iced tea

Thanksgiving Dinner Southern Style – Iced Tea

When it comes to special occasion dinners no Southern table is complete without a pitcher (or two) of iced tea.  As I wrote in my 2010 cookbook Third Coast Cuisine, “. . . iced tea is always sweet.  If you order iced tea at a restaurant or café you should expect and receive a glass of sweetened tea.  There is a drink who’s recipe closely resembles iced tea except for the omission of sweetener.  It is called “unsweetened tea,” not iced tea.  It is similar to iced tea in the same way that diet cola is similar to cola.  But they are not the same thing.”  I am no less resolute in that now.

Recently, I took up the subject of tea with a guy who knows a lot about it.  Richard Rosenfeld is the owner of Two Leaves and a Bud, a premium tea purveyor out of Aspen, CO.  Rosenfeld opened his company in 2005 with the mission of bringing the experience of the gardens back to his customers.  He personally visits the farmers in exotic locals like Darjeeling, Assam and Sri Lanka and hand picks (sometimes literally) the tea he decides to sell.  It’s safe to say the guy knows his tea.

Richard RosenfeldWhy do you think tea has become so popular with Americans?

I believe there are two major movements which have driven the growth in tea.  One is health (and the movement away from coffee).  And the other is the availability of better tasting tea, better quality tea in the US.

You know you’re drinking a good cup of tea because it doesn’t go bitter.

How does loose tea differ from the tea that comes in bags?

I look at it as wine from a bottle as opposed to wine from a box.  You know wine from a box can be very good but generally wine fom a bottle is considered a much better wine.  But how they are different specifically, you have two major types of tea –  whole leaf tea and dust tea.  There are lots of different dust teas out there and just because we don’t do dust doesn’t mean they’re bad.  But they tend to be a little more insipid.  They have a little less depth of flavor.  A good glass of tea should have a top note, it should have middle notes and it should have a finish.

How long should you steep whole leaf tea?

For whole leaf black teas you’re in the four to five minute area.  For whole leaf green teas you are in five plus.


So what’s my secret to a perfect pitcher of iced tea?  Well I start with Two Leaves and a Bud’s Assam Breakfast Black Tea.  I prefer the loose leaf but even the bags are still better than any tea you’ve ever had before.  Then another premium ingredient, Demarerra sugar.  Demerara is so named because originally it came from sugar cane fields in the colony of Demerara in Guyana.  It is an unrefined sugar like the more common Turbinado (popularly known as Sugar in the Raw which is also a great sugar for tea).  I like Demarerra because it has the subtle notes of brown sugar and molasses.  It usually comes in large caramel colored crystals.

The final ingredient is filtered water.  I don’t want any outside flavors disrupting my perfect pitcher of iced tea.  That’s also why I never steep more than five minutes.  Many people think this will make a stronger brew but that isn’t true at all.  It will only allow more outside flavors into the tea, then you have to use more sugar to cover them up.  If you want stronger tea, use more tea leaves.

Perfect Iced Tea
Recipe Type: Beverage
Author: Stuart Reb Donald
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 10 mins
Serves: 12
If you cannot get your hands on Two Leaves and a Bud I also recommend Community, Hill Brothers or Lipton Premium Black Pearl in the pyramid bags.
  • 4 tablespoons loose black tea
  • 1 cup Demerara sugar
  • 3 quarts filtered water
  1. In a 2 quart saucepan bring 1 quart water to a boil.
  2. Add tea, cover, and remove from heat. Allow to steep for no more than five minutes.
  3. Strain the tea through a very fine sieve or coffee filter into a three-quart pitcher.
  4. Add sugar and stir until all sugar is dissolved.
  5. Add the remaining 2 quarts of water and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Critical Easter Recipes

Well it’s Easter Morning, you’ve forgotten to plan and now you only have a few hours to get ready.  Here’s a quick reference to the recipes you need:

We’ll start with the obvious, eggs.  From the eggsperts (I know.  I want to kick me, too, but I had to do it) at

Hard Boiled Eggs

  1. PLACE eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in single layer. ADD cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. HEAT over high heat just to boiling. REMOVE from burner. COVER pan.
  2. LET EGGS STAND in hot water about 15 minutes for large eggs (12 minutes for medium eggs; 18 minutes for extra large).
  3. DRAIN immediately and serve warm. OR, cool completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water, then REFRIGERATE.
Deviled Eggs (My own)
6 Hard Boiled Eggs
1/4 cup mayo
1 tablespoon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
  1. CUT eggs lengthwise in half. REMOVE yolks to small bowl. RESERVE whites.
  2. MASH yolks with fork. ADD mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper; mix well.
  3. SPOON 1 heaping Tbsp. yolk mixture into each egg white half. REFRIGERATE, covered, to blend flavors.

