When I was a young teenager, my family would always tell me, “You make the *best* iced tea!”. I was quite proud of my iced tea, and would make it regularly for the whole family, and I always made sure we had iced tea available in the summer.
However, as I got older and wiser, I realized that while I was quite competent at making iced tea, my family had most assuredly been overstating its superiority because they knew that such praise would keep me in the kitchen slaving over a hot pot of boiling water.
Their behaviors (you know who you are!) were right on the border between encouraging and exploitative, but one of the side-effects is that years spent making iced tea has led me to a recipe and method that has become quite good, if I do say so myself. It is a far cry from my original tea-making days, but it is still in keeping with the spirit of good, old-fashioned Texas sweet iced tea.
Fill the 3 quart sauce pan with water up to within approximately ¾” from the top and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, put all the tea bags in the pitcher, removing the paper tags from the Lipton and Luzianne tea bags (the Tetley Iced Tea bags are string-less and tag-less, made for iced tea!).
Once the water is boiling, *carefully* pour it into the pitcher over the tea bags. Give the pitcher a few seconds of stirring to fully immerse the tea bags, then set aside and let it steep for 30 minutes.
After the 30 minutes are up, remove all of the tea bags (one at a time, and squeezing the excess tea out against the inside wall of the pitcher so that it runs back down into the pitcher). Once the tea bags are removed, place the strainer over the (empty) sauce pan, and pour the tea through the strainer and into the sauce pan. This step filters out any tea leaves that may have been released by the tea bags, which have a tendency to fall apart about 20% of the time.
Pour the strained tea back into the pitcher, add the 1 cup of sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar. Note that this step is crucial because you want to dissolve the sugar in the water while it is still warm.
Once the sugar is dissolved (only takes 5-10 seconds of stirring), add ice and/or water to bring the tea level up to an inch or so below the top of the pitcher (leaving room for the lid to snug down without getting into the tea). Chill and serve. Note that if you used ice for the last step, it should already be cold enough to drink immediately.
This is the most refreshing drink I know, and we always have at least one (and usually two) pitchers of it in the fridge. The mint and green tea are optional, but I have found that the mint adds a nice refreshing zip, and the green tea adds both a subtle flavor and rumors of health benefits. Also, you can control the sweetness to your taste and/or dietary needs.
Now *you* make the best iced tea…enjoy!