Friday, June 13, 2008

sweet tea

 Mr. Sealion is a Georgia boy.  When the weather gets warm, no drink is quite like "sweet tea."  And he's a connoisseur.  So I have experimented with making a tea that is sweetened with more whole sweeteners, such as honey and rapadura.  This summer I have discovered the sweetening power of stevia leaf.  Stevia is an herb (not a sugar!) whose leaves are sweet, and slightly bitter or licorice-tasting when greatly concentrated.  Stevia is sold in dried leaf form ~ similar to any other dried tea, in a concentrated powder, and a concentrated liquid sold with a dropper.  You can find it at most any health/whole foods store.  Brewing the dried leaf in with other tea ingredients makes a sweet product that pleases even the Southern palate.  I find the leaves sweeter and less bitter than the concentrates.     
Here is my basic recipe, and then the variation I just brewed up a minute ago.  Rooibos is nice earthy-sweet brown herbal that resonates and continues the black tea taste without its caffeine.  I buy my tea leaves in bulk from the local health/whole foods store.  That's why my measurements are in tablespoons as opposed to tea bags.    

Basic "Sweet Tea" ~ caffeinated
~for 1 gallon of tea ~ 
3 rounded T organic black tea leaves
2 rounded T organic rooibos 
scant (loose and fluffy) 1/4 cup stevia leaves
Bring water to a boil, add teas and brew, simmering, for 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and brew for another 5 minutes.  Pour into tempered glass container and add filtered water to equal a good strength for your taste.  Serve cold and/or over ice.  

Rooibos Blend "Sweet Tea" ~ still caffeinated, but not as much
2 T organic rooibos
1 T organic black tea
1 T organic yerba mate'
1 T organic peppermint (dried ~ use more if fresh)
scant (loose and fluffy) 1/4 cup stevia leaves
Bring water almost to a boil (yerba mate' doesn't like boiling water), add teas and brew on low heat for 5 minutes.  Brew for 5-15 more minutes, depending on your taste preferences.  Pour into tempered glass container and add filtered water to equal a good strength.  Serve cold and/or over ice.  

I emphasize organic (as usual).  Black teas that aren't labeled organic have pesticides sprayed on them that are harmful to tea-workers and concentrated in the drying.  Black tea, rooibos, and yerba mate' are all imported to the US from other countries.  I like to make sure those that I buy are also Fair Trade Certified, so that the workers get respect and compensation for their efforts.   

1 comment:

Joysephine said...

Thanks for posting this! I just got a Stevia plant and wanted to make sweet tea with it, but had no idea how much to use. Your entry is the only thing I've found talking about using FRESH Stevia rather than liquid or dried. :)