I know a lot people refer to the Southern beverage of choice now as “sweet tea,” but in Alabama we just called it iced tea – and it was always sweet! Actually we didn’t even bother with the “d” at the end, we just said “ice tea”. And ice tea was simply a fact of life. You didn’t even have to ask what everyone wanted to drink. It was the final step before sitting down to weekday or Sunday dinner – putting ice in the glasses and pouring the tea.
My mother made tea every day in a blue speckled crock pitcher that now occupies a place of honor in my kitchen. She made strong tea, added sugar while it was hot and then water to make it the correct strength and to cool it down. It was always just right – the sugar was melted and the tea didn’t melt the ice. We were big lemon lovers, too. There was always a plate of lemon wedges on the table which we squeezed liberally into our icy tea. We occasionally added a sprig of mint.
The late John Egerton, a friend of mine had this to say about iced tea. “Surely, sooner or later the rest of the world will discover the wonder of freshly brewed iced tea. It’s the South’s gift to a thirsty world…”
Does your family drink iced tea? Do you call it sweet tea or ice tea?