Monday, September 16, 2013

My Favorite Drink Is A Summerville Festival Celebrating An Honorary Title-Sweet Tea Festival

I have been partaking of the sweet southern brew called sweet tea since I arrived in Summerville eight years ago in 2005, but it wasn't until the Spring of 2010 Summervillians were encouraged by Will Rizzo of Azalea Magazine to take ownership of the honorable title proclaiming our beautiful town as the "Birthplace of Sweet Tea."

I cannot recall the exact place I first ordered it, but Bubba Gumps in Charleston is a likely candidate. Regardless, just ask any of my close friends, it is my preferred choice of beverage everywhere I relax to refresh myself with a cool drink. And based on the presented facts, I proudly share ownership of the motion declaring Summerville the "Birthplace of Sweet Tea."

To be honest, I was an ice tea drinker back in Ohio, but it was always served non-sweetened at all the establishments. Upon arrival to your table, you would have to sweeten it yourself, which meant manually tearing open the little packets of sugar provided, pouring its contents into the glass and stirring it to dissolve the tiny granules. Then, repeating the annoying process over and over until it was somewhat sweetened to desired taste. It wasn't easy because the granules would either stick to the ice or sink to the bottom in a swirl. So, it was a Southern simple pleasure drinking sweet tea.

Since the declaration, Summerville has enthusiastically embraced its discovered destiny that laid hidden in the oolong tea leaves all these past years. To celebrate the story, Summerville has established a Sweet Tea Trail where you can savor the history, the hospitality, and the heritage.

The trail begins at Exit 199 off of I-26. You travel down N. Main Street past Azalea Square, historic downtown Summerville, some historic homes, and the gardens of Azalea Park, after which you head down Trolley Road to Dorchester Road and Colonial Dorchester State Historic Park. From there, the trail takes you down 165 turning left onto historic 61 past Middleton Place(site of Middleton Barony and Pinehurst Tea Plantation established by Dr. Charles Shepard and the oolong tea), Magnolia Plantation, Drayton Hall, and then to Charleston Tea Plantation, the home of American Classic Tea and the site where salvaged tea plants from Pinehurst Tea Plantation were planted after it was abandoned.

To further celebrate Summerville's exclusive place in history, the Sweet Tea Festival was established. This Thursday, September 19, 2013, the Summerville Restaurant Association will be holding the 2nd annual festival. Area restaurants will be offering tastes of their versions of sweet tea as well as tastes of their menu specialties. For $5, commemorative mugs will be available to purchase along with an unlimited taste of all of the teas. In my humble opinion, although an experienced one, This Whole House had the best tasting sweet brew last year.

Summerville Dream and Jan Shoemake Hursey have been working tirelessly to make this Third Thursday the best festival yet. The unveiling of the newest B.I.R.D.S. statue at 6:30 pm in front of Single Smile will take place. The Busker band, Summerville's local crowd favorite, will be in Hutchinson Square from 5:30-8:00 pm with plenty of room to dance.

Last year's crowd at the Sweet Tea Festival
Azalea Magazine will have a booth in the Square. Be sure to thank them for their diligence and dedication in sweetening our local history, for stepping out on the thick limb of audaciousness and proclaim Summerville the "Birthplace of Sweet Tea." No challenges have surfaced thus far, and who would dare. It's not even worth contesting for all the tea in China.

Now, I am going to step out on a pretty thick limb and say it. The more sweet tea you drink from now to Thursday, the less likely there will be rain. So, drink up and cheers to you all.

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