Sweet tea: The house wine of the South
If there's one thing that's considered truly Southern, it's our tea. We like it sweet, on ice and served often. But if you ain't from around here, you may not get it. And if you leave 'round here, you won't get it.
In fact, if you go anywhere outside of the South, you'll get unsweetened tea. You may get that served with or without ice. You may even get hot tea. But you won't get the elixir of the gods we enjoy here in the South.
Dubbed the "house wine of the South," by Dolly Parton in "Steel Magnolias," sweet tea and its consumption is one of the oldest and most common of all the Southern traditions. That's because us Southerners know a thing or two about sweets.
In the South, we like our pecan pie and pralines so sweet the dentist develops a nervous tic. All of the major soda companies, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr. Pepper, got their start in Dixie. Bourbon, a sweet whiskey, was perfected in Kentucky. The mint julep, a classic Southern cocktail, is basically sweet tea with some extras and is a staple on Southern front porches.
Then there's the tradition of a glass of sweet tea. Offering an ice cold glass of tea is a welcoming gesture, one that is expected in Southern homes. It is always on the table at picnics, barbecues and church socials.
Whatever your take on this traditional beverage, to a Southerner, nothing says home like a big glass of sweet tea on a hot summer day. When it's made just right, and is just the right shade of amber, and served in a glass filled to the brim with ice, there's nothing that hits the spot quite like it.
So, whether you are serving shrimp and grits, fried fish and hush puppies, collard greens and ham, or just snacking on some boiled peanuts, there's nothing better to wash it all down with than sweet tea.
Anybody else feel thirsty all of a sudden?