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"The house wine of the South"
June 8, 2007 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Where the South Really Begins [Flash] Forget the Mason-Dixon Line. The South really starts at the Sweet Tea Line. [more inside]
posted by kirkaracha (98 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Although it's often considered the dividing line between North and South, there are some issues with the Mason-Dixon Line (AKA the IHOP-Waffle House Line). Maryland and Delaware were both slave states; Maryland was below the line and Delaware was above it, but both stayed with the Union (and West Virginia, also below the line, seceded from Virginia after Virginia seceded from the Union). (And it's apparently not the origin of the term "Dixie.")

No, the Sweet Tea Line is the real boundary between North and South. Some say the line goes through western Virginia, through Tennessee, and into Missouri. San Francisco's on the wrong side of the line, but sweet tea's been spotted in Seattle.

Sweet tea literature review. Sweet tea, which Dolly Parton called "the house wine of the south" in Steel Magnolias, is not the same thing as iced tea with sugar, and as the Bible says, "Thou shall not say the tea is too sweet."

Sweet tea was originally made with green tea, according to the oldest known recipe from an 1877 communal cookbook, Housekeeping in Old Virginia edited by Marion Cabell Tyree, who was Patrick Henry's granddaughter. During World War II the United States was cut off from green tea sources and switched to black tea from British-controlled India. History of Iced Tea and Sweet Tea.

Other attempts at defining a North-South boundary.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:04 PM on June 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


My authentic southern sweet tea recipe, passed down in my family:

Take around six to eight regular size tea bags, or two of those family sized ones-put in a saucepan filled with water. Set pot on stove burner, turn on burner and watch pot carefully. Just as the very faintest wisps of steam start to rise, IMMEDIATELY turn off burner. IMMEDIATELY. NEVER BOIL THE TEA WATER. NEVER!

Let tea steep till the water is deep tea color. Meanwhile get a half-gallon pitcher and put a cup of sugar in it (more or less to taste, but bear in mind we are talking SWEET tea here.)

When tea is done steeping take out tea bags and pour tea into container and stir till sugar is dissolved. Add water till container is filled, then set in fridge. Allow to chill till cold. Then put some ice in glasses, pour tea, and enjoy!
posted by konolia at 4:14 PM on June 8, 2007 [12 favorites]


:)
posted by caddis at 4:16 PM on June 8, 2007


Ahh. One of the many things I miss about living farther south. Louisville is a little spotty on the sweet tea front, only about 50% of places here have it.

I worked in Yellowstone a few summers ago, and many a conversation was had about who could get sweet tea back home and who couldn't.
posted by Roman Graves at 4:21 PM on June 8, 2007


Never developed a taste for the stuff, but folks around me in when I lived in the south treated sweet tea as less a beverage than a birth right.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:24 PM on June 8, 2007


Ok, to those from the south: If I go to Chick-Fil-A (above the Sweet Tea Line in Pittsburgh), and get sweet tea, is that close to the stuff made below the STL? Even McDonald's here have sweet tea...
posted by ALongDecember at 4:26 PM on June 8, 2007


I'm having some right now thank you.
posted by nola at 4:29 PM on June 8, 2007


One of the things I'm looking forward to about moving from Texas to Buffamalo is the greater availability of sweet tea up there. I mean, it's all from-concentrate stuff, but that's more than you can get most places 'round here.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:31 PM on June 8, 2007


@ ALongDecember

Not sure about that I don't think I've had sweet tea from those establishments. What you're looking for is something dark, wet and very sweet that you may or may not wish to squeeze a lemon into.
posted by nola at 4:33 PM on June 8, 2007


On the Chick-Fil-A front, I'd say yes. That's probably the best sweet tea I've gotten at any national chain (remember they come from Atlanta), except maybe Waffle House.
posted by Roman Graves at 4:38 PM on June 8, 2007


This is much discussed here in southern Missouri. Joplin is unsweetened tea territory, but the rural areas just south sweeten it.
posted by LarryC at 4:40 PM on June 8, 2007


I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Chic-Fil-A's Tea should be a pretty good source, I used to fuel myself with that stuff working in suburban Atlanta.

