I myself like tea but my commitment to coffee does not allow me to indulge my tea longings on a regular basis. I cannot afford to embrace another dehydrating caffeinated beverage. My kidneys just wont let me. I do drink tea on special occasions like my birthday, Sunday dinner, or when I go to out to lunch (which is rare). Because it is such a special treat, I rarely make it unless James T. Farmer is coming to our house for dinner. When he comes over I always like to have tea because tea is basically like his water...his alcoholic beverage...his COFFEE. He predictably passes up all other beverages for a glass of the "house wine" of the South.
Last time he came to our house for dinner (which was two weeks ago) I ran out of time to make sweet tea beforehand. Internally I felt terrible. How could I have let this get away from me...JAMES COMING FOR DINNER AND NO TEA. He called on his way...I don't remember exactly what he said, but he was basically calling to make sure I had tea because if I didn't he would have to swing by Publix to either a) buy tea making supplies or b) buy a jug already made. "No I don't have tea," I told him, "but I have all the stuff to make it. Come on over and brew up a pitcher yourself."
And what a blessing in disguise that was because I got to witness the tea connoisseur of all tea connoisseur make sweet tea. Let me tell you...it is quite a method...more that just boiling water, adding tea bags and a cup of sugar. It is a scientific process and every good Southerner needs to memorize this recipe or tattoo it on their hand....
It is the BEST sweet tea I've ever tasted!!!
Here's James, his recipe, and a word from him on one things he knows best...TEA....
How To Make Tea
I’m known for my tea. My teenage sister and her friends call it “Flower Tea” or “Fruit Loop Tea” and they’re right! I use one bag of Earl Grey with four bags of “normal” tea – that one bag infuses this steeped staple of the South with a bouquet of floral and fruit essence thus complementing an array of culinary delights! Tea, like wine and coffee, herald their flavors as mementos from the regions they were grown. Earl Grey is natural black tea with oil of Bergamot, which is oil derived from the Bergamot Orange, thus giving the fruity/floral hint my sister always mentions. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
- Bring 6-7 cups of water to a rolling boil.
- Add 4 bags of Lipton (or whatever brand you prefer) and 1 bag of Earl Grey (Bigelow) and remove from heat.
- Let the tea bags steep for about five minutes near the warm eye of the stove.
- Add 1-1½ cups of sugar to about 2-3 cups of water (I use a 1 to 2 ratio) and dissolve the sugar in the water over a medium low heat…remove immediately from heat once the sugar has dissolved and has become a somewhat clear syrup. If you bring it to a boil, you’ll have the makings for candy and not tea!
- Combine the steeped tea and simple syrup into a large pitcher or split between two half gallon pitchers. If you’re using a glass pitcher, be sure to have a metal knife or spoon to pour the tea over so the hot liquid won’t bust the glass…
- Fill the pot with the tea bags in it one more time with water and add it to the pitcher…you can add a bit more water if need be. Stir with a large knife or spoon. This should provide you with about 16 cups of tea or 1 US Gallon.
- Serve over ice (remember tea continues to steep or “get stronger” as it sits, so it’s weakest once it’s first made) and with wedges of lime. Enjoy!