You'd think, being born in Georgia, with a mom with a Southern accent, growing up with tea in the fridge for as long as I can remember, that I'd be able to make the stuff. Everyone can do it, can't they?
Well, I tried a couple times, and was horrible disappointed. The tea came out cloudy, or too strong, or 'wrong' in one way or another. Finally, I gave up. I mentioned my difficulty to a few Southerners, and they all gave me advice on how to get the perfect pitcher of tea, but nothing seemed to work. The Family-Sized tea bags just sat in my pantry unused.
Well, I was particularly experimental this weekend, and I decided to give it another try. And, lo and behold, it worked! An amber, sparkling pitcher on tea! Here's what I did:
Sweet tea, Joanna-style
1 Family-sized tea bag
1 normal-sized green tea bag (I used jasmine green tea)
1/2 C sugar
Run the water from the faucet until it is as hot as it will get (which at my house is steaming hot). Steep the tea bags in 4 cups hot water for 30 minutes. pour into a pitcher. Fill the pitcher the rest of the way with cold water. Add sugar and stir. Refrigerate before serving.
The jasmine tea gave it a particularly good, unexpected flavor- that part of the trick I learned from my mom. The bit about using hot tap water rather than boiling water came from my aunt, and my friend's recipe accounted for the rest of the details.
I'm still embarrassed it took me this long to figure this out.