Monday, June 10, 2013

It’s National Ice Tea Day ~ The Best Southern “Sweet” Tea and The Palace Cafe Ice Tea

Palace Cafe Ice Tea for National Ice Tea Day
Many years ago, on my first trip south, I had my first glass of “sweet” tea.  It was love at first taste!  How come this wonderful stuff never made it up north? The only ice tea I had ever had back then, came in a powdered form. Lipton, Nestea, etc. Then one day, while reading one of my Southern Living magazines, they featured a recipe on how to make real southern “sweet” tea.
To put this in perspective, it was the 80’s.  In the north we drank “hot” tea, and in the south, the tea of choice was “sweet” ice tea.  Once, while traveling to Florida, we stopped to eat. It was a damp cool day.  I asked for a cup of hot tea.  The waitress gave me a strange look and said, "they had no hot tea".  I was astounded and asked, "don’t you have tea bags?"  I told her to bring me a tea bag with a cup of boiling water.  She then told me that their bags were just for ice tea.  Really?  She then said, she would see what she could do.  What she did, was bring me a cup of “sweet” tea that she heated in the microwave. To anyone who savors their tea, that is not how you make a proper cup.  True story!

Through the years our food cultures have somewhat melded.  You can now ask for hot tea in most Southern restaurants, and you can get ice tea in most northern restaurants.  Don’t expect really great Southern sweet tea up north, though. The north still hasn’t caught up with the “sweet” tea thing!  They mostly serve it unsweetened, so you have to add your own sugar, which never dissolves.  And, they never refill!  Free refills are so cool!

Pour yourself a glass, and sit back
That brings me to my celebrating National Ice Tea day. Thank you Louise @Months of Edible Celebrations, for letting me know there is such a day.  I love ice tea, and drink pitchers of it all summer long!
Last October, while in New Orleans waiting out Hurricane Sandy, we ate at a wonderful restaurant called the Palace Cafe, owned by Dickie Brennan. The Brennans are well known Restauranteurs in New Orleans.  The Commander’s Palace, Brennan’s and Dickie Brennan’s Steak House to name just a few. The food at the Palace was incredibly delicious, and the service impeccable. However, the thing that stood out in my mind, was their amazing ice tea.  It was a black tea with mint, and I thought the waitress said rosemary. I thought of that delicious tea for several weeks.  I finally sent an e-mail, to the Palace Cafe, requesting the recipe, never expecting an answer.  A few days later, I received a lovely note via e-mail with the recipe. Every time I make it for friends and family, it gets great reviews!
Whether you like your ice tea “sweet” or “unsweet”, flavored or unflavored, black, green, white or red; I hope you’ll take some time to enjoy National Ice Tea Day! Sit back and enjoy a glass of your favorite or, try this lovely recipe from the Palace Cafe!

Rosemary and Mint
Brewing the tea
Steeping the herbs
Enjoy Ice Tea Day and make yourself a pitcher!

The Best Southern Ice Tea

6 regular tea bags

2 cups boiling water
1 cup of sugar (I use only ½-¾ cup)
6 cups cold water

1. Place the tea bags in a large measuring cup.
2. Pour the boiling water over the tea bags.
3. Cover and steep for 10 minutes
4. Take out the tea bags (do not squeeze them)
5. Add the sugar and stir
6. Pour the tea mixture into a 2 quart pitcher.
7. Add the cold water and serve over ice. 
 I like to add mint leaves and orange or lemon slices to my ice tea.

Palace Cafe Ice Tea

I only make half this recipe and use about a cup of sugar for a gallon.  

2 gallons fresh brewed tea
1 pound sugar (or desired sweetness) mixed with 1 cup scalding water (to melt sugar and make a syrup)
1 bunch mint leaves (no stems - makes it bitter)
4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Chop mint leaves and rosemary then steep in 2 cups scalding water for 10 minutes then strain.
Mix all ingredients together, chill and serve. 

The Palace Cafe…if you get to New Orleans,  give it a try
Our wonderful waiter and rest of wait staff
The decor was lovely, the mood relaxing 
This was my delicious Catfish Pecan  


  1. From your photos, Palace Cafe seems really nice. Although the sun is hiding today, the mood for ice tea season is starting here, so thank you! I've never used rosemary in tea, so I'm very curious about it.

    Great post.

    Have a wonderful week!

  2. Thank you for getting this recipe, I love finding special, unique recipes like this one. It sounds wonderful!

  3. I don't doubt this is the best iced tea, it looks so delicious and thank you for the links :D


  4. Up until recently we didn't have ice tea in Greece either! The last 10 years though has become a trend. I am sure this sweet ice tea has absolutely nothing in common with the store bought. Looks absolutely perfect!

  5. Didn't know such a day existed at all...anyway, I am a tea drinker and this is a perfect summer cooler!

  6. You know i've never had real southern sweet tea? So refreshing!

  7. I love sweet tea! I grew up in the South.

  8. Kathy, these look like wondeful refreshing ice tea recipes - I love the addition of mint or rosemary to ice tea, these herbs add such a wonderful layer of flavor to teas.
    Have a great Wednesday!

  9. dear Kathy, I loved reading about the tea. It was very nice for the Palace Cafe to respond to your e-mail. I like the thought of the rosemary and mint flavored in the tea.
    I will try this over the summer.
    Thank you for your visit. Blessings dear. Catherine xoxo

  10. Your tea looks so refreshing. I just came back from walking my dogs and it's about 96 degrees. A nice tall glass of iced tea sounds really good right now.

  11. Ah, there is nothing like a good pitcher of iced tea! My mom grew up in the South so we grew up drinking tea too! Thank you for sharing your lovely photographs and words. As always, I'm leaving inspired! Hugs!

  12. So refreshing, Kathy!

    We just booked a trip to New Orleans in November, so I'll have to check out the Palace Cafe!

    1. Susan, I’m sure you will both enjoy it.

  13. Beautiful pitcher of tea Kathy! How cool the Palace Cafe sent you their sweet ice tea recipes- thanks for sharing it with us ;-)
    Looks like it could be a regular Summertime drink, especially on a hot day! Can't wait to get back to New Orleans-such a fun place to visit and of course eat ;-)

  14. I have been trying to find catfish locally to bread with cornmeal and now I have another reason to find them! I love fish with a nut coating!

  15. Hi Kathy!

    Look at me, here it is so many days after National Ice Tea Day and I didn't even get to give you a toast! I do apologize:) But I'm here now, and I'm loving that recipe. How very sweet of you to share the recipe and mention me too:)

    Thank you Kathy. I'm all caught up for the time being so I will be looking forward to all your goodness!

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  16. I have never thought of adding rosemary to iced tea, but it sounds delicious! Here in the south we really do love our tea! I think orang mint is especially nice in iced tea.