Friday, June 26, 2009

I'm Celebrating National Iced Tea Month in June

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2009
Southern Sweet Tea in the Making

Having lived 11 years in Charlotte, North Carolina, I became a fan of Southern sweet iced tea. There's just no going back to instant tea after you've enjoyed the real thing. Fortunately, I got a native friend from the "old South" to teach me the tricks to getting that deep South flavor in your sweet tea.

If you're not a sweet tea drinker, I totally understand and you can move along. This post is devoted to the art of making Southern sweet tea the way folks in the Carolinas enjoy it--fresh brewed, bold tasting and sweetened at just the right time in the steeping process. Oh, and don't forget to add the lemon. Sounds nit picky, but the lemon is like icing on the cake. Here goes:

Mom's Sweet Tea (that's what my kids call it when they come home to visit)

(makes 1 pitcher=1/2 gallon=2 quarts)


  • 1 quart filtered water, boiling
  • 2 family sized Luzianne Iced Tea bags
  • 2/3 Cup Organic Sugar
  • 1 quart filtered water, room temperature
  • Organic Lemon slices or wedges
  • Ice cubes, made with filtered water

  1. Pour 1 quart boiling water over 2 tea bags in a heat-resistant glass container. Time out here for a quality control tip: (A) I know this is an organic blog, but most of the organic teas I have tried just did not make the quintessential Southern Sweet Tea. The closest I have found was an English Breakfast blend, so try that if you're a purist. (B) No plastic containers--heating plastic releases toxins into your tea. Bad!
  2. Allow tea to steep about 10-15 minutes. A couple of minutes after adding the water to the tea bags, add sugar and stir carefully, so as not to bust the tea bags. Adding the sugar while the water is still hot immeasurably changes the flavor. This is the KEY to the special taste of Southern Sweet tea.
  3. When fully steeped, remove 1 tea bag, squeeze its liquid back into the container, and pour tea into your pitcher (1/2 gallon size).
  4. Place the remaining tea bag in the pitcher until it is cool; then remove it and go to step 5.
  5. Tip: Don't forget that those tea bags can go into your compost.
  6. Add 1 full quart of room temperature filtered water to the steeped tea and stir to mix.
  7. Quality control tip: Don't skimp with tap water and don't use chilled water. Trust me; it will taste different.
  8. More quality control tips: (A) When serving tea that is still warm, use an overfilled glass of ice, as much of it will melt when you pour the tea over it. (B) Make the tea just a bit stronger to compensate for the melted ice, which will water your tea down a bit. Do this by steeping an extra 5 minutes.
  9. Add your lemon to the top of the ice before you fill the glass. Serve with a smile--your Southern hospitality has arrived.
© photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2009
Southern Sweet Tea--Perfect!

Ahh! There's nothing better on a hot Summer day. Even so, you can try my husband's second favorite drink, made with the tea recipe above. An Arnold Palmer is Orlando's specialty. It seems that they serve it nearly everywhere around this area--especially the golf course restaurants. I wonder why?

An Arnold Palmer is 1/2 Iced Tea and 1/2 Lemonade. Here's how I make my homemade organic lemonade. If you stop by most any day, I'll have a pitcher in the fridge. It's a staple at our house.

Arnold Palmer
  • 1/3 Cup Organic Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed does taste better, but bottled organic lemon juice works too; just don't resort to reconstituted--yuck!)
  • 2/3 Cup Organic Sugar
  • 2 Quarts Filtered Water
Mix ingredients together until well mixed and serve over ice. Add a lemon slice for a little extra ambiance, when serving guests. Enjoy!
One additional note: If you're looking for good sweet tea in Florida, good luck. There are few places to find Southern sweet tea that tastes like the Carolinas. Your best bet is Sonny's Real Pit Barbeque. Be sure to tell them I sent you.
Tuesday's Commercial Preview
With Independence Day just around the corner, cookouts and cold beverages are on every cook's mind. Today's post was a start. I hope you'll take time to visit on Tuesday when I share a recipe for a wonderful organic hamburger that will melt in your mouth with magnificent flavor. You simply cannot miss this one: "Hankering for a Healthy Hamburger."

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