I was born and raised in Tennessee. My mama taught me to make the Holy Trinity of summer cuisine: fried chicken, blackberry cobbler, and sweet tea. My blood type may very well be “sweet tea positive”.
A pitcher of iced tea could be on the table for lunch and dinner every day when it was hot out, and it needed to be good.
Making sweet iced tea is an art, passed down from mother to child. We are kind of like redneck geisha.
I am silently judgey of the iced tea in restaurants. You’d be surprised at the “down-home” restaurant chains that don’t get the tea right. Too weak, too sweet, sugar too grainy.
And you can tell when you aren’t in the South anymore by what happens in a restaurant. You ask the server if the iced tea is sweet. She points to sugar packets on the table. You slump and just get water.
Once in Illinois, they didn’t even serve iced tea. I asked for tea and they brought me hot water and a tea bag. In the summer.
When I had this opportunity to review the new Pure Leaf bottled iced tea from Lipton, I was prepared for disappointment. Frankly, I have never-not-once had really good bottled iced tea. The tea flavor in most bottled teas is weak or bitter. Or, it’s too sweet. Yes, that can happen.
I think Pure Leaf gets it right because they focus on the tea. They have a “tea master”. (Go ahead and make the Gatekeeper jokes in your head and get it out of your system. I’ll wait…)
Their Tea Master, John Cheetham, is specially trained in the art of blending different tea leaves to come up with a blend that brews the best color, body, and most importantly—taste.
I liked them all. I liked them all so much, I’ve been back to the grocery store to buy more with my own money.
I’ll still make my own sweet tea at home for the most part, just as a savings. But when I purchase tea from the store, Pure Leaf is my new go-to.
It’s sold in larger carafes, as in the picture on the right, and in single-serve bottles. I find it in the refrigerated section of the grocery store and drug store. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for it in convenience stores.
Pure Leaf is great in recipes, as well. If you check out the Pure Leaf website or Facebook page, they have amazing drinks and even main dish recipes incorporating their teas. One weekend (that’s when we eat meat) I want to try the tea-marinated pork chop recipe developed for Pure Leaf by The Feisty Foodie.
I made my own little drink, using two of my favorite warm-weather flavors: citrus and basil. Mixing tea and citrus juices reminds me of Sunday lunches at the country club in Gallatin, Tennessee, with my papa and granny. It wasn’t much of a country club, but the food sure was good.
Chiffonade a fresh basil leaf and put it in the bottom of a cold iced tea glass. Add ice cubes. Pour four parts Pure Leaf tea of your choice and one part fresh orange juice over the ice. Swirl a little to blend. Garnish with another fresh basil leaf, if desired.
Use the same proportions to make a pitcher of tea, omitting the ice. You don’t want to dilute the tea in the pitcher.
Add fresh slices of orange and lime, if handy. Drink under a tree in a hammock.
Are you a sweet tea drinker? Have you seen Pure Leaf in stores yet? Leave me some comment love, if you have a minute.
“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Lipton Pure Leaf. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for participating”