Making Perfect Iced Tea: Things My Mama Taught Me (and a few I learned from HGTV)

Making Perfect Iced Tea| How To Make a Perfect Glass of Iced TeaToday I’m resurrecting a series of posts called, “Things My Mama Taught Me.”

I wouldn’t really call myself a domestic diva, but I am a good Southern cook, who routinely OD’s on information. I love all things about hearth and home, I am always on a quest for finding the most efficient way of doing the most mundane thing.

Thus, this series. I’ve got a lot of odds and ends of info rattling about my head, and I figured some of you might find them helpful and/or interesting.

In this series, you will find tips, tricks, recipes, favorite resources, and the like.

Today, I’m going to tell you how to make delicious and perfectly brewed iced tea.

When I was in college and living with three roommates in a two-bedroom apartment, I was the tea maker. My roommates—Southern girls though they were—had no clue how to make iced tea. They thought tea came in a brown powder form in a can.

Sacrilege, I tell you. Absolute sacrilege.

Since then, I’ve been perfecting my iced tea skills, and we always have a gallon in the fridge. I can’t go more than a few hours without a cold glass of tea. Alone, I probably drink 1 gallon every 2 days or so.

Making perfect iced tea is simple. Follow my tips below.

Iced Tea

makes one gallon

In a small saucepan, boil about 3 cups of water. I never measure; just fill up the saucepan.

When the water boils, add 3 family size tea bags. I actually use decaf tea now and have never been able to make any distinction in flavor.

Remove the pot from the heat. Cover the pot with a lid and allow to steep. I think it should steep at least 10-15 minutes, but 30-45 minutes will give you a deeper flavor.

Next comes the controversial part: sugar. I am not a big fan of super-sweet tea. When it is super-sweet, the flavor of the tea is obliterated by the syrupy flavor. If I want syrup, I’ll drink Coke. So, I typically only add about 1/2 cup sugar to the warm liquid and stir to dissolve. (Obviously, add more sugar to adjust to your taste.)

Pour the tea mixture into a one gallon jug. Fill the jug with cold water to make one gallon.

In my ideal world, my iced tea is served over a glass FULL of ice, with fresh-squeezed lemon, and sprigs of mint.

Absolutely, positively perfect refreshment. Ahhhh.

For sweetness/more flavor without the sugar:

  • Try using Stevia instead of sugar.
  • I also use 1-2 drops Lemon, Orange, and/or Bergamot essential oils per glass. The oils give a delicious flavor. You may find you don’t miss the sugar when flavoring with essential oils. *Note: Never add the oils to iced tea unless it is in a glass container. I only consume and recommend consuming 100% pure therapeutic-grade essential oils by Young Living.
  • I periodically experiment with brewing a herbal or flavored tea along with the original teabags. Just replace one tea bag with about 3 smaller bags. I like to use orange spice, green citrus, and raspberry leaf.
  • I also use an Iced Tea Maker frequently now to make iced tea. I do love it, and I think it does a fine job. I bought some bulk cut herbs (raspberry leaf ), and brew them in my iced tea maker with my tea bags.
    Directions: Follow machine’s directions for making tea. Place 3 large bags into the maker. Put 3 heaping T of raspberry leaf herb (or herb of your choice) into a plain coffee filter. Fold the corners of the coffee filter like wrapping a gift. Staple together to close. Place herb pouch on top of tea bags and brew as normal.

Some good fast iced tea options when you’re out:

  • Sonic Route 66 iced tea, half sweet and half unsweet with extra lemon
  • McDonald’s large tea, half sweet and half unsweet with extra lemon

What about you? What’s your favorite iced beverage? What’s your favorite hot beverage? Do you have any tips for making the perfect glass or cup of whatever?


Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.


One week from tonight, I’ll be dozing off after a day full of turkey, dressing, and gravy.

Last week, I gave you the recipe for my mother’s perfect turkey. Today, I post her dressing recipe (with a few of my tweaks). I’ll also be posting this recipe on Group Blog Thursday over at Steph in the City.

Cornbread Dressing

Make a pan of cornbread according to package directions. Allow it to cool, then cut and crumble it into bite-size pieces.

