Tuesday, March 25, 2008

tea for one

I have discovered something during my latest trip to Atlanta that has changed my life forever. Well, perhaps to say that I "discovered" it is something of a stretch. That's like saying Columbus "discovered" the Americas, a land that indigenous peoples had been living on and enjoying for years. But let's leave the semantics to the semioticians and just sit back to enjoy a nice, tall, icy glass of sweet tea.

"But Michelle," you say, brow furrowed just so, "that's just iced tea. Don't tell me you haven't ever had iced tea before." Well, in a sense, yes, it is just cooled tea on ice, with sugar in it. But BETTER. First of all, you can't even compare it to the terrible Snapples and Nesteas of the world. Those beverages are more like SWEET!!! (tea), that is to say, far too much sugar and not enough tea taste. Nor is it the same as iced tea that you would order in a restaurant here up North. Here, if you order an iced tea, they will bring you a cup of tea, on ice, unsweetened. All self-inflicted efforts at sweetening leave you is with a grainy pile of sugar at the bottom of the glass, defying all efforts at dissolution in the icy bath, because of, you know, chemistry and whatnot. Sweet tea in the South is different. Sweet tea in the South is better. And best of all, sweet tea in the south is everywhere. At every restaurant, at every sandwich place, at every hole in the wall, there it is, a gigantic cauldron of freshly brewed sweet tea, each purporting to be derived from some special unique family recipe but all of them tasting similarly good.

I've read accounts (most recently "Beautiful Boy," though I was too embarrassed to buy it at Starbucks, for the same reason I rip all those little Oprah Book Club stickers off the books that happen to be on Oprah's Book Club) of drug users, who, after finally trying what would eventually become their drug of choice--crack cocaine, methamphetamines, what have you--say that though they didn't know it until that moment, this was what they had been missing their entire lives. This is how I feel about sweet tea. Such a light flavor! So delicately sweet! So good! So mildly caffeinated! I NEVER KNEW IT COULD BE THIS WAY. And I'm not going as far as to say that sweet tea = methamphetamines, but realizing that we are relocating to Atlanta, where I will basically be able to access sweet tea 24/7, well, it certainly takes the sting out of the move.