True Southern sweet tea isn't fancy, but it's a drink built on perfect balance: Just enough tea for flavour but not so much to taste tannic, and just the right amount of simple sugar syrup, with lemon and mint to give the brew zing.
1 tablespoon loose black tea
½ cup granulated sugar
8 leaves of fresh mint
4 slices of lemon
4 cups boiling water
Pour the loose tea into a 1-litre canning jar, and the sugar into a second jar. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over each and gently stir. After 10 minutes, pour tea and simple syrup through a strainer into a pitcher or three-litre canning jar and let cool, or fill remaining space with ice. Fill four tall glasses with ice and pour the cold tea into each glass. Garnish each with two mint leaves and a slice of lemon.
Reprinted from the book A New Turn in the South by Hugh Acheson. Copyright © 2011 by Hugh Acheson. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.