Sweet tea sorbet is a sweet, cool, and slightly tart frozen treat that’s a take on a classic (the most classic!) Southern drink.
Sweet tea is sacred in the South. I haven’t met many people around who don’t like it, and if you don’t…well, you live in a world I don’t understand. It’s hard to find a bottled tea worth the money you pay for it (though I will admit that bottled tea technology – haha – has advanced considerably over the last 20 years). Don’t you dare buy the store brand of tea, either. I don’t care how committed you are to saving money, you wait until Lipton or Luzianne goes on sale down at the Publix or the Food City and you buy it then. And for a lot of us, it’s Lipton OR Luzianne and not both (I am not one of those people, though – I’ll drink either).
Contrary to popular belief, we don’t all like our tea to be so sweet it tastes like something you could put on pancakes. I’ve been known to dilute my sweet tea at fast food restaurants (yes, I eat at fast food restaurants) with unsweetened tea, and half-and-half tea is my mom’s standard order in a restaurant (you have to be careful, though, because to some people half-and-half means sweet tea and lemonade, otherwise known as an Arnold Palmer).
And yes, we call it SWEET TEA, not “sweetened tea”. A lot of people from the North like to say that it’s one word down here, sweettea, to which I just sort of roll my eyes. It’s sweet tea. Like hot coffee or salty chips – sweet tea. Got it? Okay, I’ll stop harping now.
The important thing – the really important thing – is that sweet tea is culturally significant. The Southeast is the only part of the United States where you can walk into pretty much any restaurant and get sweet iced tea (I have been to a few upscale restaurants that did not serve it). When I used to drink sweet tea as my standard drink (it’s water now), I took a trip out West and had never been happier than I was when we ate lunch at a Cracker Barrel in New Mexico and I got sweet tea for the first time in two and a half weeks. It’s part of the fabric of who we are down here.
Sweet tea sorbet is an idea that, honestly, I can’t believe took me so long to think of. As I was scooping out some of the no-churn red, white, and blue ice cream I made last week, I was thinking about what other types of frozen desserts I could make, and it just popped into my head: sweet tea sorbet. I’m not saying it’s a stroke of genius but I am saying I was pretty flipping excited about the prospect of turning my favorite Southern front porch sipper into a frozen dessert. With a hint of lemon (zest and juice), my sweet tea sorbet is perfect for front porch spooning (no double entendres intended).
Yield: About 3 pints
35 minPrep Time:
5 minCook Time:
40 minTotal Time:
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (this took me three lemons)
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 3 family-size black tea bags (Lipton or Luzianne - I used Luzianne)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- In a medium saucepan, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1 1/2 cups of the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the mixture boils, remove from the heat and place the tea bags into it. Steep the tea bags for five minutes.
- Remove the tea bags, using a spoon to press as much liquid out of them as possible. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Add the remaining water and pour into a jar or container with a spout. Cover and place into the refrigerator until chilled.
- Churn the sweet tea mixture in an ice cream maker until frozen, 20-25 minutes. Immediately transfer to a bowl or loaf pan and place into the freezer. Freeze for at least 3-4 hours before serving.
The prep/cook time does not include time to chill the tea or time to ripen the sorbet in the freezer. If you prefer to leave out the lemon, simply omit the lemon juice and zest and replace with water.