Crumbles and Noodles

Crumbles & Noodles: Ice Tea

Welcome to a new series here on schliefkevision – Crumbles & Noodles, a look at the American cuisine I grew up with. Most of the food covered in this series was made by Mom – who is a wonderful cook. While she never got too adventurous – tacos from a box was always a far out ethnic treat – she cooked well and often. This series is a tribute of sorts, so sit back, learn some new recipes, and enjoy!

Today’s subject: Mom’s Ice Tea.

Ice Tea

Mom’s Ice Tea

You may think you know iced tea. But this isn’t about iced tea, this is Mom’s Ice Tea. With the identical tea made in my Aunt’s house, I assume the Mom referenced is actually my grandmother. Somewhere along the way, the ‘d’ in iced was dropped. Thinking back, I can’t really recall anybody in my family calling it ‘iced tea’. This grammatical mistake could be traced back to my bilingual grandmother’s Polish/English tongue, or it could merely make the drink into a directive. Ice. Tea. Whatever the roots, the loss of the ‘d’ was also the loss of the past tense. It makes sense really, as this sweet, summertime drink is in the HERE AND NOW. So strap yourselves in! We’re going for a ride!

The Sweetness

Ice Tea
Ingredients for one gallon
(gallon jug not shown)

I remember when I first arrived in Missouri and began to experience its pastiche of midwestern/southern culture. My new art school friends introduced me to Sweet Tea. Immediately, I liked that notion – I love ice tea and I love sweet things, so this seemed right up my alley. I grabbed a big glass and took a big gulp and… it was brutally bitter. My friends told me it was already sweetened, but I threw a couple sugar packets in to sweeten it up. My friends were incredulous, and to this day, I don’t think they believe me when I said it wasn’t sweet.

As a kid growing up in the northeast, Mom always kept at least two homemade gallons of ice tea in the fridge during the summer. One was ready to go, and the one in the back was cooling down. Not that warm ice tea was a deal breaker, there were plenty of days I would impatiently chug away at the warm tea just to get my sweetened sugar fix before running out to play.

So what made Mom’s Ice Tea so sweet? A simple look at the recipe years later revealed that my family had no idea how diabetes works.

Mom’s Ice Tea Recipe

Ice Tea Recipe

Two cups of sugar in every gallon! Even Lipton’s Southern Sweet Tea recipe only calls for one and a half cups of sugar. Kool Aid was a constant summer drink as well. It served as a flavored alternative that was never quite as sweet as Mom’s Ice Tea. Kool Aid was for children, and even I could make it! Ice Tea seemed to be this secret adult delight that you actually had to cook and prepare. It even involved a funnel!

Mom’s Ice Tea is still a wonderful summertime drink. I’ve adjusted my daily intake to well below a gallon a day, and have even made it on my own over the years cutting the sugar some and squeezing in some fresh peaches. Go ahead and make some for yourself soon – just keep an eye on those blood sugar levels.