I should have bottled that…great idea that I could have made a mint (tea) on

I just discovered that there seems to be a craze out there for something called sweet tea vodka. Right, people are paying high dollar for something I used to make as a southern girl because it was so darn cheap to make. When I was a college student living in Georgia we used to host parties pretty regularly in the summer (not quite every weekend but pretty close). Friday evening, the guys would arrive with cases of ‘the Beast’ (otherwise known as Milwaukee’s Best) and occasionally someone would bring along a half-keg or keg of the same (or whatever might have been even cheaper than that swill) and the majority wouldn’t depart until sometime on Sunday –party requirements were that we’d put them to work on Saturday on the garden or roof or fence fixing or whatever other project we needed help with. The girls, however, were a bit more discerning in taste for their alcoholic beverages. In fact, we preferred something that didn’t taste like it had alcohol in it. The drink of the day for girls were those bottled wine spritzer things but they were also very expensive. My solution was to make up a lot of sweet tea in pitchers, add in some vodka, swirl it around and serve over ice. Yeah, that tasted pretty ok.

Then, one day, trying to get a jump on things, I made up the tea in the morning and let the sealed pitchers hang out on the counter all day to save fridge space, only putting them in about an hour before people started arriving after we’d taken out all the food items to start grilling, baking, etc. It was a major hit.

It got me thinking about that additional steeping time. So I tried adding the vodka to a couple of the batches of sun tea that I always had going on our porch (sun tea is where you don’t boil the water, you just put your tea bags, water and sugar into a sealed jar and sit out in the sun for several days and let the sun do the cooking and it has a distinctly different taste to regularly made tea). Bigger hit.

That led to the idea of putting the tea bags, minus any water, directly into vodka and letting it hang out for several days in the cupboard, sweeten it on the final day with dissolved sugar, and then adding it as shots/half shots/tiny splashes/whatever your mileage was to individual servings of fresh sweet tea, lemonade, kool-aid, whatever we had on hand…The biggest hit and the guys abandoned the beast for it.

Sweet tea vodka ‘liqueurs’ –made exactly like that! –are now selling for more than $20 a bottle. It is a good thing I don’t chew or I’d definitely spit right about now.

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