Cook's Corner: Tea for two - or more

Published 7:29 am Wednesday, August 2, 2006

By By Lisa Tindell
Sweet tea - the house wine of the south! Taking a cue from Dolly's character in Steel Magnolias I thought it might be nice to see just what's interesting in the area of teas for this week's column.
I'm pretty sure everyone in this area knows how to make a good jug (we need more than a pitcher) of sweet tea.
A few years ago my family switched to decaffeinated tea. I really couldn't tell that much difference in the taste, but I did notice one important difference. Decaf typically takes less sugar to sweeten and that is a good thing.
If you like a little added flavor with your tea, besides a little lemon squeezed in at the table, you may enjoy these recipes. The first recipe is for a basic sweet tea - as if a woman in the south needs a recipe for that.
Alabama Sweet Tea
2 cups sugar
1/2 gallon water
1 tray ice cubes
3 family sized teabags of orange pekoe tea
3 cups cold water, or as needed
Pour the sugar into a large pitcher. Bring water to a boil in a large pan. When the water begins to boil, remove from the heat, and place the teabags in. Let steep for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove tea bags, and return tea to the heat. Bring just to a boil, then pour into the pitcher, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Fill the pitcher half way with ice, and stir until most of it melts. Then fill the pitcher the rest of the way with cold water, and stir until blended.
If you feel like a little something different, these next couple of recipes will give you something great to try. It's hard to mess up a glass of tea, but it can be done. The only rule you need to remember is to taste as you go. When adding flavors to your tea go easy at first. Some things can be overdone before you know it. It's much easier to add a little extra flavor to something than to take it out if you use to much. Be careful and enjoy.
Almond Tea
3 tablespoons instant iced tea powder
1 cup white sugar
2 cups boiling water
1 (12 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon almond extract
In a 1 gallon container, mix together the instant tea powder and sugar. Pour in the boiling water and lemonade concentrate, and mix well. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Fill container the rest of the way with cold water. Stir and serve over ice, or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Here is a recipe that I got from the folks at Splenda. It sounds as if it might be pretty good to give a try. If you don't use the sugar substitute, I believe it might be possible to use regular sugar in place of the Splenda since they brag that it measures spoon-for-spoon just like the real thing.
Citrus Mint Tea
2 cups boiling water
5 regular-size tea bags
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup SPLENDA No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
6 cups water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh orange juice
Garnish: lemon slices, orange slices, fresh mint sprigs
Pour boiling water over tea bags and mint leaves; cover and steep 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and mint, squeezing gently. Stir in SPLENDA and remaining ingredients. Serve over ice. Garnish with lemon slices, orange slices and fresh mint sprigs.
If you want to add a little kick to your tea, this next recipe should be what you're need. The gin could be substituted with vodka according to the recipe notes. You also could substitute the alcohol with ginger ale if you prefer a non-alcoholic version.
Tea Slush
2 cups white sugar
7 cups water
4 tea bags
2 cups boiling water
1 (12 fluid ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 (12 fluid ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate
2 cups gin
Put 7 cups water in large saucepan, and heat on high until boiling. Add sugar and stir until dissolved; set aside to cool. Place teabags in 2 cups boiling water, and let steep until desired strength is acquired. In a large bowl, mix together sugar water, tea, lemonade concentrate and orange juice concentrate. Stir in gin.
Place in freezer container and freeze overnight. To serve, Place several scoops into a tall glass, and fill with any clear carbonated beverage.
Here's hoping you stay cool and hydrated during these hot summer days.
Until next week, Happy Cooking!

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