Cool Refreshment Guaranteed with Our Homemade Sweet Iced Tea

Southern Sweetened Iced Tea is the perfect drink on a hot summer day or to accompany any meal. As a chef specializing in southern-style cuisine, I understand the importance of a good sweet tea recipe. This recipe is the perfect blend of black tea and sugar, making it a true southern classic. Whether you’re from the south or not, there’s no denying the refreshing taste of a cold glass of sweet tea on a hot day.

I’ve perfected this recipe over the years, and it has become a staple in many households. This sweet tea recipe is easy to make and requires only a few ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. With my step-by-step instructions, even novice cooks can make southern sweet tea like a pro.

In this article, I will share with you my best southern sweet tea recipe along with all of my tips and tricks to ensure that your sweet tea turns out perfectly every time. So grab your pitcher and your favorite glasses because it’s time to make some delicious southern sweet tea!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern Sweetened Iced Tea
Southern Sweetened Iced Tea

As a chef specializing in southern-style cuisine, I know nothing beats the taste of a refreshing glass of southern sweet tea on a hot summer afternoon. That’s why today, I’m excited to share with you my recipe for Southern Sweetened Iced Tea, a classic beverage that is part of the soul of southern cooking.

This recipe is perfect for anyone looking to make the best Southern sweet tea. For starters, it includes just the right amount of sugar, making it perfectly sweet without being too overwhelming. If you prefer to reduce your sugar intake, you can easily swap some or all of it out for Splenda sugar substitute.

What makes this recipe even better is its simplicity. With only a handful of ingredients and straightforward instructions, anyone can make this perfect sweet iced tea at home. All you need is a few cups of boiling water, some tea bags, sugar (or an alternative), and baking soda to take away bitterness – easy!

If you’re new to southern-style sweet tea, then you’re in for a treat! This beverage is absolutely perfect for family picnics, pool days, or backyard BBQ gatherings. The combination of black tea and sugar creates an unquestionably Southern taste that quenches your thirst like no other drink.

And if you’re wondering what difference simple syrup makes – it’s simply amazing! By swapping cane sugar for simple syrup in our recipe southern sweet iced tea transforms it into one elegant & classy drink that’s sure to impress.

In summary, what sets our recipe apart from others out there is its authentic “Southernness.” This Southern-style sweet tea is as close as it gets to the real thing; it embodies the spirit of Southern hospitality and the warmth we love about Southern cooking. Once you try this recipe, you’ll never go back to your old way of making iced tea. So go ahead and give it a try; after all, there’s no such thing as too much sweet tea when it comes to Southern hospitality!

Ingredient List

 Enjoy a glass of our refreshing Southern Sweetened Iced Tea!
Enjoy a glass of our refreshing Southern Sweetened Iced Tea!

Ingredients for Southern Sweetened Iced Tea Recipe

  • Tea bags: 12 black tea bags
  • Water: 8 cups of water to make the tea, 6 cups of cold water
  • Sugar: 2 cups of sugar to give you that southern sweet taste. If you want, you can substitute part or all of the sugar with Splenda sugar substitute.
  • Baking soda: A pinch (1/8 teaspoon) of baking soda (optional), it helps to reduce the bitterness of over-brewed tea.

Recipe Ingredients 1x:

  • 12 black tea bags
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Pinch of baking soda (optional)

Recipe Ingredients 2x:

  • 24 black tea bags
  • 16 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar
    -¼ tsp baking soda

Recipe Ingredients 3x:

  • 36 black tea bags
    -24 cups water
    -6 cups sugar
    -⅜ tspbaking soda

Tea bags

For this recipe, I use standard-sized tea bags, but you can use family-size tea bags or loose leaf tea instead. Any black tea variety works well in this recipe, but Lipton is the classic choice for a southern-style sweet tea.


You will need two different measurements of water for this recipe. First, bring 8 cups of water to a boil to brew the black tea. After brewing the tea, you’ll add an additional 6 cups of cold water to dilute and cool down the hot brewed tea.


Use your preferred brand of granulated white sugar for this recipe. For achieving the best Southern Sweet flavor, use 2 cups per gallon (that’s about one hundred and twenty-five grams per liter). You can adjust the sugar amount according to your preference. If you want to cut down the sugar intake, substitute part or all of the sugar with Splenda sugar substitute. Keep in mind that Splenda may give a slightly different taste.

Baking soda

Baking soda is an optional ingredient that helps to reduce the bitterness of over-brewed tea. Adding just a pinch (1/8 teaspoon) of baking soda to your recipe will make your tea even smoother and less bitter.

The Recipe How-To

 Sip on a taste of the South with every sip.
Sip on a taste of the South with every sip.

