Celebrate National Sweet Tea Day in NashvilleNashville is quickly becoming a place to celebrate everything. Downtown sees more bachelorettes than any other city around, and Nashville hot chicken is making menus in states far and wide (what'd'ya say, Colonel Sanders?), but what about the deliciousness we take for granted? What about the yummy-in-a-glass that is most definitely a secret of the South? That's right, folks. I'm talking about syrupy sweet tea, and below you'll find a few ways and places to celebrate National Sweet Tea Day (on August 21) in Nashville, TN.
The first time I moved away from Tennessee was for graduate school in Dayton, OH (Go Flyers!), but what I didn't expect was such huge culture shock upon arrival. When I met my graduate school cronies, they toured me around, and, of course, we had to eat along the way. With a huge smile and a rumbly tummy, I asked for sweet tea at my first Ohio meal. Faces contorted and the server politely slid the sugar container across the table as she told me, "we don't have that here." Shock and amazement washed over me, and that's when I realized that sweet tea is special. If you're out and about in Nashville, there are plenty of places to snag a glass of ice, cold sweet tea. Some, like Chick-fil-a, are popular chains popping up all over the nation, but some are local favorites with unique takes on the drink.
Demos' is every Southerner's favorite place to order tea because they bring it unsweetened and then hand over a syrup jar full of simple syrup, or as we refer to it, liquid sugar. Put a lot or a little and the tea will slowly begin to thicken. It is not uncommon to hear squeals of delight, even from adults, when the syrup container arrives at the table, and it's even more common to notice mostly empty jars as people get up to leave.
If you haven't visited Calypso Cafe, then get in the car, on a bike or sprout wings because the coconut corn muffins and jerk chicken are amazing. The other scrumptious addition to your visit is the fruit tea. With hints of pineapple, orange and lemon, Calypso's fruit tea is a sweet and pulpy way to enjoy a refreshing swig of sugary goodness. Be sure to grab a cup to go; it's worth the extra calories.
Monell's Dining and Catering
This family-style restaurant is enough to make your mouth water (it's really just your tongue crying joyously at the fried chicken, green beans and homemade preserves), and the sweet tea is nothing short of grandma's best recipe. Most restaurants brew tea like they brew coffee -- strong and dark. Monell's brews their tea with just enough steeping to create a hint of flavor and a beautiful caramel color, and they sweeten it slightly for effect. It. Is. Delicious. Monell's catered my brother's wedding, and the tea was a hit.
Cue angels singing in the background. The mention of Sonic makes every Southerner fumble for money and draw straws to see who's going on the happy hour drink run. Thousands of drink combinations, slushes, shakes, malts, food, snacks -- Sonic Drive-In has it all, and the South has Sonic (another lesson I learned in Ohio). Sweet tea at Sonic is like none other simply because you can order regular tea and leave with a masterpiece. Watermelon, lemon sweet tea? Check. Vanilla sweet tea with maraschino cherries? Check. You absolutely can't exhaust the sweet tea possibilities at Sonic, but you can empty your wallet, so be careful.
If you want to celebrate National Sweet Tea Day at home, here's a little recipe to get you going (and no, it's not my momma's exact recipe because if I told you, she'd have to kill me...and then you).
Buy decaf Lipton or Luzianne tea bags, family sized. Grab a small saucepan, fill with water and 3-4 tea bags (depending on your desired strength), then slowly bring to a rolling boil on the stove. Have your gallon pitcher ready, and get out the measuring scoop. A cup of sugar goes into the bottom with the first boiled batch of tea. Don't stir. Fill the saucepan one more time and bring to a boil. Pour the contents into your pitcher, stir just a bit, then fill the pitcher with cold water and stir it all up. Voila. National Sweet Tea Day can be celebrated in the late summer sunlight on your own back porch.
A Final Thought
Sweet tea is not for everyone, but it's a go-to refreshment here in Nashville. You'll be hard pressed to attend an event where sweet tea isn't on the menu, and you'll get funny looks if you ask for it much outside of the South. Bonus points if you can make it at home and have it taste good; we judge people on their sweet tea makin' abilities, and you don't want bad reviews.
Ashley is an English teacher, cat lover and fitness freak with a love of words and an equal affinity for talking and eating. She enjoys family and friends and truly believes that dancing while eating makes everything taste better -- especially chocolate and coffee.