In Texas, tea is a sign of hospitality
Unlike water or wine or even Coca-Cola, sweet tea means something. It is a tell, a tradition. Sweet tea isn’t a drink really. It’s culture in a glass. – Allison Glock, American writer and journalist
Most Texans don’t give much thought to iced or sweet tea. It’s like air or hot sauce. It has always been around.
But scholars have given it some study. Sweet tea began as a luxury item because tea, ice and sugar were expensive, according to various online trackers of such things.
In the 1800s, early versions of sweet tea were made with green tea leaves and almost exclusively served as alcoholic punches at fancy parties, according to the Southern Kitchen.
When Prohibition became the law of the land in 1920 and alcohol became scarce, the desire for refreshing sweet tea concoctions remained, according to the publication.
The key to making a great sweet tea is to use sugar syrup, known as simple syrup, which prevents granules of sugar in the tea. Lack of granules is a good thing in sweet tea. Usually garnished with mint or lemon, this quintessential Southern drink blends with and complements many Southern favorites and is considered a sign of hospitality. It’s served year-round in the Southern United States.
TEXAS SWEET TEA
For the sugar syrup:
3⁄4 cup sugar
3⁄4 cup water
For the tea:
6 bags of black tea (Luzianne tea is traditional, but any brand will work)
2 quarts of water
Place teabags and water in a pot or and boil for 8-10 minutes. 5-7 minutes for weaker tea.
In a small pan, add sugar to water and boil until dissolved — the key to great sweet tea.
Fill a pitcher with ice, add syrup to tea and stir. Pour over ice.
Set pitcher in the refrigerator until completely chilled. Serve with mint or lemon garnish.