Iced tea — a summertime favorite


Sure, you probably know already that June is National Dairy Month. But did you know that this is also Iced Tea Month? I’m sorry I don’t know why the two have to share a month.

For some of us, iced tea is the ultimate summer drink, refreshing and thirst-quenching. And it looks quite lovely, when you observe the clear amber color of a chilled glass of brewed tea.

Iced tea often means sweet tea because it’s made with lots of sugar. For my southern relatives, there’s no other option. They don’t even use the term “iced tea.” Everything is sweet tea. In fact, they don’t ask if you want sweet tea. That’s just the way it’s prepared and served. I don’t even think most of them know there’s an option. Believe me, it’s rather shocking to take a nice big drink of what you think is your basic tea only to realize it’s chilled sugar syrup.

Brewing tea to make iced tea is really easy. All you need is boiling water, tea bags, and a container that is preferably glass or ceramic. Then there’s sun tea, which is what I often do. Now there’s cold brew tea so you don’t even need heat from the stove or the sun. Once the tea is brewed to be as strong as you like, just remove the bags, and pour the tea into a pitcher so you can admire its clarity and color. I read that a really good iced tea doesn’t just taste good, it’s aromatic and has enough body that it lingers with you after you’ve had a sip. A great iced tea makes you pause and take notice.

Iced tea is a summer drink, at least when I grew up. While my mom learned many of the ways of southern cooking, she never made sweet tea. Just lots of iced tea. So the sugar bowl was always nearby when my dad had iced tea. Eventually, he encouraged my children to drink tea with him and just like him.

My sweet memories are of all three of them sitting at the kitchen table during iced tea season. One or both of the preschoolers would sit on their grandpa’s lap and spoon sugar into their glass of tea, stirring vigorously while my dad encouraged them. If you’ve ever had a preschooler, you know how that worked. My dad just smiled as he moved the sugar bowl so they could reach it easier.

But somehow I never really minded cleaning up the slopped tea or the trail of sugar that ran across the table when everyone was finished with tea. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I always enjoy a good glass of iced tea.