Make Your Taste Buds Sing with Homemade Southern Iced Tea

Yo, what’s cookin’ folks? I’m about to dive into a southern favorite that’s a staple at any gathering or occasion – Southern Sweet Tea. This recipe is an authentic South Carolina style sweet tea that hits the spot every single time. Trust me, once you try this recipe, there’s no going back to those premade teas you find at the store.

There is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than a glass of ice-cold tea that is packed with just the right amount of sweetness. With this recipe, you can create your perfect southern-style sweet tea, tailored to your own taste preference. This recipe is delicious, easy to follow and will put you well on your way to becoming the master of sweet tea.

So, grab some tea bags, baking soda and let’s get started on making the best damn Southern Sweet Tea you’ve ever sipped on.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe


Listen up, y’all! I’ve got a sweet tea recipe that’ll take you straight to the sunny state of South Carolina. This southern-style sweet tea is the real deal, and let me tell you why you’re going to love it.

First off, this recipe uses family-sized black tea bags for the richest flavor. We don’t mess around with weak tea down south. And to balance out the bold black tea flavor, we add just the right amount of sugar water- 1 cup of sugar for every gallon of water- just the way it’s been made for generations.

But what really sets this sweet tea apart is a small pinch of baking soda that’s dissolved in the boiling water before adding the tea bags. The baking soda balances out any bitterness and creates a smooth and satisfying taste.

This sweet southern nectar is perfect for sipping on hot summer days or to bring a taste of the south to any occasion. Once you try it, you won’t go back to anything else. Trust me, folks. This ain’t just any old iced tea- this is Southern style sweet tea done right.

Ingredient List

 The refreshing taste of real southern iced tea is all you need to beat the summer heat!
The refreshing taste of real southern iced tea is all you need to beat the summer heat!

Now that you’re excited about this real Southern sweet tea recipe, let’s get into what you need to make it. You probably already have most of these ingredients at home, but if not, a quick trip to the store will do!

Here’s what you need for this best Southern sweet tea recipe:

  • 4 family size tea bags
  • 1 pinch of baking soda
  • 3 family size tea bags (for cold brew)
  • 3 teaspoons of baking soda (for cold brew)
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 gallon of water

Just like any real southern recipe, the fresher the ingredients, the better the taste. I suggest using the highest quality tea bags you can find – black tea is the best choice. Don’t be afraid to splurge on your sugar too. For this recipe, I recommend using a style that truly represents Southern sweetness.

The Recipe How-To

 Nothing says southern hospitality like a pitcher of sweet iced tea on the porch.
Nothing says southern hospitality like a pitcher of sweet iced tea on the porch.

Are you ready to learn how to make the perfect Southern sweet tea? Hang on tight because this recipe will teach you how to make sweet tea the South Carolina way. Follow these easy steps and you’ll have a refreshing glass of sweet iced tea in no time.


For this recipe, you will need:

  • 4 family-size black tea bags
  • 1 pinch of baking soda
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 3 cups of granulated sugar

That’s right, we’re making a whole gallon of sweet tea. You can always reduce the quantity of the ingredients if you’re not planning on making such a large batch.

Getting Started

First, bring four cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the tea bags and let them steep for about five minutes. Once that’s done, discard the bags and add in one pinch of baking soda.

Baking soda? In my tea? You might be wondering why we’re putting baking soda in our tasty brew. Well, it helps to neutralize any bitterness in the tea and makes the final product smoother.

Making Simple Syrup

Next up is making simple syrup. In another large pot over medium heat, add three cups of sugar and three cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until all the sugar dissolves.

Once everything is dissolved, pour the hot syrup into a large pitcher or container. Then proceed to pour in your freshly brewed hot tea and stir well.

Cooling and Serving

Finally, add enough cold water to bring your mixture up to one gallon total volume. Give it one more good stir before placing it in the fridge to cool.

When it’s time to serve up your sweet tea, fill a glass with ice cubes, pour in your tea mixture, garnish with fresh lemon wedges (if desired) and enjoy!

Cold Brew Tea

If you prefer your tea less bitter, then you can always try using green or Luzianne tea instead of black tea. Another option is to use cold-brewed tea instead of the hot brewed one in this recipe.

