I am a native New Yorker, who now lives in Northern California. My mom was also technically a “Yankee” but spent half her life in the South. If you ever heard tell of her childhood, half of the kids were born in the North and half in the South. She said, “we fought our own civil war”.
One thing my mom always enjoyed was homemade iced tea. There are many ways to make iced tea. Pour boiling water over tea bags, quick steeps, long steeps, etc. My favorite way to make iced tea is to start with sun tea. Why should I pay to turn on my stove, when the sun is a natural resource and with a little planning, I will never run out of tea; especially in the summer.
My mother preferred her tea (and coffee) unsweetened. I prefer sweet tea, myself. However, one simply cannot take a glass of cold, unsweetened tea and add some sugar and call that sweet tea. Having not been raised in the South, even I know that much.
As previously stated, I don’t make my tea on the stove. However, having been a bartender in my youth, I prefer to make a simple sugar mixture to add to my tea. One cup of sugar to one cup of water, stir, heat until sugar is dissolved. Simple! Then, I let it cool and add it to a container to add to my tea. I like to reuse the Martinelli’s apple juice jars; perfect for simple syrup.
Over the years, I have discovered that the quart-sized mason jars are perfect for this. I make a half-gallon of tea at a time, simply by using two quart jars. I just add three decaf tea bags per jar. I use decaf only because my coffee is caffeinated and I drink tea into the evening. I need to sleep ya know.
They now sell plastic lids for mason jars and they are the best ever for making the jars reusable. Ok, so that was the canning nerd side of me, but you get my point.
Normally, once i get home from work, I bring the tea in (set out before I leave for the day).
I add about 1/8 cup of simple syrup. It’s really a personal taste. Add as little or as much as you like. Then I add some lemon juice. I’ve always loved lemon iced-tea. Maybe that’s not part of the sweet tea most people know, but again, I’m technically a “Yankee” for this venture, and in the true spirit of being a New Yorker, “I did it my way”. So, in goes the lemon.
Put the cap back on, shake it up and there you have it: sweet (lemon) iced tea.