Thirsty Thursday: What's the Deal with Sweet Tea?
In our brand new April issue, we explore the Southern side of brunch, including a fabulous recipe for Sweet Tea Punch. But what makes Southern sweet tea different from regular iced tea? Only the way you order it. Traditionally in the north, if you were to order iced tea, it would come unsweetened. However, most southerners are drinking their tea sweet, and must specifically ask for unsweet tea if that's how they prefer it. No matter your tea choice, there are plenty of twists and takes that will brighten your day, any time of year.
Try this recipe for Sweet Tea Punch at your next brunch or get-together, plus get our best sweet tea tips:
Sweet Tea Punch
9 black tea bags
3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 large bunch fresh mint
2 pints blood orange or regular orange sorbet
1 - 2 cups American whiskey, such as bourbon or rye
3 limes, sliced into rounds
In a large bowl, combine the tea bags, honey and sugar with 6 cups boiling water and stir until the honey and sugar dissolve. Let steep for 4 minutes. Discard the tea bags and add half the mint. Let cool completely at room temperature. Strain; discard the mint. Chill until cold, about 3 hours.
Add one scoop sorbet to each of 8 pint glasses. Top with 2 to 4 tbsp. whiskey and a few torn mint leaves. Divide the tea among the glasses, then top with a splash of soda water. Garnish each glass with a lime slice. Serve with a straw or a long spoon. Makes 8.
Tip: Classic Southern sweet tea is made with white sugar, but the combination of honey and brown sugar gives this version a richer flavor. Spike the punch with as mush whiskey as you'd like.
Tip: The tastiest way to make iced tea is to brew it with hot water--a steamy soak extracts more flavor. But it can also make your drink murky if the tea cools too quickly. For the best results--minimal clouds and maximum flavor--let the prepared tea come completely to room temperature before sticking it in the fridge.