Last updated: July 22. 2014 3:53PM - 585 Views
By Lucie R. Willsie Lifestyle Reporter lwillsie@civitasmedia.com

Sweet iced tea with lemon and lime
Sweet iced tea with lemon and lime
Story Tools:

Font Size:

Social Media:

Frances Lowe likes half-and-half tea.

“Half sweet and half unsweet,” Lowe explained. She’s trying to cut down on sugar. “And, I don’t like lemon in my tea. In water, yes, but not in tea.”

The first time Lowe remembers drinking tea she was around 3 years old down in Georgia.

“They had a big bucket of iced tea for breakfast,” she remembered. “That’s the first time I remember drinking tea.”

Christine Tozier remembers her mom making sun tea.

“But I haven’t made it since I was a kid,” she said.

Now, Tozier likes regular sweet tea, sometimes with a little bit of lemon in it, sometimes not.

“I now make tea once a day, every day, on the stove,” she said. She boils the water on the stove and then steeps the tea for about 15 minutes. Tozier was raised in California, but moved to the South in 1983. “I had never heard of sweet tea until then … That’s when I ‘discovered’ sweet tea … and I’ve been drinking it ever since.”

She does admit to trying the fancier teas, but usually prefers regular ole Southern sweet tea.

“I’m not fancy,” she added.

The Browns — Deborah and Bill — both like sweet tea, but Bill Brown likes it with lemon, but his wife just likes it with sugar.

Bill Brown had his first taste of tea when he was a kid, but said he confused it with coffee. Later, he tried some coffee, and “hated” it.

“Mostly, I went back to tea,” he said.

Juanita Lewis has been drinking tea for “years and years,” she said. Mostly sweet tea with lemon.

Husband Delmer Lewis hasn’t been drinking tea too long.

“First time I tried it, I didn’t think it was that great,” he said. “But now, an ice cold glass of iced tea on a hot day … well, there’s nothin’ better.”

Mandy Mayes likes to drink tea with a grilled cheese sandwich and French fries, but only sweet tea with lemon.

“I like this taste combination,” Mayes acknowledged.

Regular, plain, ole iced tea, without anything in it — that’s how Aleene Ward likes to drink her tea.

“I’m just used to drinking tea that way,” she said, “since the first time I had some tea in her momma’s kitchen.”

The family consisted of nine kids, Ward said, so they never had sodas in the house due largely to the cost buying soda would have created.

However, Ward does admit to now drinking mostly green tea — “I tried it and I like it,” she said — rather than the more standard black tea or pekoe.

“But you have to acquire a taste for green tea,” she said.

The Ramseys, however, prefer to drink green tea.

“It’s good for you,” Ramsey said.

But, if you thought that iced tea was a simple little summery-time drink to make, basically the same, without variation, boy, were you wrong!

In fact, iced tea, especially sweet tea, is a staple, a signature dish, if you will, of the South. One distinguishing feature of Southern Sweet Tea is mixing the tea and sugar with some baking soda to reduce the acidity of the tea. Who knew?

Believe it or not tea, especially sweet iced tea, used to be a luxury item because all three of basic ingredients — tea, sugar and ice — were extremely expensive once upon a time.

According to Internet research, the oldest known recipe for sweet iced tea can be found in an 1879 cookbook titled “Housekeeping in Old Virginia” by Marion Cabel Tyree. This recipe called for green tea, because most tea at the time was made with green tea. During World War II, however, the supply of green tea dried up and folks started using black tea.

Nowadays, iced tea consists of brewed tea leaves with usually some sugar, and/or some sugar and lemon, added.

These would be the three “basic” ingredients. But iced tea can be much more sophisticated and unique than that. And well-worth the effort. A few varied examples follow.





Makes 1 gallon

2 cups of sugar

1/2 gallon of water

1 tray of ice cubes

3 family-sized teabags of orange pekoe tea

3 cups of cold water, or as much as needed


Pour the sugar into a large pitcher. Bring the water to a boil in a large pan. When the water begins to boil, remove from the heat, and place the teabags in. Let steep for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the tea bags, and return tea to the heat. Bring just to a boil, then pour into the pitcher, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Fill the pitcher halfway with ice, and stir until most of it melts. Then fill the pitcher the rest of the way with cold water, and stir until blended.




8 stalks rhubarb, cut into 3-inch lengths

8 cups water

1/3 cup sugar, or to taste

Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish


In a large saucepan, combine the rhubarb and 8 cups of water; bring to a boil, and simmer for 1 hour. Strain the liquid, add sugar to taste, stirring to dissolve, and allow to cool. Serve over ice with a sprig of mint.




Two servings

1 Tablespoon of loose-leaf green tea (such as Kukicha, Gunpowder Green Tea or Hojicha)

About 10 chopped, fresh mint leaves

1 cup of simmering water

1 teaspoon of agave nectar or honey (or sweeten to taste)

1 1/2 cups of ice


Steep the green tea and mint leaves for three minutes, then strain them out. Add sweetener and stir well. Pour over ice in two glasses and serve immediately.




3 cups of fresh or frozen blackberries, thawed

1 1/4 cups of sugar

1 Tablespoon of chopped fresh mint

A pinch of baking soda

4 cups of boiling water

2 family-sized tea bags

2 1/2 cups of cold water

Garnish with fresh blackberries


Combine the blackberries and sugar in a large container, and crush with a wooden spoon; stir in the mint and baking soda. Pour in the 4 cups of boiling water over tea bags; cover and steep 5 minutes. Discard tea bags. Pour the tea over the blackberry mixture; let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Pour the tea through a wire-mesh strainer into a large pitcher, discarding the solids. Add 2 1/2 cups cold water, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cover and chill 1 hour. Garnish, if desired.




Makes 3 quarts

3 Tablespoons of crushed fresh mint leaves

1 quart of boiling water

1/2 cup of instant iced tea powder

1 cup of white sugar

2 quarts of cold water

1 (6 ounce) can of frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed


In a 1 gallon pitcher, combine the mint leaves, 1 quart of boiling water, instant tea powder and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Let it stand for 15 minutes. Stir in the cold water and lemonade concentrate. Serve in tall glasses over ice. Strain out the mint leaves, if desired.




3 (11.5-ounce) cans of peach nectar

2 quarts of brewed tea

1 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice


Stir together all ingredients; chill until ready to serve.




2 Tablespoons of loose rooibos tea

2 Tablespoons of dried lemon verbena or dried mint

2 quarts of cold water

Honey or sugar, to taste


Place the tea and lemon verbena or mint on a square of cheesecloth. Tie into a bundle with kitchen twine. Place tea bag in a large glass jar, and add water. Cover, and steep in direct sunlight for 2 hours. Strain the tea, and discard solids. Stir in the honey or sugar. Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 3 days.




8 regular-sized hibiscus tea bags

3/4 cup of sugar

1 navel orange, sliced

1 lime, sliced

3 cups of ginger ale, chilled

4 cups of water, boiling


Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Remove from heat, and add the tea bags. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Discard tea bags. Stir in the sugar until dissolved; add the orange and lime slices. Cover and chill 2 to 6 hours. Stir in the ginger ale, and serve over ice.

Lucie R. Willsie can be reached at 336-719-1930 or on Twitter at LucieR.Willsie.

All user comments are subject to our Terms of Service. Users may flag inappropriate comments.
comments powered by Disqus

Featured Businesses


Info Minute

Gas Prices

Mount Airy Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com