This Weekend, Celebrate Sweet Tea in the South Carolina Town That Invented It
The two best places in the world to enjoy sweet tea are: 1. your front porch; and 2. Summerville, South Carolina.
Each year, the town known as the "Birthplace of Sweet Tea," celebrates the beloved beverage with its very own festival, which is currently in full swing outside Charleston.
The week-long Summerville Sweet Tea Festival transforms historic downtown Summerville into a massive street fair complete with food trucks, artisanal vendors, and live entertainment. This year's fun began Monday and culminates Saturday, September 18.
Organizers with Summerville Dream told Post & Courier that this year's festival was inspired by pandemic-related revisions made to last year's event, when the festival was transformed from a one-day gathering into the "Sweetest Week Ever" to allow for social distancing.
"Last year we got creative and spread it out over a few days and we called it the 'sweetest week ever,'" Steve Doniger, executive director of Summerville Dream and festival organizer, told the paper. "Well, that was so popular, and we had such a great turnout that we are actually doing that again this year, and we have expanded that a little bit."
Over the past decade, Summerville has broken a world record for the world's largest sweet tea, and set up a Sweet Tea Trail featuring businesses that offer sweet tea-inspired specials like sweet tea cupcakes, sweet tea cinnamon rolls, sweet tea jelly, a sweet tea pork chop sandwich, and even a sweet tea brined chicken salad.
But Summerville hasn't been recognized as the official "Birthplace of Sweet Tea" for long. For decades, the drink was believed to have been invented in St. Louis at the World's Fair in 1904. Everything changed, however, when a list of items purchased for a reunion of old soldiers near Summerville, which included 600 pounds of sugar and 880 gallons of iced tea, was discovered from 1890.
"We started sharing the history that we thought was so charming," Summerville tourism director Tina Zimmerman told the Post & Courier. "I think great things have come from it."
For more information on the Summerville Sweet Tea Festival and a full schedule of events, visit SummervilleDream.org/sweet-tea-festival.