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Southern Eats

All About Ice Tea

You can't serve Southern food without serving the "house wine of the South", Ice Tea. While this fresh-brewed beverage is usually available at most restaurants in the US, either sweetened and/or unsweetened, it almost doesn't exist in Canadian restaurants other than canned or powdered mix. I usually solve this problem by ordering hot tea and a big glass of ice and get a lot of strange looks. At home you can solve this problem by making your own, which is extremely easy and tastes so much better than the canned stuff or powder mix.

In the South you usually buy your ice tea in 1 quart family size bags rather than the 1 cup small bags, but you may not be able to find these in other parts of the country. There are also special blends for ice tea that help prevent clouding, but you can still use regular orange pekoe tea and it will still taste just as good. When I can get it, my favorite brand is Luzianne but Lipton or Tetley are fine too. I usually make mine with a no-boil method, but I will also give you the boiling method farther down.

These instructions are for a 1 gallon pitcher, so cut down if you use a smaller pitcher. Fill the pitcher with hot tap water, put in 3 quart size tea bags or 12 individual size bags (if you are in Canada, the bags are usually stronger so cut this to 8 individual bags). If you want it unsweet, just let it sit for about an hour then put it in the refridgerator to chill. If you want it sweetened, but not with sugar, add 13 one grain sacharrin tablets while the water is hot and stir. This is what I use and it gives just the right amount of sweetness. If you prefer to use sugar, start with 1 cup and taste to see if this is sweet enough for your taste. Add more if necessary. You can serve this after an hour of steeping over ice or chill and serve without ice.

If you prefer to get you tea ready quicker, in a 3 quart sauce pan bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add in the 3 quart size tea bags (or 12 individual size bags) and let simmer for a minute. Pour this in your 1 gallon pitcher and add your choice of sweetener as above. After that is dissolved, top up with cold water and serve over ice.

And just to add a PS about ice. In the South, you fill the glass up with ice first then pour the drink over it. I am constantly having to ask for extra ice up here in Canada as they tend to put about 2 or 3 small cubes of ice only which just isn't enough for my taste. Just remember that if you ever travel up here so you don't wind up with a warm drink!

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