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Why You Need to Know How to Make Sweet Tea - if You Are Going to Make Sweet Tea

Updated on August 21, 2017
Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.

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Y'all think I'm kidding?

Want to know how to make authentic sweet tea for those humid, hot summer days we have about ninety left to look forward to before the first cool winds of Fall start blowing?

First thing: take off your shoes. You might as well. Drinking sweet tea makes them fall off anyway. It also makes you start tawking fahoney. You think I'm kidding? You'll see.

Second thing: forget about dieting. Sweet tea will do more damage to your garden variety diet than any other one thing I know. It's no doubt the two to one ratio between sugar and tea in this drink. It also probably has to do with the fact that the more you drink sweet tea, the more you sweat, resulting in more sweet tea being drunk. It will satisfy your thirst - there is no denying that. But it will also disproportionately increase your thirst. Vicious cycle.

Third thing: If you go to a restaurant that doesn't serve sweet tea, and they tell you they have provided sugar on the table - run - do not walk - to the nearest exit. (Especially if they announce it with a dash of disdain in their voice.) God knows what they put in their food if they don't know enough about cooking to know that sugar does not dissolve in cold liquid. I wouldn't trust them not to poison me with under cooked fish or vegetables they think don't need to be washed before they are eaten. It's a simple principle of physics. A professional cook should know these things. At the very least, ask them to bring you a cup of hot water, a tea bag and a glass of ice - then make your own - at the table - right in front of them. Maybe they'll learn something.

4. Never pour just made tea over ice. The world has limited resources, and this practice is an absolute waste of them. Put the pitcher in the fridge for at least thirty minutes. That's how long it takes to make tuna salad or deviled eggs anyway. Might as well be letting the tea cool while you do it. Then all that limited amount of ice on the planet won't go to waste. If a waiter or waitress brings you a half warm glass of tea with almost melted ice in it, politely ask for an additional glass of ice. By the time she/he gets back with it, the tea will be cool enough to pour over it. It'll be diluted but it will still be sweet, wet and cold - a darned sight better than plain water.

5. Finally, if someone sets a glass of sweet tea in front of you and it tastes bitter - it's instant. Order a Coke instead. If it tastes sour, it's set around too long and has gone bad. Ask how long until a fresh pitcher will be ready, but say "please." You're more than likely in the South where manners are a way of life.

Are there more important issues in life? Sure. World peace. Hunger. Homelessness. Disease. But it's summertime in the South. There's just not a whole lot that matters more than making sweet tea. Maybe owning a fly swatter is a close second. I'll have to think on it a while.




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    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 4 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      'Tis the season . . .

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 5 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      It's fixin' to be that time of year - again!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      A friend's daughter got married here and a lot of her friends came to GA from CA for the celebration. Many of them said they wanted to try our "sweet tea". I can't say if they liked it or not, but it was certainly a novelty to them.

      I spent four summers in "dry heat" ranging to 120 F. It was still HEAT!

      Thanks for your comments and enjoy your cup of tea!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      LOL very funny and well written.

      However, I must disagree with you whole-heartedly on the matter of sweet tea.

      I like my tea (whether hot or iced), strong, black, and unadulterated. In fact, when ordering hot tea in a restaurant where they bring the makings to the table, I've been known to let the tea steep so long and get so dark that the wait staff has tried to give me a coffee refill! ;-)

      And it can get pretty hot in our summers here in the California East Bay and central valley...but "it's a dry heat." LOL

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      pstraubie48 and moonlake: Thanks for the comments. It's hot and humid in Atlanta today. I need a glass (or two) of sweet tea. You know those two words go together - like cold beer!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 2 years ago from America

      I love to make sweet tea and when it's done and just cooled down to warm pour it over a glass of ice, so good. The warm from the tea and the ice taste so good. My husband loved sweet tea and he would drink it until it was gone, not me one day and I don’t want it anymore, I want fresh. Voted up

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      The fine wine of the South....yummmm. Love love love it. Angels are on the way. ps

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      To each his own. Never tried mixing black and green tea, but I've tried making both I think the green is lighter and more refreshing in the heat. Couldn't decide which was better for me, so I'm anxious to try the mix. Thanks for the idea!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I grew up in the Deep South, but never liked the taste of iced tea until I reached middle age--and then, only with lemon. Now I keep a gallon of brewed tea in the frig all the time. When brewing, I use half black tea and half green tea. The health benefits of tea are well documented, which is good because I drink a lot of it during hot weather. Instead of sweetening the steeped and diluted tea with sugar, however, I use SweetLeaf stevia liquid, which (to me) makes it taste perfect.

