After I moved from Virginia to New York, one of the things I missed the most was sweet tea. I didn’t even realize at first that it was a Southern thing. I would order a sweet tea at a restaurant and they’d bring me hot tea, so I’d try ordering sweet iced tea and they’d bring me a regular iced tea and sugar packets. Of course it’s not the same thing. Sweet tea has to be sweet. Really, really sweet.
You may remember supersaturated solutions from your high school chemistry class. A supersaturated solution is one that has more of the dissolved stuff in it then you could normally dissolve in that amount of liquid. That’s what sweet tea is and it’s why it’s not the same to add sugar to regular iced tea. Some science nerd can correct me in the comments, but sweet tea is so sweet because you add the sugar while it’s still hot, then cool it. Because the tea is hot, the molecules are moving more (or something) so there is more space between them. And you fill that space with sweet, sweet sugar.
So now you know the (pseudo-)science behind sweet tea, get cracking and make your own.
makes two quarts
Boil two quarts of water and pour into a glass pitcher over 6 teabags and steep for 15 minutes. While the tea is steeping, add one cup sugar (less if you don’t have an insane sweet tooth). Stir well to dissolve. Wring out the teabags, remove, chill and serve. Serve with plenty of ice and garnish with fresh lemon slices.
Update: From my auntie, “Maybe this has just happened to me; however, I don’t recommend pouring hot water into a glass pitcher. It can crack the pitcher. I recommend pouring the hot water into a pan to steep first before pouring into the pitcher.” I think that’s probably good advice.