It's summer! It's warm out. It's sunny. We're lazing the days away by the pool. OK, maybe not. It's cloudy, cool, and rainy here today, and I've been working at my computer nonstop for weeks. But technically it IS summer.
To me summer means iced tea. My mom is a big tea drinker. She likes her tea black and straight, only occasionally (and regrettably in my opinion) reverting to her Southern roots and adding in sugar. I remember back to my childhood getting regular phone calls from her during the day, asking me to get a jug of tea started and outside in the sun so it would be ready when my parents got home from work. It's not uncommon for my mom to comment on the quality of iced tea she's had when talking over her day. And yes, a meal can be a total disappointment when the tea is bad.
She's been a big fan of the tea at the cafe in her local Barnes & Noble. I hear repeatedly how good it is. Despite being across town, I know for a fact she eats lunch there regularly, and I'm fairly certain it's only because she loves their iced tea. She does that. She chooses a restaurant based on the quality of their tea.
If my mother were to pass down to me one recipe, one creation that completely encompasses who she is as my mother, it would be the recipe for good iced tea. When I was back home visiting my parents a few weeks ago, my mom excitedly told me she had perfected the "recipe" for good iced tea. (She had made an earlier attempt during my last visit home but had missed the mark. She didn't quite have the flavors and proportions figured out.) She described the process, and I tasted the new tea. It was good. Really, really good. She told me the secret: the rule of three. She learned the process carefully watching her friends at the B&N cafe and taking mental notes.
If you like plain, black iced tea, I highly recommend the recipe below. It's not fancy. It doesn't call for tea leaves. You can use your microwave. I suspect you could play around with the tea varieties if you're so inclined, add some lemon, make it a hard iced tea, or even (blech!) add some sugar. It's not sun tea, but on a cloudy day like today, I'm just fine with that. It's a concentrate, so you can save some room in your refrigerator. But most importantly, it's a delicious, refreshing, and guilt-free summer drink!
Perfect Iced-Tea Concentrate
1 quart jar full of water, microwaved (or "nuked" if you're my mother) until very hot.
Add 2 bags Earl Gray and one bag black tea.
Steep until really strong (2-3 hours), ignoring the dirty patio table.
Remove tea bags and refrigerate.
When you're ready to drink, remember the rule of three: Fill your glass 1/3 with concentrate, 1/3 water, and 1/3 ice. Mom says if you want to get fancy you can use a shaker to shake it.
Enjoy! And if it's really good iced tea, it might just make you feel like this!