Friday, June 19, 2009

Wanna Sweet Tea, Shug?

Today's Wonder of the World is...Sweet Tea!

Flickr photo by Ladybug1016
Or, as Truvy Jones (Miss Dolly) called it in Steel Magnolias...

The House Wine of the South!
Ooh Lordy, how I love a cold glass of sweet tea in the summertime!
Of course we just call it tea around here. The only folks who drink unsweet tea are the out-of -towners (I'm too polite to say Yankees) stopping off I-85 on their way down to Florida.

Don't tell anyone, but I grew up drinking... um...I'm almost too embarrassed to admit it...instant! I know! Blame it on my mama. (Hi Mom!) My parents are from Kentucky where everybody drinks instant. So even though I grew up in the South, I was woefully ignorant on my Iced Tea Fundamentals. It was a tad embarrassing.

Luckily I married into this family.

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the Ramseys! Or a least a few of them.
These people are Sweet Tea Professionals. They KNOW HOW TO DRINK SWEET TEA.
At every meal except breakfast. And for snacks.
Notice the tea on the table? See how dark the tea is? Proper Sweet Tea is STRONG!
That photo was taken when my hubby was eight. We weren't even engaged then. Ha ha.
The lady in a pinkish dress is my Official Iced Tea Instructor/Mother in Law. She's pregnant with my sis-in-law at that moment. See the blond beside her? That's Todd's Aunt Edna, whom shall be hereafter known as the Queen of Sweet Tea! Aunt Edna's tea is so sweet that we have a special name for it: Edna Tea. Take one sip and feel the sugar begin to crystallize between your teeth. It's amazing.

Back to sweet tea...
I make only one change to the treasured recipe my Official Iced Tea Instructor/Mother-In-Law gave me. I occasionally like to sleep at night, so I use decaf teabags. I don't feel terribly blasphemous because my mother in law drinks decaf too these days.
Luzianne is the way to go. I'll give the recipe/Cardinal Rules at the end of the post.

As you can see by the container size, just about everybody around here likes their tea sweet.

Flickr photo by wreck99
Some people think it's funny to call plain tea unsweet. Obviously they're not from around here.
Though I do think this is funny...

Flickr photo by robisnonbrooks
UNSWEET (Cause you sweet enough.)

When we moved to France we were delighted to find that they like sweet tea too! And they even like it peach flavored! See, yet another thing Southerners have in common with the French!

You know what else is sweet?
My Sarah! A few years ago she and a team from her high school won the state finals for Destination Imagination. They had to design a pin to trade at the global competition, one that would represent our state. So what did they dream up?
Sweet T!

Out of ice cubes! Isn't that clever?
I bet these ladies would like one.

Photo by The Sweet Tea Queens
They're the Sweet Tea Queens, a group of Belles Gone Bad from just up the road in Spartanburg, South Carolina. They're a chapter of the Sweet Potato Queens and they spend their free time spreading Sweet Tea love in parades and events all over the Carolinas.
I'll have to tell Aunt Edna about them. She might enjoy the sisterhood!

Now go have a glass, before your ice melts!

Flickr photo by Rachael K E B
Have a wonder-full Friday and a super weekend, y'all!
Start it off with this favorite clip of mine from Steel Magnolias. Wait for the end--it'd be too sad without it!

Love, Becky
PS. Here's my recipe for a delicious pitcher of sweet tea:
1.Bring about 1 - 2 inches of water to boil in a small saucepan.
2.Add three family size tea bags to the boiling water and immediately lower the heat to medium.
(If you boil it too fast and furious, the tea will be bitter.)
3.Simmer the tea bags for 8 - 10 minutes or so.
4. Take off the heat. Remove the tea bags and immediately add 1/2 cup of sugar (Twice that for Edna Tea.) Stir until completely dissolved.
5. Add a couple handfuls of ice cubes to the hot tea and stir until all melted. This is to cool the tea quickly. (You don't want to have to sit around waiting for it to cool, do you?)
Put the tea into a 2 quart pitcher and fill to the top with cold water. Stir. Serve with lemon slices if you like.
Cardinal Rules:
1. Make a fresh pitcher for lunch and dinner.
2.Be sure to serve it with glasses FULL of ice, (all the way up to the top,) or else your in-laws will make fun of you and call you an Ice Miser.
3.Be sure to add the sugar WHILE THE TEA IS HOT, and before adding the extra water. Follow the directions, sweetie!


Ellen Dye said...

Oh my, Becky. You couldn't have picked a more Southern topic---or a more summer one. I didn't actually grow up in the south, moved much too much. But I did have a southern mama so we always had plenty of sweet tea even if we were living up where Those People live :)

Happy weekend!

Paula Clare said...

