Sweet Tea Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Sweet Tea

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A cup of tea floating through space.

Sometimes called sweet iced tea, by those not in the know, sweet tea is a beverage available only in The South of the USA. Non-intuitively, it has little in common with real tea, as sweet tea consists of a blend of orange and black tea leaves, soaked or steeped in water1 that is not hot enough to burn away the non-bitter agents, a process unlike most other tea-making rituals. Additionally, for three litres2 of sweet tea, while it is hot, one should add about 125g of sugar, then allow the tea to cool naturally and remove the tea leaves. Some heretics advocate the use of fruit3 to augment the flavour of their sweet tea, but this addition is merely a crutch for poor availability of clean water supply or poor choice of tea blend.

Sweet tea should be refrigerated for a while, so that its introduction into a large glass of ice does not unduly dilute the beverage. Serving in a large glass is an essential component of the experience. If it were served in a teacup, this might promote the notion of sipping; but sweet tea is not to be sipped. One should quaff it with gusto in order to gain full enjoyment of the experience.

A common error among those who have never experienced the orgasmic qualities of sweet tea is to mistakenly assume that one might achieve the same effect by combining non-sweetened iced tea with an artificial or natural sweetener: nothing could be further from the truth. Upon entering a restaurant and enquiring 'Do you have sweet tea?' and hearing the answer 'No, but there's sugar on the table', one's mind should interpret this response as 'Why, no - I've never heard of it before! Why don't you have a Pepsi, instead?'

Unfortunately, it can take several years of experimenting to arrive at a recipe for good sweet tea. Even with considerable experience, makers of sweet tea often only produce one good pitcher of it every three attempts. The work is worth the effort, though, and because of the steep learning curve4, sweet tea has not spread much beyond The South. Anyone passing through The South should take a moment to become addicted, and find and learn a recipe.

1Only extremely clean water should be used - fluoridated, chlorinated, or hard water cannot make good tea.2Three litres of sweet tea is a typical amount to make of this marvellous beverage.3Usually citrus fruit - orange, lemon or lime.4And steeping is only a fraction of what you have to learn!

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