How To Make Sweet Tea

I grew up in Southern Illinois, which is “northern” by sweet tea standards. When I moved to Atlanta, I had to get used to southern sweet tea, and eventually grew to love the crunchy-sweet concoction given in southern restaurants. Eventually, it had been a decade since I’d had sweet tea any other way.

I started trying to learn how to make it at home, trying all kinds of sweeteners from honey to maple syrup. I tried various production methods from adding the sugar to the finished tea to starting with a simple syrup. Nothing came out tasting right.

Finally, one day I gave up and just made sweet tea the way my mother did when I was a child. It was perfect. As much as a drink can do so, it was like coming home. A decade of southern sweet tea hadn’t erased the fact that this was how I wanted my tea.

Here’s the recipe:

I start with a family size Luzianne or Lipton ice tea bag in water in a measuring cup, but you can use a bowl if you don’t have a 4 cup measuring cup.

1 tea bag

4 cups of water

Microwave 4 minutes

Let sit 4 minutes

Add 1/4 cup sugar

Add 4 cups plain water to the pitcher

Add tea

Put ice in your glass

Drink and enjoy!

I think of it as 4-4-4-4-4 tea – it’s so easy to remember the amounts. Looking back on it, I think my mother might have done the microwave part using just 2 cups and then adding more plain water, and sometimes I only add 3 cups of plain water at the end. But, 4-4-4-4-4 is easy to remember, and that’s what I keep in my mind.

There are so many different ways to make iced tea! If you try this one, let me know how you like it, or share your recipe in the comments.

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