Sweet Tea + Magnolias | for the love of the south

There is something special about Southern women. There are elements engrained in our history, in our ability to be hospitable and in our namesake. We take on the names of the great women that have created a legacy before us, in hopes of leaving our own legacies. There are great expectations on our lives as Southern women. We were taught to sit up straight, to listen more than we speak (which we don’t always succeed at, but we try!), and to attempt to meet difficult times with a sugary disposition. Daring to be sweet in a world hell bent on being difficult. And above all, we were taught to be nothing less than a gracious hostess.

I mastered the art of being a hostess at a young age. I watched my grandmother and mother gracefully greet guests into their homes with open arms, always offering them something to drink as soon as they cross the threshold and answer the door with such enthusiasm the person on the other side heard them coming from a mile away while they shout, “I’m coming! I’m coming! I’m coming!” The gesture was well received with a grin and a hug around the neck.

Magnolias + Pearls | for the love of the south

Now, I greet guests with open arms in my own home. Mimicking the movements I’ve watched over the years. I rush around last minute lighting magnolia scented candles, pulling at my linen apron strings while touching up my lipstick right before company arrives. All the while, attempting to give the illusion that everything looks this way all the time, that I’m not out of breath, and that my company couldn’t hear me running around as they walked up the wooden stairway to my loft!

Magnolias | for the love of the south

Most people remember how you make them feel upon meeting, that is why the heart of a hostess is so important to Southern women. Our goal is to make you feel loved and comforted as you step into our home. We want to make sure there is plenty of food whenever life carries a crisis to your doorstep (and enough casseroles to fill your entire freezer for a year), enough flatware to serve a small infantry, and more than enough pimento cheese and biscuits to slake any Southern appetite.

Magnolias + Pearls | for the love of the south

Southern women are made to withstand heat. We have the tolerance to render bacon fat with a smile in a steamy kitchen in the dead of summer. To be able to serve ice cold sweet tea at a moments notice. We are resourceful in the kitchen when tough times abound. We are resilient women, withstanding all odds, challenges and our past. Southern women are tethered to history and are made stronger because of it.

I’m grateful to be a Southern woman. It has helped shape the very person I have become: God-fearing, proud, strong-willed, polite, caretaker. I am defined by geography, circumstance, and culture, and for that, I am truly grateful. Forever I will be thankful to be a spirited, Southern woman like the great women before me who graced these halls, handled these slicked skillets, wore these pearls and filled these etched glasses with sweet tea. Long live the legacy of the Southern woman.














Sweet Tea

My grandpa was the tea-maker in my family.  He would always have the tea ready when grandma’s rolls came out of the oven.  Lipton was the brand of choice.  I remember staring at the microwave and watching the water in the clear measuring container bubble in a murky sea of brown.  Lines were cast over the side of the clear glass, but there was no hope.  The little bags of tea were goners. They were tossed overboard, and the brew was combined with a mountain of sugar, stirred together with an ingenious angled spoon that my grandfather invented to ensure full mixing power.  He then added water and carried the pitcher to the end of the island with a little bowl of lemons.  I never remember drinking water at my grandmother’s house, only iced tea. As a child, I was convinced that the mixture of sweet tea in my body and sweating on a hot summer night (or hot winter night) attracted mosquitoes.  Now, I usually drink two glasses, one for me, and one for the mosquitoes.

 Recipe: Makes 3 Quarts of Sweet Tea

4 family-sized tea bags (regular or decaf)

1 cup of sugar

Ice cubes

Lemon slices and fresh mint (optional)

Combine 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. *

Place the tea bags in a pitcher with 3 quarts of water. Let steep for 30 minutes or until desired potency. When taking the tea bags out, do not press the bags against the pitcher. Whenever the tea bags are pressed, it leaves the tea with a little bit of bitterness. Add the simple syrup to the tea. Stir to combine. Serve over ice with lemons and mint.

*Note: if you like the taste of mint but not having pieces of mint floating around in your tea, add the fresh mint to the simple syrup and let steep for 5 or so minutes then discard. This will give you that fresh taste without having to chew on the mint if that’s more of your cup of tea!