Southern Sweet Tea Recipe



There’s one thing I love during summer time and it’s sweet tea. There’s just something about that sweet cold drink that calls my name in the summer afternoons!

It might also be influence slightly by my addiction to Duck Dynasty.

Also I realize summer’s almost over here in the USA, however I’m still enjoying this as the warm days wind down!

Anyway, after spending way too much on gallon jugs of the concoction at our local BBQ restaurant, I decided to give it a shot and make my own.

It’s surprisingly easy to make.

If you don’t like sugar, please stop reading now.


  • 3–6 of your favorite tea bags. (I used large Lipton bags, so we used 3 of them, but if you’re using the smaller 1” tea bags you’ll want more like 4-6 depending on how strong you like your tea.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pitcher half full of ice cubes
  • Water
  • Sauce pot


Heat up about 4 cups of water until boiling and then set tea bags into the water and let steep for about 5-10 minutes depending on how strong you like your tea.



While tea is steeping, mix 1 cup sugar with about a half a cup of water and stir well to dilute the sugar.



Next fill a pitcher about half way full of ice cubes and set aside.

Wait patiently as your delicious concoction brews…



After tea is done steeping, remove tea bags and then stir in the sugar mixture. Stir well to assure sugar is fully dissolved.

Taste the tea mixture to make sure it is okay,  you may need to add a pinch more sugar to taste. You’ll want to do this while the tea is still warm though so it dissolves adequately.



Finally pour your tea mixture over ice and then fill pitcher the rest of the way full with cold water. Pour into your favorite cup and enjoy!



Tip from the Trenches: I’ve noticed this tea tastes a little “odd” after about 2-3 days. I think the sugar starts doing something in there, but I can’t prove anything.

Just know that if you don’t think you can drink a full batch in a couple days you might consider halving the recipe :o)

Hope you enjoy this recipe!

Have a great summer or fall drink recipe to share? Make sure to leave a comment below!


  1. Mmmm I LOVE homemade iced tea!! Will try this recipe…I like putting some lemon slices in for a little zip of flavor….can also try different flavours of decaf teas, like Raspberry, or blueberry…have fun with it!

  2. I can’t wait to try this!!!!

  3. This is pretty close to how I make sweet tea for my family except I don’t put it over ice. A pitcher (1 gallon) last a day around here as that is all I drink.

  4. Delicious sweet tea! That’s the way I make it also except I use 1 1/2 cups of sugar

    • I make mine with 1 1/2 cups sugar too. 1 cup just wouldn’t be Southern sweet tea to me! 🙂

      • I am from the South and when I was growing up we used 2 cups of sugar to one gallon! As I got older we cut down. We never poured it over ice while making it, but just put ice in our glasses.

        • I make it with 2 cups of sugar and don’t pour it over ice. I end up making it everyday. With 5 family members, we go through the tea!

          • The last few years I have been making it over ice. That’s how my husband liked it so i started doing it. It;s good.
            WE can’t keep tea long at all.

  5. If you add 1/8 tsp of Baking Soda to your tea bags while they are just beginning to steep, you will get rid of any after taste. May help with the “odd” taste you are having after 2-3 days. My Granny taught me this trick, best Southern cook in the South! 🙂

  6. Annette Withrow says:

    Making sure it is refrigerated will keep it fresh longer. Should be good for more than 2-3 days. Leaving it out (even overnight) it will start to “sour” and will taste pretty nasty. ;-). And if you wanted, you could leave out the whole step of dissolving the sugar separately and just add it to your hot brewed tea after you remove your tea bags. Hey, I’m all about less dishes to wash! Haha
    A follower from the south 🙂

  7. I do something similar, but add a can of frozen lemonade concentrate to it. It’s called ‘sweet nectar’ around my house 🙂

    boil 6 cups water
    remove from heat, add 7 tea bags, let sit for 15 minutes
    remove tea bags, stir in 1 cup sugar, one can frozen lemonade, 8 cups water


    And now I’m off to look through all your latest posts 🙂

  8. I love sweet tea and your photos are terrific! I think it’s really important to dissolve the sugar in the tea when it is hot so you don’t have any granules. Sometimes I make a simple syrup with fresh mint and use it to sweeten the tea. It’s very refreshing.

  9. Try making a simple syrup instead of just adding the sugar: boil sugar in water until the bubbles go all the way to the top (that’s the important part–it isn’t syrup if you don’t wait for it) and add it in to the tea. I don’t know if it’ll extend the fridge life, but it improves the flavor.
    As for me, I use four Luzianne teabags and one herbal mint teabag, and one cup of sugar per gallon of tea. Mmmm, refreshing!

