The Southern Staple: Iced Tea
So like any good southern woman, I know the beauty of a good 'ole glass of sweet tea. There is nothing that makes me instantly calm down, feel the fun of my youth and let out a satisfying "ahhh" quite like the perfect blend of sugar and tea. Some people take Xanax, me, I go straight for the Luzianne. To me, sweat tea, Arnold Palmers and any other iced tea based concoction just screams summer so I decided I'd share with you the Sims Family Sweet Tea Recipe. My Mother will probably kill me but here' goes...
First off: one thing is for certain. I believe that the perfect iced tea starts with Luzianne brand. Period.
As for the sweetener, it's really all about personal preference. I used to use a cup of sugar for this recipe, then I switched to making my tea completely unsweetened and using Splenda by the glass. That just didn't cut it. When I went back to using regular granulated sugar, I found a cup to be too sweet for me. Eventually I reduced that cup of sugar to 3/4 cup, then 2/3 cup and now I find about 1/2 cup of sugar for the whole pitcher works pretty good for me.
Once you have your sweet tooth/granulated sugar ratio soloved proceed onward:
5 to 7 individual Luzianne brand tea bags
1 quart of cool filtered water
1 4-cup glass Pyrex measuring cup for steeping
2 quart glass pitcher filled with ice
1 to 1-1/2 cups of sugar, more or less to taste (see above for the sweet tooth quotient)
Grab a pot and pour in one quart of cool filtered or bottled water, bringing to a full, rolling boil. For a milder tea, use 5 bags; for a more robust tea, go with 7. Spin the tea bags together so all the strings wrap together and set them inside a 4-cup glass Pyrex measuring cup with the tags hanging on the outside. Pour boiling water into the container and dip the tea bags in and out to begin releasing the tea leaves. Stick a plate on top and set the timer for exactly 9 minutes for a full bodied tea, 5 minutes or less if you prefer a lighter version. Let the tea bags steep. Do not go longer than 9 minutes or you risk burning your tea leaves and will end up with a bitter tea.
I almost always do 5 teabags, steeped for 5 minutes, sweetened with 1 cup of sugar, and that's a most excellent glass of iced tea!
After the steeping time is up, take a wooden spoon and press the tea bags up against the side of the Pyrex cup and toss the tea bags into your compost pot. For insurance against bitterness you can add just a pinch of baking soda - no more than 1/8 teaspoon - to the steeped tea. It will not affect the flavor, but will take away bitterness if you happened to have burned your tea leaves.
Fill your glass pitcher with ice, pour the sugar on top of the ice and slowly and carefully pour the hot, steaming tea over the ice. If you prefer a sweeter tea, go with 1-1/2 cups of sugar. Don’t pour hot tea directly into a glass pitcher without ice in it!! To conserve your ice and use it per glass, fill the 1/2 gallon pitcher with 1-1/2 quarts of water instead of ice, and top with the steeped tea.
Stir well and serve in a glass, preferably a crystal glass, over even more ice, garnish with a sprig of mint leaves and a nice juicy slice of lemon. Savor.