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What Could Wine and Tea Possibly Have in Common?

June 29, 2007

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In the South, they are often considered interchangeable.  In fact, traditional Southern iced tea, known as sweet tea, is frequently referred to as Southern Table Wine.  This is simply because, historically, wine and other alcoholic beverages were less available and somewhat frowned upon in the region.  Sweet tea has been the signature drink of the South for centuries and continues to be a beverage rooted in family tradition.  It is a staple at picnics and family gatherings.

The oldest known printed recipe for sweet tea was published in 1879 in a community publication “Housekeeping in Old Virginia.”  While most sweet tea today is made with black tea, this recipe actually called for green tea.  In fact, it wasn’t until World War II when green tea supplies were cut off that black tea from British controlled India became more prevalent.

Although the tradition of making sweet tea differs from family to family, and even from person to person, traditional sweet tea is brewed very strong with lots of sugar added while the tea is still hot.  This tea mixture is then diluted with water and served over ice in a tall glass with lemon.  Today, the more health conscientious among us might substitute some of the sugar with artificial sweeteners or even berries, peaches or other sweet fruits.

We’d love to hear your family’s sweet tea traditions…



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