A tall glass of cold Southern Sweet Tea over ice is a staple here in the south. My simple recipe is quick and easy to brew.
When ordering sweet tea in a restaurant, we don’t have to save we want iced tea, that part is understood. We do feel the need to clarify that we want sweet as opposed to unsweetened tea, however.
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How sweet should sweet tea be?
A good southern sweet tea recipe is typically too sweet for most folks from other parts of the country. Actually, it is usually too sweet for me too. But the short answer is, as sweet as you like it.
That can present a problem if you are making tea for others. A good rule of thumb is never to add less than one cup of sugar to a 2-quart pitcher of tea.
No Simple Syrup
Much like my Homemade Lemonade Recipe, my traditional southern sweet tea recipe does not require a simple syrup. I also mix the tea and sugar in the pitcher and not in the saucepan.
Simple Ingredients for a sweet iced tea recipe
Family-size tea bags are slightly larger than regular tea bags. You want to use the family size tea bags for brewing enough tea to make a large pitcher of tea. Black tea is the most popular and best for a pitcher of sweet iced tea. The brand you use is a personal decision. Personally, I use this brand for my family.
Granulated Sugar is the most common and preferred ingredient for sweetening tea the southern way. In recent years, folks have begun to use artificial sweetener and you can certainly do that. I won’t tell. I may have used some Truvia from time to time myself but it is an expensive sweetener. True southerners stick with granulated sugar.
Water. Good old-fashioned tap water is fine. You are going to boil it.
- 3 Family size tea bags, Luzianne black tea
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, preferably Dixie Crystals
- a pinch of baking soda (optional)
- Lemon slices (optional)
- sprig of mint (optional)
- 1 gallon pitcher, my favorite is this one gallon Tupperware pitcher
- Medium Saucepan for boiling the water
- Wooden spoon for stirring the tea
These directions are for making a 2 quart pitcher of tea.
Bring about 4 cups of water to a full rolling boil and remove from heat. Place about 3 family size tea bags into the water and cover with a lid.
Allow the tea to steep for about 10 minutes. You can shorten that time if you prefer weaker tea.
Add the sugar to your pitcher. Remove the tea bags from the saucepan and pour the hot tea into the pitcher. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add enough water to finish filling the tea pitcher all the way and stir again.
If you want to add that pinch of baking soda, add it with the hot tea before the stirring begins.
My Momma always said that a pinch of soda would keep the tea from being bitter. Some people add it and others do not. When I was a restaurant manager, we never added soda to our tea and I don’t do it at my house.
Place the pitcher of tea in the refrigerator to cool. Serve and enjoy.
How long should tea steep for making sweet tea?
The longer you allow the tea to steep, the stronger it will be. Begin with about 5 minutes for tea that isn’t strong
Southern Sweet Tea Recipe
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 family size tea bags
- 4 cups water
- 1 pinch of soda (optional)
- 1 Lemon, sliced (optional)
- Bring about 4 cups of water to a full rolling boil and remove from heat.
- Place about 3 family size tea bags into the water and cover with a lid.
- Allow the tea to steep for about 10 minutes. You can shorten that time if you prefer weaker tea.
- Add the sugar to your pitcher. Remove the tea bags from the saucepan and pour the hot tea into the pitcher. Now is the time to add pinch of baking soda if you are using it.
- Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add enough tap water to finish filling the tea pitcher all the way and stir again.
- Place the pitcher of tea in the refrigerator to cool. Serve in a glass filled with ice. Lemon slices and sprigs of mint are optional for serving.
Here in the deep south, sweet tea is a symbol of hospitality. Back in the old days, folks would sit on their front porch in the evening on a hot day and chat while sharing a glass of sweet tea.
Can’t you just picture those scenes in old movies? They always have southerners fanning themselves while sweating on the front porch and sipping sweet tea.
My friend Rita from Harbour Breeze Home has a new delicious recipe for a cool drink on a hot summer day, Nescafe Frappe.