Saturday, June 3, 2023

The history of Sweet Tea by Teresa Inge

As summer heats up, Americans will be looking to cool down, and what better way than with a cold glass of refreshing sweet, iced tea.   

It’s been called "The House Wine of the South," by Dolly Parton in the movie Steel Magnolias, which was never a truer statement. Talk about the South and sooner or later sweet tea comes to mind. In the South, tea is appropriate for all meals, and all occasions, and you start drinking it before you can walk. Sweet tea makes Southerners think of home, tradition, picnics, and hot afternoons “sippin” sweet tea on the front porch. Southern girls are taught how to make it by their mama’s thirst-quenching recipes.    

First Sweet Tea Recipe - Green Tea Leaves

Until the 1900s, iced tea was made from green tea leaves rather than black tea leaves. The oldest recipe in print was when sugar was first added by a housewife and socialite named Marion Cabell Tyree from Charleston, South Carolina. Her recipe was published in the cookbook, Housekeeping in Old Virginia in 1879.  

While sweet tea remains a Southern delicacy, originally Southern-style sweet tea was made by dissolving cups of sugar in batches of boiling water in which green tea leaves were steeped. Once the water cooled and the leaves were removed, the tea was ready to be served. 

But depending on the amount of sugar dissolved, the original sweet tea of the 18th and early 19th centuries had a sticky—simple syrup taste that was too sweet. That’s when alcoholic “Green Tea Punches” became popular among the British aristocracy. Then southerners created a “Planter’s Punch” made of sweet green tea with pineapple, and citrus juices, and cut with near-lethal amounts of rum, whiskey, and bourbon to tolerate the sweetness.

By the late 1820s, America’s love affair with a “strong drink” began to cool as a growing number of Americans began identifying as “Teetotalers,” advocating against alcoholic beverages. Iced tea was at the top of that list and the South preferred sweet tea sans the alcohol.   

1904 St. Louis World's Fair - Cold Black Tea Takes Center Stage       

Thanks to the 1904 World’s Fair, there was a lift-off in the popularity of iced tea as patrons searched for a cold beverage due to the summer heat. That’s when Englishman, Richard Blechynden who was selling hot black tea at the fair realized no one was buying his drink due to the intense heat. So, he began running the tea through iced lead pipes and served the beverage to people walking through the fair. Because of this, it changed the way Americans thought of tea, thus popularizing black tea in everyday households.  

World War II - Tea Importation Cut off

A British soldier with the 2/7th Middlesex Regiment shares a cup of tea with an American infantryman in the Anzio bridgehead, on Feb 10, 1944. 

During World War II green tea importation was cut off leaving Americans with British-supplied black teas imported from India. This impacted the switch from green tea to black tea leaves.

This was due to the British government making an unusual decision in 1942 to purchase all the black tea on the European market to help their soldiers' morale and comfort during the war. With 60 million people losing their lives, soldiers witnessed more death than any human ever should and they suffered severe psychological trauma and nervous breakdowns. Since the water was transferred to the frontlines in oil cans, tea masked the flavor and brought comfort in chaotic times. It kept the soldiers hydrated, refreshed, and energized due to the caffeine in the black tea. 

Eight decades later, black tea is still the preferred version in America.  

Tea Stats - Over 1,000 Varieties   

Today, there are over 1,000 varieties of tea, most classified as white, green, oolong, and black. Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water and can be found in almost 80% of U.S. households. It's the only beverage served hot or iced, anytime, anywhere for any occasion. On any given day, over 159 million Americans are drinking tea and 75-80% of it is iced.               

Aside from a frosty beer, no drink quenches a thirst like a glass of iced tea. In the South, it’s served sweet and unsweetened. But in the Northeast, Midwest, or West iced tea is usually served black—meaning unsweetened.  

National Sweet Tea Day & Iced Tea Day

As we approach 
National Iced Day on June 10 & National Sweet Tea Day on August 21, rest assured that Southerners will be drinking it with plenty of sugar and by the gallon. Whether using black leaves or green leaves, iced tea will flow freely this summer, helping Southerners to cool down from high temperatures.

Tea Fact Sheet 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

WHAT'S IN OUR BEACH BAGS? by The Sand in our Shorts Gang

Who would have thought? It's been almost a year since we started the SAND IN OUR SHORTS blog! What fun! 

When we started out, the original group of contributing authors worked together on an article, "What's in Our Beach Bags?"  We never published it.  We'll, here we are a year into this adventure, and on the cusp of another summer. So we thought, "Why not publish it now?" And here we go! A special mid-week post! 

