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I like iced tea as much as the next Southerner, but always shied away from making it because of the effort and time involved. In other words, I didn't like it enough to wait for the water to boil, let the tea steep long enough, and then let the whole concoction cool off long enough to transfer to a proper pitcher and refrigerate. The whole process seemed so cumbersome to me that I ended up not even drinking any of the tea because I wanted to conserve it as long as possible - thus completely defeating the purpose of making it in the first place!

Enter an automatic iced tea maker. Now, I know these contraptions are probably old news to most readers, but my new Hamilton Beach Electric Iced Tea Maker has been a god-send lately. When I started my last trimester of pregnancy in August, I wanted to start drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea, an herbal tea that women have used for thousands of years to help with pregnancy and labor. However, the thought of drinking several cups of hot tea in Alabama in August, while pregnant, was simply laughable. So once again, I was faced with the task of making iced tea. Thinking there must surely be an easier way to do this, I did a quick search on Amazon.com and found this iced tea maker. Reviewers vastly preferred it over the Mr. Coffee version, and it seemed like a good buy.

Needless to say, I've used the tea maker nearly every day since it landed on our doorstep! It's super easy to use and produces delicious tea, though most people have to fiddle a little bit with how much tea, sugar, etc to use, and what strength to brew (the maker offers 3 different options). I use 3 tablespoons of loose leaf Red Rasberry Leaf tea and instead of adding ice, run water through twice to make 2 quarts of tea, and chill in the fridge. I've also started adding a few tablespoons of sugar or Splenda to the pitcher before brewing for a hint of sweetness. I'm drinking about 4 cups of tea a day now, so I have to make a new batch about every two days, but that's no problem with my new iced tea maker! No longer do hard-won pitchers of stove-brewed tea sit lonely in my fridge, and that's a great thing.