Refreshing Southern Sweet Iced Tea Recipe

Southern Sweet Iced Tea is more than just a drink, it’s a way of life in the Southern United States. There’s nothing quite like taking a sip of this refreshing, smooth and sweet tea on a hot summer day, or enjoying it as a comforting accompaniment to your favourite meals. As a chef specializing in southern-style cuisine, I’ve discovered that making the perfect cup can be both an art and a science.

In this Hotel Style Southern Sweet Iced Tea recipe guide, I’ll show you how to make the best homemade iced tea with ease. This recipe is simple yet classic, using only a few ingredients that are easily accessible from your local grocery store. And trust me when I say that the result is worth every sip!

Whether you’re hosting a summer barbeque or looking for a beverage to serve at your restaurant, this recipe will be perfect for you. Follow my instructions closely and you’ll never have to resort to store-bought tea again. So, grab a pitcher and get ready to make some unforgettable southern-style sweet iced tea!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern Sweet Iced Tea, Hotel Style
Southern Sweet Iced Tea, Hotel Style

Imagine taking a sip of sweet, refreshing iced tea on a balmy summer day. Now imagine that same tea being southern-style sweet, served over ice, in the comfort of your own home. This is exactly what you can expect when you make my southern sweet iced tea recipe – and trust me when I say, you won’t be disappointed.

Firstly, this recipe is simple and easy to follow. With only eight ingredients needed, including baking soda and sugar, you can have a delicious batch of sweet tea in no time. And don’t worry if you don’t have an iced tea maker; this recipe can be made on the stovetop or in an instant pot.

But what makes this recipe truly special is the perfect balance of sweetness. The addition of baking soda helps to remove any bitterness from the brewed tea, while still maintaining its natural flavor. Adding sugar hot to the boiled water rather than cold is key to achieving a smooth, sweet blend that will tantalize your taste buds.

Furthermore, this recipe is versatile and customizable to your personal taste preferences. Try using green or black tea bags for a unique flavor twist. Adjust the sugar per cup ratio to suit your desired level of sweetness – some like it extra sweet! Swap out granulated sugar for simple syrup or add a squeeze of lemon juice if you’re feeling fancy.

So next time you want to cool down with something sweet and refreshing, give my southern-style sweet iced tea recipe a try. It’s the perfect beverage for any occasion, whether it’s sipping on your front porch or hosting a summer BBQ with friends and family. Trust me; your taste buds will thank you.

Ingredient List

  Sweet, refreshing, and oh so southern!
Sweet, refreshing, and oh so southern!

Here’s the list of ingredients you need to make this refreshing and smooth sweet tea:

Tea Ingredients:

  • 8 family-size tea bags (4 regular size tea bags can be substituted)
  • 4 cups of boiling water
  • 6 cups of cold water

Sweetening Ingredients:

  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda (optional, but recommended)

Serving and Garnishing Ingredient (Optional):

  • Lemon slices
  • Fresh mint leaves

Note that black tea is traditionally used to make Southern sweet tea, but green tea can also be used for a slightly different taste.

The Recipe How-To

  This iced tea will transport you to a cozy front porch rocking chair.
This iced tea will transport you to a cozy front porch rocking chair.

Now that we have all our ingredients at the ready, it’s time to start making the southern sweet iced tea that is a hallmark of southern cuisine. By following my detailed steps, you can make smooth, sweet tea that is perfect for serving over ice.

Brewing the Tea

We’ll start by brewing our tea bags in boiling water.

Step 1: First, fill your pot with 4 cups of water and bring it to a boil.

Step 2: Remove from the heat and add 8 bags of black tea or green tea with a string for easier removal later. Let the tea steep until it reaches room temperature.

Step 3: Once cooled, remove the tea bags from the pot and discard them.

Adding Sugar

The next step is to add in the granulated sugar.

Step 1: Pour 6 cups of cold water into your pitcher.

Step 2: Add 2 cups of granulated sugar per gallon to the cold water in your pitcher.

Step 3: Stir until all of the sugar is dissolved into the water.

