Recipe for Southern Sweet Tea

Recipe for Southern Sweet Tea

Recipe for Southern Sweet Tea

Sweet Tea has been called the wine of the south and for those of us who live in the south, we wholeheartedly agree. Making Sweet Tea is a rite of passage in many families. ​When I first moved to Georgia, I had a professional job in a credit union where I was a loan officer. However, my first duty of the day, seeing as this was an office run by southern women, was to make the sweet tea. We hope that this Recipe for Southern Sweet Tea inspires you. 

Recipe for Southern Sweet Tea

Every single day. Another person was in charge of making the biscuits, someone else brought in plum and apple jelly they made at home, someone made pasta salad, etc. We were well-fed and never thirsty in this office. I didn't​ start off making the tea because I had to build up trust in these women. They needed to know that I could do it right; just the way their mamas had taught them and this took over a month in their opinion. Sweet tea doesn't get any more southern than this recipe.

Recipe for Southern Sweet Tea


  • Luzianne or Lipton tea bags – For just a simple sweet tea, I use Lipton or Luzianne supermarket black tea in personal or cup-size bags.
  • Sugar
  • Baking soda (optional)
  • Garnishes (optional): Lemons, Watermelon, Mint Sprigs, Raspberries, Oranges

Recipe for Southern Sweet TeaRecipe for Southern Sweet Tea


  1. Bring one quart (4 cups) of water in a stock pot to almost a full boil. ​Add​ ​6-7 tea bags (depending on how strong you want your tea – I use​ ​7) and boil for 3 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and let tea bags steep in the water for about 12-14 minutes.​ ​During the steeping period, make certain to not lift the lid.​ ​Don't let it steep too long or your tea will taste burned. 
  3. When finished steeping, lift the lid and ​add 1 1/3 cups of sugar​ stirring with a wooden spoon​ ​to dissolve sugar fully. ​
  4. Pour into a pitcher then add 3 cups of cold water and serve immediately over ice (with lemon if preferred).
  5. Refrigerate any leftover tea for up to three days. ​

​NOTE: Make certain that you have a lid that fits properly and if don't, use a plate.

​STRENGTH OF TEA: ​For a strong tea, use 7 bags and for a mild tea, use 5. You should experiment to see what you like best.

Recipe for Southern Sweet Tea

​Delicious Sweet Tea Variations

Watermelon & Mint Sweet Tea: Muddle one small watermelon and 4-6 stalks of mint leaves – strain and pour into the bottom of your pitcher before adding tea. Garnish with a stalk of mint leaves and a watermelon wedge.

Orange Raspberry Sweet Tea: ​Add 6 drops of ​Raspberry Bakery Emulsion (I use this so the color doesn't change) to a cup. ​Zest of one large orange to your tea pitcher before adding tea. Garnish with an orange peel twist and fresh raspberries. This makes the pretty, layered drink.

Bitter tea?

Bitter tea is usually a result of burning the tea leaves and overcooking the tea. Consider starting over. Add a pinch of baking soda to combat bitterness in the future.

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​Is tea too sweet?

Boil another cup or two of tea and add in there. ​

Fun Facts About Tea

  • The oldest known recipe for sweet iced tea was published in 1879. A community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree in Texas shared the recipe.
  • The US is the only country where iced tea is more popular than hot tea.
  • Bagged tea was invented in the US in 1904.
  • Brewed tea is high in antioxidants which help with heart health and boost the body's defense against diseases.

Recipe for Southern Sweet Tea

We hope that this Recipe for Southern Sweet Tea post inspires you. Good luck!

ice tea


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