My Mama’s Sweet Tea

I recently made a pitcher of sweet tea for the first time in ages. It was a Sunday, and I wanted it to go with our dinner. Everyone is partial to their own tea, and I am no exception. I love the way my Mama taught me to make it– it’s sweet but not too syrupy. That is, unless it happens to sit in the fridge for a few days. A lot of folks like it that way.

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Start by boiling two large (or six small) tea bags. I used Lipton, but let’s be honest. We were poor growing up. It was always Winn-Dixie brand for us.

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Once the tea has come to a boil, place a lid (or, in our house because we could never find the appropriate lid, a plate) on the pot and let the tea steep.

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After about three- five minutes, you are ready to make your tea. My mama always used a plastic gallon pitcher, preferably bought at a Dollar store, so that’s what I do. After years of use, the pitcher will get ruddy and stained with tea.

I start by putting the sugar in the pitcher. For a gallon of tea, I use a full cup and then a little less than a quarter-cup of sugar. I eyeball the latter… What is half of a quarter???… An eighth of a cup???? So let’s just say stay shy of a cup and a quarter.

I then pour the hot tea on top of the sugar. Be careful not to break the tea bags! I leave the tea bags in the pot, though, because my mama’s secret was rinsing off the bags. I usually refill the pot, rinsing the tea bags two or three times, dumping the water into the pitcher. Then I discard the bags and fill the remaining pitcher with fresh cold tap water until full.

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The only thing left to do is stir. I actually love to pour the warm sweet tea over ice and drink immediately. It is so cozy and yummy that way. However, most people prefer to let the tea chill a bit before serving it over ice. My mom liked hers with fresh lemon. You can flavor it with any number of things; however, I just like it as is. One glass of this and my childhood comes flooding back to me.

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Beware, sweet tea is addictive. This particular gallon was guzzled in a day. Mason could not stop drinking it, which made this Southern mommy right proud.

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