Baking Soda Mixture

Southern-style sweet tea wouldn’t be complete without the addition of baking soda mixture to smooth out its acidity

Step 1: In a separate small bowl, mix together 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 2 teaspoons water until fully dissolved.

Step 2: Add baking soda mixture into your pitcher with sweet tea and stir well.

The Final Touches

After adding your baking soda mixture, it’s time to give your tea an additional touch that will take it up a notch!

Step 1: Add a splash of lemon juice (1-2 lemons) or simple syrup if desired to add some extra sweetness.

Step 2: Give everything one final stir, then serve your southern sweet tea over ice!

Substitutions and Variations

  Perfect for sipping on a hot summer day with friends and family.
Perfect for sipping on a hot summer day with friends and family.

When it comes to making Southern Sweet Iced Tea, there are so many variations and substitutions you can use to make the recipe your own. One thing to keep in mind is that the base of the tea should be black tea, but if you want to add a little variety, feel free to substitute some or all of the tea bags with green tea bags.

If you prefer your tea with a little tartness, try adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or even steeping some sliced lemons in the mix. If you’re looking for a sweeter option, consider using simple syrup instead of granulated sugar. The advantage of simple syrup is that it dissolves easily into the iced tea, giving it a smooth and sweet taste.

If you don’t have access to traditional family size tea bags, don’t worry; you can still make delicious sweet tea! Simply use regular size tea bags and adjust the recipe ingredient amount to suit your needs. For example, if your recipe calls for eight family size tea bags and you only have regular size ones on hand, use twelve or thirteen regular size tea bags.

Finally, if you want to add a little kick to your sweet tea, try spicing things up with ginger or even mint leaves. A sprig of rosemary or thyme can also add an interesting twist to this classic drink. Feel free to experiment with different flavor combinations until you find what works best for you!

No matter what substitutions or variations you choose, Southern Sweet Iced Tea will always be a timeless summer classic. So gather your ingredients, brew up some delicious black tea, and get ready to sip on some smooth and refreshing Southern-style sweet iced tea that will transport you straight into hot summer days and lazy afternoons under the sun.

Serving and Pairing

  Just one sip and you’ll be murmuring “mmmmm.”
Just one sip and you’ll be murmuring “mmmmm.”

Now that you have prepared a refreshing glass of Southern Sweet Iced Tea, it’s time to enjoy it and pair it up with some mouth-watering snacks. Southern sweet tea is a staple beverage in the American South, especially during the summertime. This sweet iced tea can be enjoyed any time of year, as it leaves a pleasant aftertaste in your mouth.

This smooth sweet beverage pairs perfectly with light and crispy snacks, like homemade biscuits or cornbread. It’s also an ideal drink to serve when hosting outdoor barbeques or picnics, as it complements all types of grilled meats and vegetables.

For a twist on the classic recipe, try adding a lemon slice or a few sprigs of fresh mint for a refreshing flavor boost. You can also serve it with ice cubes and some juice if you prefer an extra burst of sweetness.

Southern Sweet Iced Tea is best served cold and over ice, just like any other iced tea. Be sure to garnish the glasses with fresh lemon wedges or sprigs of mint to add a touch of elegance to your presentation.

In conclusion, this recipe is perfect for serving at any southern-themed gathering and pairs well with many different dishes. Whether you’re enjoying it as a refreshing drink on a hot day or pairing it with your favorite outdoor barbecue fare, this classic Southern Sweet Iced Tea recipe is sure to delight your taste buds.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

  A tall glass of this tea is equal parts indulgence and nostalgia.
A tall glass of this tea is equal parts indulgence and nostalgia.

Southern sweet iced tea is an absolute delight to have any time of the day, but its preparation does call for some work. However, the pre-preparation options that come with this recipe make it all worth it in the end. This tea can be made well ahead of time and stowed away in the refrigerator until ready for use.

If you’re planning to make a large batch for a party or family gathering, brewed tea can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. When you’re ready to serve or want to reheat a portion of it, simply warm it up over low heat or microwave in small increments until heated through.

