June is National Iced Tea Month, which is very appropriate. When you think of June, you think of summer and swimming and graduations and weddings and refreshing iced tea.
I grew up drinking iced tea. Let me rephrase that, I grew up drinking very sweet iced tea. My mama, and then when we were old enough, my siblings and I, brewed a two gallon jug of iced tea every single day; winter, spring, summer or fall (all you have to do is call. Thank you, Carole King, for that lovely, timeless song).
We boiled water on the stove in a funky, triangular-shaped iron pot. We put in eight teabags (always eight) and boiled for a few seconds, then let it ‘brew’ for about five minutes more. We then poured that beautiful copper red tea into one of those old-fashioned Tupperware jugs with the lid that has a small hole and cap for pouring. The jug had been previously filled half way with cold water and two cups of sugar. We stirred that sweet nectar until it blended beautifully then stuck it in the fridge until dinner time.
The sweet tea at our home affectionally became known as “Ray Tea”. It is still called that today. Whenever there is a family event ~ Thanksgiving, picnics, reunions, birthday parties, Ray tea is expected to be on the counter.
I have had a lot of sweet tea from various restaurants, and it is pretty good, but my mama’s sweet tea is the best I ever had.
As a young wife and mother, I thought it was cool to jump onto the sun tea bandwagon and made it that way for years. It was always so fun to put it out in the morning and by dinner time, it was perfectly colored and ready to drink. I definitely modified the sugar measurements, though. Of course, it wasn’t as good, but knew that it was better for my family.
I have stopped making fresh iced tea. For one, I have hard water and it just never comes out the same coppery red color. Two, I drink my tea and coffee sans sugar. I have been drinking it that way for at least 15 years. When I want iced tea, I buy a gallon jug of Tradewinds or Pure Leaf unsweetened tea and pour it over ice. It always satisfies.
We hear a lot about green tea and the latest trend, matcha green tea. There are apparently real benefits to partaking. But even old-fashioned black pekoe tea has healthy pluses.
Black tea is full of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help protect cells from DNA damage. Increasing evidence hints that the antioxidants in black tea may also reduce atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), especially in women.
So it is your national duty to drink in a tall skinny glass of iced sometime this month. Wait for a real scorcher of a day and guzzle it down like you’ve been in the desert for two weeks. It is incredibly satisfying, and sans the sugar, is actually very good for you.
Go ahead, take the (Nestea) plunge.