Nectar of childhood: homemade iced tea

Iced Tea

When I was a kid, you knew it was summer when my mom cleaned out an empty milk jug and began to use it for iced tea. It was a ritual in our house; the recipe was pinned to the inside of a cabinet door so that by the time we were ten or so, we could make it, as well. As a rule we made it with Red Rose teabags–the big boxes came with little enamel animals inside that my brother and I collected. My mom doesn’t make it anymore, and I don’t very often, but I decided this summer to begin to keep it in the fridge. Sure it has some empty calories, but it’s still better than lemonade made with high fructose corn syrup or diet soda, which I usually drink and which is filled with god knows what.

My memory of the recipe is a little bit foggy; we used to make it with bottled lemon juice, and I’ve been using fresh lemons, which seems to impact the flavor. But here’s the original as best I can recall:

10 teabags–you put these in a glass two-cup measure, fill it with water, and microwave for four minutes. Let them steep at least an hour, preferably more.
1/4 c lemon juice
1/2 c sugar
water to fill

After the bags have steeped, pour the tea into a clean gallon jug. Add lemon juice and sugar, cover, and shake to dissolve. Add water, shake again. Keep in the fridge.

My half-gallon batches have been kind of weak–I think it’s because I’m using 5 teabags in the two-cup measure, which means that the strength of the tea is more diluted than when we made it with ten. I consider it a work in progress for the summer.


3 responses »

  1. You know, that’s not iced tea right? That’s essentially an Arnold Palmer. Yes, I am an iced tea purist. My first thought when I read the second sentence, “What? A recipe for iced tea? Brew some tea or stick it out in the sun, then chill it! Who needs a recipe for that?”

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