Delicious Low Sugar Southern Sweet Tea Recipe

Y’all, are you ready for some good ol’ Southern sweet tea that won’t give you a sugar rush? I know I am! As a chef who specializes in Southern cuisine, I understand the importance of sweet tea to any Southern meal. But let’s face it, traditional sweet tea recipes are loaded with sugar, making them a not-so-great choice for those of us trying to cut back on our sugar intake.

That’s why I’m excited to share with you an easy-to-follow recipe for low-sugar (or sugar-free) Southern sweet tea that still boasts that classic sweet flavor we all love. By swapping out the sugar for stevia or other sugar substitutes, we can enjoy our beloved sweet tea without the added calories and negative health effects.

I want to emphasize that this recipe isn’t just for those on keto diets or with diabetes. Anyone can benefit from reducing their sugar intake, even if just a little bit. Plus, the fact that it’s a family-sized recipe means it’s perfect for entertaining or enjoying on a hot summer day.

So let’s dive into this Southern-style recipe and get ready to taste the perfect glass of iced tea!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Low Sugar (Or Sugar Free) Southern Sweet Tea
Low Sugar (Or Sugar Free) Southern Sweet Tea

Southern sweet tea is a beloved beverage in the South, but unfortunately, it is often loaded with sugar. That’s why I’m excited to share my low sugar (or sugar free) southern sweet tea recipe with you today.

There are many reasons why you’ll love this tea recipe. For starters, it’s incredibly refreshing and perfect for sipping on a hot day. The combination of tea, water, and a natural sweetener creates a deliciously sweet flavor without the artificial aftertaste that comes with some sugar substitutes.

This recipe is also versatile and customizable to fit your dietary needs. It’s keto-friendly if you use stevia instead of sugar or maple syrup as an alternative sweetener. If you’re watching your calorie intake, simply skip the sweetener altogether and let the natural tea flavors shine through.

But most importantly, this recipe allows you to make one of the most iconic southern beverages without the guilt of excessive sugar consumption. You can still indulge in a cold glass of southern-style sweet tea with your friends and family without compromising your health.

So whether you’re a fan of traditional southern sweet tea or looking for a healthier way to enjoy this classic beverage, you’ll love this low sugar (or sugar free) southern sweet tea recipe.

Ingredient List

 Sipping on that Low Sugar Southern Sweet Tea
Sipping on that Low Sugar Southern Sweet Tea

Before diving into the recipe, let’s gather all the ingredients you’ll need to make the perfect low sugar (or sugar-free) Southern Sweet Tea. Trust me; this is going to be delicious.

Tea bags:
For this recipe, you will need 8 (family-sized) tea bags. I prefer using black tea bags as it blends perfectly with the other ingredients to give the rich and creamy southern-style sweet tea taste.

You will need 8 cups of boiling water, which should be added to your tea bags.

To make our sugar-free version of this glorious drink, we’re going to use stevia as a substitute. You only need one tablespoon of stevia or more if you prefer it sweeter.

Maple Syrup or Honey(optional)
Adding maple syrup, honey can also bring an extra sweetness to your Southern Sweet Tea if you’re not a fan of Stevia. Add about a cup of any or both substitutes depending on your preference.

Ice cubes:
We can’t forget about ice; after all, this is iced tea we’re making. You’ll need about 4 cups of ice cubes when serving.

These core ingredients are key to get that perfect sweet tea taste that’ll have everyone coming back for more!

The Recipe How-To

 Sweet tea, y'all! Low sugar but still oh so delicious
Sweet tea, y’all! Low sugar but still oh so delicious

Brewing the Perfect Southern Sweet Tea without Sugar

Now, it’s time to brew your low-sugar or sugar-free southern sweet tea. Here’s how:

Step 1: Boil the Water

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a teapot or a saucepan.

Step 2: Add Tea Bags

When the water has reached boiling point, remove from heat and add 8 family-sized tea bags or 16 regular-sized tea bags to the pot. Cover with a lid and steep for 5-6 minutes.

Step 3: Remove Tea Bags

After steeping, take out the tea bags using a spoon and discard them.

Step 4: Stir in Sweeteners (Optional)

To sweeten your tea without sugar, stir in either stevia, a natural zero-calorie sweetener, or maple syrup as desired.

Step 5: Add Cold Water and Ice

Pour the brewed tea into a pitcher, then fill it up to the top with about 4 cups of cold water. Add ice cubes so that it will be cold when you serve.

Step 6: Serve and Enjoy!

Once everything is mixed, pour yourself a glass of this delicious southern-style sweet tea, sit back, relax and enjoy.

Click here for substitutions and variations.

Substitutions and Variations

 A refreshing glass of southern hospitality
A refreshing glass of southern hospitality

Hey y’all, let’s talk about some substitutions and variations you can try for this low sugar or sugar-free Southern sweet tea recipe.

