I’ve been pleased and proud to grow up and live in the country within our own country called “The South.” I lived in Texas for 8 years. Although Texas, east Texas especially, has many Southern qualities, it is also a country within our own. When I moved to the “Greater Tri-State” was glad to be in the South. Yes, it’s geographically much farther north. But culturally it’s the South!
As a Southern Woman, I’m obligated to follow certain rules. These are not written. Everyone just knows them. A few are 1) Look fabulous even when you feel like death 2) Femininity is always a plus 3) Southern women have impeccable manners 4) We will be tough but nice i.e. Scarlett O’Hara 5) Embrace the accent – you could speak like a Yankee 6) A good attitude is like kudzu, it spreads quickly and never stops growing (What Every Southern Girl Should Know) and most importantly 7) A well made meal and a perfectly set table can solve nearly any problem as long as it includes sweet tea.
It’s this 7th one that’s a problem for me! Those who know me, know that I LOVE to cook, especially food from my native country of The South. I can fry chicken and make gravy. I also make cornbread. Cornbread is always a bone of contention in our home because husband is a bit of a Yankee and prefers cornbread sweet. I know, I know! It’s horrible, really to even imagine.
I can make biscuits, sausage gravy, grits, and greens. I can devil the heck out of an egg and make potato salad and cole slaw that you’ll remember forever. I even make cornbread salad. I would never have a ladies event like a shower at my home with cucumber sandwiches. I do pound cake, cookies, fudge, divinity and, of course, lemon bars.
There one area in which I’m a complete and total failure. I CANNOT make tea! I know. I can’t believe it either. Seems simple enough, right? Not so much for me. I blame this inability on a decision I made during my critical “learning to master tea making years.” You see, several years ago I decided that I would drink absolutely NO calories (expect for wine). Thus, no tea. And why would you even make tea if it’s not going to be sweet? Sure you can make tea and put Sweet n Low, Equal or that new-fangled Truvia, but it’s not the same as good, white sugar.
Iced tea to Southerners is like hot tea is too the British. You grow up drinking it. You don’t even remember when you first had tea – you just always had it. We probably all had it in a sippy cup at some point. And for the record my sister-in-law is a Brit. We also have some a really great Brit friend in Texas. Both have unsuccessfully to teach me to make British tea.
In Arkansas, where I mostly grew up, they do tea like they do barbeque – both ways. What do I mean? They have both pork and beef barbecue and both sweet and not sweet tea. In Texas, at least in the Dallas area, the barbeque is beef the tea is not sweet, but it’s served in a “Texas sized” glass – approximately 3 liters. Here in the “Greater Tri State” the barbecue is pork and the tea must be sweet. But not if you come to my house.
At my home you’re likely to get water that is the faintest shade of amber or something that resembles used motor oil. The first thing my mom does when she comes is make tea – not sweet for her. She heats some water, throws in some tea bags, comes back a little later, adds more water and VOILA – TEA! I do the same thing to horrible results.
My mother-in-law, although she’s lived south of the Mason/Dixon for at least 35 years, is pretty much a dyed in the wool Yankee (bless her heart). She’s used technology to solve her tea dilemma – she has an iced tea maker. She also still uses her bread machine but that’s an entirely other blog. It’s large and cumbersome and seems like too much trouble to me. Her kitchen, bigger than mine, affords her a place to store it.
My inability to make tea hasn’t been a problem until recently. Not long ago I found myself “with child.” This puts me squarely out of the only-liquid-calories-being-wine club. I’m also medically obligated to consume 300-500 extra calories a day.
I’m at my neighbor’s home the other day – she’s a Southern lady who was raised correctly and had a fresh jug of sweet tea in her fridge. Since it’s been literally YEARS since I’ve had any, I poured myself a glass – and then another and then another…. This liquid was like sweet nectar from heaven!!! Every chance I get I go to the neighbor’s and pour myself some tea.
So I feel Southern Lady Membership Society has issued me an ultimatum of sorts. I’ve got about 29 weeks left to drink calories. If I can’t make tea by that time I’m sure they’ll revoke my membership. I need a tea tutorial. Please help! Or at least come by and leave some tea in my fridge so my card won’t be revoked!