So, you want to learn how to make sweet tea? Lucky for you, we at Sweet Tea Junkie know a thing or two about making this most amazing beverage and thus have decided to devote some time to show you the fine art of brewing up the drink that is uniquely “The South.” Before we get started with a few sweet tea recipes allow me to show you through a brief history of sweet tea and explain why it is that this very simple drink is so celebrated.
First, tea itself is a drink that traces its roots back thousands of years, and by most estimations is the second most popular drink in the world after of course water. Sweet Tea is quite a bit newer as the earliest mention goes back to 1879 where the first known recipe was published in a book called Housekeeping in Old Virginia. The book was written by Marion Cabell Tyree (1826-1912), who was the last surviving granddaughter of American Patriot Patrick Henry and included everything from recipes to how-to’s around the house. Original copies of the book still exist but are naturally quite expensive, reprints are available and are easy to come by and actually fairly cheap on places like Amazon. If you prefer digital (ie. free) I’ve been able to find a PDF version available online. I highly recommend checking this book out if not just for the historical value of it, what a great window to the past.
If you’ve ever made your own Sweet Tea you know how easy, and cheap it is to brew and how it sits just right poured over ice. In the late 1800’s however, iced Sweet Tea was considered a luxury drink, and was actually fairly expensive to make. The reason being that the ingredients (tea, sugar, ice), especially the ice was hard to come by and usually had to be shipped in from great distances, they didn’t have fridges with ice makers in every home back then!
The idea of “Iced Tea” most likely gained popularity during the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair (even though ice was still somewhat expensive at this time). It is said that Richard Blechynden, a tea plantation owner planned to give away free samples of his hot tea to fair goers. Since I wasn’t actually at the 1904 Worlds Fair in St. Louis I can only trust the accounts of the summer heat being unbearable, which led to Mr. Blechynden’s hot tea idea being a big flop. Ever the entrepreneur Blechynden decided to throw some ice in his tea, cooling it to a nice chilly temperature that as the history books say helped to solidify Iced Tea’s popularity as it was a huge hit. To be fair (get it.. fair? ehh) there are mentions of Iced Tea years before Mr. Blechynden, in fact 880 gallons were served to a large group of ex-Confederate troops during a 1890 reunion in Missouri. As ice became cheaper, and more widely available so did the popularity of Iced Tea.
Now that you have a brief history of where Sweet Tea came from, and why we drink it iced I would like to share with you a few of our favorite recipes. Some have been sent to us by our friends from all over, others you’ll find printed right inside our line of fresh brewed Sweet tea shirts, and a few more are just some great recipes we’ve found around the internet. Try them, and let us know what your favorites are. Hey, if you have a recipe that you feel has to be shared send it over, and if we love it you may have your name printed along with the recipe inside one of our upcoming tea shirts!
The first Sweet Tea recipe EVER (by Mrs. S.T [Samuel Tyree] aka Marion Cabell Tyree)
After scalding the teapot, put into it one quart of boiling water and two teaspoonfuls green tea. If wanted for supper, do this at breakfast. At dinner time, strain, without stirring, through a tea-strainer into a pitcher. Let it stand till tea time then pour into decanters, leaving the sediment in the bottom of the pitcher. Fill the goblets with ice, put two teaspoonfuls granulated sugar in each, and pour the tea over the ice and sugar. A squeeze of lemon will make this delicious and healthful, as it will correct the astringent tendency. -Mrs. S.T.
Sweet Tea with no Dregs (by A Nest for All Seasons blog) If you want a visual, step by step of the entire process of how to make sweet tea this is one of the best.
C’s Sweet Green Tea (by Cricket Shanney)
5 tea bags
2 tbsp fresh ginger (approx), sliced
2 lemons, sliced
1 quarts boiling water
1 c sugar
1/2 c honey
Boil water in a pot on the stove. Add the tea bags and ginger and let steep. Add sugar and honey and stir to dissolve. Add 1/2 of the sliced lemon. Remove the tea bags and refrigerate until chilled. Add mint and the rest of the lemon. Serve over ice.
Family Recipe (by Lindsey Croft)
3 family sized tea bags
2 liter pitcher
1 quart pot
1 cup of sugar
Fill the 1 quart pot with water, and add the 1 cup of sugar. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes remove from heat, add the tea bags and let sit for a least 2 hours (the longer the better). After at least 2 hours empty the syrup into a 2 liter pitcher and fill the remainder with ice-cold water. The secret is to create the syrup, instead of mixing in the sugar dry. Enjoy!
Mango Sweet Tea
6 high quality tea bags
2 cups mango nectar
1.5 quarts cold water
1 thinly sliced fresh mango
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
Bring your water to a boil, once boiling turn off the heat, add tea bags and steep until the water turns dark (approx. 5 minutes). Remove tea bags, add mango nectar, and sugar (to taste). Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Put tea in a pitcher and add mint leaves. Pour over ice, garnish with mango slices and enjoy!
Do you feel like after reading this page that you’ve got the skills to answer the question, how to make sweet tea? It’s really a simple process, but as shown above there are many ways of going about it. I want to hear from you after you’ve tried any of the above recipes, are they great or not so much?
Note: Featured Image at the top of this post are used by permission of Allenaim Photography, you can find them and their amazing work at: http://www.allenaim.com