For those who prefer a sweeter tea, you could use stevia instead of maple syrup or sugar as a substitute. Stevia is a natural sweetener that has fewer calories than sugar and is an excellent option for those watching their sugar intake. Additionally, if you are on a keto diet, you could use keto sweeteners like erythritol in place of maple syrup.

For a fruitier flavor, try infusing some fruits like peaches into your tea mix. You may also add some honey in place of maple syrup to give it a different taste. This combination will make your tea more refreshing and perfect for hot summer days.

Another variation that one can do with this recipe would be using green tea or flavored black tea bags instead of plain black Lipton tea bags used in this recipe. Few people even use herbal teas that have many health benefits such as relaxing chamomile or minty peppermint.

In case you have any diabetic family members or friends, you can easily modify the recipe by using diabetic sugar-free substitutes such as Splenda or Truvia products which are readily available in many stores. You can also adjust the quantity of maple syrup or brown sugar according to the taste preference without compromising the sweetness.

So, these were some of the ideas that one can try out with this Southern-style sweet tea recipe without losing any sweetness, flavour and health benefits. As always, experiment to get the perfect taste, and make sure to share your unique twist on social media with us using #SouthernSweetTea!

Serving and Pairing

 It's summertime and the living is easy with this sugar free sweet tea
It’s summertime and the living is easy with this sugar free sweet tea

Southern sweet tea is a drink that pairs well with almost any kind of food, from spicy barbecue to fried chicken. The classic drink is perfect for quenching your thirst on a hot summer day, serving as a refreshing complement to any meal.

When it comes to serving, I recommend pouring the sweet tea over ice in a tall glass or mason jar. This will help keep the drink cool, and the presentation will look beautiful. If you’re entertaining, you might even consider adding slices of lemon or sprigs of mint for garnish.

As for pairing, the sweetness and bold taste of southern-style sweet tea goes great with spicy, salty or savory foods. Try serving it with dishes like pulled pork, smoked ribs, or fried chicken. The tea also does well with fresh salads, grilled vegetables or light snacks like popcorn or mixed nuts.

If you’re looking for a fun twist on traditional sweet tea, try making peach iced tea by mixing in some canned peaches and honey to the recipe. For a more herby flavor, you can also brew green tea instead of black tea bags.

Overall, southern-style sweet tea is an adaptable and versatile recipe that pairs fantastically with many different types of cuisine. So next time you’re cooking up something delicious in the kitchen or having guests over for a summer cookout, make sure to whip up a pitcher of this iconic southern beverage – trust me, everyone will love it!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

“Sunshine in a glass” without the sugar crash

As a busy chef, time management is everything, and my recipe for Low Sugar Southern Sweet Tea can easily fit into any hectic schedule. You can make this tea ahead of time and store it in your refrigerator for up to five days, taking away the headache of making tea every day.

When you’re ready to serve the tea, simply pour it over ice, and your refreshments are ready. If you are planning to make a batch beforehand, make sure you store it in an airtight container or pitcher to avoid any contamination from other food products in your fridge.

Reheating sweet tea can be tricky, especially when you want to avoid scorching the delicate flavors. I recommend that you do not reheat sweet tea by placing it directly on heat; instead use the microwave, gently heat until hot but not boiling, or warm it slowly on a low flame on your stovetop until heated through.

One helpful tip is that you can freeze sweet tea as well – this tip is especially useful for those living in warmer climates during the summer months. Fill tall glasses with sweet tea, ensuring room at the top for expansion while freezing solid. Once frozen, take them out of the freezer and let them sit at room temperature until they thaw out enough to top off with more sweet tea. You’ll be surprised how refreshing your iced tea will taste without any dilution caused by using traditional ice cubes.

By following these Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating recommendations and tips, not only will save you loads of time and effort but also ensure that y’ll savor a delicious glass of southern-style sweet tea whenever you’re ready to sip on its delightful flavors.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Sweet without the guilt: Low sugar southern sweet tea
Sweet without the guilt: Low sugar southern sweet tea

As a chef who specializes in southern-style cuisine, I’ve learned some valuable tips that can help you achieve the perfect results for this low-sugar (or sugar-free) sweet tea recipe.

– Quality Tea Ingredients: The key to making an excellent sweet tea is to use high-quality tea ingredients. Choose black tea bags made by a trusted brand like Lipton or Twinings, for example.

– Boiling Water: Start with 8 cups of boiling water and add your tea bags. Cover the pot and let the tea steep for about 5 minutes. This will ensure that you extract all the flavor and aroma from the tea.

– Remove Tea Bags: After steeping, remove the family-sized or sized tea bags. You don’t want to over-steep your tea as it can make it bitter.

– Substitutes: If you’re on a low-carb or keto diet, substitute maple syrup or stevia for sugar. You might also try adding honey or green tea to your recipe for a different twist.

– Add Ice: When preparing your sweet tea, be sure to add plenty of ice. This will help cool the tea down quickly and will prevent dilution by keeping it cold.

