As I was thinking about which tea to write about today, I thought I would look to see if any holidays landed on this day that I could relate to a certain kind of tea. For example, if today were Christmas, I would write about Christmas Tea, a Ceylon black tea flavored with cinnamon, cloves, and orange peels. But, alas, it’s not Christmas. In fact, no actual holiday falls on this day that I can relate to any kind of tea. It’s Michael Jackson’s birthday, but I have no idea if he was a tea drinker. Although I did find out that a couple years ago some personal items of his went up for auction, like a whistling train teapot.
But despite the Michael Jackson fire engine tea kettle, I couldn’t find enough info for an entire blog. So I settled on a different “holiday” today, and I put that word in quotes because it’s not actually a “holiday”. Today marks the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s destructive landfall in New Orleans, and in honor of that, I will write about a certain kind of tea that’s quite popular in New Orleans and all over the south.
I’m talking about Sweet Tea.
Now, let’s get one thing straight. I don’t drink Sweet Tea. In fact, every time Starbucks screws up my drink and “accidentally” puts sweetener in my iced tea, I almost gag and want to spit it all over the windshield (because it always happens when I’m in the drive-thru). But a lot of people love Sweet Tea, and since some of you may not know a whole lot about the southern drink, here’s a brief introduction.
Dolly Parton’s character in Steel Magnolias called sweet tea the “house wine of the South” – a clear, orange-to-red tinted tea brewed from six or seven Lipton tea bags, poured hot onto a cup or more of sugar or a pool of simple syrup, and then diluted into a gallon pitcher in the fridge (gag). And when they say “sweet”, they really mean “sweet”. I read somewhere that the sweetest glasses can contain up to 22 Brix (the degree of sugar content) of sugar. That’s about twice the amount that’s in a can of Coke! But because the brewed tea is so strong, the bitter and the sweet balance out (but it still sounds gross to me).
And when the sun does down, you can turn that sweet tea into a mint julep, which is basically sweet tea, mint, ice, simple syrup, and whiskey. Wow, that sounds really Southern.
But either way you drink it, make sure your pour it over a bucket full of ice. Because apparently Southerners love lots of ice. Well, I don’t blame them, really. I heard it gets pretty hot down there.
Nearly every single restaurant in the South serves sweet tea – it’s pretty much like water there – but it’s not as easy to find up here (unless you add sweetener to your Starbucks iced tea, which I heard isn’t the same). However, if you need to quench that craving you have for sweet tea – and you don’t want to spend a lot of funny – there’s always McDonalds.
But…to each their own.
Happy (sweet) drinking! (Or bitter, if you’re like me. Which is way cooler).