How to Make Delicious Southern Sweet Tea at Home

As soon as the warm weather arrives, there’s nothing more refreshing than a cold, freshly brewed glass of Southern Sweet Tea. This classic Southern drink, also called “The House Wine of the South”, is famous for its smooth sweet taste and has been enjoyed for generations. It’s hard to resist this delightful combination of strong black tea sweetened with sugar and served over ice.

In my opinion, there’s no better way to beat the heat during a summers day than Southern Sweet Tea. Its simplicity makes it so special as it can be made with only a handful of ingredients – water, sugar, baking soda, and high-quality tea bags. There is something exceptional about sipping on a perfectly made-iced tea that is so refreshing and will leave you feeling energized all day long.

I believe that everyone should know how to make this classic drink at home. That’s why I’ve decided to share my recipe for Southern Sweet Tea with you. Whether you are looking for a new favorite summertime drink or hoping to entertain some guests, this recipe will not disappoint. So, grab your towel and let’s get started!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern Sweet Tea
Southern Sweet Tea

Indulge yourself in the delectable taste of the South with my Southern Sweet Tea recipe. Picture yourself sitting on a picturesque porch watching the world go by, with a tall glass of iced tea in your hand. That’s the pleasure encapsulated in every sip of this sweet tea.

What makes it so special? The smooth sweet taste that comes from freshly-brewed black tea sweetened with sugar, blended to perfection and served chilled over ice. Rightly named ‘Southern sweet tea’, this refreshing beverage is a favorite for summer cookouts or any outdoor gathering in the South—and it’s perfect for any occasion!

Simply put: my Southern Sweet Tea recipe is a burst of deliciousness that you do not want to miss out on. It’s easy to make, contains only a few simple ingredients, and will soon become your go-to drink for all occasions.

The best part? You can also prepare it beforehand and put it in the fridge, allowing you to always have a freshly brewed sweet tea ready whenever you need it. Don’t deny yourself the exquisite taste of Southern sweetness—this recipe will be one that you will fall head over heels in love with!

Ingredient List

 Dip your straw in a tall glass of Southern nostalgia.
Dip your straw in a tall glass of Southern nostalgia.

Here are the ingredients you need for this classic Southern Sweet Tea recipe:

  • 8 cups of water: Water is the base of the tea; make sure you use fresh and clean water.
  • 4 family-size tea bags: You can use any strong black tea bags available in your pantry, but we recommend using Lipton or Luzianne.
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar: This amount may seem like a lot, but remember, it’s southern-style sweet tea we’re talking about!
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda: Baking soda neutralizes the natural bitterness of the tea and makes a smooth sweet flavor.
  • Ice and water to fill the pitcher: It’s best to allow the tea to cool before serving with ice.

With these simple ingredients together, you can make yourself a pitcher of refreshing southern-style sweet tea that will beat any store-bought brand, especially on a hot summer day.

The Recipe How-To

 Sweet memories in every sip.
Sweet memories in every sip.

Now that you have all your ingredients ready, let’s start making the Southern Sweet Tea:

Step 1: Brew the Tea

In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Once it starts boiling, remove it from heat and add 6 to 8 tea bags (depends on the strength of tea you prefer). I personally like to use black tea as it tends to make the best Southern Sweet Tea. Allow the tea to steep for 5-6 minutes.

Step 2: Add Sugar and Baking Soda

After about 5 minutes of steeping, remove tea bags and add 1 1/2 cups of sugar, stirring frequently until dissolved. Add a pinch of baking soda to smooth out the sweetness.

Step 3: Add Cold Water

Now comes the crucial part: add 4 cups of cold water to the sweet tea mixture in order to make sweet Tea Southern-style. This is what makes a difference between just hot tea sweetened with sugar and true Southern Sweet Tea.

Step 4: Let it Chill

Once everything has been mixed together, let it sit at room temperature until it cools down, then transfer it into a gallon-sized pitcher with a lid. Place it in your refrigerator and chill for at least two hours before serving.

Step 5: Serve Over Ice

When you’re ready to serve, pull out your glass pitcher filled with Southern Sweet Tea made from this style Sweet Tea Recipe. Fill each glass with ice cubes and pour Southern Sweet Tea over ice. You can garnish with lemon wedges or fresh mint leaves if you like.

Enjoy sipping on this smooth sweet Southern-style Sweet Tea!

Substitutions and Variations

 Fill your glass with sunshine and sugar.
Fill your glass with sunshine and sugar.

