Growing up in Virginia, I do enjoy some ice cold sweet tea. I've noticed that as you move north or west, it becomes harder and harder to find any. After moving to Colorado it's become virtually impossible to find any.
One of the main issues I had with brewing and steeping of my own sweet tea was that it took time. You had to prepare a pitcher well in advance for it to be cold. By that time I had usually given in and gotten something else to drink.
Well no more! I've perfected the single serving sweet tea, and in the office no less. This is perfect if you work in an office building and happen to have a kitchen on your floor. Being summer this is awesome. It also helps lessen the sting of being in the office on a Sunday.
Step 1: Find the Kitchen on Your Floor
One thing I've noticed from working in various office buildings, is that most of them look the same for the most part and they have roughly the same things. Food services anyone?
Find your office kitchen and take stock of what's available. You may not have everything on hand but most can be substituted fairly easily.
Step 2: Gather Up All the Ingredients
- Cup for your beverage (paper solo cups tend to be pretty ubiquitous)
- Sugar or sweetener of choice
- Black tea bag
Step 3: Add Sugar to the Cup
You want to add your sugar/sweetener to the mix while the water is still hot, not when you have ice cubes already floating around. Higher temperature = higher entropy = more dissolving = less stirring
I recommend covering the bottom of the cup with about a centimeter of sugar. This will be to taste of course.
Step 4: Add Hot Water
It's a wonderful thing when the coffee machine also has an external spout for hot water. This is useful for all manner of mini-kitchen cooking. I've used it for hot cocoa and making ramen!
Add hot water to your cup of sugar. You will only want to put in about 1.5" of water. Just enough to get a good brew going. It's important that you don't add too much, otherwise the ice cubes won't do a sufficient job of cooling down your beverage.
Pick up a coffee stirrer and just your solution a few stirs to mix it all together.
Step 5: Add Your Tea Bag
Most break rooms and kitchens have those giant racks of tea, ranging from crazy herbals to your standard black teas. For sweet tea, find a black tea. English breakfast is my tea of choice for sweet tea. Stay away from Earl Grey (even though it is black tea as well) as it has citrus oils in it that goof up the flavor.
Add the tea bag to the cup. You'll notice that the water just barely goes over the bag if the bag is standing upright. Slosh it around until you see that awesome brownish cloud permeate the entire cup. The cup should be fairly hot to touch right now, so hold by the top.
Step 6: Ice Cubes!
Every floor happens to have an ice cube machine sitting in a corner. If yours does not, just make sure to have some ice cubes in trays waiting in the freezer.
Add ice cubes to the cup until it reaches the top. Let it sit for a second, then jostle the cup. The first few cubes will have melted by now and have made room for more cubes to be added.
Step 7: Enjoy Your Sweet Tea
Let it sit for a minute or two and you will have ice cold sweet tea for your consumption. This entire process takes less than a minute. I go from craving to loving life in no time at all. It's so simple that most people in the office don't even think about doing it this way. I assure you addiction is a potential risk. Enjoy!