Southern Iced Tea –


Everyone in the South grew up drinking iced tea. Sweet iced tea. There was no other kind. Everyone had it in their homes and the restaurants had it. It was strong and sweet and cold and refreshing. You can’t get it anymore unless you make it yourself. There was nothing instant or artificial about it. Even the “Country Southern” restaurants are using instant stuff now. If you have sun tea, custom tea, hippie tea, herbal tea, English tea, or any other they may be good, but they are not Southern Iced Tea. Southern Iced Tea is the real deal. The only point of disagreement among the various tea making artists was tea brand. There were 3 main ones that I remember. Lipton, Tetley, and Luzianne. We were a Luzianne family. It is still the best as far as I am concerned. Lipton and Tetley are good, but will get bitter if over brewed, to my taste. On the other hand, there were just as many, if not more, that preferred one of the others. Try them all, choose your own.

We also used either metal or glass to brew tea. Never use plastic. I can remember when Tupperware swept through the South, maybe the mid-50s or so. There were many things that it was good for. Brewing tea is not one of them. Tastes funky. My family used an old pot with no handle to brew the stuff. Aluminum, I think.

This is the simplest stuff in the world, just remember 3-2-1. Three family size tea bags. 2 cups of water. One cup of sugar. Yeah, that’s a lot of sugar. Your food nazi will not like it. No, you can’t substitute anything else and get the taste. Yes, you have to add it while the brew is hot. You can’t add it later and get the same taste. Not possible. This stuff was consumed by people who worked hard. They did not need to worry about calories or diabetes. They were plumb skinny from hard work. Anyway, boil the water, steep the bags. Remove the bags when they have yielded a strong rich brew but before it gets bitter. Good Southern iced tea is never bitter. Looks like a rich reddish umber to me. Stir in the sugar, making sure it dissolves completely, while the brew is still hot. Let the brew cool to room temperature, you don’t want to melt the ice and get a weak drink.

There were some practitioners that added just a pinch of baking soda. I never could tell that it made that much difference. If you want to try it – go right ahead.


8 Responses to “Southern Iced Tea –”

  1. missysue Says:

    Oh my gosh I remeber my mom making sweet tea. I lived in Kentucky when I grew up. And now I am in Illinois, haven’t had it in so long.

  2. turtlemom3 Says:

    Herself sez We were a Lipton family, but after trying Luzianne, I became a convert! If you can’t find “family size” bags, the formula goes 6-2-1. Six bags of tea, 2 cups of water, 1 cup sugar.

    My grandmother would use 12 bags of tea to 2 cups of water and NO sugar to make a really strong tea “starter.” She would pour about 1/3 glass of this evil stuff in a glass, stir in about 1/3 glass simple syrup, add some ice and fill up the rest of the way with water. Worked for crowds. I learned to do it that way. But I liked the Ol’ Curmudgeon’s way better. For a while.

    Now, I use one of those Mr. Coffee Iced Tea makers – works GREAT! Follow the directions the first time, then tweak for strength and sweetness. I use 6 or 8 of the family size tea bags and 2 cups of sugar. No ice. After the brewing is about 1/2 done, I let the water go on through and add more water to the tank. Let that second tank of water “brew” some extra time, then let it go through. Stir like crazy to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, pour over lots of ice in a 2 gallon pitcher. Tasty!

  3. Andreas Says:

    I remember patronizing a restaurant in the Buckhead area… I think it was in the mall complex where I worked, over on Peachtree. I ordered “unsweetened” tea. When it came to the table, I tasted it, and commented to the waitress, “Hey! This is ‘sweet’ tea. I asked for ‘unsweetened’ tea!”

    She replied, “It only comes ONE WAY here in Jawjah! And that’s sweet. If you want ‘unsweetened’ tea, then move back to Texas where you came from!”

    I did. 😉

  4. Andreas Says:

    I will have to add a postscript though…

    Since I moved ‘back to Texas’ where I “came from” I have, nonetheless, learned to drink tea with sugar in it. 😀

  5. mtriggs Says:

    Herself sez About time you learned to drink the “Official Drink of the Confed’rucy.”

  6. Andreas Says:

    Yes… if I remember correctly, The Republic of Texas was part of the Confedrucy at one time.

    I wonder if the Texicans knew how to drink “real” tea?

  7. mtriggs Says:

    Herself sez Of course they did! Most Texicans of the time came from the Deep South – remember your history! GTT – Gone To Texas!

  8. herbal tea Says:

    We sweeten tea ‘up nort’ here in the midwest (ya der hey) but nothing like what they do in the south. My husband went to Mississippi in 2005 to help with Hurricane Katrina vicitms, and first tried the stuff. He still rants and raves about it today! He tried to make it for me one time, but it just tasted like the tea I usually make. Guess you gotta be southern in order to make it right.

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