Southern Sweet Iced Tea Recipe | Best Southern Sweet Tea Recipe | Old Fashioned Southern Sweet Tea

5 from 3 votes

What is Southern Sweet Tea?: If you are familiar with iced tea then you should have definitely heard about sweet tea. It is a variety of iced tea commonly consumed in the United States, especially in the Southern United States and hence popularly known as Southern Sweet Tea. Whenever you have heard of sweet tea it is almost the bottled version of the tea people go for. This is a cool recipe you would love to make every summer at your home. Sweet tea is something more than just adding sugar to a glass of iced tea. It is made by adding sugar to bags of tea brewing in hot water while the mixture is still hot, so that the sugar can be easily dissolved. It is saturating the tea with sucrose. Baking soda is an optional ingredient which is often used to reduce the drink’s acidity. Just a pinch of baking soda makes a large difference in a pitcher of freshly brewed sweet tea as it neutralizes the tannins in the tea, giving it a smoother taste and thus reducing the bitterness of the tea. Traditionally it is served ice-cold, only with sugar. Chilling your tea changes and improves the flavor of tea. It may also be flavored with lemon, mint, peach or raspberry. Simply pour the tea over ice cubes and drink it straight or add mint leaves or lemon wedges. Want to know the history of Sweet Tea?: There is a sweet history about this sweet tea. Sweet tea began its journey as a luxury item due to the expensive nature of tea, ice and sugar. Ice was the most valued of ingredients then, as it had to be shipped from afar unlike modern times where it can be made in large quantities very quickly. It is said that the oldest known recipe for sweet iced tea was published in 1879 in a cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree. This recipe was mostly brewed using green tea, however during World War II, the major sources of green tea were cut off from the United States. This led Americans drinking predominantly black tea. Sweet tea was once consumed as a punch mixed with hard liquor with flavorings of mint and cream as well. Also, in 2003, supposedly as an April fool’s joke, the Georgia House introduced a bill making it a "...misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature" to sell iced tea in a restaurant that did not also offer sweet iced tea on the menu. However, the bill never went to a vote. Are you are now curious to know how to make this simple yet refreshing tea?: If you are making the tea for the first time, then start with this recipe and adjust according to your taste. Whether you steep the tea for longer duration or squeeze the bags to make it even stronger or add some flavorings, you are going to love your sweet tea the way you want it. This recipe yields approximately 2 quarts of tea. The preparation will be ready in 30 minutes and then it goes inside the refrigerator for chilling. It is best when refrigerated for 4 to 5 hours or overnight. The flavor improves a lot when refrigerated. Equipment Required: - Small sauce pan - Long handled spoon - Large pitcher or multiple small pitchers - Glass bowls big enough just to brew the tea
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Served AsBeverages
Servings 2


  • 7 regular tea bags
  • 7 regular tea bags
  • 2 cup boiling water
  • 1 to 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 6 cup cold water Note 1 cup = 240 ml


  • Keep the ingredients ready.
    Southern Sweet Iced Tea Recipe | Best Southern Sweet Tea Recipe | Old Fashioned Southern Sweet Tea - Plattershare - Recipes, food stories and food lovers
  • Bring 2 cups of water to a bubbling boil in a saucepan and remove it from the heat.
    Southern Sweet Iced Tea Recipe | Best Southern Sweet Tea Recipe | Old Fashioned Southern Sweet Tea - Plattershare - Recipes, food stories and food lovers
  • Add a pinch of baking soda to the bowl containing the tea bags and pour this boiling water over the tea bags and baking soda.
    Southern Sweet Iced Tea Recipe | Best Southern Sweet Tea Recipe | Old Fashioned Southern Sweet Tea - Plattershare - Recipes, food stories and food lovers
  • Close the glass bowl immediately and allow it to steep for 15 minutes.
  • Take out the tea bags.
  • Pour the tea mixture into a pitcher and stir sugar using a long handled spoon until dissolved.
  • Add in the cold water.
  • Once the mixture is completely cooled, refrigerate it at least for 5 hours or overnight.
  • Serve your southern sweet tea over ice cubes. Additionally add a sprig of mint leaves or lemon slices. The southern sweet iced tea can be kept refrigerated for about a week and can be relished.


  • For a stronger tea let the tea steep for more than 15 minutes up to an hour or two.
  • If you prefer more sweet you can increase the measurement of sugar.
  • To make Arnold Palmers or Swamo water: Mix equal parts of lemonade and sweet tea and serve.
  • To make sparkling sweet tea cocktail: Add a shot of your favorite liquor, and then pour the sweet tea over it and serve.
  • You can use sweet tea as a marinade on your sea food dishes or add it in your baked goods.
  • You can also make lot of variations like Cherry Ginger infused sweet tea, Blackberry sweet tea etc., as per your creativity and choice.
About the author: Rajeswari Annamalai, home chef and self-taught baker, has unconditional love towards cooking since her childhood.She has done masters in computer science and led various IT projects but her passion for food and love for travelling made her taste the food across the world. Inspired by her elders, She tries various cuisines in her kitchen and her 10-year-old daughter is her biggest critic who motivates her to recreate the recipes. She loves to make recipes in a healthier way as she believes that “Happy Healthy life means happy next generation”. You can follow Rajeswari and her healthy recipes on her Plattershare profile.

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