A fond memory of my mother, is her allowing me to make the tea. We had a large, orange Tupperware pitcher and my self-esteem, love of cooking, and psyche were developed from this very act. How proud I was to measure the sugar into that pitcher, pour the liquid off the steeped bags that I'd been instructed to "just bring to a boil", and then stir until all grains of sugar were fully melted. Then and only then was I to add water up to the rim. At that point, in my elementary brain, I felt I had helped "cook supper".
I've just returned from a mini-pre-school-starting-vacation, and nary a place had "sweet" tea. Here in the deep South, we ask for "sweet" tea, which is of course improper. Sweetened tea is correct. I have a kindred spirit that always asks for "sugared" tea, and I love to borrow that line when far into Yankee country. My pronunciation is a long drawn out "shoog-ahed tea" worthy of Elizabeth in "Old Yellar". I love the reactions of the wait staff. Without fail, the response is "What?"with a quizzical look. And I again ask for "sugared" tea. In 90% of the cases, I draw a "dumb-southerner" sneer which makes my guts smile. Tea was made to be sweetened! I simply cannot mimick the taste of tea from the South when trying to sweeten it otherwise. I settle for a Diet Coke. But oh, to return home to the land of "sweet tea", such joy is indescribable.
My former mother-in-law introduced me to hot tea. I'll never forget learning to wrap the string from the tea bag around the bowl of the spoon just from watching her. A vivid memory of hot tea was on a return flight from Seoul, Korea. It was so soothing to my weary mind, body and spirit on that never ending flight. My aforementioned kindred spirit taught me to mix a 1/2 cranberry juice and 1/2 sweet tea for a delightful drink in the fall.
Until it is not available to me, as on my vacation, I simply do not realize just how much I love it. There is a large glass of the cold "sugared" stuff sitting close at hand as I type this. Ahhhh, I just had a sip. When will the rest of the world figure it out? Tea is to be "sweet".