Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Southern Iced Tea

One of the things my "Mamaw" June was famous for was her iced tea. The tall Wexford glass, beaded with condensation, looked innocent enough but the elixir it held would put hair on your chest, as my dad would say. I know, a lovely image. She made it by the gallon in a pottery pitcher that had belonged to her mother-in-law and now belongs to me. In my minds eye I can see her measuring the loose tea leaves into her Corning Ware carafe to boil and steep for 20 minutes, then straining it into the pitcher to await the copious amounts of pure white sugar.
Anytime of day you could enjoy a glass of her tea whether you were her granddaughter there for the week or a neighbor dropping in for a visit on a steamy summer afternoon. No other drink signals summer for me like sweet tea. At my house we drink tea a few times a week and until this summer the secret of "real" tea eluded me. Unfortunately I can't remember the source but the secret is baking soda. I am pretty sure that Mamaw didn't use any baking soda because I watched her like a hawk whenever she cooked and nary a baking soda box was in sight. But considering that I don't have the magic touch, baking soda has come to the rescue.
In a kettle bring 3 cups of water to a good boil. Meanwhile place 3 quart size tea bags in a quart jar with a generous pinch of baking soda. Pour in the water and cover the jar. Steep for at least 15 minutes. Squeeze the tea bags really well and stir in sugar to taste. I have forsaken my southern heritage on the issue of sweet tea. A scant quarter of a cup is as sweet as I like it and I am sure Mamaw used at least a cup and a half in a pitcher of tea. It had a thickness to it, that is a bit much for me but I'm sure my kids would love it, especially the one who was drinking sugar from a glass. Anyway, stir in your sugar and add the tea to a pitcher, preferably a glass one and pour in 3 cups of cold water. Serve over lots of ice in a tall glass. By the way, I am loving chilling my tea in the vintage carafe shown above. A thrift store find, it makes me happy!

1 comment:

Kristin said...

I'll have to do this and make my husband happy. He loves tea.