Wonderfully democratic, sweet tea avoids traditional tea stereotypes. While other revered tea preparations might involve hunting down rare leaves or special tea pots and whisks, sweet tea combines just three things: very cheap black tea, white sugar and ice.
A pitcher of sweet tea remains a fixture of southern kitchens and restaurants. "Somebody comes over to your house, and you offer them sweet tea," says Matt McClure, executive chef of The Hive in Bentonville, Arkansas. "It's the daily drink in the South—a nice, ice-cold pick me up that doesn't feel as bad for you as soda."