by Steve Bivans
Down here in the South Farthing, we don’t much cott’n to hot drinks, ‘ceptin maybe some coffee every once in awhile.
But personally, I think it’s a bit Nort’ee-ized (from the North Farthing) to drink hot drinks down here, unless it’s the dead of winter. Maybe on the Solstice it would be ok. Nah, most of us Tooks, in Longbottom anyway, drink sweet, ICED tea. It’s Belladona’s Milk, so to speak.
We grow up drinkin’ it. It’s the reason we won The War, or why Old Bullroarer won it, when he bashed the head off of the great goblin king, Golfimbul, at the Battle of the Greenfields. Drinking sweet tea is essential if you aspire to ‘proper’ circles, that is, Southern Society. And while we’re on the subject, don’t even bring up that Sackville-Baggins practice of importin’ bottled tea sweetened with artificial fruit flavors! Ugh! No self-respectin’ Hobbit oughta ever drink that Mordor mix! Heck naw!
You gotta brew it up fresh. Sweeten it with real sugar from the Gondorean islands in the South Sea, chill it, then pour it over ice cubes from the slopes of the Misty Mountains! THAT’S tea! Ain’t nothin’ better on a hot South Farthing, summer day then a big ole Mason Jar full of South Farthin’ Sweet Iced Tea to cool yer hobbit innards! Ahhhhhh! And if you put it in a jar, ya can put a lid on it, just in case yer swept off on a nasty adventure!
But not everyone down here knows how’n to make it right. Back in the day, when I was still a wee little hobbit, ya know—before ole Bilbo went off to single-handedly slay that dragon—folks down here used to brew sweet iced tea that came already packaged in little baggies. It was real convenient, I won’t lie to ya. You could jes heat up some water in a pot, hang a few a those little baggies over the edge—they came with a little strang on ‘em so you could do that—and let ’em set awhile till the water got all brown, then pull the baggies out and toss’em in the bin.
But a few years ago, we found out that those baggies were packaged by that evil boss, Sharkey, who caused all the ruckus around here and up in Hobbiton and thereabouts. Turns out that those little baggies had PLASTIC in’em! Yeah! And the tea wasn’t even growed right! He was sprain’ all kinds of nasty, orcish juice on the crop to keep weeds n bugs off’em! Yuck! And don’t even git me started on how he treated his field hands! Most of ’em were women n children from way off down in Rohan that his orcs captured and turned into slaves to work his fields. And to think, we were shipping off some of our best tobacco Leaf to him! Makes me wanna spit nails to cogitate on it.
Luckily, our own Peregrin Took and his buddy, Meriadoc, took care of ole Sharkey’s business down there in Isengard! They busted up his whole fortress, near bout on their OWN! Seems like they mentioned they had a bit o help from a couple a giants or somethin’, but I reckon it was those brave hobbits as was responsible for rousin’ the ire of the giants to begin with. They always were little trouble makers, but what hobbit ain’t when they’re still in their ‘tweens. Best ta send them off to make trouble somewheres else, I always say. Of course, after they destroyed his factories down there in Isengard, ole Sharkey moved up here to the Shire, and when Pippin and Merry got back, they led the glorious rebellion agin him, which led to ole Sharkey’s demise. I heard little Peregrin took him out with one blow from his fist! But ya never know about such stories. They tend to git bent outta shape on occasion.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I was gonna tell ya how to make Sweet Tea! Forgive me, it’s tough on us Southern Tooks. We like to talk ya know, and once we git goin’ it near bout takes a war to stop us. Not that we’re afraid of war or anythin’, cause we ain’t! We are Tooks after all, descendants of the Great Bullroarer who slayed the great goblin king…did I already tell ya bout that? Oh yeah, sorry….tea.
So if you want really good sweet iced tea—the only way to drink it if ya ask me—then you gotta buy good leaf, not that Sharkey crap with orc juice and plastic in it. Ask around and find a good tea supplier. Maybe you got a good general store in your village, or if it’s a big city, maybe a special tea store! If so, go in there and ask’em what makes the best iced tea. If ya live up there in the North Farthin’ ya might have to just take my advice, cause it’s likely they ain’t got no sense about such things. What I found to be the best is this stuff called Nilgiri Blue. It’s from some Easterling place, I think. Someone told me it was called Indeeya, Cheena, or Chighna, er somethin’ like that. They don’t put any yucky juice or plastic in it. Anyway, it makes real good sweet tea, like ole Belladona used to make. I buy it in bulk—loose leaf without the little baggies full of plastic—so I take my own little jar to Uncle Took’s Co-op Grocery, and fill it up once a week. While I’m there, I get some organic sugar, also in bulk—not in a plastic bag or wasteful paper one. We Tooks happen to like trees, so we try to save’em whenever we can, ya know. Anyway, here’s the recipe, finally. Sorry if I took ya round the elbow to git to the buttocks:
Stuff ya need:
• 1/3 – 1/2 cup of loose tea leaves (Nilgiri Blue, or any good Black Tea blend)
• A wee bit under a 1/2 cup of sugar, organic is best (it ain’t got no orc juice in it)
• ‘Bout 4 cups of filtered water (ya don’t want nasty, orcish fluoride or chlorine in it)
How to make it:
• Heat up the water. It doesn’t have to boil, but be almost boiling.
• Put the tea leaves in a pot, pitcher, or some other thing that will hold at least 4 cups of water. I use a French press—ya know, one of those things that Northern hobbits use to make hot coffee. It works great for steeping tea and keeping the little tea leaves outta yer tea.
• Once the water heats up, pour it into the French press, or wherever you put the leaves. Stir it up a bit. That helps to start the steepin’. Then let it sit for awhile. At least 15 minutes or more. Sometimes I let it sit for an hour, if I ain’t already out of tea that is. The longer, the darker the tea will be, and I like it fairly strong. If I’m flat out, then I rush it.
• If you’re using a French press, then you can put the lid on, if you haven’t already, and slowly push down the plunger thingy till it hits bottom. Pour the tea into a large pitcher (one gallon or so). If you are using some other thing to steep the tea, then you will need to have a fine strainer, or coffee filter to run the tea through, to get the leaves out.
• IMPORTANT! This is the part that most Nort’ern hobbits screw up when they try to make sweet tea. First off, they don’t usually sweeten it, which is like something Sharkey would do, or his lackey, Sauron. But if they do sweeten it, they try to do it AFTER they’ve cooled it down, or when yer up there in Hobbiton for a visit to the Green Dragon—who makes really good ale by the way—and ya ask if they have sweet iced tea, they look at you funny and say, “naw, but I can bring you some sugar for it.” Really? Now any smart hobbit oughta know that ya can’t sweeten tea that’s already COLD! The dang sugar just won’t dissolve! So, make sure that before you chill the tea, you put your sugar in and stir it up!
• Last step. Add water to your mixture, to make up about a gallon. Put it in the ice box (fridge), but not until you pour some over a full glass of Misty Mountain Ice!
Now that’s some golden, amber liquid that will cool yer hobbit toes on a hot summer day out in the garden!
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