Chop one onion, two stalks of celery, and three cloves of garlic. Saute onion, celery, and garlic in 1/2 stick of melted butter.

Stir mixture into crumbled cornbread. Add salt and pepper and dried sage to taste. Add 1/2 cup of chopped parsley. Slowly add chicken or turkey broth by cupfuls until desired consistency (about 2-4 cups); we like it kind of mushy but not too watery.

Pour into a greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until the casserole is browned and bubbly.


Thanksgiving is just around the corner. I decided to post a series of recipes that actually did come from my mom. (I’ll post recipes for cornbread dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, and more within the days between now and Thanksgiving.)

First up: A Perfect Turkey

I promise that if you follow the directions for cooking this turkey, your turkey will turn out beautifully.

It’s a fool-proof, easy recipe.

A Perfect Turkey

one 16-pound turkey, thawed
one onion
two celery stalks
one stick of butter
1 cup of cold water
1 lemon, cut in half
kosher salt
ground black pepper
garlic powder
3-5 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove giblets. Rub outside of turkey with salt and sprinkle generously with pepper and garlic powder. Inside the cavity, place one peeled onion, two celery stalks, one stick of butter, one cup of cold water, lemon, and rosemary sprigs.

Wrap the whole bird in heavy aluminum foil, checking to see that it is snug and tight. Put wrapped bird in roasting pan and cover with the lid. Or, to make your own roaster, use two aluminum roasting pans to form a top and bottom.

Cook for one hour at 350 degrees. Then lower the temperature to 275 degrees. Cook for thirty minutes per pound (about eight hours for a 16-pound bird).

During the last hour (eighth hour), lower the oven to 250 degrees. At the end of that hour, turn the oven off. Allow turkey to sit in the cooling oven for about thirty minutes.

Cool turkey completely before slicing.


I know the timing can be a little tricky to figure out. Here’s a sample schedule (I’ll be doing something like this on Thanksgiving Eve):

8:00-8:30 Prep bird for baking
8:30-9:30 Cook at 350 degrees
9:30-5:30 Cook at 275 degrees

Set alarm for 4:30 to change oven temp
and go back to bed

4:30-5:30 Lower oven to 250 degrees
5:30 Turn oven off
5:30-6:00 Turkey sits in off and cooling oven

Move turkey to cool in refrigerator

11:30-11:45 Slice turkey and plate
Noon Eat Thanksgiving dinner

Things My Mama Taught Me (and a few I learned from HGTV)

So, I didn’t learn this from my mama or HGTV; but it’s a recipe and so, it fits in with this series.

In 1998, I did my student teaching in English for twelfth grade (someday I’ll tell you the sordid tale of my journey from broadcast journalism to PR to education to publishing; quite the interesting story that it is).

I cried everyday when I came home and worked so hard just to get through the semester. The students were the “standard” class, which meant that their only goal was to pass the class so they could graduate. Period.

Yeah. They cared not one hoot about the nuances of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (and, really, I couldn’t blame them). They had no interest in expanding their vocabulary nor writing a titillating essay.

I finally made it to Christmas break. I remember the kids asked me, “What are you going to do during Christmas break?” I replied, “I’m going to sleep. And then I’m going to clean my tile bathroom floor.” They looked at me as if I were a Martian, certainly relieved to be rid of me—that crazy woman who loved semi-colons and deducted points from essays for their use of crude language and descriptions of alcohol use and evading the law.

My highlight of that semester—I kid you not—was a sweet loaf of pumpkin bread. My mentor teacher baked me a loaf and gave me the recipe, too. It’s the best pumpkin bread I’ve ever eaten, and I always get rave reviews.

That gift helped me get through that semester—and many since then.

Pumpkin Bread

In a large bowl, mix together the following:
3 1/3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt

Stir in:
4 eggs
1 cup oil
1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)

Optional additions:
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup chopped raisins

Pour batter into 2 loaf pans (9″ x 4″).
Bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

My notes: add ingredients in order as listed. Use a hand mixer to stir in the wet ingredients. I never add anything to my bread (I like it plain). Fill pans only about 1/2 to 3/4 full; filling too full will not get the bread done and the top will be gooey. Use more than 2 pans, if needed.