Sweet tea isn’t a drink, really. It’s culture in a glass. Like Guinness in Ireland. Or ouzo in Greece. – Allison Glock, Sweet Tea: A Love Story, Garden & Gun July/August 2008.
Sweet tea is a part of the South. There is a line somewhere around Northern Virginia where sweet tea isn’t expected nor always offered. That’s when you know you have left the South. (Right now, I know the South is in the news for a history that hasn’t always been dealt with honestly. If you want to find places that talk about that history in all its beautiful and painful glory go to Bitter Southerner or the Southern Foodways Alliance.)
There are a few tea inspired beers out on the market and at least a couple of tea inspired brews from Charlotte area breweries alone. Unknown Brewing has Hospitali-Tea, an amber beer that tastes remarkably like a glass of sweet tea.
Another version of a tea inspired beer from the Charlotte area comes from D9 Brewing out of Cornelius called Southern Tea. This is a slightly different take then the one from Unknown. Southern Tea is an American Wheat Ale instead of a naturally sweeter amber.
First, it pours a pleasant hazy gold color giving it a nice inviting wheaty look. Along with a sweet breadiness and yeasty fruit sweetness you also get the aroma of black and orange teas. In other words it smells like a glass of sweet tea with lemon.
One thing it doesn’t get from sweet tea is the sugary stickiness. A good sweet tea should coat your mouth and make your teeth hurt with sugar. Southern Tea does not do that, thank goodness. The alcohol taste is rather mild as is the hop taste which bends mostly towards herbal and citrus. The malt and the yeast provide a sweet platform for the black and orange teas used in the brewing. The tea taste is especially apparent on the backend. Making a good refreshing summer beer that avoids being a bad imitation of a lemon infused sweat tea. Instead, tasting like a sweet tea with lemon which is perfect for porch sitting.
I could not come up with a good and interesting angle on a playlist, so I just put together ten songs I like that should be good to drink beer with.