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whats the best sweet tea you ever had? what brand or how it was made or what it was made of? do you use the sun? do you use fresh mint? brown sugar or white sugar? etc., etc., etc..

Newgene Ledbetter would rather climb a tree to tell you a lie than stand on the ground and tell you the truth!

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Well, this does not help you one bit, but if anyone evers comes to West Monroe LA....... The best tea I have ever had was at Canards Restaurant. It had body, it was perfectly sweetened, not bitter, and with no cloudiness. I never knew I could feel so strongly about tea. I do not know what brand they use.

My preferred method is 3 Lipton family sized tea bags. Place in a medium saucepan with one quart of water. Leave on medium heat until bubbles form on the sides of the saucepan. Discard teabags, do not squeeze. Pour in pitcher with 1/2-3/4 cups gran. sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add two quarts cold water. Drink within a day or two. Keep refrigerated.

-Becca

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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Well thats all good and well if all the places you go had squeeze bottles of simple syrup. I agree that most people oversweeten. Thats why I always dispense half sweet and half unsweet. In my house I have to oversweeten because of my husband.

I wouldn't go so far as to say sweet tea is evil though.

-Becca

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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The BEST sweet tea in history was dispensed by a neighbor lady, whose little brewing-pot was bequeathed to me by her daughter. Story of the pot, really the little two-handled top half of a double boiler, is somewhere in the thread about family kitchen heirlooms.

Mrs. P would set the old white "teakittle" on to boil a couple of hours before noon dinnertime. A handful of crackly fragrant Lipton leaves went into the dry little pan, along with a BIG scoop of Godchaux sugar. Boiling water poured over, steeping time of five or six minutes, then a quick strain into the battered old silvery aluminum pitcher with its fat belly and the ice-catcher lip. Filling to the top with cold water from the tap, ice into the big old footed Mammaw goblets, squeeze of lemon (which we NEVER used at home---my Mother abhorred sweet tea, and lemon was just "wasted" on the plain kind).

I drank my tea in big savoring swallows, the cold sweetness of it delighting my child's palate better than any Koolaid concoction. And it was the better for being forbidden---Mother also thought the neighbor to be less than tidy in her ways, and cautioned me about partaking of anything in that house. So I never participated in the tea-on-the-porch-after-dinner ritual, just the big glass swigged down indoors, whenever offered.

I can also see neighbor lady's own mother, sitting down to dinner, crushing a wee sack-a-reen tablet between two spoons. The resulting powder went straight into her tea glass. After all, it was "for diabetics" and thus negated all the sugar's evils. :blink:

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hoss,

i hate to say it, but whitt's, mrs.s winner's and loveless have some of the best sweet tea locally, if you were looking for ideas as to how sweet it should be. imho, the best is when you can pretty much just call it sugar water. the aforementioned places certainly take their sugar dial to 11!

for non-traditional teas, the fruit tea at green hills grille and peach tea at sunset are damn good. will you be offering fruit tea at your restaurant? if so, the fruit tea recipe in the nashville junior league cookbook is a pretty good place to start.

i'll ask my gf how she makes her tea, but i have a feeling her answer will be pretty much "by feel." i know she uses lipton family size tea bags and white sugar, but doesn't add lemon or let it sit in the sun.

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hoss,

i hate to say it, but whitt's, mrs.s winner's and loveless have some of the best sweet tea locally, if you were looking for ideas as to how sweet it should be. imho, the best is when you can pretty much just call it sugar water. the aforementioned places certainly take their sugar dial to 11!

for non-traditional teas, the fruit tea at green hills grille and peach tea at sunset are damn good. will you be offering fruit tea at your restaurant? if so, the fruit tea recipe in the nashville junior league cookbook is a pretty good place to start.

i'll ask my gf how she makes her tea, but i have a feeling her answer will be pretty much "by feel." i know she uses lipton family size tea bags and white sugar, but doesn't add lemon or let it sit in the sun.

c-bagger i dont mind that they have good tea.....hell i buy it there too! -and it is dang good tea. i wasnt asking in reference to my joint opening up because i'll be using my grandmothers process. if i didnt she would have a major problem with me. in her eyes, im still not too old at 34 for her to tell me to go out back and cut her a switch to whip me with.....and it better be a green switch!. anyway, ive got this newfound fascination with truly homeade tea and how it differs in the south. some folks swear by differnt brands of sugar, brands of tea (i like luzianne), the process of it etc............i thought becca porters post was very cool! i agree with jason perlow that folks that sweeten tea too much will have to answer to the lord about it one day............but tea thats made just right is straight out of heaven. -and unsweet can not be sweetened at the table and get the same results. id rather drink it unsweet if i need to do that. the tea at my joint will be semi-sweet.

