If you haven’t had an ice cold glass of southern style sweet iced tea then you don’t know what quenching your thirst truly is.
After reading tons of history, recipes, and drinking countless cups of homemade tea (someone’s gotta do it!), I believe I’ve worked out the best recipe ever which I’ve shared below. It’s a fine line between overbearingly sweet, and just the right amount of sweetness.
In the movie Steel Magnolias, Dolly Parton proclaimed that sweet tea was “the house wine of the South.” I think I’ve got the right balance with this refreshing recipe that even the queen of the South, Dolly would be proud of.
Good to use Lipton brand black tea, but not necessary if it isn’t available. The only ingredients I believe you cannot do without are fresh lemon slices, fresh mint sprigs and LOTS of ice. If you’re wanting to change things up a little add some lemonade. An Arnold Palmer is iced tea and lemonade mixed together, named after American golfer Arnold Palmer.
Southern Style Sweet Iced Tea
A refreshing iced tea reminiscent of the deep, balmy South.
- 4 cups of water
- 8 tea bags
- 1/2 cup sugar substitute (I used Stevia)
- 1/2 white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Lemon slices
- Fresh mint
- Lots of ice
- Bring the 4 cups of water to boil, then remove from the heat.
- Add the teabags and stir until all covered in water – leave for 5 mins (I used a timer).
- Remove the teabags, and stir in your sweetener or sugar (or both) and stir.
- Once combined pour into a large pitcher or two large pitchers depending on what you have available. I used two, one litre pitchers and poured two cups of the tea mixture into each.
- Top up with cold, fresh water and leave in the fridge to completely cool. I left the mix overnight.
- Once the mixture is ready, prepare your glasses by filling with lemon slices, mint leaves and lots of ice.
- Pour your tea mixture over and enjoy!
This recipe is best with 1 cup of sweetener. Whether that’s all sugar, or half in half like I used. I just wanted to use as little processed white sugar as possible.
I find the flavour actually changes and improves the more chilled the tea gets. Bitterness in tea is caused by overcooking and burning the tea leaves – that is why it is important not to boil the teabags and not to steep them too long in boiling water. To counter, a pinch of baking soda – only about 1/8 of a teaspoon – can be added to the hot, steeped tea after you remove the bags. It will not affect the taste of your tea, and provides insurance against bitterness.
If you live in Auckland, or are planning a visit then make sure you add Orleans to your list. It’s one of my favourite central city southern style restaurants with incredible iced tea.
It’s on my foodie bucket list to drink a glass of southern style iced tea during a balmy evening in Savannah, Georgia.