Since moving to New England, I make a trip to a Cracker Barrel every so often just to get a fix. More than once the waitress has just left me a pitcher on the table.
posted by pupdog at 4:41 PM on June 8, 2007


I said years ago that Virginia isn't in the South because they didn't have sweet tea where I was.

Florida also flies in the face of geography with it's large scale rejection of the precious fluid. (It ranks right above Coca-Cola in the potable pantheon)
posted by Megafly at 4:42 PM on June 8, 2007


Wherever the fuck it is, keep me on the non-catfish side of it.
posted by four panels at 4:49 PM on June 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Finally, affirmation that DC IS NOT part of the South . . . still, I am sure many Northerners will continue to think so.
posted by pwedza at 4:51 PM on June 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


If this means my home state of Maryland isn't in the south anymore I'm all for it. We don't act like Southern folks anyways.
posted by owillis at 4:54 PM on June 8, 2007


Um. I'm sorry but we sure as hell have sweet tea in Florida. You might have meant Miami and South Florida. But, everyone knows that Miami does not speak for quite a bit of the rest of the state. Sweet Tea is alive and well anywhere from around Okeechobee and on up.

(Mind you I'm from Miami, and I love my town, but the lack of sweet tea there is a crime.)
posted by oddman at 4:59 PM on June 8, 2007


I don't get sweet tea. I mean...iced tea is a drink. Sugar is a thing you can, optionally, put in your tea, along with lemon and crushed mint leaves. All sweet tea seems to be is the removal of the option to not have too much sugar in your tea.

Doesn't every place, North and South, have sugar packets?
posted by darksasami at 5:03 PM on June 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hey oddman...I grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, and we had plenty of sweet tea!

If you ever have the fortunate misfortune of visiting South of the Border, I highly recommend avoiding Pedro's Diner. I've been there four times. All four times, the sweet tea was sour.

They also broke the grits. For the god's sake, they broke the grits.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 5:08 PM on June 8, 2007


Konolia, that's also my mother's sweet tea recipe. And you're right, you absolutely cannot let the water come to a boil.
posted by Rangeboy at 5:09 PM on June 8, 2007


darksasami, tea with sugar added after the fact can't compare to true sweet tea made with simple syrup (a super-saturated mix of water and sugar).

Great post, kirkaracha.
posted by shoepal at 5:10 PM on June 8, 2007


I'm with you pupdog... as I was raised in Alabama where sweet tea really is the official "house wine" for the masses. However, since living in New England for years now, the occasional stop by Cracker Barrel for a fix is becoming a habit. I think I'm an addict from my youth.
posted by Just Ask, Just Tell at 5:14 PM on June 8, 2007


...is not the same thing as iced tea with sugar...

Sounds like it is, though, at least the way I make my iced tea with sugar. I like there to be sweet, granular sludge at the bottom of the cup.
posted by DU at 5:28 PM on June 8, 2007


Pshaw to the sweet tea line. St. Louis is as far south as you can go and not be *guaranteed* that grits will be on the menu. That's my line.
posted by notsnot at 5:28 PM on June 8, 2007


As many have said Florida most certainly does have sweet tea.

If this means my home state of Maryland isn't in the south anymore I'm all for it. We don't act like Southern folks anyways.
posted by owillis


It's amazing that even a simple post on sweet tea can bring out the south haters.

You (of all people) should know better oliver, but keep on hating if it floats your boat.
posted by justgary at 5:29 PM on June 8, 2007


Sugar is a thing you can, optionally, put in your tea, along with lemon and crushed mint leaves.

Sugar doesn't dissolve well in cold liquids. This is physics, man.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:34 PM on June 8, 2007


I don't hate. I just don't like it real hard. :)
posted by owillis at 5:40 PM on June 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


There should not be granular sludge at the bottom of your sweet tea.

