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Florida, United States
Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday with Friends: "Gail Pallotta"

From Eva Marie: This is one of the best things I've read in a looooooong time! You'll think so too, I just know it!

The Sweet Tea Line
     Every summer my mother put fresh mint in our tea. She grew her own in the backyard in the small North Carolina town where I grew up. When she served the cool drink, just seeing it tantalized my taste buds.
      When I got tall enough to reach the kitchen counter, Mother gazed at me with intense dark eyes.
     “I’ll let you make the tea. It’s easy.”                           
     She showed me how to cover five tea bags with water in a saucepan, bring it to a boil and let it steep. 
     “While you’re waiting…” she picked up our tea pitcher… “pour the sugar in here until it looks right.”
      Demonstrating, Mother turned up the Dixie Crystal bag and emptied about one-and-a-half to two cups. Then she put in lemon juice until it looked right, about two tablespoons. She added the tea and filled the pitcher with water the rest of the way.
     “That’s all there is to it.” She served up two glasses and topped them off with sprigs of mint.  
     I’ve been making it ever since. For a Southerner sweet tea is both a necessity and a delicacy offered with each meal. Most of us have discriminating tea tastes.  
     I was married before I realized other people lived without it. The day I found out, my husband and I were on our way to Michigan. We stopped for lunch in Indiana.
     When the waitress came to take our order, I asked for sweet tea.
     She raised her blonde eyebrows. “I’m sorry, ma’am, we don’t have sweet tea. We have raspberry tea if you’d like.”
     For several seconds I sat speechless, thinking how do people eat without sweet tea? I shook my head to clear it. “Yes, thank you, raspberry tea will be fine.”
     Now don’t get me wrong, I liked the raspberry tea, but it’s no substitute for sweet tea.
     After I moved to Georgia I heard people refer to the gnat line. A person can travel south from Atlanta and get to just below Macon and sure enough the gnats show up.
     There’s a sweet tea line too. If one travels far enough north or west the sweet tea runs out.
     When our daughter attended college in Kentucky, the town where she lived served sweet tea. But when we rode forty miles northeast to have dinner with friends, we passed the sweet tea line.
     My cousin who grew up in California says, “To this day, I do not believe I have ever seen sweet tea on a menu in California. And during my west to east coast trips via car, I must say, I do not remember sweet tea offered anywhere except in the southern belt.”
     I have another cousin, originally from New York, who now lives in Florida. She drives in the southeast as well as the northeast. Once she gets into parts of Virginia and Washington, D. C., she finds no sweet tea.
     Two relatives who travel from Georgia to Canada have different memories. One says, “Sweet tea--only in the south.” The other thinks he once drank it in West Virginia.
     It would be interesting to know how many towns bordering the southern sweet tea line serve the refreshing drink. Comments answering the following questions should help.
     Have you passed the sweet tea line? How far did you travel from the south before the sweet tea ran out? And where were you?

Wanna know more about Gail's book? 

Feature writer Cammie O’Shea recently suffered through a heartbreaking split-up with her fiancé. She wants no new relationships when she moves to Destin, Florida, to take a job at a newspaper. But she has to interview real estate developer Vic Deleona. He’s quite smitten with her and arranges extra meetings in an attempt to court her. Cammie resists his advances. However, after several mysterious break-ins occur, including one at Cammie’s condo, she and Vic launch their own investigation into the crimes. Then Cammie grows fond of him. She gets an opportunity to return home to her old job. Will Vic solve the crimes and win Cammie’s heart or will she leave Destin?  

Wanna know more about Gail?

Gail’s husband, Rick, says she’s the only person he knows who can go in the grocery for a loaf of bread and come out with someone’s life story. That’s probably because she inherited her mother’s love of people and enjoys talking to them. Working as an editor and freelance writer, Gail published a couple hundred articles. While some of them are in anthologies, two ended up in museums. In 2004, the American Christian Writers Association named Gail a regional writer of the year. She recently published her first romance, Love Turns the Tide. Last fall an excerpt from Love Turns the Tide won the Clash of the Titles Challenge in the best nature / weather scene category. When Gail isn’t writing she likes reading, swimming, and getting together with friends and family.

Gail wants to write books of faith that show God’s love. Visit her Web site at http://www.gailpallotta.com and her blog at http://www.gailpallotta.blogspot.com
Love Turns the Tide is available from www.awe-struck.net in the inspirational category. 


  1. Here is a Yank that loves sweet tea. My mom's family hails from Monroeville, AL but I was raised in the north. I didn't taste real southern sweet tea until about ten years ago & it was instant love. And I had to travel to AL to taste it! Around here Cracker Barrels serve sweet tea & McDonalds had it for a while last year. But most times if you ask for it in a restaurant around here you are told, "We don't have sweet tea, but we do have raspberry."
    In desperation I have learned to make sweet tea myself. And whenever I get a craving I make a pitcher and enjoy!

  2. Hi Pamela,
    Thanks for stopping by to tell us about your sweet tea experiences. I'm glad you have a chance to enjoy it whenever you want! Also, thanks for sharing that Cracker Barrel serves it in your area.

  3. Love the stuff, sweet tea... Deals have been made, hearts have broken, both during consumption of sweet tea. It's universal. The whole world needs it!

  4. This is so interesting. I've never heard of "sweet tea" before. I guess it must be a southern thing. I'm from the West and I absolutely love herbal tea of most any flavor. I once collected different herbal teas so I could see which ones I loved most. I wonder if sweet tea is what the English drink? They always have "tea time." Hahaha. Thanks, Gail, for the fun information.

  5. Gail, what an interesting post! But you're right--not everyone drinks sweet tea. Since I'm a southern, I thought it was a given. But when we lived in Savannah and I worked at Hardee's, we never served sweet tea. We did serve UNsweetened tea. I could never grasp how customers would want to order that! But, yep, this gal has to drink SWEET tea. No unsweetened, or raspberry, and not even the English (Linda, their tea is unsweetened, and dare I say--UNflavorful) tea for me! :)

  6. Dear Reader,

    Yes, what an interesting slant on sweet tea. It's served in the south during business lunches and romantic dinners.

    Hi Linda,

    Thanks for stopping by. My cousin from the west wouldn't know about sweet tea if she hadn't traveled in the south. I don't think it's like tea time in England,but for southerners, it's just as important.

    Hi Miss Mae,

    That's interesting about Hardee's in Savannah. They were in sweet tea territory. I imagine they sold lots of soft drinks when people heard their tea was unsweet.

  7. I grew up in Alabama. My mother always made a pitcher of both kinds of tea for company, but I liked the sweetened version best. The sugar and lemon flavors are more intense when dissolved in the hot tea left to seep.

    I married, moved to Tennessee, and then to California where I've lived for over fifty years. I'd never heard of "sweet tea" until references to it began showing up in romance novels, but on reading such references instantly knew what the author meant.

    Toni Noel

  8. Hi Toni,

    It sounds as though you've been enjoying sweet tea for quite some time. Thanks for stopping by to share your sweet tea story.

  9. Hi Eva Marie,

    It was fun being on your Southern Voice. Thanks so much for having me.

  10. It was great having you! And I say we need to get Linda Weaver Clark down to the South for some sweet tea!