have no idea how to make cloudy tea, but hey, if that's your thing then go for it.
Ok, so let's get on with it;
We are basically going to make a concentrate and some chill water to dilute the concentrate after the brew.
Measure 32 oz (1 quart) of water and pour into the pot;
Measure another 32 oz and place the water in the freezer
Turn up the heat on the pot and wait for the water to boil. You can put a lid on the pot to decrease the amount of time for boil. Turn off the heat, wait for the water to settle down, then dunk the tea bags in the water making sure they get adequately saturated. Spread the tea bags away from each other, hang the tags over the pot edge then cover for 1 hour. This process is called steeping. No need to do anything further. Just walk away until an hour is over.
After an hour, remove the tea bags.
Now comes the moment of truth... time to add the sugar. How much sugar you ask? Well that's very subjective and depends on your personal preference and tastes. Here's some guidelines;
- 1/4 cup per finished quart for a lightly sweetened tea
- 1/3 cup per finished quart for a moderately sweetened tea
- 1/2 cup per finished quart for a heavily sweetened tea which produces a sugar coma
Once the concentrate has been sweetened it is time to blend it with the chill water. Remove the water from the freezer and pour it into a carafe or pitcher then add the concentrate. Stir to make sure it is well blended. You will now have a batch of sweet tea that is approximately at room temperature.
Nothing to do now except squeeze a wedge of lemon into a frosty glass, fill with ice, then slowly pour the tea over the ice. Refrigerate the remaining tea.