This is why it's different.

Real sweet tea is mixed hot so it forms a very light tea-flavored syrup. You need to supersaturate the water with sugar.

That is also, btw, the best way, by far to make lemonade (making a sugar syrup first)
posted by empath at 5:40 PM on June 8, 2007


Cubans make a lime-ade that starts with hot water. As empath notes, it rocks.

If you have sludge at the bottom you ain't drinking real sweet tea.
posted by oddman at 5:46 PM on June 8, 2007


I remember driving down to North Carolina a few years ago, and stopping for gas near Dinwiddie VA, not far from the Sweet Tea Line on the map. It was my first stop south of DC and I knew I had arrived in the South, as country music was blaring on the gas station speakers and a man at the next pump was driving a large Ryder Truck filled with watermelons and straw. Honest to God true story.
posted by cardboard at 5:48 PM on June 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


The only drink I have found that comes close to real sweet tea since leaving the South, is Arizona's Southern Sweet Tea. It tastes kinda similar but not anywhere as good as the sweet tea from the Boone Bagelry. *sigh* I do miss some good sweet tea.
posted by rubyeyo at 5:49 PM on June 8, 2007


Ahh. One of the many things I miss about living farther south. Louisville is a little spotty on the sweet tea front, only about 50% of places here have it.

That's been one of my bases for asserting that Louisville is not Southern, regardless of what some residents claim. Lexington is, though, or used to be.

The other big divider is cornbread. Louisvillians often make the sweet, cakey stuff and call that cornbread. In Lexington it's the dry, crumbly non-sweet sort.
posted by dilettante at 5:55 PM on June 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maryland is at least two, probably three, different states, really. Parts are very south'n, parts ain't. And parts of V'ginia are far more southerly than their mere latitude would suggest.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:00 PM on June 8, 2007


...as country music was blaring on the gas station speakers and a man at the next pump was driving a large Ryder Truck filled with watermelons and straw. Honest to God true story.

You say that like it's hard to believe.

That's been one of my bases for asserting that Louisville is not Southern, regardless of what some residents claim.

Eh, it's on the fence. Louisville has a lot of Southern culture and tradition, but as it's grown it has embraced a Midwestern identity. A lot of the "Southern" flavor of Louisville comes from the previous generations that came out of the Coal Field, which is...a world all it's own. Sadly, Lexington will suck no matter how you define it.
posted by Roman Graves at 6:06 PM on June 8, 2007


I grew up drinking sweet tea at Ruritan Club and volunteer fire dept. fundraising dinners in the Shenandoah Valley. I'd draw that line a little higher north in the valley. Fried chicken, green beans, biscuits, and sweet tea. Those ladies sure made a mean ham biscuit!

Of course that was many years ago. It could be that the Sweet Tea Line has receded since then.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:07 PM on June 8, 2007


You say that like it's hard to believe.

That was my first thought, too. Do folks in the North no longer have fresh fruit?
posted by mediareport at 6:13 PM on June 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Southern cornbread is repulsive stuff, a rank composite of grease and grit. It's strange how the general conception of southern food in other parts of the country is that it's tasty if fattening while the real deal is so lardy, flavorless and boiled past recognition that it would turn a Scots' stomach.

Sweet tea, however, is one of the best things ever. You have to squeeze out the teabags to get the flavor right though.

