Sweet Tea Creamy Rice Pudding Recipe
The proof is in the pudding
Two of South Carolina’s official state beverages come together in this Sea Island classic.
Once South Carolina officially passes a bill and designates a food or beverage to represent the state, it typically holds office for decades. This recipe combines two of the state’s official state beverages — milk and tea.
Sweet Tea Creamy Rice Pudding
2 cups sweet tea
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup cooked rice
Directions In a medium pot, bring 1 cup sweet tea to a simmer. Whisk in heavy cream, milk and sugar, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vanilla, then replace cover. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the cornstarch, salt and remaining cup of sweet tea, then whisk in the eggs. Whisk egg mixture into the hot cream mixture, then simmer, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Whisk in cooked rice. Place mixture in a generously buttered 8” x 8” baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, then allow to fully cool before covering and refrigerating. Lay food film directly on the top of the pudding and press down gently so it doesn’t form a skin while cooling. Spoon into teacups and serve warm or cold with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh mint leaves.
The official state beverage of South Carolina is — hint: starts with an “m.” No, not moonshine, but milk. Our favorite beverage to go with cookies earned this designation in 1984 because dairy farmers, large and small, raise cows. We even have photo evidence of cows on the beach. This image was taken by Fred Hack and is displayed on the walls of many local restaurants.
South Carolina was the first state to grow tea in the U.S. Tea enthusiasts danced in the streets when tea was named the State Hospitality Beverage in 1995. Merci to French botanist Francois Andre Michaux, who planted tea bushes in 1799 at what is now known as Middleton Place just outside of Charleston. Over the next century tea plantations peppered the state and even produced an Oolong variety, which won first prize at the 1904 World’s Fair. Unfortunately, these tea plantations did not survive – not because of commercial failure but because owners either were killed or died in freak accidents. Not to be deterred, 25 years of research starting in 1963 on Wadmalaw Island by the Thomas J. Lipton Company established tea as a viable crop in the Sea Islands of South Carolina, with Summerville eventually becoming a hot spot for sweet tea.