Delicious Southern Sweet Tea Recipe for Summer Heat

In the scorching heat of the south, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as an ice-cold glass of sweet tea to quench your thirst. The perfect Southern sweet tea is an indulgent treat that can soothe your soul and lighten up even the darkest of days. It’s a beloved traditional beverage that’s been passed down through generations and is now considered an integral part of Southern culture.

That being said, not all sweet teas are created equal – some may be too bitter, some are too weak and watery, and others might be overly sweet. But fear not, for I’ve put together a recipe for the best Southern sweet tea you’ll ever taste! With just a few simple ingredients and a little bit of TLC, you’ll have a smooth, sweet, and perfectly brewed cup of tea that will transport you straight to the heart of the South.

So ditch those bland powdered mixes and step up your iced tea game with this homemade recipe. Whether you’re looking to quench your thirst on a hot summer day or kick back with a book in your porch swing, this perfect Southern sweet tea recipe is sure to hit the spot. Get ready to become the envy of all your friends and family with this delightful treat – once they taste it, they’ll never want to go back to store-bought teas again!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Best Southern Sweet Tea Ever
Best Southern Sweet Tea Ever

Southern sweet tea is a classic beverage that has become a staple in the southern lifestyle. I guarantee you’ll fall in love with this recipe for the best southern sweet tea ever. What sets this recipe apart from others is that it’s not just a regular sweetened iced tea. It’s made with freshly brewed black tea, sweetened with sugar and served on ice. Its smooth sweet taste will tantalize your taste buds, making you want more.

One of the reasons why you’ll love this recipe is that it’s incredibly easy to make. The ingredients are straightforward, and the entire process takes less than 15 minutes. All you need to do is bring four cups of tap water to boil, remove it from heat, add tea bags and let them steep for five minutes. After the steeping time has elapsed, remove the tea bags, add one cup of sugar and stir until dissolved. Then, add three cups of cold water and a teaspoon of baking soda. That’s it! Your perfect southern sweet tea is ready.

Another reason why you’ll love this recipe is that it’s super versatile. You can easily adjust the sweetness level to your liking by adding more or less sugar. Additionally, you can substitute the black tea for green tea or even decaf for a caffeine-free version. You can also add fresh lemon slices for an extra burst of flavor.

Lastly, this refreshing treat is perfect for virtually any occasion, whether you’re relaxing with friends on a sunny afternoon or hosting a family barbeque. This recipe makes enough for eight servings, which means there’s plenty to go around.

In conclusion, nothing beats a glass of southern-style iced tea on a hot summer day. With its smooth sweetness and irresistible taste, this recipe will quickly become your go-to summer beverage. Don’t hesitate to whip up a batch today and experience southern hospitality at its finest!

Ingredient List

“Refreshing and sweet, the perfect drink for a hot summer day”

Ingredient List

To make the best Southern sweet tea ever, you will need:

  • 4 cups of tap water
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 family-size tea bags (such as Luzianne Tea)
  • Pinch of baking soda (optional)

I recommend using freshly brewed black tea for this recipe, but you can also use iced tea bags if preferred. Additionally, you can adjust the sweetness level to fit your taste preference by adding more or less sugar as needed. With these ingredients and steps, you will enjoy a smooth, sweet, and refreshing Southern-style sweet tea that is perfect for any occasion!

The Recipe How-To

“Southern hospitality in a glass”

Now that we know why this Southern Sweet Tea recipe is perfect, it’s time to learn how to make it. In this section, I will give you detailed step-by-step instructions on how to create the best sweet tea you’ve ever tasted.


  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 family-size tea bags (or 8 regular-sized tea bags)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • Tap water
  • Ice


  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized pot.
  2. Add in the tea bags and steep them for 5 minutes on high heat.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of sugar until it is fully dissolved.
  4. Pour the tea mixture into a pitcher using a strainer to remove any loose tea leaves.
  5. Add cold tap water into the pitcher until you reach your desired strength and taste.
  6. Stir in 1 teaspoon of baking soda until fully dissolved.
  7. Serve over ice.

It’s important to note that the type of tea you use can make a difference in the taste of your sweet tea. I recommend using a black tea, like Luzianne, in this recipe as it will provide a stronger flavor compared to green or herbal teas.

If you’re trying to cut down on sugar, you can use less than the recommended amount or try substituting it with honey or stevia instead. You can also try experimenting with different flavor additions like lemon or fresh mint leaves.

Now that you’ve mastered the art of making Southern Sweet Tea, be sure to serve it alongside some classic Southern dishes like fried chicken or BBQ ribs for a true taste of the South!

