When it comes to food and drink, there are many images that are summoned when we think of the American South. But the most popular and persistent of them all is sweet tea. The drink is synonymous with the region and isn’t nearly as common or easy to find in other parts of the country, so why is that and what’s the history behind sweet tea that might provide us with the answers?
That’s precisely what we’re going to explore today. Some might argue that if you can't find sweet tea in a local restaurant or diner, you’re not really in the south. It’s a source of frustration for many southerners now living in northern states, so let’s find out why this is the case and why sweet tea is so closely intertwined with the southern culture.
Is Sweet Tea a Southern Thing?
It’s well known that states across the south have fallen in love with sweet tea in the decades since then. It’s now the case that many many people judge whether a particular location can be considered as truly southern or not by how easy it is to access sweet tea. So it’s certainly fair to say that sweet tea is a southern thing if ever there was one.
What Are the Different Types of Sweet Tea?
There are different ways of making sweet tea that have developed through the ages. Today, many people use tea bags and others have their own methods. Traditional methods are still used by some purists, but there’s really no right or wrong way to make sweet tea; it all comes down to the way you prefer to make it and what your priorities are.
There are particular brands of tea that different people prefer. And when making your own, different sweeteners can be used too. It’s also true that some people believe that the best results are achieved by first pre-sweetening the tea leaves rather than sweetening the drink itself later. Anyone looking to develop a love for sweet tea should sample the variety that’s out there and see which approach they like most.
How Did Sweet Tea Start?
It wasn’t until a little later towards the 1930s and 40s that sweet tea became a more widely consumed drink as sourcing the ingredients needed to make sweet tea became easier and more affordable to get a hold of. It’s actually believed it was first popularized in the north before being fully embraced as southern a little later. And that’s when it became the quintessential southern drink.
When Was it So Widely Popularized as a Southern Drink?
As we’ve discussed, it took time for sweet tea to become widely popular in the south, but when it did, it really took off in a way that never really happened in the north of the United States. In the south, imported green teas were used to make all sorts of tea, including sweet tea, hot tea and all kinds of iced teas. Hot tea came first and was popular in the south throughout the 19th century.
As well as it becoming easier to find the ingredients needed in order to make tea, the advancement of refrigeration technology in the 20th century also helped hasten the popularization of sweet tea across the south states of America. As the years passed, it became easier and easier to make cool, refreshing sweet tea.
Which States Have Sweet Tea?
It’s believed that the states in which sweet tea is most popular and most widely consumed are Alabama, Arkansas, Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. However, sweet tea is also very popular in Texas and Oklahoma, but to a slightly lesser extent than in the states listed above.
The popularity of sweet tea now stretches beyond the south as fast food chains that were once only located in the south expand into other parts of the country, taking sweet tea with them. As that trend increases and more people become aware of sweet tea, its popularity is likely to grow even further in the months and years ahead.
Check Out Southern Breeze Sweet Tea
We’re passionate about sweet tea and we’re not afraid to show it. In creating our sweet tea, we travel the world looking for the highest quality tea leaves. Our blend master then crafts the perfect combination of leaves for a consistently delicious taste.
The tea is completely pre-sweetened in the bag, making it easy for you to brew your tea without wasting any time at all. The whole process is as easy as it can be. And because we’re based in Georgia and understand exactly how sweet tea should be, you can trust us to create the taste and flavors you’re expected when you take that first sip of sweet tea.