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(Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Sweet Tea Leaf)

National Sweet Tea Day

The refreshment of the South is sweet tea. Don’t confuse iced tea with sweet tea or you might offend a Southern lady. Sweet tea is inherently sweet. Southerners prefer sugar, sometimes a lot of sugar, in their ice tea. On August 21, why not pour yourself a glass on National Sweet Tea Day.

The South and tea have a long history. South Carolina is the first, and only, state to grow and sell tea. While sweet tea recipes vary depending on area, the first known recipe goes back to 1879 Virginia. An old cookbook explains how to make the drink. Today, it seems almost impossible that someone wouldn’t know how to make tea from a tea bag.

While sweet tea and iced tea have often been linked together, Southerners can be very protective of the sugary beverage. In 2003, a few Georgia State Representatives introduced a bill protecting sweet tea. The proposed law required restaurants to serve sweet tea. Violating restaurants would be charged with a misdemeanor. Since it was proposed on April Fools Day, the bill was more humorous than official. Also, it never became law.

Sometimes at Southern restaurants or Southern homes, iced tea is sweet tea. A non-sugared beverage isn’t made or offered. If you’re not aware of the difference, the first sip of your beverage might be quite a shock.

Still, sweet tea isn’t just limited to Southern states. McAlister’s Deli offers the Southern beverage staple. Even McDonald’s has a sweet tea version, although some purists doubt its authenticity. Of course, Chick-a-fila has their version too.

On National Sweet Tea day, pour yourself a glass of the Southern staple. It may not have you saying “bless your heart” but it could make the day a little sweeter.