I've been threatened.
"This recipe better be good." they said.
Sweet tea is serious business in the South.
Methods have been passed down from generation to generation. I call it methods, because it's just not a recipe when mamaw, meemaw, or gramma made it. It was a gift they made with magic, some call love, but really – just plain survival– in these here parts of the world.
And by some unknown reason, no one seems to be able to make it like she did.
I don't normally drink iced tea – sweet or unsweet. Mostly, I grew up drinking hot tea with a small spoonful of sugar like my British nana did. Now I don't add any sugar to hot or cold.
But my husband is a connoissieur having fully grown-up in the South. Every time we'd be out and he ordered it, we'd discuss the right amount of sweet, bitterness of tea, and amount of lemon. It was a precise mixture of what made it 'right'.
Here's the thing.
You'll have grown up with your version in your family, and I get that. When I was in elementary school (Tennessee days before we moved north), mom would sometimes make sun tea. The big 'ol jar sat outside for hours on the deck, slowly brewing. She'd make it other ways, too. I'm not sure the sun tea is the best way other than it is pretty to watch with the sun glistening through the jar.
I don't have the patience for that. Ours is a stove top version. But back to that in a second.
I don't mention the process very much. Above is a page example of what a recipe goes through. The colors and the shapes of the items are important. If you look at the final card, you'll see how the final may have changed.
Testing out the recipes and tweaking them as we prefer (Generally to simplify or use source ingredients)
Watercolor painting the items - various ways these could be used
I analyze the colors of the ingredients to make sure they work together
Scanning the images; most of the time they are on separate sheets
Cleaning up the images on the computer. Watercolor paint is not easy (for me) to scan. It's a light wash on paper so the colors can skew
Then sometimes I skew the colors purposely to work together.
Then sometimes I skew the imagery to fit on the page to lay out all the text
The recipe words are all written by hand and also scanned. This process goes through many steps to get the words in the right places.
Then it gets test printed to see how the colors work. My mom gets most of the test prints to send out. (They're not bad, but they may have a slight difference.
FINALLY - the product is uploaded to the site in hopes these are sent with special messages to special people!
Now, back to the rest.
As with all our recipes, they're designed to be played with. They're the source to make it your own - or leave it as is. We like our sweet tea version, though. It's a tea that is slightly sweetened (always try to use less sugar where you can!) so you still taste 'tea'. That may sound obvious to a Southern outsider, but shew, some of this sweet tea takes 'sweet' to a whole new level. Then the squeezed lemon slices make it a hint of lemonade.
So when a great friend heard I was making a sweet tea recipe, she threatened me. (HA!) She is the sweet tea champion, but I won't dare take her recipe. Wait until she tries mine! LOL!
Have you had sweet tea in the South? Are you team sweet or unsweetened? Do you have a family method/recipe of something that no one can make like she did?
This blog and contents are all human generated - including the grammatical errors.