Southern sweet tea is a classic beverage and there are many variations of the recipe. You can add a twist to your sweet tea with some of these substitutions and variations.

– Cinnamon: For an extra depth of flavor, add a cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon to your sweet tea recipe. This warm spice pairs perfectly with the Southern-style sweet tea.

– Lemon Juice: Add a fresh and tangy twist to your sweet tea by adding freshly squeezed lemon juice. This will give a zesty kick to the smooth sweetness of the tea.

– Mint: Fresh mint leaves make for an excellent addition to your Southern-style sweet tea as it adds a refreshing flavor. You can add them into the pot while steeping the tea bags or muddle them in after brewing.

– Fruit-infused: Experiment with adding fruit flavors to your sweet tea. A slice of peach, nectarine or strawberry will give your Southern-style sweet tea a fruity kick. The fruit can be infused in the tea while it’s steeping.

– Green Tea: Swap black tea for green tea for a healthier and lighter version of this beverage. Green tea has its own set of health benefits, including antioxidants that protect against free radicals which damage cells.

– Honey: Take some sugar off of your tea by replacing with honey instead. Not only does honey have natural sweetness and fewer calories than sugar, but it also has antibacterial properties that are beneficial for your body.

Whatever variation you choose, keep in mind that any substitutions will change the balance of flavors so make small alterations first and adjust accordingly until you arrive at your desired flavor and taste for this southern comfort favourite.

Serving and Pairing

 Perfectly brewed for a perfect day.
Perfectly brewed for a perfect day.

Southern sweet tea is a beverage that is perfect for any time of the year. It’s especially popular during summer, as it has a refreshing flavor that can be appreciated on a hot day. The recipe results in a smooth, sweet tea that is best served ice-cold. When it comes to serving and pairing suggestions, there are several options to consider.

First, Southern sweet tea can be served on its own with no additional accompaniments. This is the classic way to enjoy the tea and allows the flavor to be fully appreciated. However, if you want to get creative, there are some serving and pairing ideas that you can try.

One classic way to serve Southern sweet tea is by adding lemon slices or wedges. The acidity of the lemon cuts through the sweetness of the sugar and adds a tangy component to the drink. Additionally, mint leaves can be added to provide a refreshing twist.

If you’re looking for something stronger, Southern sweet tea goes well with bourbon, rum, or vodka. You can use sweet tea instead of soda water in your cocktail or mixing it with your desired spirit.

In terms of food pairings, Southern sweet tea complements savory dishes well – such as friend chicken, shrimp & grits, collard greens or fried okra- since it helps balance hearty flavors with its sweetness. It also makes an excellent complement to dessert options like peach cobbler or banana pudding.

Regardless of how you choose to serve and pair Southern sweet tea – make sure you serve it chilled according to recipe directions. Don’t forget a slice of lemon wedge on the side for garnish!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 The ultimate beverage to beat the Southern heat.
The ultimate beverage to beat the Southern heat.

When it comes to Southern Sweet Tea, making it ahead of time is a lifesaver, especially if you’re hosting a party or have a busy day ahead. The good news is that this tea recipe can be easily made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

To make ahead, follow the recipe instructions, and once the tea is brewed and sweetened, let it cool down to room temperature. Then transfer it into an airtight container like a pitcher or a mason jar and store it in the fridge for up to 48 hours.

Keep in mind that the tea can lose its freshness over time, so it’s best to make it just one or two days before serving. When ready to serve, give the tea a good stir with a wooden spoon or a long handle spoon and pour it over ice for that refreshing Southern touch.

If you have leftovers after serving, don’t panic. You can store them in an airtight container and refrigerate them for up to three days. To reheat the tea, simply pour it into a pot and heat it over medium-low heat until hot. Alternatively, you can reheat small amounts of tea in the microwave at 15-second intervals until hot.

It’s important to note that reheating the tea might change its taste slightly as some of the flavors can evaporate during heating. So, if possible, try to avoid reheating unless necessary.

In case you’re wondering whether you can freeze Southern Sweet Tea, we don’t recommend it as freezing might alter its taste and texture. However, if you still decide to freeze it, make sure you leave enough headspace in your container for expansion and defrost it slowly in the fridge before using.

Overall, Southern Sweet Tea is easy to make ahead of time and store for later use. With proper storage and reheating techniques, you can enjoy its smooth sweet taste even on busy days.

Tips for Perfect Results

 The refreshing drink that makes every meal complete.
The refreshing drink that makes every meal complete.