Substitutions and Variations

“Brewed to perfection with a hint of lemon”

just like any recipe, there are always options to substitute ingredients and create variations to cater to your taste preferences. For instance, using luzianne tea bags can enhance the flavor profile of your Southern sweet tea by providing a smooth, sweet taste compared to standard black tea bags. Try using green tea bags for a healthier alternative or even a mix of both black and green tea bags for some added depth of flavor.

For those who prefer their tea less sweet or have dietary restrictions, try reducing the amount of sugar used or swapping out sugar for honey, agave nectar or stevia. Using a sugar substitute will result in sweeter flavors that are perfect for those with a sweet tooth.

Another fun variation of southern-style sweet tea is making it into more than just a drink by adding lemon and ice to create a refreshing homemade iced tea. Blend freshly brewed black tea with chunks of frozen fruit like mangoes, peaches, and strawberries for some added zest.

Lastly, brewing the tea in cold water overnight will result in cold brew tea which is perfect during hot weather. Store it in the fridge and simply give it a quick stir before serving.

Whatever changes you make, experimenting can lead to some exciting discoveries so go ahead and explore the many delicious ways to customize your Southern sweet tea recipe!

Serving and Pairing

“A family recipe passed down from generations”

Southern sweet tea is a versatile drink that pairs well with many different dishes. It’s perfect for hot summer days, backyard barbecues, and even casual dinner parties. One of my favorite ways to enjoy southern sweet tea is served over ice with a slice of lemon.

The smooth sweetness of the tea pairs perfectly with tangy barbecue and spicy fried chicken. It’s also a great accompaniment to traditional southern dishes like cornbread, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese. If you’re looking for a refreshing way to end a meal, try serving sweet tea alongside fresh fruit or sorbet.

When it comes to pairings, I recommend sticking to classic southern flavors. But don’t be afraid to experiment! Sweet tea can complement unexpected flavor profiles, like Asian-inspired stir-fry or Mexican carnitas. The possibilities are endless.

For a special touch, try serving sweet tea in mason jars with colorful straws. You can also add fresh mint leaves or sliced peaches to make your drink extra special.

Regardless of how you choose to serve it, southern sweet tea is sure to impress your guests and satisfy your taste buds. So sit back, relax, and savor the taste of one of the South’s most beloved drinks.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

“Slow-brewed, because good things take time”

As much as I would love to say that this southern sweet tea recipe is best when consumed fresh, I understand that it’s not always practical for busy households. Fortunately, this homemade iced tea can be made ahead of time and stored in your refrigerator for up to a week, without diminishing its sweet flavor.

To make sure your sweet tea stays fresh and flavorful, transfer it into an airtight container or pitcher with a lid, and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. If you’re making a larger batch for a party or family gathering, keep in mind that the tea may need to be stirred before serving because the sugar may settle at the bottom.

If you’ve already made some sweet tea and have leftovers, don’t worry! You can reheat it on the stove or in the microwave. Simply heat the tea over medium-low heat until it reaches your desired temperature, stirring occasionally so that the sugar dissolves uniformly.

Should you find yourself short on time but still craving a refreshing glass of iced tea, consider cold-brewing your tea. Cold brewing is an excellent way to enjoy freshly brewed iced tea without waiting for it to steep or boil. Using cold water and loose-leaf tea or tea bags, you can achieve smooth sweet tea that’s low in bitterness.

Another way to jazz up your sweet tea game is by experimenting with different flavors. Add lemon wedges, mint leaves or even a splash of your preferred spirit like gin or bourbon for a unique twist on this classic drink. With this Southern Sweet Tea recipe as your base, the possibilities are endless!

Tips for Perfect Results

“The elixir of the South”

When it comes to making the best Southern sweet tea, attention to detail is key. Here are some tips that will help you achieve a smooth and sweet tea that is perfect in every aspect.

First off, make sure to use freshly brewed black tea. As tempting as it may be to use ready-made or powdered tea mixes, they can never match the freshness and depth of flavor that comes with using actual tea bags. I recommend Luzianne tea bags for their rich, full-bodied taste that pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the sugar.

Another tip is to sweeten your tea with granulated sugar while it’s hot. Hot tea will dissolve sugar more effectively, ensuring that sweetness is evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Once the sugar has dissolved completely, allow your sweetened hot tea to cool and chill in the fridge.

To give your sweet tea a southern-style twist, add a pinch of baking soda during the steeping process. Baking soda helps neutralize any bitterness in the tea and enhances its natural flavors.

You can also experiment with different types of tea to create unique brews. Green tea and herbal infusions like mint or lavender can offer refreshing variations on traditional black tea recipes.

