Today, Thursday, is Free Tea Day around the country, and Mississipi has its best iced tea, sweetened of course, served just about in every restaurant. We have one company with cafes scattered around the Jackson Metro Area that is really famous for their tea, McAlister's. If you haven't gotten a McAlister's you are missing some good Southern sandwiches and their tea.
A recent article revealed that the company is particular about making and keeping their prepared tea. Their recipe and the fact that they don't keep prepared tea around long are two secrets. In fact, oftentimes they run out just when I'm ready to order. We get 32 ounces of cold tea sweetened too much for some and just right for others. Until I saw a recipe, did I realize that a pinch of baking soda in the tea as it brews reduces the bitterness of the tea and gives it a dark color. The taste is perfect and if you finish with 32 ounces, you can get a refill. Refreshing!
We Southerners consume lots of tea year around, not just the summers. Unlike the literary books and movies about the South that has made you think we sit on our porches drinking mint juleps, you can hardly find anyone who has an afternoon julep.It must be tea. Iced, meaning cubes sitting in the glass; no tepid tea that sat in the fridge attempting to get cold.
As one local restaurant owns states,"I see it as a staple. You best not open a restaurant if you're not able to provide iced tea." And that sums it.
P. S. We say "Ice Tea" not "Iced Tea" We've swallowed the -d so long we've forgotten it belongs!