Cost: less than $1.50
Materials: jug/pitcher, tea bags, lemons and sugar (optional)
I’d never heard the term “Sweet Tea” until I moved to the South. I knew it as “Iced Tea” and you could have it sweetened or unsweetened. Now if I want it unsweetened, I order “Unsweet Tea.” The difference is subtle but apparent. Here, the default is Sweet Tea. If you don’t want it sweetened, you have to modify that default and ask for Un-Sweet Tea, the seeming antithesis of the basic Sweet Tea. If, however, your default is Iced Tea, there is no inherent level of sweetness associated with the tea. Sweetened or unsweetened, either way it’s Iced Tea. I still feel kind of high-maintenance and prissy when I order Unsweet Tea, though I know I shouldn’t. Cold tea is cold tea and it’s delicious sweetened or not. And so I now present to you a simple way to make it without even turning on the oven.
Step 1: Place 2-4 tea bags into a jug or pitcher (it’s best to use one with a lid since the tea will eventually be sitting outside). You can use any type of tea but dark ones will brew faster.
Step 2: If desired, cut up a lemon, squeeze the juice into the pitcher, and place juiced lemon slices into pitcher with tea bags. If desired, sugar, sweetener or honey can be added (here’s where you get to decide if you’re in the sweet tea or iced tea camp). If you want to get really creative, you can make your own flavored simple syrups and add these. Just heat equal parts sugar and water until sugar is totally dissolved. While heating, add fruits, juices, lavender, mint or whatever you might like your tea to taste like. When all sugar is dissolved, let cool and strain through a sieve before adding to your tea.
Step 3: Pour about 1.5 quarts of warm water into the pitcher.
Step 4: Place in sun and let sit for at least 5 hours. If sun isn’t strong, it will need to sit longer.
Step 4: Pour over ice, drink and enjoy.