CULTURE – Sweet Tea – House Wine of the South
A staple in fridges around the South, sweet tea is just the beverage for the long hot summer ahead. Truly, there’s no need to say sweet tea. Tea will suffice as there is no other way to drink it except sweet – at least in our part of the country.
What is it about sweet tea that makes it uniquely southern? Were we just born this way – with an extra large sweet tooth? After all, the South is the birthplace of Coke and Pepsi and we do have a fondness for cakes, pies and other desserts. Is it because it’s so hot in the South or is it ingrained in our culture and our lives? Whatever the reason, I am happy that it’s a part of my life!
For me, I associate sweet tea with many fond memories centered around family gatherings. I can still taste my Aunt Kate’s ice cold tea she would serve at Sunday lunch. She used her tall thick heavy tea glasses (with an etched “S” monogram for Sawyer) so she could put lots of ice in them and serve it really cold.
I can also still taste the tea my grandmother Shug would pour into her Fostoria for special holidays dinners like Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas when we used the really nice china and silver and all of the family was together.
Perhaps the best tea of all was what we had each year at our family reunion. Several of the Jones siblings (including Aunt Kate and Shug) would all bring tea and then pour it into a large galvanized tub filled with ice. Uncle Louie would then assume his position and dispense in Styrofoam cups to us 15 or 20 kids running around with our cousins we had not seen since the last year’s reunion. We’re all grown now and sadly, the family reunion is no longer but I wonder if they can still taste it?
As for me, I am a year round tea drinker… not just during the hot summer months. Don’t give me a cup of coffe, give me tea. And while it can never match the tea in my memories, I will say that Chick-Fil-A, Zaxby’s and even McDonald’s do it justice on most days. Just ask my children, who love it like their Momma.
Now as to whether you “take” your tea with lemon or not, that’s another post for another time…
The Southern C Sweet Tea
1 gallon (16 cups) water
4 family size tea bags (Luzianne or Lipton)
1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar (to desired taste)
In a large pot, bring the water to boil over high heat. Turn off the burner and add tea bags. Cover and steep for 6 minutes exactly. Set your timer.
Pour sugar into a gallon-sized pitcher and when the tea is done steeping, pour over the sugar and stir until dissolved.
Serve immediately into a glass full of ice. Store in the fridge – assuming there is any left!