Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Iced tea concentrate

I do SO love visiting the south.  Truly, I do.  Seriously. Love. It.
Mostly, because it’s WARM there. Turtlenecks, jackets and heavy socks… NOT needed in June.  Like they are here in the lovely high plains tundra.  Awesome. 

Then there's the charm. The hospitality. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention. It. is. warm. there.
There's just one teensy, tiny, little problem.
And apparently it's a deal breaker.  I can't handle the sweet tea.  Not even a little bit.
I have tried. Really, really tried.  That stuff is just, well, really SWEET.

We recently started making iced tea concentrate.  The problem: the first time I made it as per instructions. Including 8 cups of sugar. 8 cups people.  Even my soda lovin' younguns wouldn't touch the stuff.  I’m beginning to think you have to actually live in the south before the tea likes you and you like it right back.
So I'm going to give you the original recipe for iced tea concentrate.  If you like sweet tea, THIS is the one for you.
3/4 gallon of water
5 one gallon tea bags or 24 family size tea bags
8 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Boil the water. Remove from heat and add tea bags.  Cover for 30 minutes. Remove tea bags and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. (This helps preserve the tea, and does not affect the taste).  Add sugar while still warm and stir until it dissolves.  Pour in enough additional water to make 1 gallon of tea concentrate.
This concentrate keeps 4 weeks in the refrigerator and freezes very well.  I store it in clean, washed milk jugs. It is really so handy to have and lasts a long time.
Note:  **If you don't like your tea sweet, you can leave out the sugar entirely.  We like it slightly sweet and use 1.5 cups sugar.
For 1 gallon of tea:  Measure 3 cups of iced tea concentrate into a pitcher.  Add enough additional water to make 1 gallon of tea and stir. 
For 2 quarts of tea:  Measure 1 and 1/2 cups iced tea concentrate into a pitcher.  Add additional water to  make 2 quarts of tea and stir. 
For a 16 ounce glass of tea:  Put 2-3 tablespoons concentrate into a 16 ounce glass. Fill the glass with water and ice; stir. 
Keep unused portions of tea refrigerated.  If the tea is too weak or too strong for you add more or less iced tea concentrate to the water.
So are there any other not-so-sweet tea lovers out there?


Aisling said...

I don't drink iced tea, don't drink tea in fact, but I have to say even among the tea drinkers I know, I can't think of one who drinks iced tea. Maybe it really is one of those things that just doesn't translate across the Atlantic.

Bevy @ Treasured Up and Pondered said...

Yes! I'm one of them.

My tea is called "Bevy's not-so-sweet iced tea", when I serve it up.

I've never done the concentrate thing - but make one gallon at a time. 8 cups of water, 8 regular sized tea bags, 1/2 cup sugar and three trays of ice. I then add water to make a gallon.

I was tried the sweet tea of the south and boy oh boy - it was a laugh on my hubby who is from there. Even he won't drink it.

Shannon @ DoveNest28 said...

Just have to comment on this one! I was born and raised in the South, and LOVE sweet iced tea, as well as the hot tea (with milk) that I drink each morning. I have never heard of making a concentrate, and can't figure out the purpose! It's so easy to make a pitcher of sweet tea, heat water on the stove or microwave, or like I do in an electric kettle, put 2 family sized tea bags in a quart sized mason jar, pour the water over, let steep for 5 minutes and add sugar (I don't have mine sweet like the syrup my Granny from Georgia serves!) I add 1/4 to 1/3 cup, stir to dissolve sugar and then pour into a pitcher. Add enough water to make a 1/2 gallon. I also buck tradition by using decaffeinated tea bags, trying to cut down on the amount of caffeine in my life! Next time we have a big event at church I might have to give the concentrate a try. Thanks for sharing!

Patricia @ 9th and Denver said...

I'm an iced tea drinker. So when I saw your link at FJI... I just had to read it! I'm from Texas-- born and raised, TEA is the beverage of choice here. I've never heard of tea concentrate. I've heard of instant tea-- but real tea drinkers, I don't think, drink that...LOL! I'm with Shannon
2 family sized tea bags, 1 qt boiling water, I just steep my bags right in the pan for about 10-12 minutes, pour it into a 1 gallon picture add 3/4 cup sugar fill to make a gallon.
Am curious about the baking soda though. Make sense to keep the tea from spoiling. Although, since I've added a water filter at the tap, my tea last longer in the fridge.