Newgene Ledbetter would rather climb a tree to tell you a lie than stand on the ground and tell you the truth!

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Honestly, sweet tea is just not that complicated. To make 1/2 gallon of tea: Boil 1 qt. water. When it boils remove from heat and add 1 c. sugar (I am a diabetic and have had a gastric bypass, so I use Splenda here - not as good, but better than nothing :hmmm:) and 2 family size bags of Luzianne. When it has cooled, remove the bags (squeezing to get out all that tea juice :wink:), dump it in a pitcher and add 1 qt. cold water. Serve with lemon wedges over serious amounts of crushed (shaved is even better) ice. You can tart it up however you like - sun tea, mint sprigs, other tea leaves, etc. But if you want delicious perfect tea to go with bbq or meat and 3's, you want it strong, sweet and icy cold. Some people don't like sweet tea. This is fine, but you shouldn't take sweet tea advice from them :wink:.

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John Edgerton, nice guy, friend and one of my all time personal lifestyle heroes, gave a great lecture last year at the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium of Sweet Tea. I'm pretty sure that the majority of the remarks were off of the cuff using brief notes, but I have written him for a copy anyway.

There is a recipe here that is pretty much standard and works out pretty well, though, as was said above, it's not rocket science-sugar + tea = sweet tea.

Personally, though I was born and raised and still live in the South, I'm not much of a sweet tea man. I drink gallons and gallons of iced tea, year round, but not so much sweet-though I am crazy about that Lebanese iced tea with the rosewater and pine nuts. It's pretty swell.

Edgerton's basic premise was that the sweetness of the tea was related to the type of BBQ served in the region-and at the time it made a ton of sense. I hope that I can get a copy of it.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Edgerton's basic premise was that the sweetness of the tea was related to the type of BBQ served in the region-and at the time it made a ton of sense. I hope that I can get a copy of it.

There is also a theory, quoted in Fred Thompson's "Iced Tea" book, that barbecue restaurants started making super sweet tea in the '50s because sugar was cheap and it was a way to stretch the tea. I haven't found any confirmation for that, but these days, tea itself is a lose leader.

I know way more about tea at the moment than I have any right to. My editors assigned me to a special project for the month of June. They asked the readers to recommend their favorite places for iced tea (we got 94 places from close to 200 people). Then I was assigned to go to some of the places, write 10 short word "postcards" capturing the places and various themes surrounding iced tea. We finished the whole she-bang with a tasting of the three top vote-getters using wine experts.

It was fun, but exhausting. We did a slide show of the places that is still posted at www.charlotte.com under "multimedia."

Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

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I grew up drinking my Mama's sweet tea. Then I moved and found out that I liked my tea without sugar. She used Lipton's and dixie crystals sugar.

I second Mayhaw Man's recommendation of the Lebanese Iced Tea at Mona's in New Orleans. It is sweet without sugar. And the pine nuts and rosewater add that special something that take it beyond being just another mango tea.

Now across the South, there is a chain called McAlister's, a deli sandwich and salad kind of place that makes a pretty decent iced tea for a commercial operation. And the tea is nicely uniform across their stores. I go there for the tea more than for the rueben sandwich. I do not know their recipe, but it is consistent.

How much sugar to use is pretty much a personal taste. I know some people make the tea so sweet, it will curl your teeth. Others let the flavor of the tea come through.

My suggestion for some research is go to Dothan, Alabama and eat around at a couple of the dining places there, you will not have to ask for sweet tea. It comes that way automatically. If you want unsweetened, even at Hardee's you have to request unsweetened.

Edited to add, that was a nice piece on iced tea. I don't know about the bbq and sugar thing, we didn't have much bbq in the panhandle, but we sure had sweet tea.

Edited by joiei (log)

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I won't go so far as to say it's evil but I guess the best sweet tea I ever had is the batch they forgot to put the sugar in :laugh: I guess it's a yankee thing I'll never get over. I've developed a taste for lots of things over my lifetime but that's not one of them.

I do like some of the middle eastern teas, though, as joiei mentioned. It's a different kind of sweet and one that really enhances some of the spicier offerings of those cuisines.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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We did a slide show of the places that is still posted at www.charlotte.com under "multimedia."

The photos in the slideshow were wonderful. Thanks for posting the info for the link.

