June is National Iced Tea Month.
In the South, every month is Sweet Tea Month. Sweet tea is also known as the “white wine of the south” We serve it with every meal, no matter what the season. Our babies have it in their bottles and sippy cups.
When serving as food stylist for The Help, I was asked to prepare some Southern dishes for several Dreamworks executives who were coming to Greenwood in preparation for the movie’s filming. One special request made was for slushy iced tea – a favorite from Tate Taylor’s childhood. The property master told me what she needed for me to prepare. I had no earthly idea what slushy iced tea was, but I had decided early on that I would just say I could do whatever they needed and worry about how to do it when I got home.
I remembered having a recipe for a Vodka Slush, but knew that it never froze all the way because of the alcohol. I decided to prepare a recipe of sweet tea with lemon and freeze it in a Ziploc bag. I took it out and timed how long it took for the tea to thaw and become slushy. They loved it and Tate said it was just like he remembered from his childhood – Whew, dodged a bullet there!
I prepared a luncheon for a dozen visitors on set from Los Angeles. When asked how much sugar I put in a gallon of tea, my reply was about two cups. I was quickly told that no one in LA had consumed a cup of sugar in the last 10 years! I prepared both sweet tea and unsweetened tea for the guests. The sweet tea was gone in a heartbeat. If you build it, they will come. If you sweeten it, they will drink.
After several years of visiting my sister in San Francisco, I finally learned not to ask for sweet tea. They look at you like you have 4 heads. I just opened the sugar packets and tried to make my own sweet tea. It never quite tasted the same.
Hope you enjoy these tea recipes on these hot summer days. Thanks for reading.
SOUTHERN SWEET TEA
8 cup water, divided
2 family size tea bags
2 cups sugar
Garnish: fresh mint and lemon slices
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil; remove from heat and add tea bags. Cover and steep for about 30 minutes. Add sugar to warm tea mixture and stir until dissolved. Add remaining water and chill. Serve over ice with mint and lemon slices.
APRICOT NECTAR TEA
6 family size tea bags
2 sprigs mint
1 cup sugar
1 (12 oz.) can frozen lemonade, thawed
4 (11 oz.) cans apricot nectar
1 tsp. almond extract
Bring 4 cups water to a rolling boil; add tea bags and mint. Cover and steep for 15 minutes; remove tea bags and mint. Stir in sugar to dissolve; add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into a gallon container and fill with water to make a gallon. Chill and garnish with mint.
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
4 family size tea bags
2 cups orange juice
1 cup lemon juice
Simmer water and sugar for 10 minutes; remove from heat. Add tea bags and steep for 20 minutes. Pour into a gallon container and add orange and lemon juices. Fill with water to make a gallon.
Garnish with lemon and orange slices.