By Becky Holland
Living in the South, we can proudly say we have the market cornered in the SWEET TEA business.
Yup, if you were to go up north, to say, the five star restaurant, FOUR SEASONS, and ask for sweet tea, you probably would be given a blank stare, or even west to SWEET LADY JANE’S on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. The tea you would get, after a long explanation to the server, would probably be just plain old iced tea, and they might bring some sort of packets of sugar substitute in a nice pretty bowl.
Excuse me, but any true Southerner knows that when you want sugar in your tea, you don’t want a sugar substitute, you want SUGAR in your tea. A meal wouldn’t be the same in the South without sweet tea. Apparently, according to a recent article in an online newspaper, there are some lawmakers in Georgia who agree.
Rep. John Noel, a democrat in Atlanta, and four co-sponsors filed a bill in March of this year that would make it a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature not to offer sweet tea in any Georgia restaurant that serves tea. Under the bill, Georgia eating establishments that serve unsweetened tea must serve sweet tea as well. The proposed bill specifies the tea must be sweetened when it is brewed. Misdemeanors could serve up to 12 months in jail.
The bill, according to Noel, was to add a little humor to the Legislature. Noel was visiting in Chicago recently and could not get a glass of sweet tea at a restaurant there. It wasn’t on the menu.
As part of a research project for a Southern Literature class, we were assigned to give a presentation on something that was truly a part of Southern culture. Sweet tea is most certainly a Southern “thang,” just like peaches are a Georgia “thang.”
Did you know that up until the late 19th century, most Americans drank their tea hot?
According to my research results, I found that at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Rich Blechynden, a merchant of Indian tea, was trying to sell hot tea to customers during the hot summer day. He poured his hot tea over ice, creating a cool tea beverage that was an instant success and changed the way Americans thought of tea.
Southerners added their own twist by pouring sugar into the tea right after it was Thus, that is what makes it sweet. You can’t find sweet tea in Texas, barely in Tennessee and much less in Florida. I have been told sweet tea is a Deep South THANG!
Maybe it’s how it’s done, or maybe it is the water in the south, or maybe it’s just that Southern Mommas or Grandmas put a lot of TLC into making the tea. All I know is, sweet tea is good!