It has come to my attention that not everyone out there is the sweet tea connoisseur that I like to think I am.. The notion first crossed my mind when friends used the term when we would go out to eat and I would ask the waiter/waitress a series of questions before ordering my drink that goes something like this;
Do y'all have sweet tea?
Is it good?
Are you sure?
It is only once these questions have been answered sufficiently that I ask the following;
Do y'all make it here or buy it?
How old is it?
Now, I know I'm starting to sound picky, and I understand I'm not exactly ordering fine wine here which is why the second set of questions has been dropped and I've prettymuch limited myself to the first two. As a general rule for sweet tea to qualify as 'good' the answers to these questions must be as follows:
Yes, we do
It's very good
Oh, yes, I drink it myself
We make it here, fresh
I just made a batch a little bit ago
9 times out of 10 this set of answers will guarantee a good glass of sweet tea, it's not an exact science though. If any of the answers are "I don't know I'll have to check" just order a Dr. Pepper, the one answer that has proven less than reliable is "I don't drink it but I hear it's good" that can really go either way, but never trust them when they say "We don't make it, it's [insert brand name here] but I like it", it's not good, trust me, order a Dr. Pepper. 'Now don't tell me how to order, I don't eat out much' or 'even if I do I still want tea at home', you say? Well don't worry I'm here for you, it has also come to my attention that people who don't live in the 'South' may not have access to good sweet tea, or ANY sweet tea for that matter. My best friend is one of these people that lives so far north that the only sweet tea available is McDonald's... I'm not going to go there, I'm not going to go there, I'm not going to go there... [I'm working on my self control here] McDonald's sweet tea does not count, it is not real! [fail, oh well] so to save the taste buds of all you northerners, my BFF included here is the best sweet tea you can get:
What a funny looking cup.. yes, I know, but it was the only clear glass I could find and I kinda like it, sorry, but glass is the often overlooked element to great sweet tea, so theres that..
I use Lipton, because its the best, simple as that.
You will need to boil, or bring close to boiling, about as much water as you want tea
While you're waiting for that to happen, put roughly 1/2 C sugar in the pitcher, a little more or a little less depending on your taste is fine, I usually go with a little more
put the pitcher in the sink and >carefully< pour the boiling water over the sugar, this will break down/dissolve the sugar almost immediately, you may have up to a cup of extra water to pour down the drain depending on how long you let it boil
Add 4 tea bags to the pitcher, if you get them good and soaked they will stick to the sides of the pitcher and you can leave it on the counter and forget about it while you check your email, Facebook or whatever your preferred method for killing time.
When the entire pitcher is one solid color, squeeze out the tea bags and throw them out, serve immediately over ice or move pitcher to the fridge, personally I think theres something really cool about having hot tea in a cold glass with ice. It should keep in the fridge for a couple days.