Stay cool y'all, it's time to enjoy a tall glass of tea
Welcome to the South where iced tea is as much of a breakfast menu item as bacon and eggs. Sodas, coffee, milk, juice and spirited drinks just can't compete especially during the hot and humid summer months. Southerners are sweet on tea.
And evidently it isn't just those of us who live here. More than 80% of all the tea sold in restaurants across the U.S. is cold rather than hot. Tea has been served as a beverage for around 5,000 years with China being credited as the original source.
Green, black and oolong are the basic types of tea, with black being the kind used for making the cold elixir served in tall glasses. It took a severe and sweltering heat wave to change how it was served.
An Englishman named Richard Blechdyen had a hot tea concession stand at the 1904 World's Fair being held in St. Louis during July. The heat kept customers away from his booth, so he decided to cool down the hot brew and sold it "iced." All of a sudden, that switch saved his business and changed how tea was accepted throughout the South.
Tea bags were another accidental invention. Suppliers sent tea to customers in small silk bags and soon they were demanding it for their clientele. Today the filter paper used for tea bags is not only extremely porous, but maintains great strength even when wet.
Making iced tea starts with 6 cups of boiling water and four family-sized tea bags. The bags are added to the saucepan and boiled for 1 minute. Then it's removed from the heat, covered and allowed to steep for 10 minutes. Remove the bags, squeeze and transfer to a 1 gallon pitcher. Add the sugar (1/2 cup to 1 heaping cup) and stir to dissolve. Serve over ice and relax.
Laura Rose of Birmingham writes that her iced tea is always cloudy and not clear like she sees it in restaurants. "Can you help clear this up?" she asks.
Keep the brewed tea out of the refrigerator. Prolonged cold storage temperatures tend to make tea cloudy and it is perfectly fine at room temperature. If you want to store it in the refrigerator, just add a bit of boiling water to the chilled tea to clear it up.
Tammy Algood is the author of five cookbooks and can be seen on "Volunteer Gardener" on PBS stations in Tennessee. Follow her at www.hauteflavor.comLaura Rose of Birmingham writes that her iced tea is always cloudy and not clear like she sees it in restaurants. "Can you help clear this up?" she asks.