And finally, don’t forget about presentation! Serve your sweet iced tea in mason jars or glasses filled with ice cubes and juicy lemon slices for an extra zesty kick.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to make authentic Southern sweet iced tea which not only quenches your thirst but also satisfies your taste buds.


As anyone who loves sweet tea knows, making the perfect Southern-style sweet tea is an art form that requires the right combination of ingredients and technique. To help ensure that you get the best possible results with this recipe, I’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answers that address some of the most common challenges when making sweet tea. From choosing the right tea bags to getting the sweetness just right, these tips and tricks will help you make sweet tea like a pro. So let’s dive into the FAQ and become a sweet tea connoisseur together!

What are the ingredients in Southern sweet tea?

Southern-style sweet tea is a refreshing drink made by brewing black tea, adding sugar to the hot tea, and then chilling it until cold. The tea is then served over ice for maximum enjoyment.

What makes Southern sweet tea different?

Achieving the perfect balance of flavors is essential, especially when it comes to sweet tea. It is brewed with a strong flavor profile that can only be tamed by using a considerable amount of sweetener. Southerners are known for their fondness of sugar and prefer their beverages on the sweeter side than those in the North.

Why do Southerners put baking soda in sweet tea?

One useful tip to make black tea taste smoother is to use baking soda, which can neutralize its tannins. This trick can also be applied to green tea to remove its bitterness. Simply add a small amount of baking soda to your mug of hot tea while it’s steeping.

What is the difference between Southern sweet tea and iced tea?

While both iced tea and sweet tea are served chilled, their distinguishing factor lies in the sugar content. Sweet tea contains a significant amount of sugar, while iced tea does not. It’s worth noting that the preference for these beverages is largely divided geographically, with those in the north favoring iced tea and those in the south opting for sweet tea.

Why do people from the South like sweet tea so much?

The South has a reputation for pairing sweeter flavors with its barbecue, such as the use of a sweet sauce in Memphis. This is complemented by their traditional drink of sweet tea, which has a customizable recipe and is easy to make at home. Despite being non-alcoholic, sweet tea remains a staple part of Southern cuisine.

How many tea bags for a gallon of the Southern sweet tea?

When making a big batch of tea that could fill a gallon-sized jug, start by boiling 2 cups of water. Then, remove it from the heat and add 2 cups of sugar, followed by 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda. Once done, stir until the sugar has dissolved, and steep 4 family-sized tea bags in the mixture. Afterward, add 14 cups of cold water to balance the tea’s flavor.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, there’s no other drink that can quench thirst on a hot summer day like the perfect glass of Southern Sweet Tea. It’s surprisingly easy to make, and with these instructions, you’ll be able to make the best Southern Sweet Tea you’ve ever had. Whether it’s for a summer barbeque, porch sitting or just as a refreshing treat throughout the day, sweet tea never goes out of style.

The secret is in selecting top-quality ingredients and manipulating them in precise ratios with specific steps, such as using baking soda to help remove bitterness from tannins or steeping tea long enough to let flavors develop fully. With a little careful attention and patience, your reward will be an ice-cold pitcher of Southern Sweet Tea that’s smooth, sweet, and thoroughly satisfying.

So why not try making Southern Sweet Tea from this recipe today? Give yourself something delicious and refreshing to sip on while enjoying these warm days. Just remember: making a perfect glass of Southern Sweet Tea is not complicated—just follow the steps, choose good quality ingredients and put your heart into it. Happy sipping!

Best Southern Sweet Tea Ever

Best Southern Sweet Tea Ever Recipe

This is Real Southern Tea. My Family has been making tea like this for many many years. Hope everyone enjoys it.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Course Beverage
Cuisine Southern American
Calories 77.4 kcal


  • 2 big tea bags (can use 6 small tea bags)
  • 3 cups water (in small pot)
  • 1 -3 cup sugar ((I use 1 cup)
  • tap water (put in 1 gal container)


  • Place the tea bags and 3 cups of water in small pot.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Take off heat and let sit for about 30 minutes.
  • Mean while, put 1 to 3 cups of sugar and tap water in the gallon container, and mix.
  • Pour warm boiled tea water into the container holding back the tea bags with a big plastic spoon. Fill the pot (with the bags still in it) with tap water and pour into container til almost full. Do not break the tea bags.(if so you can still drink it)
  • Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Let cool. Chill in the refrigerator and serve over ice. (I try to wait at least an hour before drinking. But it’s so good, you won't be ble to. The longer you wait the better it is.)
  • Enjoy!

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 91gCalories: 77.4kcalCarbohydrates: 20gSodium: 2.3mgSugar: 20g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Beginner Cook, Beverages, Easy
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