Sweet Siberian Tea
How I learned to appreciate the joys of hot tea
“You’re doing this wrong.”
Don’t you get tired of these stupid headlines?
- You’re Eating Apples All Wrong
- You’re Making Beans All Wrong
- You’re Eating Pizza All Wrong
- You’re Cooking Meth the Wrong Way
I could go on.
Regardless, let me share why it's important that you make sweet tea the right way.
Once, I was in Russia and I wanted sweet tea.
As it turns out, they don’t drink cold sweet tea in Russia, or pretty much anywhere else in the world.
I don’t know why, because sweet tea done right is awesome.
We stayed in a dormitory in a college town in the far north of Russia.
Like most southerners, I love snow — for about 10 minutes, but less is better.
And then it’s time for short pants and flip-flops.
After being in the dorm room for several days, what I wanted to drink was some cold sweet tea.
There was a communal kitchen. I plundered through the cabinets and found a Siberian-sized glass jar.
I boiled some water and threw in some Lipton tea bags that I had smuggled into the communist country. Then I emptied a five-pound bag of sugar into the boiling water.
It’s a Paula Deen recipe.
Then, I needed a cool place to complete the whole sweet tea cycle of life. The refrigerator in the kitchen was either too small or too crowded to house my sweet tea. I wasn’t deterred. I knew a cool place.
Did I mention that I was 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle?
No? I was.
The good thing was that I got to see Polar Bears wander the streets on occasion.
There was one window in the dorm room; a double window. You open one window and there’s another window about a foot away to open if you dare. The only problem was that your skin would freeze and fall off your face as you bang your head on the window frame upon your quick return to the warm air inside.
But don’t get ahead of me.
I put the jar of sweet tea on the outer window ledge for less than an hour and waited to enjoy what was sure to be a gallon or so of sugary sweetness.
It’d be like home.
Let’s say that placing the hot Siberian-size jar in the sub-zero weather turned out to be a tactical error. Obeying the laws of science (which happens in Russia too ), the glass jar failed to contain its expanding contents. As a result, a beautiful crinkly-crushed-cellophane pattern appeared all over the Siberian size jar. Because it was no longer useable.
It reminded me of my daughter’s iPhone screen after a face-first landing on the pavement.
You get the idea.
So, no sweet tea, unless I wanted it with crunchy pieces of glass.
Which I did not want.
Life lesson 98,765: appreciate temperature extremes.
Cold weather fronts sweeping across the South usually produce violent thunderstorms. Likewise, running cold water over a hot glass you pulled from the dishwasher will often not go well.
After I disposed of someone else’s Siberian-size jar, I decided that it was a good time to join the rest of the world and learn to drink hot tea. With plenty of sugar of course.