There you have it, folks! A refreshing and authentic Southern sweet iced tea recipe. Get brewing and impress your friends and family with the best homemade sweet tea they’ve ever tasted.

Substitutions and Variations

 This is not just any iced tea - this is real southern iced tea made with love and care.
This is not just any iced tea – this is real southern iced tea made with love and care.

Alright my fellow foodies, let’s talk about some interesting substitutions and variations that can be made to elevate this already delicious southern sweet tea recipe even further.

First, let’s talk about tea bags. While black tea is the go-to for this classic southern beverage, there are other options that can be used as well. Green tea bags can be used to make a refreshing and healthier version, while Luzianne tea bags can give a more authentic southern taste.

If you are looking to cut down on sugar, simply reduce the amount or try making a simple syrup with less sugar. For those who prefer unsweet tea or want to make it their own, cold brewing the tea bags ahead of time and serving with lemon wedges is another option.

For a caffeine-free alternative, try using herbal or fruit teas instead of black tea. And for those looking for a unique twist, adding a pinch of baking soda to the boiling water can help neutralize any harshness in the tea and make it smoother.

Finally, why not mix things up by creating a coffee-flavored variation? Simply replace the tea bags with freshly brewed coffee and add some ice cubes for a caffeinated treat.

So there you have it folks, some exciting substitutions and variations you can make to tailor this southern sweet tea recipe your way. Get creative and share your own unique twists with us in the comments section below!

Serving and Pairing

 Ah! The golden color of freshly brewed southern iced tea is a sight for sore eyes!
Ah! The golden color of freshly brewed southern iced tea is a sight for sore eyes!

Now that you’ve brewed up a big ol’ batch of some authentic Southern-style sweet tea, let’s talk about the best way to serve and pair this iconic beverage.

First things first, it must be served over plenty of ice – this is non-negotiable! You want your tea to be ice-cold and refreshing as you sip it in the sweltering heat of the South. Add some freshly sliced lemons or a sprig of mint for an extra burst of flavor and aroma.

As for pairing, sweet tea is a versatile drink that goes with just about everything in Southern cuisine. It’s the perfect accompaniment to savory fried chicken, smoky pulled pork, tangy barbecue ribs, or hearty meatloaf. Want something lighter? A tall glass of sweet tea pairs wonderfully with a garden-fresh salad or a grilled veggie skewer.

And don’t forget – this sweet tea is also an excellent base for cocktails or mocktails! Add some bourbon, vodka or your favorite spirit for an adult version, or mix it with fruity syrups and juices for a refreshing mocktail.

Overall, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy your homemade Southern-style sweet tea. So go ahead, have fun experimenting with pairings and find your favorite way to savor this quintessential Southern drink.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A glass of sweet iced tea can instantly transport you to lazy afternoons in the south.
A glass of sweet iced tea can instantly transport you to lazy afternoons in the south.

Listen up, y’all! If you want to make the best southern sweet tea recipe in advance, I gotcha covered. You can certainly make a big batch of this deliciousness beforehand and chill it in the fridge for a cold drink any time.

To store the tea, simply pour the tea into an airtight container and pop it in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just remember to give it a gentle stir before serving, as some settling may occur.

Now, let’s talk about reheating your stored sweet tea. If you are not into iced tea and prefer it warm, you can reheat it by transferring the desired amount into a saucepan on medium heat until just warmed through. However, if you want to keep that fresh-brewed taste, I recommend making another fresh batch instead of reheating the old one. Trust me; your taste buds will thank you.

Another tip is to consider making simple syrup instead of adding sugar hot to iced brewed tea. It dissolves easily when added to iced tea and preserves the fresh flavor. So try making your own simple syrup at home by boiling equal parts sugar and water until dissolved and then chilling in the fridge.

So there you have it – my recommendations on how to make-ahead, store, and reheat your southern-style sweet tea recipe without sacrificing the taste. Remember, Life is too short to drink bad sweet tea!

Tips for Perfect Results

 A sip of this southern iced tea is like a warm hug from your grandma on a hot day.
A sip of this southern iced tea is like a warm hug from your grandma on a hot day.

Now that you know the recipe for the best southern sweet tea, it’s time to make sure you make it perfectly. Here are some tips that might help you get the perfect results every time you make southern style sweet tea.