I wonder if the sweet tea line and the free-refills-in-restaurants line have similar boundaries?
posted by bunnytricks at 6:24 PM on June 8, 2007


I buy the argument. Born in DC and raised in Maryland, I was always south of the Mason-Dixon but never got the sense I was from the South. As a new transplant to North Carolina, though, I have definitely moved to the other side of a major cultural and culinary divide. And there's a hell of a lot to be said for tea, biscuits, and pulled pork.
posted by 1-2punch at 6:27 PM on June 8, 2007


I remember my brother ordering sweet tea in a NYC restaurant, the waiter looked confused.
posted by PHINC at 6:28 PM on June 8, 2007


I grew up drinking vats of ice tea in So Cal, but once I moved to Raleigh I quickly learned to ask specifacally for "unsweetened ice tea." Ugh. Sweet tea is horrifically sweet-- like drinking syrup. It's no wonder everybody in the South has diabetes. When I go to the in-laws (where father-in-law is diabetic) they put out two pitchers: one sweetened, one unsweetened and the sweet one always get finished first-- yet they drink their coffee black.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:29 PM on June 8, 2007


I grew up drinking sweet tea at Ruritan Club and volunteer fire dept. fundraising dinners in the Shenandoah Valley. I'd draw that line a little higher north in the valley.

Even in Charlottesville I don't think the wait staff in any self-respecting restaurant (not counting the franchises and fast-food places) would fail to ask "sweet or unsweet?" when taking an order for iced tea. It would be a faux pas like failing to ask "red or green?" when taking an order for chile in New Mexico.
posted by Creosote at 6:45 PM on June 8, 2007


Growing up, Creosote, I can remember several restaurants that just assumed 'Tea' meant sweet iced tea, you had to specify unsweetened. I still find myself asking for 'hot tea' here in CT, and sometimes get a very odd look, as if to say 'what other kinds are there'?
posted by pupdog at 6:54 PM on June 8, 2007


One of the fun things about being a Southerner is the way you get to shine on the rest of the country by being a legendary Southerner... sort of like Blacks in the anti-bellum South used to shine on the White folks. Isn’t that delicious?

The South, in general, is fatter than the rest of fat America but the obesity index puts Michigan in the solid south. Click on "launch".
posted by Huplescat at 6:57 PM on June 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't want to derail, but on the caffeine/sugar topic...

In 1972, in a small town in Illinois, our car broke down in front of the house of a Vietnamese family...back before there were a lot of Vietnamese people here...and, while we were waiting for the garage to open up, the family invited us in for coffee. And boy howdy, the amount of sugar they put in their coffee...!

We drank it, politely, buzzed.
posted by kozad at 7:03 PM on June 8, 2007


I've never had "Southern" sweet tea, but it sounds remarkably like ice tea in Canada. In fact, I compared the sugar content of konolia's recipe above to commercially available iced tea in Canada and it seems like about the same concentration. I've never been served iced tea that wasn't rather sweet in Canada. When I first opened a bottle of iced tea in the (Northern) USA, I was pretty shocked to find that it was just, well, cold tea.
posted by ssg at 7:07 PM on June 8, 2007


Growing up in North Carolina, biscuits and sweet tea at Bojangles was practically a staple. However, after moving away from the south people don't seem to comprehend the concept of iced, sweetened tea. "You mean like you take a Nutra-Sweet packet and dissolve it in your glass or something?"
posted by Rhomboid at 7:08 PM on June 8, 2007


Oh man kozad, now I'm craving my favorite tea from back home. My hometown has a Thai/Chinese restaurant that's been around as long as I can remember (at least 30 years now), and the tea was so good. The owners considered it a house secret, I still don't know exactly what they do to make it so good, but I used to take in a clean gallon jug and get a $4 fill up to go with my $5 lunch buffet takeout, and I was far from the only person doing it.

Man, now I'm hungry AND thirsty...
posted by pupdog at 7:15 PM on June 8, 2007


I'll vouch for konolia's ice tea recipe although, frankly, boiling the piss outta the bags also works just fine, as does putting the (glass) pitcher in a sunny spot for a few hours. It's pretty damn tough to go wrong when making ice tea.