    Being from the south, I never really thought of a sweet tea recipe. It’s just something that’s almost always in the fridge, at least in hot weather!

  10. If you only want a half gallon at a time, try making it using the method described here, except add your sugar directly to the hot tea. Once it’s all mixed up, measure out half and freeze! Next time you want tea, you will have a nice cold half gallon pretty quickly (especially if you freeze the concentrate in an ice cube tray).

  11. awww love this! We are literally on our way back home on our flight to Cali from Outer Banks NC and I am already misses Sweet Tea!!! I thought I ordered my last one at the airport!

    Thanks for this,

  12. Ahhh, this makes me laugh! Being from Alabama I guess I’ve made sweet tea since I was little and never even knew there was a “recipe”! You don’t have to make a simple syrup, just pour the hot tea over the sugar before you add the rest of the water to fill your pitcher and stir before and after. And if you bring your water to boiling, your tea will be bitter, so once you heat the water to steaming, add your tea bags then, when there are no bubbles. I’ve never measured sugar amounts in my life, so I can’t help there. Tea “sours” after about a day and a half…that’s why it tasted funny. Luzianne tea is the best.

  13. Oh wow! This is my favorite drink!!!! I’m from South Carolina so this was made daily in my home growing up. My mom used 2 CUPS of sugar! YES—2 CUPS! They no longer drink it (mostly all water now) but I do… But with 1 cup! :)I’m not sure what I would do without my sweet tea. We can’t keep tea in the house because we would never drink water…. 🙂

  14. Kristin Johnson says:

    Love sweet tea and have started drinking it more since being addicted to Duck Dynasty as well…LOL I make mine pretty much the same way, I use yogi tea I get at walmart though. Only because I think its healthier. LOL I’m from Texas so sweet tea is a staple. 🙂 My grandmother would have tea herbs in a jar and make it with this cloth type paper. (I miss her) 🙂 As far as sugar goes, I just add until it taste right!

  15. Ya’ll actually measure the sugar? lol I just dump it in! A pitcher lasts maybe 2 days around here.

  16. I have to say this post gave me a chuckle. I was born and raised in the south so we learned how to make sweet tea right after we learned to brush our own teeth…a nessesity of southern sweet tea! I am very interested in the baking soda trick and will have to try it when my hubby is not looking : ) People down here are very protective of their sweet tea recipes and I will say one of our biggest fights when we got married was how to make the tea! So I basically make his own, then I make my own occasionally. My gma uses 2 anf 1/3 cup of sugar…odd amount to settle on but YUM!!!! We n’t drink her tea often, its not good for the waistline!

  17. Summer is coming fast here is Sydney, Aus. I first heard about southern sweet tea a few years back when we meet some US Marines, docked here for some R&R.

    Was very amusing to watch their expression when they ordered ‘iced tea’ at a cafe…obviosuly not what they were expecting and 10 packets of sugar did not help :).

    I’ll be making it this summer. Can’t wait!!

  18. I make “sun tea” so much in the summer! I let the sun do the work: Fill a glass jar or pitcher (that has a lid) with cold water. Put in tea bags (I use 5 reg sized bags for a 1.5 qt jar–I like it strong). Place the jar in a sunny spot and let it sit until the afternoon, (I put it out around 10am and bring it in around 3…just check your tea to see when it is dark enough–no specific time to brew, I just leave it out the majority of the day in the hot sun). After it is brewed, then ADD about 1/2 cup sugar for 1.5qt. My kids like it sweet. I like mine plain so I do green tea in a large mason jar. The only “problem” with my version is, it is not cold to drink when it is done. I make it so routinely, though, that we might go a day or two without it, so the tea can brew in the sun, then chill in the fridge. I grew up in No., Illinois, but my grandma was from the southern part (near Kentucky). I would bet that is where our summer sun tea tradition came from!

  19. First off, Southern sweet tea needs WAY more sugar than 1 cup!! LOL!! Go for 2!!! 🙂

    Also, I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this or not, but try adding a pinch of baking soda in the tea. It should help it go a little longer than those few days.

    I LOOOOOOOVE your website!!


    PS- Did y’all move already??? If so, have you shared any pics yet and i’ve missed them???

  20. Great recipe! I love sweet iced tea. We’ve got a whole range of teas in our store that I think I’ll try this recipe on. A nice Ceylon a bet would do the trick 🙂 Come and check out our site!

  21. Teresa Tate says:

    If you just want a huge glass of it, you can just put 1 bag in a cup of water and microwave for a couple minutes…add the sugar while it’s hot (I use Splenda) and pour it over in a huge cup of water and add ice:) I’m a caffeine addict from MS. It doesn’t have to be summer…it’s good all year long:)

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