If you know me at all you no doubt realize that I’m crazy about tea. My grandmother is responsible for this. She gave me my first sips of sweet tea in my bottle at about six months of age thereby curing me of an intestinal illness that had my mother frantic with worry.
Obviously I don’t remember that first taste in my baby bottle but I do have early memories of drinking Grandma’s iced tea. This will probably sound really strange unless you grew up in my family but all of Grandma’s grandchildren drank what we referred to as “tea milk”. In an effort to get us to drink our milk, Grandma mixed it with her super sweet iced tea. As toddlers it was mostly milk but the proportions changed as we got older so that we were eventually just adding a splash of milk to our tea. Well, at least those of us with lactose “issues”.
Yeah, I know. But think about it. It’s not considered weird to add milk to hot tea – that’s the British way – so it really shouldn’t be such a stretch to add it to iced. The key is that the iced tea needs to be very sweet and properly prepared. Don’t even think about putting it in instant tea. (You don’t drink that nasty stuff anyway, do you?)
Amongst my fondest childhood memories were early mornings after spending the night at my grandparents’ house. Our backyards adjoined so this was something I got to do pretty often, usually with my cousin who lived next door. Sue and I were best friends and loved to have sleep-overs. When we got up, Grandma would fix us cups of hot tea served in Melmac cups (and saucers). Sometimes we sipped our tea at the table but if it was a chilly morning we would sit on the floor in front of the wall furnace.
I don’t know where the saying came from but as Grandma handed us our cups of tea she would tell us to “soak awhile”. I’ve never heard this from anyone else but we understood it to mean that we were to sit quietly and sip our tea, taking our time to fully awaken. To this day, that’s my preferred morning routine.
- Fill a small saucepan with fresh, cold tap water. Grandma had a tea-stained aluminum saucepan which was her dedicated tea pan. The lid had been missing as far back as I can remember so she used a small plate on top when steeping the tea.
- Bring to a full boil, remove from heat and add approximately 1/4 cup loose leaf tea. Grandma used nothing but Lipton’s.
- Cover pan and allow to steep about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, fill 2 quart glass pitcher about 1/3 full of cold water and add sugar. Grandma used a LOT. Probably a cup and a half. Stir.
- After tea has finished steeping, strain into pitcher, stir and fill the rest of way with cold water.
- Pour over ice and serve as is, with lemon, or if you’re one of her grandkids, milk.
I still use this basic method although I use far less sugar these days and I usually use 6 teabags rather than loose leaf. However, I have to admit that loose leaf is better. I also use organic tea (affiliate link) rather than Lipton’s.
- Fill tea kettle with tap water and bring to a full boil.
- Pour over tea bag in cup.
- Add sugar to taste. (1-3 teaspoons generally, depending on taste and size of cup)
- Steep about three minutes and remove tea bag.
- Pour in a little milk.
- Soak awhile and enjoy!
This is the tea I use:
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