In the American South, Sweet Iced Tea or “Sweet Tea” is pretty much the elixir of life. It’s hard to separate the idea of the south from Sweet Tea and living in the south the idea that any restaurant or dining establishment would not serve it. Below the Mason – Dixon line, the only reason that anywhere would sell unsweetened tea is so that you can put your own sugar substitutes in to make your own sweet tea. But there was a time before Sweet Tea and one has to wonder – where did it all begin? As it turns out the birthplace of Sweet Tea is in Summerville, South Carolina.
There was a receipt found in the town records dated 1890 which was long list of items purchased for a reunion of old soldiers near Summerville. Among the provisions of bread, beans, and beef were these specific commodities: 600 pounds of sugar and 880 gallons of iced tea.
Before this discovery, it was thought that Sweet Tea was first consumed in St. Louis at The World’s Fair in 1904. As it turns out, these folks were already enjoying the Southern beverage of choice a full 14 years before anybody at the World’s Fair had even thought about making iced tea.
So with warm summer days ahead of us – go ahead and brew and ice yourself some good old “Sweet Tea” and remember to thank Summerville – or else you may not be cooling off so well or so sweetly.