1. Start with freshly brewed black tea

Make sure to use high-quality black tea bags when making southern sweet tea. Brew them according to the instructions on the package and discard them after steeping for five minutes. This will ensure a strong base for your sweet tea.

2. Add baking soda

When boiling water to prepare the tea, add a pinch of baking soda to neutralize any acidity in the water that could affect the taste of your sweet tea. Make sure not to overdo it as baking soda can also have an effect on taste and color.

3. Use enough sugar

For a 1-gallon batch of sweet tea, adding about 1 cup of sugar is ideal. However, some people prefer more or less depending on their taste buds. So, start with 1 cup and adjust according to your preference.

4. Dissolve sugar before adding ice

To ensure a perfectly smooth and even sweetness, dissolve the sugar in hot water before pouring over ice-filled glasses or a pitcher of cold water.

5. Serve over ice

Like any other refreshing drink, southern sweet tea is often served over ice cubes that melt slowly to prevent dilution while maintaining a cool and refreshing effect.

By following these tips, you can make the perfect Southern-style Sweet Tea right at home every time without fail!


Now, let’s move on to item (9) FAQ of our Southern Sweet Tea recipe. You may have some burning questions about the recipe, and we’re here to answer those queries for you. From common issues like making the perfect sweet tea to potential substitutions for some of the ingredients used, we’ve got you covered with all the essential information. Let’s dive right in!

What is Southern iced tea made of?

Sweet tea in the southern style is made by brewing fresh black tea, adding sugar while hot, and then chilling the mixture until it’s cold. Finally, it’s poured over ice for a refreshing sip.

What kind of tea do they drink in the South?

Throughout the south, sweet tea has become a beloved tradition since its rise to popularity in the late 1800s. It’s widely recognized that people across southern states have developed a deep affection for sweet tea over the years.

Why do Southerners put baking soda in tea?

Did you know that adding a small amount of baking soda to your black tea can give it a smoother taste? This same hack can be applied to green tea as well to help reduce any bitterness. Just add a pinch of baking soda to your mug as your tea is steeping and enjoy the smoother taste.

What makes Southern sweet tea different?

Achieving the perfect balance of flavors in Southern-style sweet tea requires a strategic approach. One must brew the tea for an extended period to obtain the desired astringency, but it’s crucial to add a generous amount of sugar to offset it. Southerners typically have a more substantial affinity for sweetness than those in the Northern regions.

Bottom Line

Recipe lovers, it’s time to get your sweet tea game on point! If you want to experience the best southern sweet tea that will make you feel like you’re in South Carolina, this recipe is the perfect one for you!

With a perfect blend of black tea, sugar, and essential ingredients like baking soda, this recipe guarantees delicious and refreshing results every time. And with the detailed instructions and helpful tips provided in this article, making this southern iced tea will be a breeze for you!

So don’t settle for mediocre iced tea, take it up a notch with this recipe and impress your friends and family with the taste of authentic southern style sweet tea. Served over ice cubes or garnished with a wedge of fresh lemon, this drink is versatile enough to accompany any meal.

In conclusion, take the leap and try out this incredible southern sweet tea recipe today to experience the taste of the south in the comfort of your own home. Trust me; your taste buds will thank you!



This is how my grandmother made it.
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Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Beverage
Cuisine American
Servings 8 ounces
Calories 96.8 kcal


  • 4 family size lipton tea bags
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup unbleached cane sugar
  • 2 ice cubes
  • 1 small pinch baking soda


  • take a 2 quart pot and place it on the stove. Add the 2 cups of water. turn the burner on high and bring to a boil.
  • Turn off the burner and add 2 ice cubes. stir in the 2 ice cubes and 1 cup of sugar.
  • Add the 4 tea bags and pinch of baking soda (like Arm & Hammer) then let cool completely with a lid or a plate on the pot.
  • Remove the tea bags without squezing them (squezing only releases the tanic acid and makes the tea have a bitter taste) Pour into a 2 quart pitcher fill on up with cold water.
  • Put ice in glasses pour in tea and enjoy.
  • My opinion is it's best served with a large slice of fresh lemon.
  • The baking soda will make it last in the fridge for about 4 days with out tasting bad.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 89gCalories: 96.8kcalCarbohydrates: 25gSodium: 2.2mgSugar: 24.9g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Easy, From Scratch
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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