Homemade iced tea is my go-to when I want a refreshing drink on a warm day, but if I’m craving something saccharine and a little more fun, a sweet tea always hits the spot. But with all that sugar, I usually don’t want to drink more than a glass. So, you can imagine how happy I was to come across a way to make a single serving of delicious sweet tea!
This classic beverage, which is a staple in the South, gets its rich brown color and bold flavor from black tea, and again, it calls for a lot of sugar. Although the amount used will vary from state to state, according to Food Network, regions of the South that are further west believe the sweeter the tea the better.
With Lifehacker‘s handy tips, it’s easy to recreate a single serving of sweet tea that has the traditional taste. First, bring a cup of water to a boil on the stove on high heat, then pour the water into a glass measuring cup (Buy at Walmart, $11.25) and let it cool for just about 10 seconds so that the intense heat won’t burn the tea or prevent it from releasing all of its fragrant aroma.
Now, it’s time for the tea! According to Claire Lower, Lifehacker’s senior food editor, there’s only one tea you should use for this sweet elixir: cheap black tea. “There are some fancy black teas that taste better when brewed at lower temperatures, but sweet tea is not made with fancy tea,” she explains. “Get the cheap stuff — you’re going to be obscuring any delicate, nuanced flavors with lots of sugar, anyway.”
Next, add two tea bags to the water and let them steep for four minutes. According to Lower, using two bags instead of one gives the tea a more intense flavor in a short time rather than letting it steep longer, which can leave it with a bitter, over-extracted taste. After the bags are done infusing, fish them out and add your desired amount of sugar until it completely dissolves in the hot liquid. Although it might not be traditional for sweet tea recipes, you can totally use sugar substitutes like stevia to get that sweet flavor, too.
While trying out this recipe myself, I went with two tablespoons of sugar for just enough sweetness without being too overpowering. Then, I poured the sugary tea mixture into a large drinking glass, like a 16 to 17 ounce mason jar (Buy on Amazon, $13.99) — which is my personal favorite for sipping iced tea or lemonade. I stirred in one cup of room temperature water to dilute the tea and cool it down gradually so that the ice doesn’t melt all at once when added to the drink (you don’t want to “shock” the tea).
I let the liquid sit for about three to four minutes before I plopped in a handful of ice cubes along with a slice of lemon for a bit of fruity tartness. I found this drink to have a really great balance of flavors between the sugar, the richness of the black tea, and lemon to brighten things up. Overall, I enjoyed making this version of sweet tea because it came together really quickly and quenched my sugary drink craving with just one glass.
You’re definitely going to want to keep this recipe in your back pocket as the temperatures continue to climb and the days call for lounging in the patio with a cool drink in hand!
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