The Perfect Sweet Tea

Every family has a way of making it. Everyone has their preferred method. Their perfect amount of sugar. Just the right number of tea bags. Here's mine:

First: Lipton Tea bags. This is important. None of that Tetley bullshit. Not the "cold brew" kind (more on that in a minute). And none of those single tea bags that are supposed to make whole pitchers. You'll need 8 tea bags.

Second: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Now... do I measure out two quarts? No, of course not. I fill my medium sized pot, (and yes I only have one medium sized pot, I'm not that gay) about halfway. I'm guessing that it's about two quarts. It's important that the water be boiling before you put the tea bags in. I hope it goes without saying but pull all the little papers tags off the tea bags. Some people go to the trouble of tying all the strings together so that the bags make a little bundle... I find this unnecessary but if you're feeling bored while you are waiting for the water to boil, go ahead. After the water boils, drop the tea bags in. You can drop the heat a bit, but keep the water at a boil.

A note about so called "cold brews:" Someone came up with the brilliant notion off dropping several tea bags into a cold pitcher of water and letting it "steep" for a long period. This, along with "sun tea" has to be some weird Yankee method of making iced tea. The resulting tea is weak, and flavorless, and has no place on the table of a southern home. Avoid it!

Third: In a gallon sized pitcher place 1 cup of sugar. One. ONE! I know people who put up to three cups of sugar in a gallon of tea. That's overkill. We're making a beverage here, not some sort of iced tea syrup.

Fourth: Here's where the real art comes in. I prefer a nice dark tea. Some people prefer a lighter tea. I usually let my tea boil for 3 minutes or so. Up to 5. The tea should be a deep mahogany color in the pot, in it's undiluted form.

Fifth: Pour the hot tea into the pitcher with the sugar. Use a spoon to keep the bags from falling into the pitcher. Gently squeeze the remaining tea out of the bags. Be careful not to rip or burst one of the tea bags or you'll end up with tea leaves in your tea. Stir the hot tea and sugar allowing the sugar to dissolve completely.

Sixth: Fill pitcher with cold water, stir, and refrigerate. The resultant tea should be a dark red-brown.

Seventh: Enjoy!

Advanced Preparations: Fresh lemon is a time honored tradition to southern iced tea, as is a mint leaf as a garnish. Either are acceptable. Raspberries are to be avoided. They do not grow in the south and are not an acceptable ingredient. Raspberries are a leftover holdout from the 90's. Remember when everything came in a raspberry flavor? If you are simply dying for a berry flavor go with blackberries. Lipton makes a variety of flavored black teas. Mint, blackberry, orange spice, or honey lemon would make decent additions to southern style sweet tea. Simply replace on or two of the tea bags with the flavored type, depending on how strong a flavor you desire. One is usually enough for me. Do NOT be fooled by Lipton's raspberry flavor. Ignore it. Every company makes mistakes. For further proof of their mistakes check the mixes and powders that they also make. Avoid these at all cost.

Enjoy your tea, and if you are not normally an iced tea drinker but you try it based on my instructions, let me know!

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