Since sweet tea is so prevalent in the southern U.S., it makes me wonder what kind of tea do you get down there at the national restaurant chains/fast food restaurants? Logically, I'd think they would offer unsweetened tea and then you'd sweeten it yourself (which is how it's done here in Southern California).

Or do they offer both?

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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We did a slide show of the places that is still posted at www.charlotte.com under "multimedia."

The photos in the slideshow were wonderful. Thanks for posting the info for the link.

Since sweet tea is so prevalent in the southern U.S., it makes me wonder what kind of tea do you get down there at the national restaurant chains/fast food restaurants? Logically, I'd think they would offer unsweetened tea and then you'd sweeten it yourself (which is how it's done here in Southern California).

Or do they offer both?

McDonald's was just doing a huge advertising blitz about its "Southern style" tea. I assume it is sweetened but having not stepped foot under the golden arches since I was a freshman in college (& let's say that I am getting calls fr/ the alumni committee about our 25th re-union) I have no idea.

I was wondering if this was just a promotion in the Southern US or if it was national.

in loving memory of Mr. Squirt (1998-2004)--

the best cat ever.

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I've not seen any McD's ads about tea in the central part of the country.

Your question reminded me, though, of another comment I intended to make about sweet tea and where it is, or isn't. I recently drove from Kansas City to the SoCal, then as far north as Calistoga, then back to central coast and returned to KC (via Las Vegas, cutting thru UT and on to Denver). Since I'm not a soda drinker and wanted something more exciting than water occasionally, I would check out the tea options at each pit stop. The offerings were not as predictable as I would have thought. On the way out I cut through Kansas, Oklahoma/Texas panhandle. Oddly I was able to get unsweetened, brewed tea at a relatively generic cinderblock filling station/convenience store in Hooker, OK (gotta love the name). Continuing on thru beautiful Tucumcari and to Flagstaff I didn't stop again. The next day just outside of Kingman I stopped at a far more mainstream looking place that included a Subway and my preconceived bias told me they would have yankee tea. Wrong. They had only sweet tea and it was actually labeled as such.

I turned this into a game for the rest of my travels (ok, it'll never replace Car Lotto, but I was bored); I would visually inspect the options as I pulled off of the Interstate and guess whether or not they would have "good" tea based on the look and feel. I think my overall score was around 25% correct. I guess you really can't tell a book by looking at its cover. But I did find it curious that the geographic theory seemed to fall apart within the parameters of that trip. I have to assume it was attributable to pockets of relocated southerners or the lack thereof.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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We did a slide show of the places that is still posted at www.charlotte.com under "multimedia."

The photos in the slideshow were wonderful. Thanks for posting the info for the link.

Since sweet tea is so prevalent in the southern U.S., it makes me wonder what kind of tea do you get down there at the national restaurant chains/fast food restaurants? Logically, I'd think they would offer unsweetened tea and then you'd sweeten it yourself (which is how it's done here in Southern California).

Or do they offer both?

In the part of the country I grew up in, the Florida Panhandle, most often restaurants offer both sweet and unsweet.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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Can someone from Canada tell me about that fizzy raspberry stuff we were served when we ordered iced tea a couple of years ago? This happened in two restaurants a couple of hundred miles apart, and when we asked what it was, they said "Iced tea. That's how we make it up here--everybody loves it."

The food was spectacular, and was not at all complemented by red Koolaid in the glass.

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There is also a theory, quoted in Fred Thompson's "Iced Tea" book, that barbecue restaurants started making super sweet tea in the '50s because sugar was cheap and it was a way to stretch the tea.

Perhaps it was so the tea would keep longer? When I worked at a diner in Chapel Hill, we'd brew a batch of sweet and unsweet in the morning. Then at closing, we'd have to sweeten the unsweet to keep it for the next day. I'm not really sure why we did it, but maybe the sugar preserves it? Or is that just crazy talk?

Amanda

Metrocurean, a D.C. restaurant and food blog

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There is also a theory, quoted in Fred Thompson's "Iced Tea" book, that barbecue restaurants started making super sweet tea in the '50s because sugar was cheap and it was a way to stretch the tea.

Perhaps it was so the tea would keep longer? When I worked at a diner in Chapel Hill, we'd brew a batch of sweet and unsweet in the morning. Then at closing, we'd have to sweeten the unsweet to keep it for the next day. I'm not really sure why we did it, but maybe the sugar preserves it? Or is that just crazy talk?

I don't think the sugar would preserve it. But I bet it would disguise the taste of stale tea.

Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

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  • 1 year later...

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.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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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 (log)

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

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