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Southern Grandmas Dish on the Best Sweet Tea

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By Kristina Cole

Sweet tea. It’s a Southern delight. Ask any Northerner visiting the South for the first time. They’ll immediately realize why other customers put emphasis on the un of unsweetened tea. However, barring any health issues, they’ll also immediately be converted to the deliciously sweet drink.

The basic recipe for sweet tea uses water, tea bags and sugar. The difference between old-fashioned sweet tea recipes usually is found in how much of each and what brand. I talked with five local grandmothers who have each been making sweet tea for over 50 years. I was surprised to find how proud these women are of their recipes. I asked each woman if they would share the secret of their sweet tea as well as a sweet kitchen memory.

Kick back with a tall glass of tea and enjoy their memories.

Grandma Garmon

Southern Grandmas Dish on the Best Sweet Tea

Photo: Flickr/MzScarlett A.K.A. Michelle

Grandma Garmon, like most of the grandmothers I spoke with, learned to make sweet tea at the knee of her own grandmother.

“Grandmama used to have this glass pitcher for her tea. I used to think it was so fancy. It was just a plain old cut glass… She would let me pour in the sugar when I was a little girl. I thought I was so grown when I was allowed to boil that water and mix everything together.”

Grandma Garmon says the secret of her sweet tea is using Lipton. She started buying her own Lipton bags when she got married. She steeps three bags in four cups of hot water until it’s “dark enough” or “she remembers she is making tea”. She then stirs in between ½ and ¾ cup of sugar, adds a tray of ice and fills the pitcher “up to the line” with cold water.

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