Why You Should Add A Bit Of Baking Soda To Sweet Tea

Asking who invented sweet tea is a bit of a trigger question. According to Charleston City Paper, Summerville, South Carolina, may claim to be the birthplace of sweet tea, but it was more likely born in the North and made its way to the South. The outlet cites a book written in 2008 titled "Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue" by John and Dale Reed, which notes that people in Boston were drinking sweet tea as early as 1868. Still, if possession is truly nine-tenths of the law, it is safe to say the South has taken ownership of this beverage. However, while sweet tea may have deep roots in the South, the love for this beverage has definitely spread throughout the U.S.

What exactly is sweet tea? Southern Breeze Sweet Tea explains that homemade sweet tea is brewed tea of any variety that has been sweetened with your sweetener of choice. It's really that simple. The site also states that there is "no right or wrong way" to make this drink. However, according to Southern Living, you may want to start adding the "not so secret" ingredient of baking soda to your next pitcher of sweet tea, and here's why.

Baking soda makes sweet tea clear

Southern Living reveals that if you want sweet tea free from random tea-making particles swimming in it and as "clear" and ginger brown as a good glass of Southern sweet tea is supposed to be, you will want to add a "pinch" of baking soda. The magazine also explains that baking soda helps to almost completely eliminate the "bitter" taste you can have when you brew tea.

However, before you start reaching for your box of Arm & Hammer or can of Clabber Girl, the Southern Kitchen blog suggests that if you don't oversteep your tea, you don't have to add any baking soda. The blogger does concede that baking soda may help "bind up" some of the tannins that affect your taste buds but says the easy fix is to simply reduce the amount of time you allow your tea bags to steep. Cooks Illustrated concurs, pointing out that if your tea is cloudy, it's due to those tannins and caffeine clumping together. However, the cooking site offers a different solution. Instead of using baking soda, they recommend brewing your tea at room temperature. The ratio they used was 10 teabags for one quart of water and steep the tea for 8 hours.