As we all get ready to head to the beach for a little R&R (that's Reading and Relaxation, which is what writers do), we asked each what they have in their beach bag. Here are their answers:

Michael Rigg:
My beach bag has lots of sunscreen (I like the spray-on kind)—with as many SPFs as you can get—a big-brimmed straw hat, sunglasses, binoculars, and a small cooler with cold soda and water. Maybe I’ll throw in a bag of munchies, if there’s enough room. I’ll also need to bring an umbrella because I’m not supposed to get too much sun. I don’t do well reading in the sun, but I’ll bring a copy of Virginia is for Mysteries III to impress everyone around me! The final thing in my bag is a beach towel. Oh, and my iPhone. Along with my umbrella (which probably won’t fit in my bag), I’ll have a nice folding chair. Maybe instead of a beach bag, I need one of those beach carts with the humongous wheels.
Jayne Ormerod:
I've got a lot of sand in the bottom of my beach bag. Lots and lots of sand. Could almost start my own private beach in my backyard. That's testament to frequent trips to the beach to watch the sailboat races, enjoyment of which is augmented while sipping a glass of wine at sunset. This requires that I also keep wine glass stakes in my beach bag. They are posts that are shoved into the sand close to my chair. They have a little knob at the top in which to slip the stem of my wine glass, holding it upright throughout the evening and thus preventing spillage. Wine spillage is a class-one felony at my beach. Cheers!

Saturday, May 27, 2023

GETTING BEATEN UP! By: Kimberly Thorn

I am still hard at work researching another awesome writer to share with you how they helped make the pen mightier than the sword.  While I work on that, I felt you needed to have some fun. I know I do at least. Until next time, when I introduce a new timeless writer, I hope you enjoy the following!

Starting something new can be exhilarating but it can also be scary. Although I have written smaller pieces of prose, I have dreamed ever since I was a child that I would become a famous published author of novels. Specifically, that I would be listed on the New York Times Bestseller List. I am fast realizing that my dream is not going to be an easy one.  Writing a novel, any novel, but especially the first one is a tough job. It can be a big struggle. There are several reasons why. First, characters do not always do what you want them to do. Second, the greatest novel writers say that there should be a theme weaved into the novel. Third, writers need to know when to and when not to reveal certain information to the reader.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Pick Your Poison: Tips For a "Plant-Based" Mystery! by Yvonne Saxon


You see "plant-based" options everywhere: in grocery stores, in restaurants, even in fast food establishments. But unless you want to end up as a real-life victim, you'll want to pass on the following plant-based offerings and use these tips in a mystery instead!

1. Don't eat your vegetables! Did you know there's such a thing as "death by lima bean"? Raw lima beans contain extremely high levels of cyanide. How you get your character to ingest them is up to you, but for those you're keeping alive, thoroughly cook the beans, uncovered, so that the poison escapes as gas. Drain the cooking water too, unless you're "offing" more characters!

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Naming your Characters by Maria Hudgins


I feel like some writers give their characters random names. Maybe they throw darts at a phone book or something. But this system would now be obsolete. (What's a phone book, Daddy?) But in fact one famous writer did just that. Allegedly. Somerset Maugham is said to have named a couple by the phone book method and chosen their address from a street map of London. It is said that Maugham was threatened with a lawsuit when a couple with a similar name actually lived at a similar address and took exception to Maugham's version of the shenanigans going on at their house.

Friday, May 5, 2023


“Stop jumping on the bed before you fall off and crack your head open!”

How many times did you hear that when you were young? Or perhaps yelled it to rambunctious children yourself? Okay, now raise your hand if you’re guilty of leaping fearlessly across the chasm between twin beds anyway, and managed to do so safely. I see I’m in good company.

Yes, I’ve knocked a few pictures askew, broken a lamp or two, maybe even left a few dents in the plaster wall, but I have never, ever, in all my years of bed jumping, cracked my head open. Leave it to my mom to always warn me about the worst possible outcome of any situation.

“Don’t run with scissors or you’ll poke your eye out.”

“Don’t get near the lawnmower without shoes on or you’ll cut your foot off.”

“Don’t lick the beaters while the mixer is on because it will yank your tongue clear out of your mouth.”

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Writers on Writing By Angela G. Slevin


Sometimes, a writer needs a break from writing. Even though writers love it, any job can become a grind now and then. How do other writers keep at it, year after year, book after book? These three books on writing have given me back some pep in my writing step, along with good advice and tools that I hadn’t thought about in a while.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King stands out to me right from the start. It has a first, second and third foreword, which is unusual, and although I don’t read forewords, that piqued my curiosity. As I skimmed the shorter ones, I read, “This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit.” What?! I was disarmed by this honesty. And I felt like I was being dared to continue reading, just to prove Steve wrong, so of course I had to continue.

The history of Sweet Tea by Teresa Inge

      As summer heats up, Americans  will be looking to cool down, and what better way than with a cold glass of refreshing sweet, iced tea....