Find out how to make the best sweet tea you've ever had.
It doesn’t get much better than a glass of iced sweet tea on a sunny day.
Sweet tea may not be the official drink of the South – but…well…it’s pretty much the official drink of the South. And when it comes time to pour yourself a glass, you want it to be perfect. To find out what makes a great glass of sweet tea, we took a trip out to the only tea plantation in North America.
Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina is home to the Charleston Tea Plantation. Under the watchful eye of Bill Hall, a tea taster by profession who underwent four years of formal training in London, England, the Charleston Tea Plantation has been harvesting fresh tea leaves since the late 1980s. Lucky for us, Bill shared his tips for brewing the best pitcher of sweet tea you’ll ever have!
1: Use fresh tea leaves
The fresher the tea, the more smooth and mellow the flavor. Older tea has a harsh and bitter taste.
2. Start with cold water
There’s more oxygen in the cold water, and the oxygen in the water enhances the flavor of the tea.
3. Avoid excessive boiling
Bring the water to a good rolling boil, but don’t let it boil too long or you boil the oxygen out.
4. Add water to tea
Never put the tea in hot water. The water starts to cool quickly, and the tea needs that burst of heat to fully open the leaf. This allows you to extract all of the flavor and nutrition that’s inside the tea.
5. Brew time decides strength
Brew the tea for about 3-6 minutes depending on how strong you want it to taste.
6. Sugar before cooling
The sugar will dissolve much easier in hot water than in cold water. And no one likes grainy sweet tea.
Pour the tea over ice and you’re done!