The Sweet Tea Saga

Published 5:47 pm Friday, May 8, 2020

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Plenty of good adventure stories feature a quest for something important. The main character, either reluctant or excited, sets off on a life-changing journey to accomplish something that could change the world. They make new friends along the way, uncover secrets, and get into danger. But in the end, they always prevail.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been cooped up inside too long, but recently I also have felt like the protagonist in an adventure story, searching for something that could change my world. I did not make new friends along the way, uncover any exciting secrets, or even get into danger because, well, there’s a pandemic outside. Travel has been severely limited. But in the end, I did prevail.

So this week I present to you a somewhat not-very-thrilling adventure tale entitled “The Sweet Tea Saga.”

Our story begins with me, at home, lamenting over the fact that I just really wanted some sweet tea. Most of the time I drink water—I gave up soft drinks over a decade ago and I’ve never liked coffee—so my weakness is that famous Southern delicacy: sweet tea. Travel anywhere outside of the US South and you won’t be able to find it.

In theory, this quest should have been quite simple. Sweet tea is everywhere around here. There is even sweet tea within my own home!

But remember the part in every adventure story where the protagonist thinks they have found what they’re looking for but the audience knows there’s still an hour left in the movie or at least 200 pages of the book left to read?

Well, the tea in my house is decaffeinated. It’s certainly very sweet but it doesn’t give the kick I was looking for. It’s the slightly defective alternative version, and so, the quest must continue for The Real Thing.

(You may be thinking, at this point in the saga, why don’t you just buy caffeinated teabags from the grocery store and easily solve the problem? But that’s not how adventure stories work! The main character must always take the most difficult route imaginable in order to get to their destination. Narrative tension and all that, you know. Imagine if Frodo had simply flown on the back of one of those giant eagles in The Fellowship of the Ring and just tossed the ring into the volcano as they flew by! Sure, maybe there would have been a lot less death and destruction along the way, but also the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy would have been a lot shorter. And then what would we do with all the extra time saved by not watching a movie series which is 11 hours long?)

So back to the quest: restaurants are still offering plenty of takeout options during this time, so when I do manage to order a plate from somewhere, I always get tea too.

But something really weird has been happening. The tea never tastes right to me. It’s either too strong or not sweet enough. Plenty of times in the past month, I’ve gotten my hopes up only to be disappointed by the taste.

“Maybe there’s just something wrong with your tastebuds,” says my mother, who is the well-meaning and supportive side character in this quest.

At this point, I’m ready to give up completely. This is the main character’s darkest moment in the story. All hope may be lost.

Or, perhaps, all hope resides at Sonic in Roanoke Rapids, which is where I stopped for lunch last Saturday after venturing out of the house for some essentials. Sonic has excellent sweet tea and has never let me down before!

Though, of course, nothing is ever easy. There’s always that last battle before the quest is completed. And for me, that bizarre last battle was taking a sip of my tea only to discover that it was actually Sprite.

Sprite!? The two are not even remotely similar!

But in the end, I prevailed in my quest. Because after I cleared up the accidental misunderstanding about the drinks, I finally found myself in possession of some really good (and really sweet) sweet tea. I even splurged and bought a gallon of the stuff before I left to return home.

And thus, the silly saga for the sweet tea was finally complete!

If you’ve made it to the end of this pointless story about persistence, then congratulations. You’ve killed a couple minutes of your time for the day. But hopefully you laughed a little too. Because when the world is pretty crazy, laughter can definitely help sometimes. Just like a good glass of sweet tea.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or at 252-332-7206.