Lemons slices and/or peppermint sprigs added to the jug after the brew is done makes a very nice addition. Also, one can cut back the sugar significantly over time; it's a matter of becoming habituated to the taste.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:24 PM on June 8, 2007


You need to be careful about making sun tea.
posted by Rangeboy at 7:29 PM on June 8, 2007


Oh, please, y'all, ain't none of the above, nor is it hush puppies on the mien-yew or the familiar fluorescent glow of a Piggly Wiggly. The true mark of God's country is surely Pueraria lobata.
posted by rob511 at 7:38 PM on June 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I've never heard God and Kudzu in the same sentence without a Damn thrown in there too.
posted by pupdog at 7:48 PM on June 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


What's the opposite of sweet?

"Un", as in, "Do you want sweet or un."
posted by trigfunctions at 8:00 PM on June 8, 2007


DON'T BOIL THE TEA. Anyone who says otherwise is a heretic with defective taste buds.
posted by konolia at 8:02 PM on June 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


You don't boil tea. ANY kind of tea. Boiling extracts more bitter components of the leaves.

Just like you don't boil coffee. I know Northerners boil it, but when I've had it it looked and tasted like motor oil.
posted by dw at 8:11 PM on June 8, 2007


We still can't use the img tag, right?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:16 PM on June 8, 2007


this is why i could never live in the South. i am a hata on the sweet tea. *shudder*
posted by RedEmma at 8:21 PM on June 8, 2007


Oh man, some butter milk biscuits, fried okra, collard greens, pulled pork (or any kind of BBQ) and a pitcher of sweet tea. Hot damn.
posted by oddman at 8:44 PM on June 8, 2007


Strangely enough, the sweet tea I enjoy the most is served at our local Mexican restaurant chain, Monterrey's. Plus, they give you an extra large glass, so you almost never need a refill, unless you're drinking like a camel.
posted by chiababe at 9:03 PM on June 8, 2007


Oh, hai, I forgot to mention the shot of lemon juice. That's what lets you get away with tea abuse: the shot of juice clears up the tea and removes/hides a lot of the bitterness.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:12 PM on June 8, 2007


I've lived in Sweet Tea Country and I still fail to understand the difference between sweet tea and Northern homemade iced tea. But there certainly seemed to be a difference. It's always driven me nuts that it's called sweet tea. Why not iced tea? Why isn't hot tea with sugar called sweet tea too? It just seems very counter-intuitive to this New Yorker.

On preview, I read the last link in the first comment, and it actually says that "Outside of the southern states, iced tea is served unsweetened or "black" and most people have never heard of sweet tea." Come on, seriously?? Aside from anything else, hasn't Snapple been widely available since the 1990's? Or any other brand of iced tea? It's nowhere near as good as homemade, but to say that most people have never heard of "sweet" tea is just ridiculous.
posted by Iamtherealme at 9:17 PM on June 8, 2007


I live north of the Makes-a-Difference Line.
posted by sourwookie at 9:18 PM on June 8, 2007


Southern cornbread is repulsive stuff, a rank composite of grease and grit.

I'm a southerner who only eats sweet or white cornmeal cornbread; my whole family looks down on me for it; anything other that the gritty yellow cornbread is obviously fake food which has been dumbed down for the masses. If you didn't buy the meal in a plastic sack on the side of the road from the man who ground it himself, in the last cornmeal grinder left in Tennessee (or something) then you apparently missing the whole point of eating cornbread besides betraying your farming heritage. My family: home cookin' purists.

I also dislike sweet tea. I like scrambled squash, though; that's southern, right?
posted by frobozz at 9:23 PM on June 8, 2007


Fried Chicken : One 3 to 5 pound fryer cut up
1/4 cup of sea salt 1 tbsp black pepper 1/2 tsp sage 1/2 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp oregano 1/4 cup brown sugar crisco and one box of zatarain's chicken fry mix.

mix the salt pepper sage garlic oregano and sugar together in a gallon tupperware 3/4 full of water , till its mixed up good and the salt is dissovled.

Wash the chicken and soak in the brine for no less than 10 hours no more than 24.