Hi Becky!
HOW I LOVE SWEET TEA! My husband says "If it makes your teeth hurt, it's sweet enough for Paula..." Tis true. What can I say? My roots are from Arkansas...and as you said, folks from the south KNOW their sweet tea. (My relatives can even make a two syllable word out of sweet)

Now I FINALLY have a great recipe...I always wondered how you get it so sweet without the grit...sweeten while hot! GENIUS!

jama said...

Does sun tea count?

Another sweeter than sweet post, Becky. You refresh my spirit!

Leah Skaggs said...

Oh my goodness Becky - I just googled that clip from Steal Magnolias yesterday for a sermon I am working on! Is it not the best?! One of my mentors called the part about hitting Weaser - the "breaking in of the Holy Spirit"... I guess he meant that the laughter was the breaking in of the Holy Spirit. I LOVE that scene.

AND - I have to tell you... at all the Rural Church Fellows gatherings my first semester of seminary - they would only serve unsweetened tea. I finally complained and told them if we were really going to serve rural NC, the tea needed to be sweet! Once Jeremy Troxler became our director - the sweet tea flowed at our meetings!!

Have a great weekend!! This was a yummy post!

Kat said...

Ooooo. I love me some sweet tea. I usually drink a ton of it in summer, but I have to be careful this year. Not too much caffiene. ;)

Renee said...

Becky what a great post. I love Iced Tea (sweet tea).

I totally smiled at the sweet or unsweet because you are sweet enough.


Love Renee xoxoxo

a Tonggu Momma said...

Living in a Yankee state that only achieved Yankee status through martial law, we have a choice wherever we go. "Do you want sweet or unsweet?" they ask. And my answer - every time is SWEET.

Susan said...

Not only did we drink sweet tea, but my Grandma referred to milk as sweet milk (vs. buttermilk) and that caused lots of problems when we went on vacation in Yankee territory.

Anonymous said...

Love me some sweet tea!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You have to go south to truly appreciate sweet tea I've's totally regional! But those Southern Gals, they got me hooked on it and I make it often up here in 'Sconsin.

Anonymous said...

Now that we are back in the south after many years of being over seas and living out west, it has been good to come home to sweet tea! My expanding girth will tell you that too,so I have to drink in moderation! Thanks for the recipe because I have tried several and I can never get it to taste as good as anyone elses sweet tea. Chet's grandmother made some of the sweetest sweet tea from their well water and it was so sweet it would rot your teeth right there! Only a glass would do ya and you may have to have a dental visit the next day!
Oh and the Steel Magnolias clip is my favorite out of this favorite movie of mine! I can never stop rolling on the floor laughing with this scene no matter how many times I have seen it!
Tammy Whitley

TattingChic said...

That's very cute, Becky. I'll remember that when I visit the south (someday)! :)

JaxPop said...

Mmmmmm...Sweet Tea - My favorite. Asked for it when I was visiting Pennsylvania - the lady taking our order looked at me like I was a zombieredneck with bad hair. Another reason to be grateful to have moved south.

adrienne said...

My neighbors growing up always had several pitchers of sweet tea in the fridge. It took me a while but I finally figured out how to recreate it.
I love the term 'ice miser'. I definitely am not one!

May Vanderbilt said...

My parents LOVE them some sweet tea. Mom would make it sun tea in the yard. Remember that? The big jug you'd put in the yard?

But somehow I never got into it. It's the most Yankee thing about me.

But I do love the word Shug. My grandma called me nothing but Shug my whole life.

Rosemary said...

I have heard about sweet tea, but never had it.
I like half lemonade and half iced tea, aka an Arnold Palmer.
Have a great weekend,

judy in ky said...

My sister (a natural born Yankee) married a guy from Kentucky (she brews her tea... no instant in that Kentucky household!). He and his whole Kentucky born family drink only sweet tea (I guess they consider themselves real Southerners). So every time there is a family get-together my sister prepares two pitchers of tea; one sweet for his family members and one unsweet for our side of the family. Of course, my brother-in-law calls us "Yankees" every time we drink our tea from the "unsweet" pitcher.

CC said...

Clearly you are a southern gal! I had never even heard of sweet tea until a few years ago!

Kelly H-Y said...

Mmmmmmm ... I love it! I'm off to have some tea ... sweetened, of course!

Sherry said...

We always liked a little bit of tea with our sugar!

Another fun post by you!!!!

Sherry at EX Marks the Spot

Martha said...

Hey Becky, I'm Martha and I live in Greenville. Just found your blog and LOVE it. Like you, sweet and icy cold is the only way to drink tea. I also like a little tea with my lemon juice. :-) Waitresses never bring me enough lemon. Don't you love The Beacon sweet tea? YUM!