Some things are sacred in the south – sweet iced tea is one of them.
You know how valuable something is by what people will sacrifice for it. I can only imagine how the King’s tea tax smote the heart of our Revolutionary forbears. Their devotion to country cost them dearly. For our ancestors to participate in the Boston Tea Party must have been a true test of a southerner’s determination. Imagine the angst of seeing hundreds of pounds of tea floating in the scum of the Boston harbor. To pour out such a precious beverage to the unappreciative fish would be a true sorrow. Such describes for us their desire for liberty.
When you consider the fact that the first southerners were Virginians, you start to understand the southerner’s affinity for tea. Being English gentlefolk, drinking tea was not only tasty refreshment, it was a social act. Teatime is a strict observance in English society—a deference for custom and etiquette. It’s about what is right and proper; the definition of good taste. And today it is still so. What southern hostess would not offer a glass of sweet iced tea to her guests?
Those Virginian settlers brought with them their pride, their magnificent horses, their gracious style of living, and their tea. Of course, those genteel first Southerners drank their tea hot. It was a couple centuries later before Dixie-Landers enjoyed it cold; just who “invented” iced tea is not known, but there are a few interesting facts about it.
Many ascribe to the theory that it was first served at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. However, a news article describing an event in September of 1890 said that 15,000 men gathered in Nevada, Missouri for the Missouri State Reunion of Ex-Confederate Veterans enjoyed an enormous banquet, and included in the list of menu items was “880 gallons of iced tea.”
It doesn’t surprise me that sons of the South were enjoying the cool refreshment of iced tea before the rest of the world had discovered it.
However and whenever it came into vogue, sweet iced tea is the liquid gold of the South. No oil rig in Texas is more highly prized than the pitcher of sweet tea which has a special place in each southern refrigerator.
Offering a warm welcome to guests is the code of the south. Hospitality is regarded as a serious manner And as a hostess, you’ll find there’s hardly an occasion where sweet iced tea doesn’t serve well.. Fare thee well, exotic libations of refinement and expense. Forget the sticky stains of Kool-Aid and the watery brine of Gatorade. Save the milk for breakfast and the water for bedtime. Make mine sweet tea. It doesn’t lose its fizz or coat the stomach or “up” the sodium. Refreshing and delightful, it is the comfort beverage of the South. Serve on the veranda swing or on the Sunday table, add a slice of lemon and you’re good to go. At least, I am.