In South Africa, we drink hot tea even on the most scorching summer day. In California, it is customary to order iced tea and it is served refreshingly cold and unsweetened. I remember the first time I saw “iced tea” on a restaurant menu after arriving in the USA. I’d never heard of such a thing! I always drink my hot tea creamed with a few teaspoons of milk; so it made sense to me at the time to add milk to my glass of iced tea. Yuck!
The southern states in the USA have their own sweet take on iced tea. They sweeten it with massive amounts of sugar and appropriately call it “sweet tea”. For my taste and background, southern sweet tea is much too sweet and the large amounts of sugar does not appeal to me either. I like this recipe for sweet tea because it is not as sweet as most people serve it in the south, and the fresh mint and lemon make the tea extra refreshing.
A raving testimonial from a nine year old:
“The first time I had sweet tea was in North Carolina and I thought it was the best thing ever! I love it when I get mint in my cup and after I drink all the tea I devour the mint like it’s the cherry on top! I love to cut the mint fresh from the garden. Yummy! The sweet tea is worth drinking, you should try it.”
Sweet Iced Tea with Mint and Lemon
- 1/8 cup black tea leaves (or two large iced tea bags or 4 small tea bags)
- 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice (or honey)
- bunch mint leaves
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 gallon water
- 1/2 gallon pitcher
- Place the tea leaves in a glass or stainless steel bowl.
- If you have an electric kettle, pour 2 cups of boiling water over the tea leaves. Or you can boil the water and tea leaves on the stove in a small pot.
- Add the evaporated cane juice and stir to dissolve.
- Let it brew for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, half full the pitcher with cold water.
- Once the tea has brewed for 5 minutes, pour the hot tea into the pitcher of cold water. If you used loose tea leaves, be sure to use a strainer.
- Add more water until filled to the top and stir thoroughly.
- Add mint leaves to the pitcher and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
- When ready to serve, add slices of lemon for flavor and as a garnish.
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