Sweet Tea. It’s A Southern Thing. You Wouldn’t Understand. « Shoot Me Now

Shoot Me NowSweet Tea. It’s A Southern Thing. You Wouldn’t Understand.

Sweet Tea. It’s A Southern Thing. You Wouldn’t Understand.
Published on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 by

I will never forget my first sweet tea.  Sure, we had unsweetened iced tea as kids with a few spoonfuls of sugar mixed in.  No matter how much you stirred and stirred, it never quite dissolved.  The upside was the huge swig of granulated sugar you scored at the bottom of the glass.

Sweet tea though…. REAL sweet tea, is made with love in the south.  I drank my first sweet tea in a farmhouse in Greenville, North Carolina.  “Katherine, would you like to have a sweet tea?”  It wasn’t a “glass of sweet tea,” it was “a sweet tea.”

“Why yes, I would love one!”

I brought the glass up to my lips and took a sip.  Instantly, my mouth was filled with a sweet, syrupy liquid that tasted similar to iced tea, but to the billionth degree.

Had I died and gone to heaven?   What was this sweet nectar, surely made exclusively for the gods?

Three glasses later, I found myself in the passenger seat on my way back to the dorm room… crossing my legs, begging for a bathroom and shaking from an extreme southern sweet tea high.  Maybe I should have stopped at TWO glasses.

There are secrets to the perfect sweet tea that include simple syrup made from white and brown sugars, as well as a bit of baking soda for smoothness.  But that is all I can tell you, for fear they will come to get me.

In our world, you order either “sweet tea” or “unsweetened tea.”  If you are in a hurry, you can ask for “unsweet tea.”  But that is a bit of a southern faux pas.

That is why I was surprised to find this tea label in our local Chipotle restaurant.

Chipotle Not Sweet Tea



So I ask you.  Do you drink “unsweetened tea” or this crazy thing called “Not Sweet Tea.”  Help me to understand.  Is this like “Happy Holidays,” but for Iced Tea?!

In my sheltered southern world, it is “Sweet Tea” and “Unsweetened Tea.”  What is it in yours?

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  • Ron

    “I will never forget my first sweet tea. Sure, we had unsweetened iced tea as kids with a few spoonfuls of sugar mixed in. No matter how much you stirred and stirred, it never quite dissolved. The upside was the huge swig of granulated sugar you scored at the bottom of the glass.”

    OMG…you described it perfectly, because it was the same for me! And yes, I too remember drinking my first glass of REAL sweet tea and thought I had died and gone to heaven as well.

    “In my sheltered southern world, it is “Sweet Tea” and “Unsweetened Tea.”

    Same here.

    “Not Sweet Tea” just sounds too weird. The next time I’m in our Chipotle, here in Philly, I will have to check out their tea dispenser.

    But do you know what my favorite tea is? Arizona Green Tea with honey. I drink a glass almost every single day. Love it!


    • Please come back and tell me if your Chipotle has “Not Sweet Tea.” I am SERIOUSLY interested!!!!

  • Mel

    NOT SWEET TEA, eh? *laughing* Okay..that’s a bit…bizarre…..
    Seriously. Bizarre.

    I don’t do sweet tea. LOL I do suntea. Shove the jar in the sunlight–pick it up after a good day of sunshine brewing. Pour it over ice–toss in lemon slices. BY the gallons in the spring and summer, I’m afraid. LOL NOT sweet tea. He-who-likes-things-sweet buys HIS sweet tea. I smile and nod and keep moving. Plain ol’ suntea with lemon tossed in. Ahhhhhh…….c’mon SUN!

    • I MAKE SUN TEA EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND IN THE SUMMER!!! At the beach house it is a MUST. My mother always made sun tea…. I never saw her make tea in any other way. This summer, try adding a sprig of fresh basil in it. Sounds strange but it is AWESOME.

  • I notice here that nearly any restaurant that serves tea has the sweet tea and the unsweet teas marked in giant letters but I haven’t seen the NOT Sweet Tea.

    I grew up in the south and understand sweet tea. Locally (here in KS) I think that people just think sweet tea is just tea that some guy in the back room poured in some sugar and stirred it for you. The boiling sugar into a syrup and adding a pinch of soda changes the taste of the tea that makes sweet tea into a southern thing.

    • I actually didn’t know about the soda until about a year ago when I heard an interview on NPR. I tried it and it really does smooth it out.

  • sabi
  • bolji brakovi

    Just spent 3 months in Texas, and I must say that sweet tea is way to sweet anyways!

  • Not sweet tea? BLECH!

    I love me “a sweet tea.” Especially when I am in the south!

    • I usually order unsweetened… but on a special occasion I LOVE sweet tea!

  • KZ

    I’ve heard of sweet tea, but I’ve never had a proper glass of the stuff. I usually drink plain, unsweetened tea, myself. How does sweet tea compare to something like a can of Lipton’s sweetened tea? That stuff is way too sugary for my tastes.

    • KZ

      By the way, that picture made me laugh even before I read the entry. It almost feels like the restaurant is up to no good when you read that sign.

    • Then Southern sweet tea would be like eating a box of sugar cubes to you…. so I would say it isn’t your thing. I actually drink unsweetened tea. HOWEVER…. at the beach house on a Saturday I make sun tea and use some sugar syrup with a spring of fresh basil. It is SOOOOO good!

  • Jay of The Depp Effect

    ‘Not sweet tea’? HAHAHAHAHA!! I guess it’s empty. It used to be sweet tea, but now it’s not!

    • You are GOOD. That never occurred to me. It WAS sweet tea, but now it is NOT sweet tea!

  • I’ve never had a real sweet tea, just the Nestea stuff. But I usually like my tea strong and sweet, so I’m guessing I’d probably like it.

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