Tea Tuesday: A bief history of Sweet Tea in the Southern US

Sweet Tea is the most southern of drinks. On the surface it’s just a standard iced tea chock full of sugar. However, south of the Mason Dixon line it’s a cultural institution. Slate’s Jeffrey Klineman’s notes:  “For me, personally—and I suspect I’m not alone—sweet tea is a primal link to my own Southern past.” Tea has a long history in the south, and South Carolina was the first place in America that tea was grown.


Sweet tea on the way to Charleston, South Carolina

Recipes for “Sweet Tea” date from the late 1800s, but the recipes called for green tea. A little known fact is that green tea was once more popular than black tea in the US. Black Tea did not become the most consumed variety until after World War IILuzianne Iced Tea is currently one of the most popular brands and we saw giant carafes of Luzianne in many of the restaurants we ate at on our trip. On the road, our sweet tea of choice came from the prolific southern chain, Bojangles, which you can find throughout the Southern states.

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