Keep in mind that home-brewed iced tea tends to taste different as time goes on due to oxidization, especially if it’s kept at room temperature or warmer environment, so it’s best to keep it chilled when storing to ensure optimal flavor. In case the flavor is affected and loses its original smooth sweetness you can add more sugar syrup, lemon juice or ice cubes.

One of my favorite things about Southern sweet iced tea is how perfect it pairs with just about anything. Whether you’re enjoying a tall glass with breakfast biscuits, sipping some while relaxing on your porch on a warm summer day, or pairing with your favorite BBQ plate, this tea is versatile and always enhances the meal experience. Just keep in mind that sweet tea does tend to compete with food in terms of sweetness so adjust sugar and lemon juice accordingly.

In conclusion, Southern sweet iced tea is a wonderful drink that satisfies everyone’s taste buds – from kids to adults – and its effortless make-ahead option makes it perfect for any occasion. Be sure to try all variations and make your own perfect blend of Southern-style sweet tea!

Tips for Perfect Results

  The epitome of southern hospitality in a cup.
The epitome of southern hospitality in a cup.

Preparing Southern-style sweet tea is more than just boiling water and adding some tea bags and sugar. It requires patience, attention to detail, and a few essential tips to achieve a perfectly smooth, sweet, and refreshing beverage. Here are some tips that will help you create the best Southern-style sweet iced tea recipe:

1. Start with quality tea: The key to a great-tasting sweet tea is by using good-quality tea leaves or bags. Choose black or green tea bags with a rich, bold flavor that will hold up against the sweetness of the sugar.

2. Brew the tea properly: Avoid overbrewing or underbrewing the tea. Steep the tea bags in boiling water for about 3-5 minutes depending on its type. Leave it too long in hot water, and it will taste bitter, too little and it might lack flavor.

3. Add baking soda to reduce bitterness: If you’re experiencing any bitterness in your brew, add a pinch of baking soda to neutralize the acid content that causes the bitterness.

4. Adjust sugar and water ratio to your taste: If you prefer your sweet tea less sweet, adjust your recipe’s sugar content based on your preference. Experiment with different amounts of sugar until you find the right balance for you.

5. Chill before serving: Do not serve hot brewed tea over ice as it may melt too quickly before reaching its desired temperature. Instead, cool the brewed tea at room temperature, then add ice if desired.

6. Add lemon juice for extra flavor: A squeeze of lemon juice or a few drops of lemon oil can elevate your sweet iced tea to another level by adding another layer of complexity while balancing the sweetness component.

7. Consider simple syrup for easy dissolving: Instead of granulated sugar that doesn’t dissolve easily, make simple syrup by mixing equal parts hot water and granulated sugar until it forms a syrupy texture.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to make the best Southern-style sweet tea you’ve ever tasted. Be sure to experiment with different tea varieties, sweetness levels, and flavor combinations to find your perfect iced tea recipe.


As you prepare to make this Southern Sweet Iced Tea, you might come across some common questions that can arise. To help you achieve the best results, here are some frequently asked questions and their answers. Keep reading for more tips and tricks to make your sweet tea flavorful and refreshing.

What are the ingredients in Southern sweet tea?

Sweet tea is a popular drink in the southern United States that’s made by brewing black tea, adding sugar while it’s still hot, cooling it down, and serving it over ice.

What makes Southern sweet tea different?

In southern-style cuisine, the flavor of tea is all about balance. A strong brew is the key, but this can only be offset with ample amounts of sweetness. It’s worth noting that southerners tend to prefer a sweeter taste compared to those residing in the northern region.

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

While both sweet tea and iced tea are served cold and made with tea, sweet tea has the addition of sugar, making it distinctly sweeter than iced tea. Iced tea is more common in the northern regions of the country, while sweet tea is largely favored by those residing in the southern parts of the United States.

Why do Southerners put baking soda in sweet tea?

