Q: Any time that I dine at Mary Mac's Tea Room, I order their iced tea. It is absolutely the best tea around, in my opinion. When I leave the restaurant, the flavor still lingers on my tongue. It is as if they make it with a syrup or something, always sweet, always just right. Can I be told exactly how they make it? My husband has asked me if I could make tea like theirs.
ANDREA TOMBLIN, Dacula
A: Yes, you can make tea just like Mary Mac's. But unless you're sitting elbow-to-elbow at a cloth-covered table in the fabled dining room with a plate of fried chicken or fried green tomatoes in front of you, it probably won't taste the same, admits general manager Michael Fuhrman. "People don't drink a lot of alcohol here, but they sure go through a lot of sweet tea, " said Fuhrman. "It's a real part of our culture here --- we've always called it the table wine of the South; that's the way we phrase it to our guests."
Although the Mary Mac's preparation is pretty standard, there is one distinguishing feature, Fuhrman said. "Ours is the sweetest sweet tea that I've tasted, " he said. "We actually tried to cut back a little, but people complained."
Mary Mac's Sweet Tea
Hands on: 2 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Summer or winter, nothing goes better with a traditional Southern meal than a glass of sweet iced tea. This Mary Mac's formula appears in "Mary Mac's Tea Room: Stories and Recipes From Atlanta's Classic Southern Kitchen" (Looking Glass Books) by Rebecca Lang, with recipes by original owner Margaret Lupo and current owner John Ferrell. If the tea gets cloudy in the refrigerator, add a little boiling water and stir.
4 cups water, divided
1 family-size tea bag
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Mint sprigs to garnish
Lemon slices to garnish
Bring 3 cups water to boil. Remove from heat, add the tea bag and steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag and add the sugar; stir until dissolved. Add 1 cup cold water. Chill.
Serve the tea over ice, garnished with mint and lemon.
Per serving: 106 calories (no calories from fat), trace protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, no fat, no cholesterol, 10 milligrams sodium.
Originally published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Dec. 11, 2008