The letter came via email. And in the interest of keeping the identity of the writer anonymous, I have decided not to tell you that his name is David Eriksson, of Omaha, Nebraska, zip code 68104.

“Dear Sean,” the email began, “I recently read that you love Milo’s tea and drink it all day. Well, I have been to Alabama and eaten at a Milo’s. And I just wanted to say that Milo’s, like Alabama, is terrible. Milo’s tea is too sweet. I prefer iced tea from McDonald’s and I’ll take my response off the air.”

Dear Anonymous Person Named David, I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to send me your opinion on iced tea. I must, however, respectfully disagree.

For starters, one thing you learn as an op-ed columnist is that all opinions are subjective. After all, who among us is qualified to say that one thing is better than another?

The answer is me. I am qualified. And McDonald’s tea is awful. I wouldn’t use McDonald’s tea to scrub oil stains off my driveway.

In all fairness, you are from Nebraska. So you are probably not an iced tea aficionado. I have traveled through Nebraska. I have tasted the tea, which tastes much like sulfuric acid only with less sugar content.

“Ma’am,” I said to the waitress, “there is something wrong with my tea.”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“I don’t need an insulin injection.”

And one time, I spent the night in Nebraska after I made a speech in Osceola, Iowa. And let me tell you, it wasn’t easy finding a place to stay in rural Nebraska. Nobody could understand my accent.

Plus, it took us hours to find a hotel because, apparently, the power was out, and Eastern Nebraska’s computers were down. It was a region-wide outage that was tragic. Reportedly, 43 University of Nebraska-Omaha students were stuck on an escalator for six hours.

Tea, in my part of the world, is meant to be sweet. It’s a prerequisite for iced tea. Our tea is immobilizingly sweet because that is how our mothers have always made it.

But then, everything in this part of the world is sweet. If a resident from the Great American Southeast does not need the services of an endocrinologist by the time he or she is 12, are they even trying?

The beauty of Milo’s tea is that it’s not too sweet. It is the right balance of sugar and tea. In 12 fluid ounces of Milo’s tea you’re looking at a mere 26 grams of sugar. Which is nothing.

Doctor Pepper, for example, has 64 grams of sugar. A 16 ounce bottle of Coke has 69 grams of sugar. And a Mountain Dew has enough sugar to short circuit U.S. Congress, clocking in at 77 grams per gas-station-sized bottle.

Whereas Milo’s tastes like spring rain, laced with the nectar of flowers, topped with Jesus.

Still, in the interest of non-biased journalism, we decided to test the subtle differences between iced tea brands. To do this, my wife filled hummingbird feeders with different tea varieties.

Here’s what we discovered:

The feeder with McDonald’s tea was completely neglected. So was the birdfeeder with Publix brand iced tea.

To be fair, we never saw any birds approach the Milo’s hummingbird feeder, either. But the next morning, we did, however, find a stack of thank-you notes on the feeder. And you just know that the hummingbirds who left thank-you notes were from Alabama. Because here we write thank-yous for every major event, including the onset of daylight savings.

I will also tell you that, I once heard of a UAB psychologist prescribing Milo’s tea for marriage therapy. The tea was prescribed to my uncle Tommy Lee, who was seeing a therapist because he kept having arguments with his wife.

“Before bed each night,” said the psychologist, “take a mouthful of Milo’s tea and don’t swallow it until your wife goes to sleep.”

After a few weeks, my uncle Tommy Lee visited the doctor and said, “It worked, doctor! Every night, for two weeks, I would take a mouthful of Milo’s and hold it there until my wife went to sleep. My wife and I haven’t argued ever since I took your advice.”

The doctor just smiled. He said, “See what happens when you keep your mouth shut?”

Which, as it happens, is also excellent advice for columnists.

Sean Dietrich is a columnist and novelist known for his commentary on life in the American South. He has authored nine books and is the creator of the “Sean of the South” blog and podcast. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to

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