I grew up on sweet tea, literally. My mom says she remembers putting it my mine and my sister’s bottles when we were fussy, and wouldn’t you know it we grew up just fine. Sweet tea is a staple in my home today and while I didn’t bottle-feed it to my kids, I introduced it to them as soon as I could and they’ve loved it ever since.
Like most folks here in Texas, you typically you wouldn’t find me messing with a good thing, but tis the season, blackberry season! Several years ago we had a bumper crop of huge, quarter size blackberries and this recipe came out of the overflow of that harvest.
There is an art to good sweet tea; it’s a lesson I learned from my grandmother and my husband’s grandmother. One eye-opening lesson was never (and I mean never) use teabags. Only use loose tea leaves. Both of these ladies used Lipton loose tea and that’s exactly what I use. Second, but not far behind is sweetening. For a 1-gallon pitcher, use 1 ½ cups granulated sugar. The sugar is dissolved in the pot while the water is heating, before the tea leaves are added. Lastly is the steeping process. Removing the boiling water from direct heat, then stirring in the tea leaves, covering the pot with a tight fitting lid and allowing it to steep for no more than 5 minutes will allow the tea to concentrate. Don’t allow the tea to go past steeping for 5 minutes or it will become bitter.
For blackberry tea we reduce the amount of sugar because we’ll be using homemade blackberry syrup that is heavily sweetened.
Blackberry syrup is a delicious addition to lemonade as well. You can also serve this syrup over pancakes, waffles or vanilla ice cream.
- 3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, thawed
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- Pinch of baking soda
- 4 cups boiling water
- 2 family-size tea bags
- 2½ cups cold water
- Garnishes: fresh blackberries, fresh mint sprigs
- Combine blackberries and sugar in large container. Crush blackberries with wooden spoon. Add mint and baking soda. Set aside.
- Pour 4 cups boiling water over tea bags; cover and let stand 3 minutes. Discard tea bags.
- Pour tea over blackberry mixture; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Pour tea through a wire-mesh strainer into a large pitcher, discarding solids.
- Add 2½ cups cold water, stirring until sugar dissolves.
- Cover and chill until ready to serve.
- Garnish, if desired.