When the temps rise above 80°, I almost always have homemade iced tea in the fridge. The recipe here is the one my maternal grandmother always made, and my grandfather drank it daily. (Some feel it contributed greatly to the 98 years of impeccable health he enjoyed!) My mother has continued the tradition and always has a pitcher made when she's expecting guests. When I make it for summer parties, someone inevitably goes home with the recipe. I tend to use a little less sugar than the recipe calls for (I use closer to a 1/2 cup vs. 3/4); but if you like your tea sweet, use more. The trick is to add the sugar when the tea's still hot and mix it well so it fully dissolves. Be sure to let the liquid cool before pouring it into your pitcher if you're using a glass one--I've broken one or two over the years. My mother, on the other hand, has been making iced tea in the very same half-gallon, bubble glass pitcher for more than 60 years!
- 4-5 black tea bags, depending upon how strong your favorite tea is (my grandmother always used 4 Lipton tea bags)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar (I recommend starting with a 1/2 cup and adding more if you want it sweeter)
- 64 oz. filtered water
- Juice of one lemon, plus one cut-up lemon
- Fresh mint sprigs (optional--I'm not sure my grandmother added mint)
- Place tea bags in a pot and cover with about 3 cups of filtered water. Let tea steep for 5 minutes.
- Press tea bags against side of pot (with spoon) to remove liquid and then toss bags. Add sugar to the hot tea and mix thoroughly until dissolved. Let tea cool. (If you're in a hurry and can't wait for tea to cool down on its own, add cold water to the pot.)
- Once the tea is cool enough, pour it into a half-gallon pitcher. Add lemon juice, fill rest of the pitcher with water (leave room for lemon pieces) and stir. Add cut-up lemon and refrigerate. (I sometimes and cut-up orange pieces, as well.)
- Serve over ice in a tall glass and add a sprig of mint.