I’m tackling my taxes today, so my sister, Jennifer, is here with her recipe for sweet tea. It’s good with everything, including front porches.–Rebecca

By Jennifer Rather.

Southern cuisine is known by its staples. We have to have garden fresh vegetables, fried chicken, hot biscuits and fruit pies. There is no fear of a fryer or a raw tomato. We appreciate slow-cooked foods that take hours to fix and the simple ingredients that make them. And we wash it all down with gallons of Sweet Tea.

Sweet tea is a beverage that is too strong, too sweet, too everything – and it’s wonderful.

Unsweet is an abomination, and if you insist on that self-inflicted torture, I can’t help you. You should try some sweet tea and be better to yourself.
Every Southern momma has her own recipe for the sweet dark amber that quenches any thirst. I grew up on my momma’s, so that’s the recipe I use, and luckily it is fool-proof. As long as you have a microwave and a 2-quart pitcher, you can make this tea. Just microwave your tea bags in four cups of water, let the tea steep for a few minutes, stir in your sugar, and add four cups of cold water. I like to add lemon juice, but that’s entirely up to you.

Now, amongst Southerners there is a slight debate about which brand of tea reigns supreme: Luzianne or Lipton. I use Luzianne. If you can find it, get it. (If not, you can use Lipton, but you might taste a slight bit of defeat.)

Also, and this is important, the best time to drink sweet tea is immediately. You must take a tall glass, fill it full with ice, and pour the hot tea over it. Now, take a drink. The hot tea swirling around the ice makes a mixture like none other. That is the Sweet Tea Experience. It will still be good when it’s cooled off in the fridge, but there is something about that first drink and the hot-cold sensation.

You’ve got to try it.

Momma’s Sweet Tea

From Jennifer Rather (Ezra Pound Cake)

  • 3 family-size bags of Luzianne tea
  • 8 cups water, divided
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, halved
  1. Measure 4 cups of water into a large microwave safe measuring cup.
  2. Place tea bags in water, and microwave for 5 minutes.
  3. Let it sit and steep for 2 minutes. Remove tea bags.
  4. Pour tea into a 2-quart pitcher, and add sugar. Stir to dissolve.
  5. Add remaining 4 cups cold water and the juice of half a lemon (or to taste).
  6. Slice remaining lemon half into wedges, and serve with tea.