"The Social Network of the South"
It's something I've had to hide my entire life, but it's time I come clean.
I'm a Southerner, and I don't like sweet tea.
I know, I know. I've had to pretend to sip lady—like on the brew for years. There's no getting away from it around here. Whether it's a luncheon, or on a friend's front porch, or . . . heck, ANYWHERE around here, you can bet your bottom dollar, there will be tea. Any season of the year, you will find iced tea served at ballgames, gas stations, frilly restaurants and family reunions.
My short defense is that it's just too dang sweet! I feel like I'm drinking liquified chocolate cake, minus the chocolate. Which for some, would be heaven, but I'm more of a salt lover and don't really crave sweets. Well, most of the time. When I was expecting my first child, I baked seven different cakes in one day and ate heaping spoonfuls of thick and gooey condensed milk right out of the can . . . but expectant Mothers are known for their spastic culinary cravings.
Now that I've returned to sanity, I've really tried to drink unsweet tea, but found it to be too bitter. I've tried adding a tiny touch of sugar, fake sugar (yuck) and other flavorings. Nothing works.
My Mother always said:
No coffee or tea
Before you are twenty
But water and milk
You need to drink plenty
She said that almost every night of my life, while she poured me a big glass of whole milk, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Seven days a week. That's what I drank until I broke free for college and discovered other "beverages."
Uncle Si, on Duck Dynasty, is never without a glass of iced tea.
Since I don't drink the tea, I don't often make the tea. People who make a lot of sweet tea have the formula down so well, they can do it with their eyes closed. It's like turning on the water spout for them. But I have to carefully measure the water and sugar, count out each tea bag, and since I don't like the way it tastes anyway, who knows if I am doing it right?
And since no one around here can legally have guests enter their home without a pitcher of iced tea waiting in the refrigerator, I've learned to turn to my friend Milo for help.
In the name of Southern hospitality, a Belle''s gotta do what a Belle's gotta do.
So when I've said the obligatory, "Y'all come see us," and they take me seriously and say, "Okay, how's about Tuesday afternoon?" Or if I've invited people over for a meal, I first trot myself over to the Piggly Wiggly and pick up a gallon of Milo's Tea.
Then, I bring it home, and pour it into my crystal pitcher.
There you go. I just made tea.
Let me rephrase that: I just made tea (go into that pitcher).
I'm not trying to trick anyone, it's just that it would be totally tacky to plop a big plastic jug on the table. It would be like bringing The Colonel's fried chicken to your church dinner—on—the—ground and leaving it in the box! What kind of savage do you think I am?
I pour everyone a glass of cold tea, and have a tall cool water for myself, with mint sprigs from my own garden, of course.
Guests rave about my tea, and have said I'm the sweetest hostess in town.
Almost as sweet as the tea.