For most people in the south, tea means an ice cold cup of sweet tea (black tea with lots of sugar). Growing up, that’s all we drank. No herbal teas or green teas. Nothing “fancy.”
My mom and I were a little different than most around us, though. Not that we don’t love a glass of cold sweet tea, but there was a treat we both shared a love for.
When the tea had finished steeping on the stove, Mom would pour it into a pitcher over a few scoops of sugar, add in a little more water, then stir. Once it was ready she’d put the pitcher in the fridge to cool. She’d come find me, and like a shared secret, let me know, “I just finished making tea. It’s in the fridge, so go get some now if you want it still warm.”
I’d pour some into a jelly jar glass and cup my hands around it to feel the warmth. Hold it below my nose for a bit and let the steam clear out any congestion. Then sip it slowly. I’m pretty sure I remember a few people turning their noses up at us from time to time, like, “Who drinks warm sweet tea?!” Those comments seem so silly now.
As I got older, Mom and I began to delve into the world of herbal teas. Fruit teas became a favorite, and mint. But I still love a good cup of warm black tea, sometimes with a bit of lemon juice added and mostly with honey instead of sugar. A classic a bit refined, but with humble, sweet beginnings.