By Annie Kinnett Nichols
As a native Atlantan, I’ve been drinking iced tea all my life. I prefer my tea served half and half: half sweet, half un-sweet. Some drinkers want a full on sugar rush at the first sip, just like grandma used to make it, while others prefer to add in their own sugar.
Just know that when you add plain sugar to your tea it sits at the bottom and doesn’t melt. If you add fake sweeteners to your tea, you should stop. That stuff is poison, not to mention completely un-Southern.
A little history: There is a misconception that iced tea first showed up at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Iced tea actually dates back to 1795 in South Carolina. They were the only colony producing tea plants. Once the plant arrived, thanks to the French explorer and botanist Andre Michaux, iced tea began immediately appearing in cookbooks of the day.
I decided to randomly hit up some Intown restaurants near my ‘hood and see if their iced tea was up to scratch. Here’s what I found out.
Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand
Delia’s is the only place I will take my iced tea sweet – because it’s frozen and amazing! Delia’s is hardcore about their tea. They use Lipton only and both the sweet and un-sweet tea is lightly colored, clear, crisp and refreshing. They also provide fresh cut lemons are next to the tea dispensers. Of course, the sausage sliders and food is A+ at Delia’s, so the tea is fantastic bonus. 489 Moreland Ave. SE. thesausagestand.com
Ann’s Snack Bar
Food critics from around the nation love the giant hamburgers at iconic Ann’s Snack Bar, including the Wall Street Journal, which named the Ghetto Burger the best hamburger in America in 2007. I say it’s an Atlanta gem and heart attack-inducer all at once. Miss Ann only believes in serving sweet tea, so I had to go for it. They use Luzianne iced tea, and employee Idel Sims says the customers go crazy for it. Served in tall styrofoam cups, this is seriously sweet, sweet, sweet. As the ice melted it got a little easier to take, but I took my cup with me because there was no way I could finish it all in one sitting. 1615 Memorial Dr. SE .
Bell Street Burritos
Located inside the historic Sweet Auburn Market, Bell Street Burritos lets you draw your own tea, which lets me do my sweet/un-sweet mix. Lipton is their tea of choice, and they brew it hot and fresh and let it cool. Limes are freshly chopped, which is a nice twist. 209 Edgewood Ave. bellstreetburritos.com
Lisa Spooner, who co-owns Home Grown with Kevin Clark, served me their fresh iced tea herself. She is a sweetie and told me Kevin was very particular about his iced tea. They are Luzianne lovers. The tea is dark, black and strong. The sweet tea was clean and super sweet. Kevin makes simple syrup by boiling sugar then adds it to the tea while it’s still hot, which is also how your grandmother made it. 968 Memorial Dr. SE. homegrownga.com
There are many Fellini’s locations, but the ones in Candler Park (1634 McLendon Ave.) and in Poncey-Highland (909 Ponce de Leon Ave.) are my two favorite haunts. Community tea, made in New Orleans, is their tea of choice and you can pour it yourself. The sweet is sweeeeeeeeet, tooth-hurtin’ and the un-sweet is perfect. The tea is medium light in color, but strong in flavor. This is my favorite Intown tea. Community makes their tea with orange pekow and pekoe cut black tea, and it’s truly tasty. To be honest, sometimes I just skip the pizza and go for the tea. fellinisatlanta.com
Happy ice tea drinking!