Once you have assembled your ingredients, it is time to start making the Southern Sweetened Iced Tea. Here is the step-by-step guide to achieve a perfect southern-style sweet tea.

Step 1: Boiling Water and Steeping the Tea

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Once boiling, remove the pot from heat and add 6 black tea bags. Allow them to steep for about 5 minutes until the tea is dark and strong.

Step 2: Adding Sugar and Baking Soda

After removing the tea bags, stir in 1 ½ cups of sugar while the water is still hot. Then, add a pinch of baking soda (optional) which will help reduce any bitterness in the tea. Give it a good stir to make sure that all sugar dissolves.

Step 3: Diluting with Cold Water

Pour in 8 cups of cold water into your sweetened tea mixture. Stir to combine.

Step 4: Refrigerating and Serving

Remove your southern sweet tea from heat and allow it to cool at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Then, transfer it into a gallon container and refrigerate until chilled.

Your Southern Sweet Tea is now ready, serve over ice cubes or crushed ice and garnish with a slice of lemon if desired.

Enjoy sipping on this refreshing, homemade southern delight!

Substitutions and Variations

 Cool down on a hot day with this sweet and delicious tea.
Cool down on a hot day with this sweet and delicious tea.

When it comes to making Southern Sweetened Iced Tea, there are several ways to adjust the recipe to suit your taste. Here are some substitutions and variations to try:

– Sugar Substitutes: If you are looking for a healthier alternative to sugar, Splenda sugar substitute can be used in place of cups of sugar. Keep in mind that the taste may differ from using regular sugar.

– Black Tea Bags: While black tea is the typical choice for Southern Sweetened Iced Tea, you can use different varieties such as green tea, white tea or even a fruity herbal tea if you prefer. Just note that the flavor profiles will change depending on your tea selection.

– Sweetening: To sweeten up your tea, add a pinch of baking soda while boiling the water. It might seem odd but this trick helps neutralize any bitterness in the tea.

– Homemade Flavored Syrups: Add flavoring by making simple syrup with flavors like mint, thyme or even lavender to give your Southern Sweetened Iced Tea an added depth of taste.

– Mason Jar Cold Brew: For those who don’t want to boil water during hot summer months, skip the traditional hot brewing method and try opting for a mason jar cold brew method where you fill up mason jars with iced water and tea bags then let them sit in your refrigerator overnight.

– Unsweet Tea: Finally, if you prefer an unsweet tea option – simply remove the sugar/baking soda mixture from the recipe ingredients; without sweeteners, it’s still a delicious Southern-style sweet tea that can be served on its own or with lemon!

Serving and Pairing

 A classic sweet tea recipe that will hit the spot.
A classic sweet tea recipe that will hit the spot.

Ah, sweet tea, the nectar of the Southern gods. Nothing beats a cold glass of this refreshing drink on a hot summer day. But what to serve with it? Well, let me enlighten you.

First off, let’s talk about how to serve sweet tea. Traditional Southern sweet tea is always served over ice, and you can add a lemon wedge or mint sprig for some extra pizzazz. For an extra special touch, try freezing some sweet tea into ice cubes and adding those to your glass instead of regular ice cubes. This way, as the cubes melt, they’ll keep your tea nice and cold without diluting it.

Now that we’ve got the serving down pat, let’s talk about pairing. In general, sweet tea pairs best with lighter fare – think salads, sandwiches, and grilled chicken or fish. That being said, it’s also delicious with more indulgent foods like burgers and fries. It’s all about balance!

If you’re feeling particularly Southern, try pairing your sweet tea with some classic regional dishes like fried chicken, macaroni and cheese or collard greens. There’s just something about that combination that hits all the right notes.

Finally, if you’re feeling fancy, try making a cocktail with your sweet tea – it makes an excellent base for all sorts of libations. A little bit of bourbon and some fresh mint can turn a glass of sweet tea into a refreshing summer sipper.

So there you have it – everything you need to know about serving and pairing Southern sweet tea. Whether you’re enjoying it by itself or with some tasty food or drink accompaniments on the side, this drink will always be a crowd pleaser in any social gathering!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 This tea is the perfect companion for your summer BBQ.
This tea is the perfect companion for your summer BBQ.

One of the greatest things about Southern Sweetened Iced Tea is that it can be made in advance and stored for later. It’s also the perfect beverage to serve at picnics and barbecues.

If you’re making a large batch of this tea ahead of time, once it’s finished brewing, simply remove the tea bags and allow the tea to cool completely. Once cooled, transfer it to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

When it comes to reheating Southern Sweetened Iced Tea, you can do so in a couple of ways. One way is to heat it up on the stove using low heat until it reaches your desired temperature. Another way is to use a microwave-safe container and heating it on high for 1-2 minutes. Be sure to stir after heating, as the sugar may have settled at the bottom.