Did you know that by adding a small amount of baking soda to your black or green tea while steeping, you can get rid of the bitter taste? The reason behind it is the neutralizing effect of baking soda on the tannins present in tea, resulting in a smoother flavor. This trick can work wonders especially for those who prefer a less astringent cup of tea.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Southern Sweet Iced Tea is one of the most beloved and iconic drinks in southern cuisine. With its smooth sweet flavor and refreshing taste, this beverage is perfect for any occasion or time of day. Whether you are relaxing on your porch swing or hosting a summer barbecue, Southern Sweet Iced Tea is sure to satisfy and refresh you.

As a chef specializing in southern-style cuisine, I can attest that this Hotel-Style Recipe will provide you with the best Southern Sweet Iced Tea possible. By following the simple steps and using high-quality ingredients, you can create an unforgettable taste experience that will leave your guests asking for more.

So why not try your hand at making this recipe today? The ingredients are simple, and the process is straightforward. With a little bit of patience and some tender loving care, you can have yourself a delicious glass of Southern Sweet Iced Tea that will transport you directly to the heart of the south.

I hope that my detailed instructions, tips, and recommendations have been helpful in guiding you through the making of this Southern Sweet Iced Tea recipe. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Happy sipping!

Southern Sweet Iced Tea, Hotel Style

Southern Sweet Iced Tea, Hotel Style Recipe

Started out as but I had to amend due to limited available supplies. PLEASE fully read the steps before attempting this recipe.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Beverage
Cuisine American
Servings 4 quarts
Calories 677.2 kcal


  • 12 cups cold water
  • 15 cups boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tablespoon baking soda
  • 4 family-size tea bags


  • Gather supplies for tea.
  • Realize that you are missing a measuring cup, and your pitcher is broken.
  • Find replacement tools (coffee pot works great for measuring cup, and glass beer jugs for pitchers, and an automotive funnel to compensate for lack of a pitcher with a wide opening).
  • Carefully measure 2 cups water using coffee pot, bring to a boil.
  • Prepare 2 cups of sugar, funnel into large beer jug.
  • Pour boiling water into coffee pot, realize you are now down to 1 cup of water-oh yea, vapor-- ooops.
  • Fill pot back up, bring to a boil again.
  • Carefully pour boiling water into coffee pot till you hit the 2 cup mark.
  • Add in Two"family size tea bags" and a pinch of baking soda, place lid on coffee pot, place beer jug on top to cover most of the holes.
  • After 15 minutes, remove tea bags, do not squeeze into pot, discard.
  • Use funnel to add lukewarm teawater to sugar mix, ponder how bad of an idea it is to try to dissolve 2 cups of sugar into 2 cups of warm water.
  • Cap beer jug, shake furiously, realize it is only halfway dissolved, fret.
  • Pour mixture back into the coffee pot, stir vigorously.
  • Decide the lukewarm water is what is killing you, place pot onto the coffee machine, turn on to heat water.
  • Remove occasionally to check water warmth, stir often.
  • Pour concentrated mixture into funnel aimed into another beer jug, with 6 cups of cold water.
  • Cap, and shake well.
  • Serve over ice.
  • Cough due to sever sugar content, resolve to make the next batch better.
  • Add water to put, bring to a boil.
  • Measure 1 1/2 cups of sugar, and pour into ceramic beer stein.
  • When water is boiling use coffee pot to measure two cups.
  • Gently pour into beer stein, stir vigorously till sugar is dissolved, do a small victory dance.
  • Add a pinch of baking soda, and two family sized tea bags.
  • Use a lid from a small pot, place upside down onto the stein to allow mixture to steep.
  • After allowing to steep for 15 minutes, use funnel to pour into beer jug#2, with 6 cups of cold water.
  • Cap, shake well, serve over ice.
  • Loudly proclaim victory over the tea, and decide that next round, you might just go for 1 1/4 cups of sugar.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 7102gCalories: 677.2kcalCarbohydrates: 175gSodium: 284.6mgSugar: 174.7g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Beginner Cook, Beverages, Easy, Inexpensive, Kid-Friendly
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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