This Southern Sweet Tea recipe is smooth, sweet, and delicious! It includes tried-and-true tips for how to make sweet tea that everyone loves! Includes Sweet Tea Concentrate!
If you have ever been fortunate enough to enjoy an ice-cold glass of Southern sweet tea, then friends, you will know what I’m talking about when I say that there is good tea and then there is a great tea. My Grandmother Verdie made the absolute best sweet tea that I have ever tasted. After years of watching and asking her a million questions, she taught me her secrets for how to make the best sweet tea. I haven’t looked back since.
Southern Sweet Tea Recipe
There are a few tips and tricks that you’ll need to know to make this tea.
- Use tea specially blended for iced tea. Southern sweet tea is an iced tea, meaning that it is tea made to be served over ice. Some brands that are preferred for iced tea are Red Diamond, Luzianne, Lipton, and Tetley. Look for markings on the package to say that it is specially made for iced tea.
- Don’t burn your tea. Here’s what that means. You should bring your water to a boil, remove it from the heat and then add your tea bags. This prevents the tea from burning and becoming bitter.
- Steeping matters. Allow your tea to steep for 15 minutes.
- Add a little baking soda. This can be controversial. But hear me out. The baking soda prevents the tea from becoming cloudy and bitter. If you know that you will be drinking a gallon of tea in one day, you can skip the baking soda. If you think you’ll have some leftover to refrigerate, then definitely try it with the baking soda. It makes all the difference.
How to Make Southern Sweet Tea
Sweet Tea Ingredients
Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full listing of ingredients, instructions, notes, and estimated nutritional information.
- tea bags
- baking soda (optional)
- Boil. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium saucepan or a tea kettle over medium heat.
- Steep. Remove from the heat and drop the tea bags into the water. Allow the tea bags to steep for 15 minutes.
- Sweeten. As your tea is steeping, add your sugar to your pitcher. Remove the tea bags from the saucepan or kettle and press them against the side of the saucepan or kettle to press out as much of the tea as possible before discarding them. Pour half of the tea into the pitcher over the sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and then pour in the remaining tea.
- Stir in the baking soda and then fill the pitcher the rest of the way with fresh, cold water. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.
How to Make Sweet Tea Concentrate
Similar to my lemonade concentrate, I love to make sweet tea concentrate! The concentrate requires less room in my refrigerator, is easier to transport when traveling, and is great to make ahead and keep on hand! My Grandmother Verdie would have LOVED this for her taking to reunions, church suppers, and family dinners!
Boil. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and drop in tea bags.
Steep. Let steep for 15 minutes.
Sweeten. Add your sugar to a 1-quart, large-mouth Mason jar or similar container. Remove the tea bags, carefully pressing the bags against the side of the saucepan before discarding them. Pour a little of the tea into the Mason jar and stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour in the remaining tea.
Stir. Add in the baking soda and stir well to combine.
Store. Tighten the lid onto the Mason jar and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
How to Serve from Concentrate
One recipe makes 16 individual servings or is enough for a gallon of tea!
Single serving. Add 1/4 cup of concentrate to a glass. Top with ice and 3/4 cup of cold water. Stir to combine.
Gallon. Pour all of the concentrate into a gallon pitcher and fill it with cold water. Stir to combine.
Here’s my Southern Sweet Tea recipe. I hope you love it as much as my family always has.
Southern Sweet Tea Recipe
- 4-5 family-size tea bags
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups sugar
- 1 pinch baking soda, (optional)
- Boil. Bring 1 quart of water to boil in a medium saucepan or tea kettle set over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the tea bags. Allow to steep for about 15 minutes. Do not allow the tea to become cold.
- Sweeten. In a gallon pitcher, add the sugar and pour in about 1/2 of the warm tea. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour in the remainder of the brewed tea, being careful not to drop in tea bags.
- Stir. Add baking soda and stir to combine. If serving immediately baking soda may not be needed.
- Serve. Fill the pitcher with cold water and serve over ice. Great with a wedge of lemon, lime, orange or a sprig of mint.
Sweet Tea Concentrate
- Boil. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and drop in tea bags.
- Sweeten. Add sugar to a 1-quart, wide-mouthed Mason jar or similar container. Remove the tea bags, carefully pressing the bags against the side of the saucepan before discarding them. Pour a little of the tea over the sugar, stirring until completely dissolved. Pour in the remaining tea.
- Stir. Stir in the baking soda and stir to combine.
- Store. Tighten the lid of the container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Serve. To serve a single serving, add 1/4 cup concentrate to a glass and top with ice and 3/4 cup water. Stir to combine. To serve a gallon, add all of the concentrate to a gallon pitcher and top with water. Stir to combine.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.