Remove and rinse chicken , coat in zatarain's and deep fry in crisco at 375 degrees for 7 minutes flip and cook for 6 or 8 minuters more. Drain on paper towl.

enjoy with some biscuits and a tall glass of sweet tea.
posted by nola at 9:50 PM on June 8, 2007 [5 favorites]


* of course you should keep your chicken in the ice box while you're brining it for those 10 hours. But you didn't need me to tell you that.
posted by nola at 9:52 PM on June 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


First experience with the Whole Tea Issue. It's 2002, 4 a.m., and I'm sitting in a Waffle House about to leave Tennessee to go back to Canada. My Southern boyfriend is sitting across from me, and we're both just staring dumbly at the table, exhausted, when the waitress comes over and asks if we want any tea.

I ask if they have orange pekoe, and before she can even respond my boyfriend steps in, aware that we're on an inevitable downward slide, and orders me hot tea and a glass of milk (because getting them to put milk in the tea itself would involve way too much explanation).

I've since learned to drink sweet tea, although I prefer iced tea, if it must be cold. Sugary tea seems wrong to me, the way sugary cornbread seems wrong to Southerners.
posted by joannemerriam at 10:09 PM on June 8, 2007


That is also, btw, the best way, by far to make lemonade (making a sugar syrup first)

Also the only way to make a mojito. (I tried a dozen ways before I figured out the simple syrup made it . . .)
posted by gompa at 10:58 PM on June 8, 2007


Is Canadian Ice Tea the same as Southern Sweet Tea? The iced tea in the Northern USA is waaaaaaaay different that the stuff we drink in Canada.... Very sweet and nothing like the cold tea I get served in the US and A.
posted by Deep Dish at 11:07 PM on June 8, 2007


Cracker Barrel Method of Sweet Tea

Start a regular brew of tea in a commercial sized tea urn (3 gallons). Fill a tea pitcher with 4 1/2 to 5 cups of sugar. Add hot water from the hot water spout on the coffee machine just until all the sugar is saturated. Stir until dissolved. Add the sugar water (syrup) to the tea urn and stir. Serve to the masses.

What I don't understand is people who want half sweet tea and half regular tea. At that concentration you might as well add sugar yourself to regular tea. I don't like those people.
posted by lizjohn at 11:09 PM on June 8, 2007


AKA the IHOP-Waffle House Line

When I was a kid, and we drove to Florida every Christmas to see my grandparents, we defined the south as beneath the Stuckey line. Although I think they're more places now.
posted by dhartung at 11:20 PM on June 8, 2007


You gotta make the tea extra sweet and extra strong. That way, once all the ice cubes melt in the hot hot sun, it will be perfect.

Sweet tea is the perfect drink for the south- the sugar gives you energy, the ice keeps you from overheating, and the caffeine makes you sharp.
posted by scose at 12:05 AM on June 9, 2007


Wait...people boil coffee? What the fuck?
posted by Roman Graves at 2:59 AM on June 9, 2007


I agree that the opposite of sweet is unsweet. My standard restaurant lunch drink order of "Unsweet Tea" gets strange looks outside of my regular stomping grounds.
posted by rainbaby at 3:07 AM on June 9, 2007


Wait...people boil coffee? What the fuck?

I was thinking the same about people who drink cold tea with sugar in it. Perverts. Despite the recent rubbishing by scientists, George Orwell's rules still stand as far as I'm concerned.
posted by jack_mo at 5:16 AM on June 9, 2007


Makes sense to me (the sweet tea line). Great post and discussion!
posted by languagehat at 6:39 AM on June 9, 2007


I highly recommend avoiding Pedro's Diner...they broke the grits.

Sorry 'bout the derail, but gotta stick up for mi hombre Pedro: The Sombrero Restaurant was one of the few places between Rocky Mount (NC) and Florence (SC) where I could reliably get a decent Reuben. I think there's a Waffle House nearby if it's diner food you're insisting on.
posted by pax digita at 7:31 AM on June 9, 2007


and orders me hot tea and a glass of milk

The South doesn't have little one-serving creamers? Little plastic tub with a foil lid and about a tablespoon of cream?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:56 AM on June 9, 2007


I'm originally from near Tampa, and if I remember right, around that part of Florida they always ask what kind of tea you want in restaurants.

