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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Terri Cheney says
Not tea, but coffee, and my Granny's cups were similar to the one in your photo, a little chunkier but the same color of Melmac. Picture that about 1/4 full of sugar, with a splash of hot coffee to dissolve it and then canned milk (cream in our family vernacular) to top it off. I can remember having coffee as far back as memory goes, at least to age two and I'll lay odds it was given to me sooner than that, lol.
Oddly my youngest son would not take his first bottle of the morning unless I added coffee to it from about age 7 months!
And further oddly, all four of my children love hot tea, something I never drank and never made, but all of them of their own will would take a tea bag and make themselves a cup of hot tea. I find that fact interesting, lol given that hot tea has always made me feel ill. No doubt psychological as Grandmama was forever telling me that drinking hot sweet tea would 'make you sick'.
Deanna Piercy says
I finally got my daughter to take her first bottle at almost 11 months by adding a little sweet tea to the milk. 🙂 I wonder why your grandmother thought hot tea would make you sick? We grew up thinking it would cure everything. Ha!
Like you, I have a habit of waking up with a cup of tea; just sitting for a while with my tea, and savouring it before I need to face whatever it is that needs to happen afterwards. I only started the habit in my teens though. At that point I needed some time to let my eyes adjust before I could do anything complicated (and especially before I could go outside) so I started making sure to get up in time to sit for a while with my cup of tea while waking up properly and letting my eyes adjust and start working what counted for normally for me at that point. I liked the ritual, so continued it even after I lost the last of my sight.
I’m not entirely sure how old I was the first time I had tea, but I do know I was young enough that I was being given it while I still used a bottle, so I was under three for sure. I do, however, remember my first taste of coffee when someone got my cup confused with my Dad’s cup (the only difference was that mine was pink on the inside, and his was white). I picked up what should have been my cup of tea, only to get a sip of cold coffee. Yes, cold! My Dad always prefered his coffee cold. I’ve tried hot coffee since, but I just can’t learn to like it. So, I’ll stick with my tea.
I love regular tea, fruity teas, and herbal teas. It’s only the herbal or fruity ones I like to steep for a lont time though; I don’t like my regular tea to be very strong. Also, how I take my tea depends on the kind it is. I only take sugar in regular tea (unless I’m making iced tea; I always add sugar to even the fruity ones if I’m making iced tea). I also only add milk to regular tea as a rule, though once or twice I’ve had a cup of warm milk with camomile tea added to it, which can sometimes be good for helping me sleep (it’s not guaranteed though… Nothing that works on me is ever guaranteed to work every time).
Deanna Piercy says
I enjoy the occasional cup of coffee (if it’s really good coffee and it has sugar and cream) but I’m absolutely and totally a tea person. 🙂