– Serving Ideas: Southern-style sweet tea is a perfect pairing for many dishes. Try serving it alongside barbecue ribs or brisket, cornbread, mashed potatoes or fried chicken. Also, don’t forget to try out different variations of this recipe to make it your own.

– Storage Options: Once you’ve finished making your sweet tea, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. You can keep it for up to two days before serving. If you want to reheat it, place it in a saucepan over medium heat until heated through.

– Use Cold Water: Another great way to make Southern-style sweet tea is by using cold brew. Simply add 8 cups of cold water to your teabags, cover your pitcher and let it steep overnight.

– Baking Soda: If you find that your sweet tea is too bitter, try adding a pinch of baking soda to your recipe. This will help neutralize the acidic taste in the tea and make it more drinkable.

By following these tips, you can make an amazing low-sugar or sugar-free southern-style sweet tea recipe that will impress even the most discerning of taste buds.


Before you start making this delicious sugar-free Southern sweet tea, you might have a few questions in mind. Let’s answer some of the frequently-asked questions to help you make the perfect batch of tea that meets your preferences and dietary requirements.

How do you sweeten tea without sugar or sweeteners?

When it comes to sweetening your tea, there are a variety of natural options to choose from. Honey, often referred to as nature’s sweetener, is a popular choice. Another option is the rich and flavorful maple syrup, also known as Canada’s liquid gold. Stevia, derived from a plant, can be a great option for those watching their sugar intake. Licorice, molasses, date syrup, xylitol (also known as birch sugar), and erythritol are other alternatives to consider. Each of these natural sweeteners has its own unique taste and nutritional properties that can enhance your tea-drinking experience. So, let’s dive into the best way to make delicious tea using honey – one of the most common and easily accessible natural sweeteners.

What is the healthiest sweetener for sweet tea?

When it comes to reducing sugar and calorie intake, there are naturally derived sweeteners that make it easier. These low carb, low calorie, and low glycemic index sweeteners pack a powerful punch: they can be up to 200 times more potent than sugar. Included in this group are coconut sugar – a low-glycemic sugar, xylitol – derived from vegetable fibers, and stevia – originating from the natural leaf. These sweeteners not only have fewer calories and carbs but also allow for a little to go a long way.

How to make tea sweet without sugar for diabetics?

To promote good overall health, it’s recommended to opt for unsweetened tea over sugary alternatives, particularly for individuals who struggle with keeping their blood sugar levels in balance. If you’re looking to infuse your tea with some taste without the added sweetness, consider adding a fresh squeeze of lemon or a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this low sugar (or sugar free) southern sweet tea recipe is a great alternative for those who want to enjoy the refreshing taste of iced tea without the added sugars. Using stevia or other sugar substitutes, you can indulge in a guilt-free glass of sweet tea that truly captures the essence of Southern cuisine.

Apart from being delicious, this recipe is also incredibly versatile. You can experiment with different variations such as adding peach, honey or even baking soda to create unique flavor profiles. Moreover, by following my recommendations and tips, you can achieve perfect results every time you make this recipe.

I encourage you to try this recipe and experience the soulful taste of Southern sweet tea without the harmful effects of sugar. Whether you’re on a keto diet or looking for low calorie alternatives, this recipe will not disappoint. So gather your family-sized tea bags and get ready to make the best sugar-free sweet tea your taste buds have ever had.

Low Sugar (Or Sugar Free) Southern Sweet Tea

Low Sugar (Or Sugar Free) Southern Sweet Tea Recipe

Less sugar and no artificial sweeteners- but still that nice authentic southern sweet tea. I grew up in Alabama and had sweet tea in my bottles as a baby. This is not as sweet as the tea that I grew up on with 2 cups of sugar in a half gallon, but it's still plenty sweet for me even with just 1/4 cup sugar. I used to make a sugar free version replacing the sugar with Splenda. Over time I developed an allergy to Splenda, so I started using sugar. Using 2 sweeteners helps avoid an after-taste.
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Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Course Beverage
Cuisine American
Calories 24.2 kcal


  • 3 family-size tea bags
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 (1 g) packets stevia
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sugar


  • Boil 4 cups hot water. Place tea bags in heat-proof glass container. Pour boiling water over tea bags and steep 15-20 minutes. Remove tea bags. Stir in sugar until completely disolved.
  • Add 4 cups ice water to tea, then stir in Stevia packets. Refrigerate overnight. (The stevia after-taste is too strong on the first day) Serve over ice, and use within 4 days (the tea will start to get a bitter taste after a few days).
  • NOTE: This makes a strong tea. I like to pour mine over a glass of ice and let it sit for a while before I drink it, so I make it strong enough that it taste right when watered down by melted ice.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 243gCalories: 24.2kcalCarbohydrates: 6.2gSodium: 4.7mgSugar: 6.2g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Beverages, Easy
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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