There’s nothing like a cold glass of Southern Sweet Tea on a hot summer day. I’ve been making this recipe for years, and I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to ensure that it turns out perfectly every time. Here are my top tips for making the best Southern Sweet Tea:

1. Use freshly brewed black tea: It’s important to use freshly brewed black tea for the best flavor. Avoid using instant tea or tea that has been sitting in the fridge for days. Brew the tea as close to serving time as possible to get the freshest taste.

2. Sweeten the tea while it’s hot: The best way to sweeten Southern Sweet Tea is by adding sugar to the hot tea before it cools down. This allows the sugar to dissolve completely and evenly and gives the tea a smooth, sweet taste.

3. Use cinnamon: Add a pinch of cinnamon to your brew for an extra depth of flavor that will take your Southern Sweet Tea to the next level.

4. Don’t forget baking soda: Adding a pinch of baking soda during boiling water helps remove any bitter flavor and achieve a smooth sweet tea taste.

5. Steep time is crucial: Do not over-steep your tea, steeping over 5 minutes can make it too strong and bitter.

6. Cool it down properly: Once you’ve sweetened your tea, let it cool down at room temperature before transferring it to the fridge if needed it iced immediately after brewing just fill with ice cubes and serve right away.

7. Clean your pot: Clean your pot thoroughly each time you make Southern Sweet Tea to prevent any residual tastes or flavors from lingering on future batches.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to make the best Southern Sweet Tea in town!


As with any recipe, there may be some questions that come up along the way. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about Southern Sweet Tea that will help you make the perfect batch every time.

What makes Southern sweet tea different?

Achieving the perfect flavor in southern-style sweet tea requires a delicate balance. It involves brewing the tea for an extended period, which yields a distinct astringent taste. This taste can only be offset by adding a generous amount of sweeteners. As a result of their taste preferences, southerners tend to prefer a sweeter version of sweet tea compared to folks up North.

What are the ingredients in Southern sweet tea?

Southern-style sweet tea is a refreshing beverage made from freshly brewed black tea that is sweetened with sugar while hot, then chilled until cold and served over a generous amount of ice.

Why do Southerners put baking soda in sweet tea?

Did you know that baking soda has a hidden talent? It can make your black tea taste smoother by neutralizing its tannins. But that’s not all, this nifty trick can also be used to get rid of the bitterness in green tea. All you need is a tiny pinch of baking soda added to your hot tea while it steeps.

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

When it comes to chilled tea, the principal discrepancy between sweet tea and iced tea lies in the sugar component. While both variants are served cold, sweet tea encompasses a generous dose of sugar that is absent in the non-sweetened iced tea. It is perceived that sweet tea is more prevalent in the South while the North seems to favor iced tea.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, whether you’re a born-and-raised Southerner or not, Southern Sweet Tea is a drink that is sure to impress family and friends alike. Once you taste the perfect balance of freshly brewed black tea and smooth sweet sugar, you’ll never go back to plain old iced tea again. This recipe for Southern Style Sweet Tea will make the best Southern Sweet Tea you’ve ever tasted. With just a few simple ingredients and some patience, you can easily create a cold and refreshing drink that’s perfect for hot summer days or any occasion year-round.

So go ahead and gather your ingredients today – I guarantee this recipe will quickly become a favorite in your household. And don’t forget to experiment with different variations and substitutions to make it uniquely yours. Whether served alongside a meal or enjoyed on its own, Southern Sweet Tea is an essential part of any foodie’s repertoire. So pour yourself a tall glass, sit back, relax, and enjoy this iconic beverage – Southern-style!

Southern Sweet Tea

Southern Sweet Tea Recipe

A southern sweet tea.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Beverage
Cuisine American
Calories 154.8 kcal


  • 3 lipton family-size tea bags (or luzianne tea bags)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 cups ice
  • 1 dash cinnamon


  • Take a medium sized pan and add your 6 cups of water and let it boil. While boiling add 1 dash of cinnamon. Once water come to boil, tie the 3 tea bags together and add to 1 gallon pitcher. Inside your pitcher should have the 3 tea bags and 2 cups of sugar.Pour the water into the gallon pitcher. Allow the tea to sit for 20 minutes. Then stir really good. Leave the tea bags in the pitcher but don't leave them in no longer than 8 hours.
  • Enjoy!

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 324gCalories: 154.8kcalCarbohydrates: 40gSodium: 8.9mgSugar: 39.9g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Beverages, Easy
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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