Thanks for posting this... it's quite interesting. BTW-- I do know some folks that drink their tea syrupy sweet. But not me.

Rona said...

Born and rasied in the deep south, we don't even buy soft drinks in our house. Sweet tea is even served at fast food restaurants around here. Saw this on UTTD and had to read it. I have to say I've never heard of making a concentrate though. I make 3 qts of tea at a time(one qt of hot water to steep, after which I add 2 qts of cold water), 2 family size tea bags and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. This will last my family 1-2 days(depending on the day of the week...lol). But I have to say that the brand of tea that you use does make a major difference in taste. And adding sugar to tea that is not going to be used quickly (1-3 days) will make it taste bad, b/c the sugar tends to ferment(yuck!). Interesting post!

Anonymous said...

We no longer reside in USA, so Tea in German restaurants will be peach flavored. We do have regular tea bags in the commissary, so will be making this for summer. I love the South! Thanks for sharing this recipe for tea concentrate.

Dolce said...

This is great!! I have hospitality once a month at Church and now I won't have to "lug" gallons of tea from the car!! A real time saver, space saver and back saver!! Thanks!

Unknown said...

I just have to thank you for this recipe I have been looking for the best one and this is it.

Dottie said...

Thanks for this recipe! I like not-so-sweet tea myself, but I've got a couple gallons of kombucha brewing. It can be hard to keep up with all the tea, as you're supposed to top it off every time you pour a glass. This will make it so much easier!

Medicine Woman said...

We run a concession stand and have been buying gallons of ready made tea at almost $4.00 a gallon. I told my husband that we could make tea for pennies using a concentrate and putting it in a nice dispenser for self-serve. I am excited to try this and see how my customers like it.

Shelley said...

Hope your customers like it, Medicine Woman! The lady who cooks our church suppers has been using this recipe for awhile now and everyone seems to like it. Thank you for your comment and let us know how it works for you :)

Unknown said...

My husband and I are both from Florida. He lives for the sweet tea and I can't stand it on any level,so we are a house divided. I usually make my tea from my favorite hot tea bag flavors, add a dear bit of sugar (maybe a 1/2 tsp per 8 oz glass) and pour it over ice to drink. I think I'll try this concentrate for him though, might save me having to make it so often and he can whip up just a glass if he wants as easily as a gallon. Thanks for the idea and recipe.

VKG-NC said...

I grew up in Texas-when unsweet tea was the norm. Any self respecting sweetens their own tea, thank you very much.
After 24 years in South AND North Carolina, I still can't drink most SWEET tea. But I'm making mass quantities of sweet tea for a catering friend. With BBQ of course. Took awhile, but I found this recipe.It is spot on perfect. I used about 5 cups of sugar, which was just right, IMHO! I do remember when my mom would basically make concentrate for a gallon of tea. And yes, making a gallon the classic way is easy, but this is great for those 5 gallon orange igloo coolers used at BBQs all pver the South! Thanks, sugar, you're a peach!!

Unknown said...

I have to make sweet tea for my daughter's wedding. I want to make this as simple as possible. I typically make a gallon of sweet tea with 4 family sized tea bags and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. I need 10-15 gallons prepped for the wedding. Can you tell me the ratio. In other words how many gallons will this gallon of concentrate make?

Shelley said...

Hi Julie,

This recipe makes 1 gallon (which is 16 cups) of concentrate.

Making 1 gallon of sweet tea uses 3 cups of the concentrate. So... 1 gallon of concentrate will make 5 gallons of sweet tea with 1 cup of concentrate extra.

Hope that helps :)

Unknown said...

Tried this recipe mainly because it called for soda, and the comment was it would make the tea more stable. I always hate that the tea would get bitter after it sits a day or two in the fridge. I only added 5 1/2 cups of sugar. I followed the direction, could have used just 5 cups of sugar. Other than that the tea is perfect. And no bitterness even after a week in the fridge. Making this for our daughters wedding reception so it’s needs to be right! Thank you so much for this recipe!!

Farm Wife said...

We love sweet tea here in NC and my husband can drink a half gallon himself a day. Thus I’m making tea all the time...did I say I hate making tea? Can’t wait to try this! My mom use to put baking soda in our tea, she said it drew out more of the tea flavor. She was a very frugal women, 7 of us.


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