Egg Salad (My own)
6 Hard Boiled Eggs
1/4 cup mayo
1 tablespoon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste

  1. CHOP eggs.
  2. MASH eggs with fork.
  3. ADD mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper; mix well.
  4. REFRIGERATE, covered, to blend flavors.
Glazed Ham (from the folks at Coca-Cola)
1 ham (5-6 lb.)
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ cup Coca-Cola®
1 cup crushed pineapple (optional)
  1. Wash ham thoroughly.
  2. Rub fat side with brown sugar.
  3. Pour Coca-Cola over ham.
  4. Pour crushed pineapple over ham.
  5. Bake at 450 degrees for 3 hours.

Makes 6 servings

This is a great recipe and keeps the ham very moist.
— Submitted to Coke by Carol Johnson of Turtle Lake, Wisconsin

Honey Roasted Lamb w/Sautéed Pears (from Third Coast Cuisine)

4 – 5 pound boneless leg of lamb, fat trimmed
1 1/2 cups honey (preferably orange blossom honey)
3 springs of fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 cup Olive Oil
2 tablespoons coarse salt
3 tablespoons fresh cracked pepperPreheat oven to 500 degrees F.
Rinse and thoroughly dry rosemary and thyme.  Strip the leaves and needles from one sprig of the rosemary and the thyme, discard the stems and set aside. Strip the leaves and needles from the remaining two sprigs of the rosemary.  Place honey in a double boiler with water in bottom. Squeeze rosemary leaves to release flavor and place in honey. Bring water to a boil then bring honey to 185°F and maintain for 10 minutes. Strain and set aside.

Place the remaining rosemary, thyme, and garlic into a blender or food processor and pulse into a coarse paste.  Add the olive oil and blend for 10 to 20 seconds.  Add the salt and pepper and pulse a few more times to blend.  Set leg of lamb in a roasting pan with a rack.  Rub oil-spice marinade all over the leg of lamb coating the outside and the inside.  You may want to truss the leg of lamb with butcher’s twine at this point.  Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes then lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and roast about 10 to 15 minutes more per pound.  After 30 minutes baste the lamb with rosemary infused honey (reserve 2 tablespoons for later) and return to oven until the internal temperature is 130 to 135 degrees F. for medium rare, 140 to 150 for medium.  Remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil while you prepare the sautéed pears.

4 medium firm ripe pears
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 tablespoons rosemary infused honey
Balsamic vinegar

Cut each pear into 8 wedges, removing the core and stem. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add honey and pears, stirring gently. Cook until lightly brown, approximately 5 minutes. Remove to serving plate, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and top with roast leg of lamb.  You may also wish to drizzle the lamb with balsamic vinegar as well.

Lemon Pound Cake
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups AP flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Lemon Glaze (below)
Preheat an oven to 300 degrees.  Beat the butter in a large bowl at medium speed with a hand-held mixer; gradually add oil, beating until well blended. Slowly add sugar, beating well. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour to the creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Mix just until blended after each addition. Stir in lemon extract.
Pour the batter into a 10-inch tube pan that has been greased with butter and lightly floured. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and place it directly on the wire rack. Brush lemon glaze on sides of cake and spoon glaze over top, a little at a time. Let it cool completely before serving.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Nanner Puddin’ (there is no such thing as banana pudding)
5 ripe bananas, sliced 1/4 inch thick
60 – 70 vanilla wafer cookies
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 – 3 tablespoons butter (unsalted), sliced
3 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch

In a heavy saucepan on medium-heat combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Slowly stir in the milk making sure to fully dissolve the cornstarch.  Whisk in the eggs one at a time then add the butter.  Continue stirring until mixture starts to thicken and reduce to a simmer while stirring vigorously for 1 full minute.  Remove from heat, blend in the vanilla, and cover the puddin’ with plastic wrap (be sure to place wrap directly on the puddin’).

Line a 1½ – 2 quart backing dish with half of the vanilla wafers.  Spread half the pudding into the dish followed by half the nanners.  Layer the wafers, remaining puddin’, and nanners reserving some of the puddin’ to cover nanners to prevent browning.   Once again press plastic wrap onto the puddin’ and refrigerate 4 – 24 hours.  Just before serving top with Whipped Cream.

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Chill a large non-reactive bowl until very cold.  Do the same with your whisk or beaters from electric mixer.  Once bowl and beaters are chilled combine the cream, honey and vanilla and beat until thickened.  Serve immediately.

Iced Tea
4 tablespoons loose black tea
1 cup Turbinado, Demerara or Sugar in the Raw
3 quarts water

In a 2 quart saucepan bring 1 quart water to a boil.  Add tea, cover, and remove from heat.  Allow to steep for five minutes BUT NO LONGER.  Strain the tea through a very fine sieve or coffee filter into a three-quart pitcher.  Add sugar and stir until all sugar is dissolved.  Add the remaining 2 quarts of water and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Be sure to check out my full Easter Brunch Menu HERE.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

Stu’s Latest Kindle Single is Just $2.99

Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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