The Great Sweet Tea Debate

In Do, June 2020 by Raleigh Magazine

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It’s time to settle the greatest debate of our day: sweet or unsweet tea?

Southerners swear by their sweet tea tradition and it’s served year-round with most meals. But outside of the South, iced tea comes unsweetened or black and many have never heard of sweet tea. So, sweet or unsweet? We asked local foodies for their votes on tea.

“Half and half life—you always need that touch of sweet to top it off!”
Maggie Kane, A Place at the Table

“I have never liked sweetened or unsweetened iced tea. I have always preferred my tea hot and if sweetened, with honey!” 
Hanadi Asad’s, Asali Desserts & Cafe

“Unsweetened tea always. I’m from up north and sweet tea isn’t a thing. I do love unsweetened tea and lemonade, though. Arnold Palmer is the jam!”
Andrew Ullom, Union Special Bread

“Bonjour! When I arrived in North Carolina, I never heard of sweet tea…I didn’t believe it! I saw a server prep tea for a lunch service and the amount of sugar was so insane, I stopped him… ‘Are you crazy?’ He wasn’t. ‘We are in the South, it’s how we make a sweet tea, honey!’ Unsweetened tea is the right answer.”
Serge Falcoz-Vigne, Bodega Tapas

“Half and half. That stuff is too sweet for me but no sweet is just crazy talk.”
Oscar Diaz, The Cortez

“Unsweet tea is an abomination. Tea without sweet is just brown water. No unsweet tea. No decaff coffee. Save your calories elsewhere. And that’s all I got to say about that.”
Johnny Berry, Whiskey Kitchen

“I vote for half and half. I love sweet tea but I like to cut the sugar, so I normally go half and half or Arnold Palmer. But there’s nothing better than a perfect sweet tea with lemon washing down some barbecue or fried chicken.”
Kenny Gilbert, Cut and Gather 

“I like my tea like my 90-year-old grandma makes it: so sweet it makes your cavities hurt.”
Jason Smith, 18 Restaurant Group

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