Southerners swear by their traditional Southern sweet tea and drink it by the gallons. In the Southern states, ice tea is not just a summertime drink, it is served year round with most meals and the sweet way is considered the only way to make and drink tea.
When people order tea in a Southern restaurant, chances are they will get iced sweet tea. Outside of the southern states, iced tea is served unsweetened or “black,” and most people have never even heard of the southern tea.
Andra Cook, a friend and co-author of my first cookbook, shared her personal recipe using a sugar substitute in place of some of the sugar. You will definitely love this sweet tea!
Did you know: It was at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis that iced tea was popularized and commercialized (not invented). Due to the hot summer of 1904, people ignored any hot drinks and went in search of cold drinks, including iced tea. Because of this, it changed the way the rest of Americans thought of tea, thus popularizing iced tea. Learn about the History of Ice Tea and Sweet Tea.
Also check out Andra’s Southern Sweet Tea.
- 5 cups water, divided
- 2 regular-size tea bags
- Pinch baking soda
- 2 (1 grain each) Saccharin tablets*
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups water, cold
- Ice cubes
Bring 3 cups water to a boil; remove from heat.
Add tea bags and baking soda; let steep 1 minute and then remove tea bags. Add remaining 2 cups water.
In a large pitcher, add saccharin tablets and sugar. Add warm tea and stir. Add additional 3 cups cold water and stir until well mixed.
Cool and serve in tall glasses over ice.
Yields 1/2 gallon.
When tea steeps, tannins (the natural compounds that color tea leaves) are released into the boiling water. The heat helps dissolve them, and the brew is clear enough to see through. Refrigeration can cause tannins to separate out again, turning the tea murky. Generally, higher-quality tea contains more tannins (because it is richer in solids) and is more likely to become cloudy.
Hard water can also make your iced tea cloudy. Also the minerals in your water could be causing the cloudiness. T ry using bottled or filtered water and let the tea stand at room temperature for an hour after steeping.
Do not use cold water (use room temperature water).
Do not add ice to hot tea, only add the ice cubes to your drinking glass and then pour the tea over the ice cubes.
Do not put it straight into the refrigerator after it's made. Let it cool at room temperature first. THEN put it in the refrigerator. Cooling too fast makes the tannin settle out, causing cloudy tea.
If the tea turns murky in the refrigerator, add a cup of boiling water to one quart of tea - it should clear up the cloudiness. Remember, it will also dilute the tea, so add less ice.
* A white crystalline powder having a taste about 500 times sweeter than cane sugar, used as a calorie-free sweetener.