Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sweet Tea: The Cure for What Ails

We southern girls love our sweet tea. For many of us, it's a necessity. A link to our families and memories. I'm no exception. My days... every one of them... are accompanied by a tall, cool glass of sweet tea. Even in the throws of January.

I came down with something nasty Thursday night. I got out of bed twice yesterday, I think - once to take out the trash and once to see to the mail. Nearly fell over in the road and rested both times. I kept thinking that maybe I was just really tired, for some reason, until I realized that I dialed my telephone banking service and had somehow pressed "2" instead of "1" and had been responding to the nice Spanish-speaking lady. For 14 minutes and 36 seconds. I can't be sure, but I may have transferred all my money to Guatemala. Yep, think I'm sick. So I took something and watched Monk and then slept. Slept and slept and slept.

When most people are sick they want chicken soup and flat Dr. Pepper and Saltines and things of that nature, right? Not me. When I'm sick I (never fail) wish for the following: chocolate pudding and orange juice. Cold things. Always. But this time I've prayed for peanut butter cookies and iced tea. (My peanut butter cookies. I may be partial, but they're the best.) Since I'm not eating carbs at the moment... and haven't been in almost a month... the cookies would have to wait. So iced tea it is. Let's talk tea.

It should be noted that southern iced tea is nothing like its hot, British counterpart. (I was surprised to learn this week that one in every eight people who read this blog are reading from somewhere in the United Kingdom. So I hope one in eight of you doesn't take offense.) Sweet iced tea is a concoction all its own, and although every family has its own method... usually involving a special pot or kettle... here's how my mother taught me. And I should point out that we're both known for our iced tea.

Southern Iced Tea

½ cup loose tea leaves, or 2 family-sized tea bags
2 ½ cups cool water
1 cup sugar, or preferred sweetener to taste

Pour cool water into a saucepan over medium high flame. Add tea leaves or tea bags. (I like Luzianne. Have always used Luzianne.) Heat just until boiling, then remove from heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Pour brewed tea into a clean gallon pitcher or jar. Add cold water until pitcher is almost full. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Keep in back of refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

Since I'm staying away from flour and sugar, I usually have two tea pitchers stirred up and ready: sweet and unsweet. I prefer my tea with Stevia and mint... or sometimes with lime... but most of my favorite folks prefer it as described above. (With a few exceptions, of course. My mom never drinks hers without lemon, and her mom stirs 1 1/2 cups sugar into her pitcher.)

Yes, I realize it's crazy to be talking tea in the dead of winter. But you almost forget it's winter with a glass of sweet tea at your lips. (This coming from the girl who puts "freshly cut grass" and "sweet tea" at the top of her Favorite Things Ever list....)

I'm also the girl who needs to call her bank and see what in the world kind of Spanish transfers I made yesterday.



betty r said...

Thanks for the tea recipe Brin but I'm waiting till summer to make it..can't imagine drinking that at -30C.
We want you well so you drink/eat whatever it takes..

elenka said...

1 cup of sugar for 2 1/2C of water!!!!!Yikes!!!!!!
That's like making a large mug of hot tea and putting in 1/2 C of Sugar!!!!!!!! That can't be right, can it?
Hope you are feeling better!

Rachel said...

Ah yes! Swait tea! :) And btw, you can pop a mug of this into your microwave and swait tea.

For all you yankees out there who can't imagine it, you don't know what you're missing!

(Oklahoma girl born and bred, living in Virginia now.)

Pamela said...

Odd, I have the exact brewing recipe for swwwweeet tea. I'm in the heart of Kentucky, alittle chilled at the thyme, but I am going to brew up a pot right now...and drink it... Iced Down. I have been reading up alot about artifical sweeteners... scary... I am going to find me some stevia. Want to grow it this year if it can survive in my zone. I do have a potting shed/greenhouse, never thought about that. Oh, well. Goode Day & Get Well, Pamela at Beehind Thyme Primitives

Anonymous said...

Elenka, no, no, no, 1 cup sugar for a gallon of tea. Brinn begins with 2 1/2 cups water only to steep the tea in, then it is poured into a much larger container (a gallon) and water is added to the top. To this gallon is added the 1 cup sugar. I was thinking the same thing at first.I think I must try this. Brinn, about how many smaller tea bags is contained in a "family sized"? What brand of tea is your favorite?

Sherry said...

This is exactly how my mom makes her tea -- except sometimes she does 1-1/2 cups sugar! She was born in Missouri even though she grew up in Michigan! We love sweet tea :) My kids call it "Grandma's good iced tea"!

Hope you're feeling better,


Jenny said...

Yummocious is right! Need to find those teabags. . .

Hmmmm. . .

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

We Northerners have no idea what you Southerners are talking about with your "sweet tea" recipes. Why can't we just pop a spoonful of instant tea mix into a glass and have at it and much more quickly? Perhaps I need to try the recipe and find out.

Feel better and I'm just praying that your funds are still on this side of the border!

Julie said...

Hi, Brin!

Hope that you'll be feeling better, soon!

I miss my iced tea, but with my recurring iron deficiency anemia -- I'm supposed to stay away from it.
I have to cheat sometimes, however!

A true southern belle MUST have her iced tea!


Anonymous said...

Feel Better Soon! I just got over what you have now, may I suggest, rest, rest and more rest!
Also, you must have read my mind!My Dad was born in Oklahoma and raised in Pampa,Texas.He drank sweet tea, faithfully.Summer, Fall and dead of winter.I don't care if it is snowing outside, I crave sweet tea.The thing is, I never knew his way of making it.(it was always made when I came home from school and always would think I would have known how!...ugh!!!!what a dork I am!)I made yours this afternoon and I have never drank sweet tea that tasted exactly like his...UNTILL YOURS!My dad has passed away.BUT I know if he was still with me he would love your tea!He would swear it was his! Thanks Brin!!!!

Sue@CountryPleasures said...

Your NOT crazy Brin, I drink iced tea every day of the year, except mine is unsweet! Sure hope your feeling better, might be due to lack of carbs? LOL But probably just a way for your body to say "take a break" girl! Hugs for speedy healing!

She sure is strange! said...

Like Sue, I drink mine unsweetened(and use green tea in with my decaf black) but my hubby makes his sweet tea just like you but 4 quarts at a time because our daughters glug it down like little fishies!

Hope today finds you feeling much sunnier(and able to enjoy this sun finally).


Mayberry Magpie said...

I just discovered your blog and it is absolutely delightful. I will be back to see you regularly.

I, too, recently moved to a small town -- my hometown, after a 25-year absence. And I live in an old house (not quite as old as yours) known by the name of it's previous owner.

You're definitely a kindred spirit.
Mayberry Magpie

Autumn said...

Just so you know...we Southern girls like our tea UNsweetened too!! Don't care what day of the year it is-give me a glass of UNsweet tea w/ lemon or lime and I'm good to go! Love it! I think those of us who like UNsweet tea need to unite! :)

Anonymous said...

There is no wrong time or season for tea, iced or otherwise, white, green, oolong, or black. It's always time for tea somewhere, sometime, and in all types of weather. I don't know what happened in my family but even though I'm from the South we didn't go the Sweet Tea route. But we drank iced tea by the gallons all through the year.

Once upon a time at some type of event, I asked for iced tea. The lady told me she was sorry but that she only had hot tea. So, I ordered the hot tea and asked for a tall glass of ice. When she saw me pour the hot tea over the ice she looked dumbfounded. "Oh," she said. "I didn't know I could do that."

So where, exactly, does she think iced tea comes from?