My grandpa was the tea-maker in my family. He would always have the tea ready when grandma’s rolls came out of the oven. Lipton was the brand of choice. I remember staring at the microwave and watching the water in the clear measuring container bubble in a murky sea of brown. Lines were cast over the side of the clear glass, but there was no hope. The little bags of tea were goners. They were tossed overboard, and the brew was combined with a mountain of sugar, stirred together with an ingenious angled spoon that my grandfather invented to ensure full mixing power. He then added water and carried the pitcher to the end of the island with a little bowl of lemons. I never remember drinking water at my grandmother’s house, only iced tea. As a child, I was convinced that the mixture of sweet tea in my body and sweating on a hot summer night (or hot winter night) attracted mosquitoes. Now, I usually drink two glasses, one for me, and one for the mosquitoes.
Recipe: Makes 3 Quarts of Sweet Tea
4 family-sized tea bags (regular or decaf)
1 cup of sugar
Lemon slices and fresh mint (optional)
Combine 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. *
Place the tea bags in a pitcher with 3 quarts of water. Let steep for 30 minutes or until desired potency. When taking the tea bags out, do not press the bags against the pitcher. Whenever the tea bags are pressed, it leaves the tea with a little bit of bitterness. Add the simple syrup to the tea. Stir to combine. Serve over ice with lemons and mint.
*Note: if you like the taste of mint but not having pieces of mint floating around in your tea, add the fresh mint to the simple syrup and let steep for 5 or so minutes then discard. This will give you that fresh taste without having to chew on the mint if that’s more of your cup of tea!