Monday, August 13, 2012

Pitcher Perfect Sweet Tea

Simple syrup sweetened iced tea - refreshing!

Pitcher Perfect Sweet Tea

Summers in the South mean high tea consumption and during this ever present heat wave these past few months, I've been going through ice as fast as kudzu growing on a hillside.

Since I don't have one of those fancy, schmancy Samsung 32 cubic foot refrigerators that I covet makes 10 pounds of ice in one day, I actually had to back up my ice maker with old fashioned ice trays. Ice trays? Remember those? Hey... I'm not above using ice trays at all y'all, but it is taking up valuable Popsicle space, so I needed a better solution!

Actually it's not that big of a step back for me to use ice trays, since I've really only had a refrigerator with an ice maker for a few years - and believe me when I say, it's the budget side of fridges. I don't like debt and I like to use things up and wear things out... what can I say.

Now first, it's not all that unusual to sweeten iced tea with simple syrup. While most folks use granulated sugar, or a sugar substitute these days, simple syrup has also been used by some folks for years. I had experimented with this for the watermelon tea I shared recently and decided to give it a try for my regular, everyday sweet tea. After multiple batches, I was sold. I gave up on artificial sweeteners a couple years ago, and agave and stevia just don't taste sweet to me, so I've gone back to cane sugar these days, and a simple syrup makes sense for me.

Instead of pouring the hot concentrate over ice and sugar, the tea bags are steeped directly in a very basic, boiled simple syrup, that is then left to cool a bit before being transferred to a pitcher, making it a perfect pitcher tea. Since the tea is poured over iced filled glasses, it seems to use less ice and the flavor and strength turned out spot on. If you're new to making southern iced tea, pop over to my original post for a few helpful tips.

And of course, y'all know how I feel about the tea itself.

Although I have used my tea concentrate for years, I have fallen in love with this method too. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Here's how to make it.

Recipe: Pitcher Perfect Sweet Tea

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive time: 20 min | Yield: 1/2 gallon (8 servings)

  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 5 or 6 individual Luzianne tea bags

Combine water and sugar in a large saucepan, whisk together and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add the tea bags, cover and steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags, let cool slightly, then pour into a half gallon pitcher. Do not add additional water or ice. Pour over ice filled glasses to serve.

Cook's Notes: Double for a gallon. You can also prepare the simple syrup in the microwave if you have a large enough lidded microwave safe container. Six teabags makes a more robust flavor; two family sized tea bags may be substituted.

Cane Sugar Sweet Iced Tea: Substitute turbinado 100% pure, raw cane sugar (like Sugar in the Raw brand) for the granulated sugar. It's my favorite sugar to use.

Sweet Tea Syrup Concentrate: Prepare simple syrup as above except use 3 cups each of water and sugar and increase tea bags to 10-12, depending on strength desired. Steep 15 minutes and let cool. Do not add ice or water. Refrigerate. Use 3/4 cup of the syrup (or to taste) to 6 cups of water to a make 1-1/2 quart pitcher. For individual glasses, fill with ice and top off with ice cold water, spooning in several tablespoons according to color and taste.


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Posted by on August 13, 2012
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