by Tara Davis

You may have gathered, in reading this weekly article, my general enthusiasm for all things food related.  From farms to snacks, comfort to convenience, sustainence of all kinds live in the forefront of my brain and the center of my heart.  But food has an eternal companion, a counterpart worthy of the same adoration and attention.  Today, let’s talk beverages.

Saving the obvious, water, for another day, tea is the oldest recording and most widely consumed beverage in the world.  From its likely medicinal beginnings during the Shang dynasty through its 17th century rise in western popularity to today’s wide cultivation of specialty teas worldwide,  tea has been integral to our comforts and controversies in ways no other imbibements have.

Here in the south, we mostly still prefer ours cold and sweet, though palates have grown and changed. My favorite coffee shops offer the finest in selections and experiences, into which I encourage you to expand in the near future.

But for the basic shake up, here’s my updated suggestion:  Add 3 family sized bags of black tea of your choice to 1 qt water, bring to a boil on the stovetop. Turn off after boiling for 30 seconds, step 5 minutes. Add to 3 qts cold water and allow to cool to room temp before refrigerating.  To sweeten, boil 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water until all is well dissolved. Store on countertop in a lidded container. Add to tea to taste.

Next in the beverage history books is mead, wine and beer. Also  originally largely used medicinally, all these are periodically updated and made over, but ultimately are the same products they have always been. Whether you partake socially or more strategically,  appreciate pairings or more value ease of experience, they each have many places at our adult tables.  A couple of change ups you may want to give a whirl:  The Shandy- mix 1 part beer and 1 part juice, soda or lemonade.  My favorite is satsuma soda and hefeweizen.   Mulled wine- warm 3 cups each orange juice and apple juice or cider with a pinch of all spice, pineapple slices and whole cinnamon sticks.  Add 1 bottle wine of choice (I suggest middle of the road pricing). Serve warm or cold.

Here’s hoping you find inspiration and a new sense of adventure in your drinking as well as your eating this year!  Cheers!

If you have any questions, please let me know at