Being a Southern gal at heart, there’s nothing I like better than a good glass of sweet tea, especially with some maters, taters, greens and fried chicken. And there’s nothing I dislike more than a bad glass of tea. So many things can go wrong: Too sweet, not sweet enough, full of grainy sugar. Here’s how to make it.

Step 1: Do not boil water. Just put some in a pitcher

Then add some tea bags. I used five family-sized bags here, but 12 regular tea bags would work just as well.

It’s the same principle as sun tea – but it turns out you don’t need the sun or any heat at all. In fact, the tea tastes better without heat. And you just let it steep for about thirty minutes to an hour until you get a good color. In the meantime, we’re going to make a sugar syrup, because it makes all the difference. Put one cup of water and one cup of sugar into a sauce pan.

And bring it to a boil.

Don’t boil it too long, we aren’t making caramel.  Turn off the heat and as soon as the tea looks dark enough, take out the bags. Resist the urge to give the bags a squeeze. Just throw them out.

Then add the sugar syrup. If you happen to have some flavored raspberry or peach syrup or whatever flavor you like, you can use it instead.

You can put this in the fridge to cool down. What you’ve made here is a concentrate. So when you’re read to serve, you need to fill a glass to the brim with ice.

Then add the tea

And you have the perfect glass of sweet tea.