      Voted Up++

      Jaye

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      billd01603: Thanks for the read and the comment. Stay cool and have fun. This hub was one of my early ones. It's not evergreen but I think it's perrineal (?)!

    • billd01603 profile image

      billd01603 4 years ago from Worcester

      Hi Kathleen, Good well written Hub. If this weekend is any indication of how hot it's going to be this summer, we are going to need all the cold drinks we can get. Voted up and useful.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Cyndi10: Welcome to my hubs! Glad you liked this one and took the time to comment. Coke is real good, but in the dog days of summer there's nothing like sweet tea.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      Hi Kathleen, Great article on the number one drink of the South (second only to Coca Cola LOL, but that may just be Atlanta). Anyway, I loved your "run from the restaurant." So true. It's probably owned by someone who doesn't really know Southern cooking. Oddly enough, even though I've lived in the South all of my life, I never really liked sweetened tea until recently. Now, I make and drink it all the time, but even in the summer, I like it hot. Thanks for a good summer read.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      It can be a shock. I think it became such a staple of southern living because of two things: the humidity in the south (It can be like walking in bath water!) and all the fried food we used to eat (even vegetables!)

      But you do get hooked. Thanks for commenting and welcome to my hubs.

    • profile image

      PWalker281 5 years ago

      I had my first glass of authentic, southern sweet tea several years ago during the break at a bingo game at my daughter's grandmother's senior apartment building. I was living in Washington DC at the time and there are a lot of people from the South living in DC. In fact, DC is considered the South since it is below the Mason Dixon line.

      Let me tell you, when I took my first sip, I almost spit it out. I was shocked at how sweet it was. A drink you definitely need to sip. And yes, I drank all of it, it was so good!

      You've provided some great advice on how to make real, southern sweet tea. Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I live in a southern town with an old town square. There's a resturant right on the square that does not serve sweet tea. They give you the standard, "there's sweetener on the table." I think there should be a city ordinance that says if you are going to take up the space around an old southern town square, at least have the decency to serve sweet tea.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      So true! Once I was working at agift shop in Charleston, SC when s customer asked if we carried sweat tea. Her son told her she has to get some while in the South and she had no idea what it was - she assumed it was some type of souvenir!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Ha Ha this is "tew cewt". I really enjoyed this. I think I do actually remember seeing those big sugar containers on the table at a few local dives.You are right on with this one.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Sounds like perfection to me! Thanks for sharing.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 5 years ago from Brazil

      You have brought back wonderful memories. It has been so long since I have had iced tea. Living in the UK it was always a cup of hot tea. Now in tropical Brazil, I need to start making it again!

      I never use those artificial sweeteners they just don't taste as nice.

      Sweet tea and a hammock, a perfect combination.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Would somebody please answer this question for those of us who want our iced tea sweet?!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks for the reference and the read/comments.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great and timely Hub. You captured the flavor and nuances of the south perfectly. People who don't enjoy sweet tea don't know what they are missing. :)

      And why do restaurants serve unsweetened ice tea; nothing dissolves well in frigid water and certainly not sugar!

    • tapasrecipe profile image

      tapasrecipe 5 years ago from Spanish tapas land

      'Summertime and the living is easy' great hub.

      There is a wonderful version of that song by Angelique kidjo¨' my favourite out of the many cover versions. C

    • Field-Of-Flowers profile image

      Field-Of-Flowers 6 years ago from Midwest, USA

      I drink sweet ice tea all the time. Once in awhile I'll have a diet soda, but my choice is sweet ice tea! I use the equivalent to Equal that I get at either the Dollar Store or Aldi (it's much cheaper than paying for Equal). Thanks for a great hub and thanks for reminding me that I need a new flyswatter! LOL Have a great day! :-)

    • profile image

      Nancy Naigle 6 years ago

      You're on my page on this sweet tea thing...:) especially on the walk don't run away from the sugar packet sweetened tea...it is NOT the same.

      Hugs~

      Wishing you a sweet tea kind of day...the best kind.

      Nancy

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Sometimes I mix non-sweet half and half with sweet - but that's an easier fix than trying to make non-sweet sweet! Thanks for the comment!

    • preacherdon profile image

      preacherdon 6 years ago from Arkansas

      My sentiments exactly. Sugar doesn't melt well in cold tea. That's why I've accepted using Splenda or Equal. Never thought of asking for a separate glass of ice for tea. I usually just ask more ice for the glass I got. I did one time have to ask for a separate glass of water because the tea was too sweet. Go figure.