Southern Sweet Tea

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Southern Sweet TeaIf you grew up anywhere besides the South, you might have been taught that iced tea is seasonal…only for the summer months.  Your mom probably brewed it in a pitcher bathing in the hot sun on your back porch, then served it unsweetened.  I remember my mom doing this, and I loved it.

It wasn’t until the fall of 2000, when I moved down south to college, that I was introduced to sweet tea.  It was by accident.  I ordered iced tea at a restaurant and when I took my first sip I had quite the unexpected sweetened surprise!  Sugary tea?  No thanks!  I quickly tracked down my server and ordered something else to drink.

I can’t remember exactly what converted me.  I don’t even recall my second encounter with sweet tea.  Did I feel forced to “fit in” and keep trying it until I liked it?  Did I continue accidentally ordering it and tasting it until I liked it?  I have no idea, but somehow, for some reason, it didn’t take long to adapt to the new-to-me version of iced tea and I never went back.

One of my best friends, who I get to visit at least once a year in Tennessee, always makes sure to serve me sweet tea when I’m there.  She shared her recipe with me, and I’ve adapted it to our tastes.  We use the decaf Lipton tea bags, but you can use caffeinated and whatever brand you like.

Fortunately, Ben grew up with sweet tea so that was a natural attraction for us when we met.  😉  We drink it all year, and almost always have it in our fridge.  That’s another thing I quickly learned:  Sweet tea is not seasonal, it’s favorable every month of the year, every week of the month and every day of the week.  Lesson learned.  Lesson loved.

Southern Sweet Tea

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Total Time: 21 minutes

Yield: 1 gallon sweet tea

Serving Size: 1 cup tea

Southern Sweet Tea

  • 1 gallon (16 cups) water
  • 4 family sized (16 individual sized) tea bags (I use Lipton decaf, or Luzianne)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar

In a large stock pot, bring the water to boil over high heat. Turn off the burner and add tea bags. Cover and steep for 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour desired amount of sugar into a gallon-sized pitcher. When the tea is done steeping, pour into the pitcher and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Serve immediately into a glass full of ice. Store in the fridge.

*Note - Recipe can be halved.


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  1. Now THAT is how to make sweet tea! I’ve seen recipes that call for making a simple syrup, but it’s totally unnecessary and always tastes overdone to me. In a pinch, you can run it through the microwave, too.

  2. Please tell me you’ve seen this… If not, enjoy! 🙂

  3. Always a pitcher in the refrigerator in this house! I love adding a sprig of mint to it in the summertime. Also, Arnold Palmers. Half sweet-tea, half lemonade. Heavenly!

  4. I’m from the south and live in the south, and there’s nothing better than a glass of sweet tea with a lemon served at dinner! Lipton IS the BEST brand for Sweet Tea!!! Glad you’ve converted 🙂

  5. I dragged my husband north to NJ from NC. I will have to make this for him soon 🙂

  6. Love sweet tea! We definitely drink it all year here in TN and its so funny how being from the south we find it odd when restaurants only serve unsweet. I definitely like mine super sweet!:) surprisingly I’ve never made it at home as I always just drink it when we are out as a special treat. I’ll definitely have to try making it myself! Great post!

  7. Malissa Lamon says:

    I am a true southerner born and bred..;0) My recipe for sweet tea is to put the bags into water before boiling and turn heat to medium. After they begin to boil then cut the heat off and allow to steep uncovered for 15 min then add to picture of 1 1/2 cups of sugar then fill to desired level of water.

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