Why is Iced Tea so Southern?

Growing up in the South, “sweet tea” is a way of life! Seriously. There is no thought about the temperature of tea cause it’s almost always served over ice!

Wait, I take that back, hot tea is important too. Where I grew up, even children know that you can’t get tea sweetened once it’s been iced down…. every good southerner mixes the sugar into tea that’s just been steeping in boiling water to get it well diulted!

My mom always made some unsweetened tea for dad and her tea is sweet, but I have some family members who make tea so sweet that the tea is syrupy!

Tea production map by FAO

But I’ve only been to a few places where I understood tea was actually grown, that’s sort of hard to believe as many agricultural areas as I’ve toured, that tea is a rare commodity to find. There were some hills outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I thought about going to tea plantations. And I knew in India I could find some places where tea was grown. But I have to say, in the US, I was stumped.

Looking at a world map of where tea is grown, you can see Asia, India, and Turkey have been among the top producers. That’s because the plants tend to do best in hot & humid environments, and it seems hillside production is best.

American Classic Tea

Well, that was until I went to a meeting in Charleston, SC once and found out why tea is considered so Southern in the US. The only place in the entire US that grows tea is the Charleston Tea Plantation. I need to get back over there and take time to do the full tour. (Flipping around the site, you’ll see the factory tour looks pretty interesting!)

I’ve seen more sugarcane, particularly in Louisiana but I mush admit to seeing quite a bit in the Philippines and India too. So with the proximity of sugarcanes growth to tea, it just seems automatic that the two would go together well.

Having written this post, I am a little thirsty. But it’s pretty cool so I think I’ll fix myself a big cup of spicy chai with a lot of milk in it… I know a lot more dairy farmers than tea & sugar farmers!

About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

, , , ,

One Response to Why is Iced Tea so Southern?

  1. Paul Dudenhefer March 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    I’m so glad I know this now, Janice! Thanks so much for writing about this.

What are you thinking?