Friday, July 13, 2012

Recipe: Summer Sweet Tea

This is one of those recipes that’s really not a recipe. I often find myself stumbling upon posts like this on other blogs and saying “why did you bother writing that out, doesn’t everyone know how to make that?” Well, after expressing that opinion, I’ve learned that no, not everyone knows how to make simple syrup or perhaps coffee ice cubes. So, in the spirit of all things obvious (but still necessary), I wanted to share with you my way of making sweet tea - which, if you ask me, is the perfect summer drink.

I’ve always been a fan of iced tea - my family could be the spokes family for the Rutter’s Dairy brand, I used to frequent McDonald’s to only purchase a $1 large sweet tea (since I’m allergic to everything else they offer), and I probably go through half a gallon of my own home brewed tea daily.

As I’m currently living with a limited income and budget, instead of heading to the grocery store for another container of Gold Peak Sweet Tea, I raided the pantry where I knew I had a box of decaffeinated black tea bags. (Another advantage to brewing my own tea at home is that I can avoid the caffeine. You know, doctors orders.) In an attempt to cut out refined sugars, I used Stevia in the Raw to make my tea but you can use regular sugar, or even Splenda - they all measure cup for cup. After some experimenting, this is the method that I find works best for me.

  • Bring two cups of water to a rapid boil.
  • In the mean time, take six tea bags and remove the paper tags and strings.
  • After the water comes to a boil, shut off the heat and allow the water to stop boiling before adding tea bags - if you add bags to the water while it’s boiling, your tea may have a bitterness to it.
  • Allow the tea bags to seep for 10 - 15 minutes, depending on your preference. (I like my tea strong.)
  • After the time passes, use a fork to remove the tea bags.
  • Add 3/4 cup of stevia, sugar or Splenda and mix until dissolved.
  • Pour the concentrated tea into your favorite pitcher (I actually recycle an old Gold Peak bottle!) and add five cups of cold water - I find that cold water works better than ice for exact measurements. 
  • Then, take a minute to mix your iced tea (or if using a bottle with a lid - just shake it), pour over a glass of ice and enjoy!

The best part of this recipe and the real reason I wanted to share it was to show you just much money you can save my making your own iced tea. This recipe only requires two ingredients - tea bags and sweetener. For my preparation, I purchased a box of 72 cup size Lipton Decaffeinated Tea Bags and a 9.7oz bag of Stevia in the Raw (which is the equivalent in sweetness to 5lb of sugar.) At my local grocery store, which here in Montana is Albertson’s, these two products cost me $4.95 and $7.95, respectively. (This recipe is even more affordable if you use sugar!) With those size packages, I was able to make twelve servings of this recipe. Considering that an equally-sized bottle of Gold Peak Sweet Tea is nearly $4, this recipe has saved me approximately $35! 

If you want to make your iced tea even more summery, feel free to add your own flavors such as mint leaves, honey, fresh chamomile, juice from fresh local berries (concentrated juices are okay, too!) or fresh squeezed citrus fruits like lemons or oranges! You can also make iced tea into the perfect summer party drink by adding a few shots of a light rum (Martha Stewart would suggest Bacardi 151). If using for a special occasion, I definitely recommend a pretty display - perhaps with mason jars as glasses - or you can simply decorate the glasses you already have with citrus slices, fresh sprigs of mint and classic striped paper straws in summer colors.

Not only is this recipe for the perfect summer drink, it’s also a great money saver (which is perfect when you’re trying to host guests) - and most importantly of all, it’s almost as simple as picking up a container of iced tea at the grocery store!

1 comment: