Punchy

Iced tea spoons. You have some of these, right?

I loathe sweetened ice tea. Or is it sweet iced tea? O sweet ice tea? Or sweetened iced tea? It matters not. I don’t like it no matter how it’s spelled or what it’s called

It’s very Un-Southern of me. Like lose your Southerner Card Un-Southern of me. And, don’t get me started on that foul concoction known as banana pudding. That’s a tale for another day

At the now shuttered Price’s Chicken Coop in Charlotte, NC, I once asked the lady behind the counter for an un-sweetened ice tea to wash down my boxed lunch of fried chicken, slaw, hush puppies

She glared at me and said, “Baby, we only have sweet tea”

As she said it, I watched another lady across the kitchen space mixing freshly brewed tea with pounds and pounds of sugar

“But, she’s mixing unsweetened tea with sugar right there”

She was not to be trifled with by me

“Baby, we only have sweet tea.”

So, I drank the sweetened humming bird nectar and felt heart palpitations, headache, and more thirst. Sweetened ice tea does nothing to slake thirst. In fact, it only makes the drinker all the more thirsty

Change my mind

You can’t

Protective even

All that being said, there is one sweetened tea mixture that I will drink by the gallon

It’s my great grandmothers Tea Punch made with strong black tea, sugar, lemons, mint, pineapple juice, and ginger ale, pronounced jin-juh -A-uhl

My great aunt in Savannah used to make it for family functions

“Well, I’m serving mama’s tea punch” she would tell us

It’s really refreshing on a hot summer day

It can be served in a punch bowl with punch cups, too. But, I like it in a glass with a ton of ice

We children couldn’t get enough of it. It’s not cloyingly sweet like that stuff they pour all over the South, but, boy, is it good

I have the index card with my great aunt’s writing on it that reads “Big Easy’s Tea Punch”. Notes included. It’s those notes that are a treasure.

Because it’s the summer, I’m sharing this with all four or five of you who follow me. Some of you have had this at my parents’ house, too.

Wish you could have quaffed it at my great-aunt and uncle’s house in Savannah paired with shrimp creole and hot rice and beaten biscuit along with that green salad with a secret dressing on the side

Pass additional sliced lemon and mint and serve over lots and lots of ice

Mint won’t grow in a henpecked house. It grows with abandon at our house

Big Easy’s Tea Punch

3 family sized Lipton’s tea bags

2 lemons, quartered and additional lemon slices for garnish

1 cup sugar

1 cup pineapple juice

1 cup ginger ale

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves plus more for garnish

In a pot bring 3 quarts water to rolling boil and add the tea bags. Add a quarter cup of the mint. Let steep for at least 20 minutes

In a separate pot, place the quartered lemons and add 3 quarts of water. Place on the heat and remove as soon as bubbles form. Don’t bring to a boil. If it boils, it will be bitter as gall per my great aunt. She used that term a lot, bitter as gall.

N.B. I have no idea what gall is but I know that Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget the wormwood and the gall are told to spread trophies at His feet in “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” so it must be pretty nasty if our Redeemer took away our sins and exposure to gall

Remove the lemons and add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Once the lemons have cooled, juice them into the sugar syrup

In a pitcher combine the tea, sugar/lemon syrup, pineapple juice, and ginger ale. Let cool completely and serve over ice

This can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled as needed

Serve with additional lemon slices and mint

Guess I can get my Southerner Card back if I admit to at least liking Big Easy’s tea punch. Now about that banana pudding …..

5 thoughts on “Punchy

  1. Thanks Hamlin, i think i will make some for my friends up North this weekend, they love everything southern and especially the Lowcountry!

    Trey Coates

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No sweet tea for me either! My daughter in law does make a delicious ‘nana puddin’ for special events! Uses Pepperidge Farms Chessman cookies!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hamlin, my friend, I want you to read up on Salem College iced tea, which was always served in the refectory (yes, we call it by that name) when I was in college. I think you’d like it. Pineapple juice added to brewed tea in some very basic combination. Also, in my natal family, we never drank presweetened ice tea. We used iced tea spoons at the table to stir in mint/lemon/sugar as preferred. I always took mine “straight,” just like you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with you on the sweet tea deal. Can’t drink it.
    I alway order unsweetened.
    Maybe add a dash of sugar, but really not necessary.
    My parents had a drawer filled with silver iced tea spoons. (Wish I had a few.) They always had unsweetened tea available served with mint and lemon. My mom sometimes added cloves to her pitchers of tea.
    I’m from NC and I also have never touched banana pudding. Ick.

    Like

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