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Sweet Tea

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#1 joiei

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 07:52 PM

This piece by Jeffrey Klineman on Slate is coming close to the religion of Sweet Tea. And he introduces the piece by talking about my cousin Boo, clickety here

Drinking sweet tea is one of the oldest and most exceptional Southern traditions. As Dolly Parton's character in Steel Magnolias puts it, it's the "house wine of the South"—a clear, orange-to-red tinted tea brewed from six or seven Lipton or Luzianne tea bags, poured hot onto a cup or more of sugar or a pool of simple syrup, and then diluted into a gallon pitcher in the fridge. It's served over a mound of ice in a huge glass—so cold that you can watch your napkin drown in a puddle of condensation.

And there are undeclared wars at the local dinner on the grounds as to who has the best sweet tea. I know, I have watched them transpire on the grounds of Hickory Hammock Baptist Church. And my great great grandfather is buried in the churchyard behind the church. So the ladies have been fighting over whos is best for many years.

Southerners, of course, have a taste for sugar that is demonstrably stronger than what you find up North. We like our pecan pie and pralines sweet enough to make the dentist cringe. All of the major soda companies—the Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo, Dr Pepper—started in the South. Bourbon, that sweetest of whiskies, is from Kentucky. A mint julep, that classic Southern cocktail, is basically a whiskey'd up sweet tea, with mint, ice, simple syrup, and booze.

While my parents made us drink an unsweetened mint tea blend at home, I strong-armed them into stopping by Po Folks on the way home from baseball practice. A middling Southern-style chain (we didn't know enough to eat at Mary Mac's), known for horrible phonetic misspellings, heavily larded chicken, and, most importantly, sweet tea served in Mason Jars, it was practically the only place I could get hooked up properly—at least, that is, until I began raiding the always-full homemade pitchers in my friends' refrigerators.

My stepdad, bless his heart, so loved his sweet tea. And he loved Po'Folks because they had the best biscuits and the best fried chicken and they had fried fish for my mom. I do miss him and sharing a meal at Po'Folks, even though that is is only time I would ever consider going there.
It is good to be a BBQ Judge.

#2 divalasvegas

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 09:39 AM

I love sweet tea joiei aka "Baptist Table Wine" and the "religion" must be growing when even McDonald's is getting into the act with their rendition of sweet tea. I don't care for it as achingly sweet as I used to but I do still enjoy it and it makes much more sense than trying to sweeten cold, unsweetened tea where your sugar just ends up in a little pile at the bottom of your glass. I especially like it when combined with homemade lemonade (lemonade MUST be equal parts tart and sweet) by pouring the sweet tea over ice first and then gently pouring the lemonade over that to make an Arnold Palmer. I like to leave the drink unstirred or maybe softly stirred once or twice so I get to enjoy the sweet tea, then the Arnold Palmer, and finally the lemonade. :smile:

Edited by divalasvegas, 15 August 2007 - 09:53 AM.

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

#3 Alchemist

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 01:28 PM

Sweet tea!!! Lipton, Luzianne or Red Diamond? Are there political or regional biases?




#4 Alchemist

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 07:23 AM

So I am planning to make a cocktail using sweet tea at The Patterson house, in Nashville, and am going to go with Luzianne. Is using a tea that sounds so much like Louisiana here in Tennessee
a mistake?



#5 bettylouski

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 09:11 AM

So I am planning to make a cocktail using sweet tea at The Patterson house, in Nashville, and am going to go with Luzianne.  Is using a tea that sounds so much like Louisiana here in Tennessee
a mistake?


View Post

I prefer Red Diamond myself, and for TN it's closer to the source (Birmingham) .

#6 ChefPip

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 01:54 PM

I'd like to chip in on this too.  I started making Iced Tea as a kid.  Over the years I would drink tea with friends and when I tasted something exceptional I'd inquire.   One of my big break throughs was when I met an English Woman who was working at Sears

in my home town.  She explained to me about steeping tea. From the information I gathered I developed this technique I use.


The teas I've used are of all types.  Even brand X with black, cut black, and orange pekoe in the bags.  I'm not committed to any one brand.


For a two quart plastic juice container:


I have a small metal sauce pan I place 3 tea bags in along with a cup cool water.  The heat is turned on low and the temps come up gradually so as NOT to boil.


In a small mixing bowl I place 1/2 or so Cups of white cane sugar.  When the heated tea water is ready it will be drained in to make the syrup.


I watch the sauce pan and gently aggitate it by shaking it left and right.  Before the water would boil a creame colored foam will begin to develop in each tea bag.   The trick is not to inflate the tea bags with steam, because the water has heated to high and too quickly if that happens.   As this slowly heats this same foam will begin to build up around the edge of the sauce pan.  A "bead" as the old moonshiners would call it.  LOL


At this point a little bit of steam will begin to arise off the heated tea water and that is a sign it is  time to drain it into the bowl with the sugar.   Do not squeeze the tea bags,  but just allow them to drain for the most part.   These can then be discarded and they will still be wet.  The syrup can be stirred until the sugar is dissolved. 


In the two quart pitcher a tray of ice cubes can be loaded and cold water added till it is near the top.  This is stirred to get the water cold and then the syrup is added and stirred thouroughly.  Water can be added to top this off and stirred enough to mix it in well.  Next this goes into the refrigerator to sit for a few minutes.  If you can wait that long.


It can then be poured into a glass and enjoyed.    By the time I was in high school years it became my job to make the Iced Tea before meal times.  I became well known for my tea making and taught many others this method that I developed. Rarely did anyone ask for mint or lemon to go with it. 


I get kind of burnt out on soft drinks during the summer with the High Fructose Corn Sweetners or the even worse

diet sweetners.  So I resort to the Iced Tea.and try to keep sweet but not syrupy.


Just remember, if you follow my method bring the temp of the water up slowly and don't inflate the tea bags or boil the water. It will yield a smooth beverage that doesn't taste more like tea bag than tea..  You can adjust the amount of sugar to your taste.  One cup of sugar is syrupy sweet.  I perfer it at the 1/2 Cup level.