Some places in Tennessee or southern Alabama do too, but good luck understanding what they're saying if you're not a native. "Yuwunt swettay?"

I'm living in St. Louis, an Unsweetened Zone. When I visited my parents in Georgia I forgot all about it and wound up with the second-most godawful nasty syrupy stuff ever. And I used to like sweet tea, too.

Whatever you do though, don't ask for iced tea in British Columbia. They'll serve you Pledge. I don't think they understand that lemon is optional and tea leaves are not.
posted by Foosnark at 10:18 AM on June 9, 2007


A restaurant here in central Alabama has an elegant solution to the sweet/unsweet tea dilemma. They serve plain, unsweetened ice tea, and each table has on it a cruet of simple syrup.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:22 AM on June 9, 2007


I've seen that too BitterOldPunk, I think thats a great idea.
posted by nola at 11:27 AM on June 9, 2007


I bet that cruet is really for pancakes.
posted by konolia at 11:36 AM on June 9, 2007


Maryland is at least two, probably three, different states, really. Parts are very south'n, parts ain't.

That's a fair description. I prefer to say my state is just a little confused. Maryland does have sweet tea, as well as its own incredibly delicious fried chicken recipe.
posted by zennie at 11:39 AM on June 9, 2007


The secret ingredient in sweet tea is a pinch of baking soda. Wait, was I supposed to not say that?

Also, I personally would not make sweet tea with anything other than Luzianne tea bags.

The no boiling rule is really law.
posted by dirtdirt at 2:44 PM on June 9, 2007


*sniffle*
Now I'm all sad I'm stuck in Michigan where there's no pulled pork, decent fried chicken, or sweet tea.
posted by needled at 3:56 PM on June 9, 2007


and orders me hot tea and a glass of milk

The South doesn't have little one-serving creamers? Little plastic tub with a foil lid and about a tablespoon of cream?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:56 AM on June 9


Sure they do - for coffee. They didn't have any on the table and putting milk in tea is pretty unusual in the south.

Deep Dish, Canadian iced tea and Southern sweet tea are pretty much the same thing. "Iced tea" in the South is unsweetened.
posted by joannemerriam at 6:35 PM on June 9, 2007


Little Rhody is a strange place where people in rural areas are sometimes found with Confederate Flags on their trucks, for reasons that mystify me.

Also mistfying: I can find Sweet Tea at the grocery store (Sweet Leaf brand in the natural foods section of Stop and Shop - this may or may not be true in other areas of the Northeast, but it's certainly not a local brand) and one of the eateries on the food court at the mall, but NOT at a gas station.

I mostly brew my own sweet tea at home. As a blue-blooded Yankee, this is probably some kind of blasphemy, but I don't care. I like my tea so sweet that it could bring on a diabetic coma.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:05 PM on June 9, 2007


darksasami: Dissolving sugar into cold tea doesn't work nearly as well as boiling the sugar INTO hot tea. That is, unless you want a glass of mostly unsweetened tea and a lump of sugar in the bottom.

(I make beverages for a living and I always dissolve sugar or caramel in hot water for this reason if I am then adding them to a cold drink. Otherwise, it just don't melt.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:07 PM on June 9, 2007


Konolia's tea recipe is step-for-step how I was taught to make tea as child. I'm not sure why this was one of my tasks, but my mother generally insisted that I make tea. We kept it in a green tupperware pitcher which never ran empty in the summer. My father would sometimes drink straight from the pitcher after downing a few beers and I would later (secretly) dump the remaining tea, wash the pitcher, and make a new batch. The plastic was permanently tea-stained.

