Summertime Teas

Summertime Teas

Being the child of folks with Southern roots, I was weaned on Sweet Tea. Iced Tea always accompanied the Sunday dinner at Nana’s; in the summer months it would be seasoned with mint from her garden. Apparently, mint tea is popular in the North and West African countries of Morocco, Senegal, Gambia and Guinea so it is wonderful to know some indigenous palate preferences survived the Middle Passage. If Mom made iced tea at home, it was more akin to Arnold Palmer’s preference – almost a lemonade tea concoction, but much superior to anything sold anywhere today.

Much maligned for being something akin to Mrs. Buttersworth, Sweet Tea has its’ detractors who accuse the refreshing brew of being diabetes in a glass – just plain not good for ‘ya! Measures of teaspoons of sugar notwithstanding, Black Tea, is the basis of Sweet Tea, thus truly good for us despite the eclipse in popularity by its’ once lesser known sister Green Tea.

The world’s most widely consumed beverage, all tea comes from the tropical plant known as Camellia Senensis. And though no one really knows why Sweet Tea became so popular in the Southern United States, many suggest it is because of teas’ affordability. (My maternal Grandfather was known to love a drink called sugar water, made with just those two ingredients, so affordability is relative). Ice Tea was purported to have been invented at the 1904 World’s Fair; former slave and the first African-American chef to publish a cookbook, Rufus Estes, wrote in his Good Things To Eat (1911) a recipe for Tea Sherbert, something so seemingly scrumptious I vow to attempt one soon.

As for the health benefits, researchers initially focused on studying Green Tea, but are beginning to uncover that both Green and Black tea are equally as beneficial but in different ways. Both are overflowing with antioxidants but caffeine too in varying amounts. Yet, both may help prevent cancer so that is encouraging news for all tea aficionados.

Summertime Teas

  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil for at least one minute (that removes many of the impurities) and pour hot water into a glass or ceramic pitcher.

    2. Take 2 Tablespoons of organic, loose Black tea into a tea ball or reusable tea bag, place directly into the hot water and cover with a top or saucer. Steep for 20 minutes.

    3. Remove tea ball or bag(s) and immediately sweeten tea to taste while it’s still warm – this makes it easier for the sugar to dissolve. I like to use Agave Syrup in lieu of sugar because it is sweeter in taste thus you use less and for my diabetic friends, Agave is lower on the glycemic index.

    4. Add 2 cups of cold filtered or bottled water, the juice of 2 Lemons and 1/2 of a Pink Grapefruit. Do not add the rind which can make the tea bitter. DO NOT ADD ICE AS IT WILL DILUTE THE FLAVOR.

    5. Stir thoroughly and chill for several hours. Serve your Summertime Teas over ice and garnish with a slice of citrus fruit if desired.

    Next Week:  Sorrel Tea

    8 thoughts on “Summertime Teas”

    • My dad was a child of the Great Migration and I grew up drinking sun tea. This was such a great recipe that reminded me of those fond memories.

      • Making sun tea is a regional tradition in the Southwest and having sweet tea in a pitcher during the summer is a Southern birthright. Thank you for reminding us of how our beautiful culture intersects.

    • Great tip about the agave nectar! I love summertime teas but often find that there’s an unpleasant sugar coating at the bottom of my glass. Using agave helped that tremendously! Thank you for the recipe!

    • I love the tip of sweetening the tea while warm because I was able to use honey this way instead of granulated sugar. And the grapefruit juice was a hit. Thank you!

    • I absolutely love tea in the summer and I really enjoyed this tasty variation on sweet tea. I also didn’t know that green tea and black tea had equal health benefits. Thank you for sharing!

    Let me know how the recipes come out!