Thursday, May 31, 2012

Recipe: Sun Brewed Sweet Tea

In the Beaber family, when summer arrives, so does sweet tea. 

I grew up sipping chilly glasses of sweet tea on hot Sunday afternoons at my Grandma's house over her delicious lunches.  Fried chicken, baked beans, corn on the cob, homemade dinner rolls, peach pie, and sweet tea.  Mmmm, mmmm, mmm. 
Does it get any more perfect than that?

Although I cannot make my Grandma's fried chicken or her dinner rolls, I can make sun tea. 
However, since Ggrandma was an Alabama girl, we've had to cut back on the sweet a little bit.
I don't know how the southerners do it, must be why they are all so kind and gentle, they are filled to the brim with sugar!  Real southern sweet tea is so thick with sugar you can practically stand a spoon up in a glass of it!
Here is how we make ours, an adaptation of grandma's that still tastes good, and reminds me of those sweet summer memories.

Get yourself a gallon sized glass jar.  This one was an old pickle jar from a restaurant. (don't worry, it doesn't taste like pickles anymore)
You also need to find yourself a good black tea.  I prefer Tetley or Tazo.  I like it nice and dark. I'm not a huge fan of Lipton's (gasp!).
Put 5 tea bags in your jar and fill it up with water.  I cheat a little and get a head start by using warm water.  On a really hot day this isn't necessary. 
After filling it up, put the lid on tight and take your jar outside.  You are going to want to place the jar in the sunniest spot on your deck.  The best tea sits outside steeping all day long in the hot, hot sun (no, I have no idea if this is healthy or safe, I don't really care, I can't think how it could be a problem though).  At the end of the day bring your jar back inside.  It will now be full of a dark, aromatic brew.  Now the next step is purely up to each individuals taste-buds.  I add a little less than a 1/2 a cup of sugar to this entire jar.  This makes the tea sweet, but not too sweet.  A real southern girl would probably put in a cup and a half.  I'm not sure I could choke that stuff down, but to each his own.  Always mix the sugar in while the tea is still warm. 
Have you ever tried to mix sugar into cold tea?  It doesn't work very well.
Now, you can pour yourself a drink over a full glass of ice or put it in the fridge and let it chill until tomorrow. 
Most importantly, make sure you pour yourself a glass the next time you are going to sit outside in the sun on a beautiful summer day. 
You can spend some time pondering your own family roots over a cup of refreshing sweet tea.

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