Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

North Meets South

I wasn't born in the South - I moved down here from New Hampshire in 1986.

Before I moved here, I didn't give the South much thought, as a region. I was at home in the Northern woods, happy to be lost among the trees or half-buried in snow. I liked hauling wood to heat buildings, and had little experience with A/C - even my short stint in Florida didn't acquaint me with cooled air, since we were too broke to afford that luxury.

While I was at home up there in the wilds of New England, Georgia took some getting used to. People spoke differently, thought differently, moved differently, ate and drank differently. They ate grits, and they expected me to eat them, too. Umm...not so much. I find grits to be taste and texture fiestas for which I am never prepared. They ate barbeque (the real thing, not hot dogs on the grill) which looks like a horrible accident on your plate but tastes....mmmmmm. I like barbeque. They didn't understand clam boils or lobster bakes, and they cooked shrimp in fresh water or with giant tea bags full of...stuff. Bleh. Biscuits didn't mean Brittish cookies, and iced tea came two ways (and I don't mean with or without ice!).

I came to love my new home state, and I'm content to remain here for the duration. They may not have lobsters for a buck apiece fresh from the boat, or steamers, or snow up to my ass, or maple trees that turn flaming crimson in the Autumn and provide such sweetness in the Spring, but they more than make up for that with chicken fried steak (be still my heart...oh, wait, if I eat enough of this fried goodness with the white gravy that comes on the side, you will be still, won't you??), fried okra (I know, I know - I'll eat this but not grits?), fluffy biscuits with blackberry jam (oh, I could sing the praises of this delight for ages, but you wouldn't understand until you had some truly fine examples of the two culinary crafts put together for your benefit), barbeque that will make you slap your mama (so many delightful euphemisms), and sweet tea.

Sweet tea. Not that crap in a can with or without chemical lemon-flavored additive that most people mix at double strength. No, I mean real, honest to goodness sweet tea.

Now, everyone has their preference for which kind of tea to use, but the two most prevalent are Lipton and Tetley. I like Lipton because I grew up with it up North, so I know it hot - and it's just fine cold, too. There are special blends for iced versus hot tea, and different brewing methods, from jars in the sun to gadgets that allegedly do all the work from brewing to cooling with the push of a button. As long as the people drinking it are happy, I say brew what you like.


I take three large Lipton Iced Tea blend bags and three small (single cup size) Twinings bags of either Earl Grey or Lady Grey, and clip them to my one-gallon pitcher (plastic, utilitarian, standard kitchen fare). I clip the with a clothes-pin so I don't have to hold them or fish them out later. I'm lazy that way.

I boil a full tea kettle of water and pour it into the pitcher, careful not to hit the bags directly because a burst tea bag makes for some gymnastic tea drinking.

Let it steep for ten minutes or so before removing the bags and adding one-half cup sugar. Yes, that's all. I know, I know, the proper Souther ration is one cup to the gallon, but that's too freakin' sweet for me! Stir it up a bit to get the sugar to dissolve.

Now, if I'm in a hurry I top up the pitcher with a mix of ice and water. If I have time, I just top it up with water and put it in the fridge until it's cold.

Serve over ice, with or without fresh (for the love of all that's holy do NOT use that so-called Real crap!!) lemon or little sprigs of mint (fancy!).

Mmmm. Ahhh. Nice.


Kit said...


I also love iced peppermint tea, sweetened and served with sprigs of mint, or Tazo Zen green tea perfectly brewed, served iced with a touch of honey.

But that's not QUITE my great grandma's sweettea!

Kyddryn said...

I like to brew green tea, sweeten with a bit of honey, and chill it. Then, instead of drinking it, I use it as a smoothie base - less sugar than juice, better for me.