Sweet tea recipe, from a grandmother’s kettle to your table – The Denver Post

By Vallery Lomas, The New York Times

Sweet tea should not be confused with “sweetened tea.” Though they are both iced teas that have been sweetened with sugar, the two are vastly different.

Sweetened tea is perfunctory. It’s passive in both grammar and intention. The tea is brewed to the appropriate strength, then it’s left to the drinker to actually do the work: to decide what kind of sugar to use, to determine how much of it to stir in, and then to search for lemon wedges to squeeze into the glass. It’s often served at restaurants, and you’re relegated to stirring granulated sugar into ice-cold tea. Even when vigorously whisked, the sugar crystals settle at the bottom. And if you use a straw, they’re the first thing you suck into your mouth.

Sweet tea, however, is direct and active — a teamaker’s humble offering to those who are blessed to have it poured into their glasses. Preparing sweet tea is an act of service, much like a beloved parent’s serving a child cut fruit or buttered toast. It embodies the Southern hospitality of the homes and kitchens it’s brewed in.

Sweet tea is not just “tea with sugar” — it’s a beverage in its own right. An inviting elixir, sweet tea has its sugar added early on: The sugar crystals dissolve fully when stirred into piping hot tea. And by brewing the tea extra strong, you can push the limits of just how much sugar you use, since that sugar balances the tea’s bitterness.