When storing leftover sweet tea, you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days before it starts to lose its flavor. If you find yourself with leftover sweetened iced tea that’s been sitting around for too long, you can freeze it into ice cubes. These cubes would be perfect for adding a sweet tea twist to your lemonade or even bourbon cocktails!

In summary, Southern Sweetened Iced Tea is a versatile refreshment that can be easily made ahead of time and reheated when needed. With these storage and reheating tips, your sweet tea always be ready when you are.

Tips for Perfect Results

 A tea that's sweet as a Georgia peach.
A tea that’s sweet as a Georgia peach.

To make the perfect Southern sweet iced tea, follow these tips and tricks:

1. Boil water before steeping tea bags:

To extract the most flavor out of your tea bags, use boiling water. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, then add your black tea bags for the best results.

2. Adjust sugar to your preference:

Add sugar hot to level up the sweetness of your tea, or use Splenda sugar substitute if you want to cut down on calories. Start with a small amount and add more as you go – just remember that it’s easier to sweeten more than to un-sweeten!

3. Don’t forget the baking soda:

As odd as it might sound, adding a pinch of baking soda can help reduce bitterness and balance the flavors of your Southern sweet iced tea.

4. Steeping time matters:

The longer your tea bags steep, the stronger the flavor will be. Depending on how strong you want your brew, let it steep for anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.

5. Chill before serving:

Once you’ve brewed your Southern sweet iced tea, allow it to cool down in the fridge before serving over ice. This will prevent any dilution from melting ice cubes and result in a perfectly refreshing drink.

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to make a delicious glass of Southern sweet iced tea every time!


Now that you know all about the Southern Sweetened Iced Tea, it’s time to address some frequently asked questions. These are common concerns or areas where readers may need some clarity to ensure their sweet tea comes out perfectly every time. So, let’s dive in and answer a few questions about making the perfect Southern Style Sweet Tea!

What are the ingredients in Southern sweet tea?

Southern-style sweet tea is a thirst-quenching beverage made by combining hot brewed black tea with sugar to create a deliciously sweet taste. Once cooled down and chilled, the tea is then poured over ice for a refreshing drink to beat the sweltering heat of the southern sun.

What makes Southern sweet tea different?

Achieving the perfect flavor balance is crucial, especially when brewing a long and strong tea that tends to be too astringent. To counteract this, a generous amount of sweetness must be added. It’s worth noting that Southerners tend to prefer a much sweeter taste compared to those from the North.

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

Although iced tea and sweet tea are both served chilled, the one thing that distinguishes the two is the addition of sugar in sweet tea. In the North, people are more likely to go for plain iced tea while in the South, sweet tea is more popularly consumed.

Why is Southern iced tea so sweet?

When it comes to sweetening tea, adding sugar while it’s piping hot is the key to achieving that perfect sweetness. Each grain of sugar dissolves easily into the liquid, resulting in a delectable, balanced taste. The quantity of sugar may differ between regions, but the crucial factor is that the tea be at a high temperature when mixed with the sugar.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Southern Sweetened Iced Tea recipe is a perfect addition to any warm weather get-together or for just enjoying by yourself on a hot summer’s day. The recipe is easy to follow and requires only a few basic ingredients. It can be easily customized to suit your preferences by utilizing the substitution and variation recommendations provided.

With this recipe, you can make the perfect Southern sweet tea with just the right balance of sweetness and tea flavor. Be sure to use high-quality black tea bags to get that authentic Southern taste.

So, why not break out your favorite pitcher and start brewing up some delightful iced tea? I guarantee that once you try this recipe, it’ll become a staple in your recipe collection for years to come. Get ready to impress your friends and family with the best glass of sweet iced tea they’ve ever tasted!

Southern Sweetened Iced Tea

Southern Sweetened Iced Tea Recipe

The best way to get great iced tea - something the South is known for. Not heating the water prevents bitterness.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Beverage
Cuisine American
Calories 193.5 kcal


  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 family sized tea bags (preferably a cold brew variety)
  • 1 cup sugar or 1 cup Splenda sugar substitute
  • ice


  • Fill a 2 qt pitcher (that's pitcha in the South) about halfway up with ice.
  • Clip the clothespin onto the side of the pitcher and"hang" the tea bags through it (keeps the paper from getting in the tea and makes the bags easier to retrieve- you don't want to be seen with your hand in the pitcher here in the South).
  • Pour the sugar or Splenda on top of the ice cubes and now fill the pitcher up with water.
  • Let sit about an hour, pull out tea bags and serve.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 352gCalories: 193.5kcalCarbohydrates: 50gSodium: 9.5mgSugar: 50g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Beverages, Easy, No-Cook, Weeknight
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recommended Recipes Just For You

None found