Southern Sweet Tea Recipe

No matter what you say, store-bought iced tea doesn't have the same great taste as homemade Southern sweet tea. It just doesn't! This beverage is the ideal drink to enjoy all summer long. The sweet, refreshing taste makes those sweltering summer months bearable.

Recipe developer and health coach Miriam Hahn brings us this recipe for Southern sweet tea. She tells us "I love to serve this at summer barbecues, brunches, or casual lunches where you want something extra special. Once you have the base tea recipe you can get creative with the garnishes. It is even fun to have garnish bowls and straws so your guests can add what they like to their tea. "

Hahn suggests "you can keep the tea in the fridge for up to a week. Because of this, it makes for a great addition to your weekly meal prep. Brew a batch of sweet tea over the weekend to enjoy all week long."

Gather your ingredients for Southern sweet tea

To make this Southern sweet tea, you can start by gathering your ingredients. For this recipe, you'll need water, black tea bags, cane sugar, baking soda, mint, and lemon.

Boil half the water and chill the remaining water

Pour half of the water, about 8 cups, into a large iced tea pitcher and place it in the fridge to chill. Pour the remaining water into a large pot. Place this pot on the stovetop and bring it to a boil. Wondering why you need to separate the water? You use the hot water to brew the tea, then you cool the tea down with the cold water from the fridge.

Add the tea and a surprising ingredient

Once the water is boiling, add the tea bags to brew the tea. At the same time, add in the baking soda. Hahn says this peculiar addition "helps to remove any bitterness from the black tea, making it taste extra smooth!" Who knew this handy tip?

Steep the tea, then add the sugar

Remove the pot from the heat and allow the tea bags to steep for 6 minutes. Hahn adds "it is also important not to over-steep the tea. It is a strong tea and only needs about 6 minutes to release its flavors into the water." Then, remove the tea bags from the tea and add the sugar. Give the mixture a good stir so the sugar dissolves.

Cool the tea and serve with garnishes

Let the tea cool for about 10 minutes. Then, add the tea to the iced tea pitcher with cold water to further cool down the mixture. When you're ready to serve, pour the tea into glasses with ice. Then, garnish with mint leaves and sliced lemons, if desired. Hahn adds "pairing the sweet tea with the fresh mint and lemon balances out the sweetness and makes for a very refreshing drink. I have also garnished it with fresh berries and basil."

Southern Sweet Tea Recipe
5 from 32 ratings
Sure, you can buy pre-made iced tea at the store, but it just doesn't hold a candle to the sweet and smooth taste of this southern sweet tea recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
iced tea pitcher with lemons
Total time: 15 minutes
  • 1 gallon filtered water
  • 12 black tea bags
  • 1 ½ cups cane sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
Optional Ingredients
  • Fresh mint, for garnish
  • Lemons, for garnish
  1. Fill a large ice tea jar with the filtered water. Pour half of it into a large pot and bring to a boil. Put the ice tea jar with the remaining water in it, in the fridge.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the tea bags and baking soda.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and let this steep for 6 minutes.
  4. Remove the tea bags and add the sugar. Stir until it dissolves.
  5. Let the tea cool for 10 minutes, then pour it into the ice tea jar with the cold water.
  6. Serve over ice with mint and lemon, if desired.
Calories per Serving 69
Total Fat 0.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 17.8 g
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g
Total Sugars 17.6 g
Sodium 37.7 mg
Protein 0.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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