When I left home I moved to unsweetened tea. This post is an affirmation that rural Missouri, where my parents were raised, is in the South.
posted by F Mackenzie at 7:32 PM on June 9, 2007


grapefruitmoon , loving sweet tea just means you're really a southern gal deep down inside. Do you every feel the need own a huge pickup truck ?
posted by nola at 11:22 AM on June 10, 2007


Um, people put milk in their tea? Really? That sounds kind of nasty, like bitter milk or something.
posted by oddman at 11:29 AM on June 10, 2007


My wife puts milk in her tea. It is, honest to god, an absolutely disgusting practice.

Even I will admit, however, that it can be a treat on a nasty weather day when one's feeling like shit and wants to crawl back to bed.

Then again, NyQuil also seems pretty nice under those circumstances.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:53 PM on June 10, 2007


This may or may not finally prove where the south begins and ends, but it also proves that absolutely nobody in the US knows how to make a cup of tea.
posted by vbfg at 5:20 AM on June 11, 2007


This is all bull shit. The South is not "where you can get sweet tea" its where when you order tea you have to specify that it be unsweetened or else they default to sweet tea. THAT, my friends, is the South.

Once overheard in a Tuscaloosa bar: "She's from Tennessee, but she still acts pretty southern."
posted by Pollomacho at 5:26 AM on June 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


If that's the limit, then The Beacon is the epicenter.

*checks watch, wonders how long until lunch....*

Also: cornbread is savory, dammit, not sweet. I'll stake my reputation as a southern cook on this.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:44 AM on June 11, 2007


Growing up in the South, my family always brought weird tea recipes to gatherings. Scary stuff. For years, I hated sweet tea thinking it had this weird stuff in it: lemon, peppermint, caramel, etc. As a kid, I could never understand why my Aunt Mae's Sun Tea tasted so good! Then I learned that they were just trying new stuff at these events and their day-to-day teas were normal.
Then, I moved away from the family and South. I discovered other normal sweet tea recipes weren't so yucky. I make my own according to Konolia's instructions for the most part. Only difference is that I boil the water first (I have no patience to watch it that closely), then I remove the pan from the stove, and plop in the teabags. Everything else is followed to the letter, although I'm sure I add more than 1 cup of sugar.
Outside of GA, I also missed easy access to cornmeal everywhere I turned. I couldn't find simple things like cornmeal, hushpuppies, and cornbread. I missed the fried yellow summer squash and vidalias. The "South" in general drives me insane on many fronts, but it does have some redeeming qualities.
Southern Cornbread is definitely not gross by default. There are a couple very decent and traditional recipes (just like biscuits). I do love that Sweet Fair Cornbread though. It's absolutely delicious in a glass with milk poured on top.
posted by ick at 8:46 AM on June 11, 2007


Data point: billboards have recently appeared in Pittsburgh advertising sweet tea at McDonald's.

Great post, kirkaracha.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:17 AM on June 11, 2007


There has been a lot of misinformation in this thread that I wanted to clear up. This is the South:

Southern Virginia
Southern Kentucky
Tennessee
North Carolina
Arkansas
Louisiana
Mississippi
Alabama
Georgia
South Carolina
Northern Florida

No Texas is not the South. It is the West. Neither Kentucky or Missouri are the South. I don't know what they are. I am not even going to dignify the question of whether Maryland is the South with a response.

Tea should be sweet, cornbread should not be, okra should be fried, and bar-b-que is pulled pork with sauce.

Please take my word for this Yankees. Do not come down here!
posted by ND¢ at 12:37 PM on June 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


Please take my word for this Yankees. Do not come down here!

Damn carpetbagging pone crumblers! Go back to Tax-a-jewsetts, Ted Kennedy!
posted by Pollomacho at 12:59 PM on June 11, 2007


They can go anywhere they want and call themselves anything they want, but we have way more than enough of them down here. When you and those around you live your life a certain way, and then you realize that the community that you have built sucks, the answer is not to then move en masse to another area that doesn't suck and act the same way.
posted by ND¢ at 1:51 PM on June 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


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