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Southern Sweet Tea. Cool down on a hot day with a pitcher of this refreshing and simple southern classic. Just a few simple steps ensure that every batch comes out perfect! 

Cup of sweet tea in a glass topped with crushed ice, lemon wedge and a sprig of mint.


Sweet tea, or as it’s known in the south, simply, tea. If you order tea at a restaurant it’s going to be sweet. It’s just a given. If you don’t want it sweet, then you would order unsweetened tea. Most homes in the south typically have a pitcher, or gallon jug in the fridge, ready to serve up a refreshing glass at any given moment. 

How to make Sweet Tea:

  1. Create Simple Syrup: Pour 2 cups of water into a medium size saucepan. Add in the baking soda and sugar. Bring this to a boil while stirring. This creates a simple syrup, which is what is going to make this tea sweet but not gritty with sugar. The baking soda takes away the bitterness from the tea. 
  2. Add the tea: Once this comes to a boil, remove from the heat. Add in the tea bags. If using family size tea bags use 3, if using the smaller single tea bags, use 8. 
  3. Let the tea steep in the hot water for 5-10 minutes. (If you have time, allow the tea bags to steep for longer! 2 hours up to 24 hours, this helps the tea flavor develop!)
  4. Add to water: Once you are done steeping the tea, remove the tea bags and pour the tea mixture into a large pitcher. Pour in an additional 4 cups of cold water and add 1 cup of ice
  5. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to one week. 
Saucepan filled with hot simple syrup with tea bags steeping.

What kind of tea do I use? 

Use the tea bags that make iced tea. Typically Lipton or Luzianne. And even though we are making iced tea we still need to use hot water to make our tea. This is because the hot water helps the flavor of the tea develop. And also creates the simple syrup that sweetens our tea.

Baking Soda in Iced Tea:

Just a pinch of baking soda helps to reduce the bitterness that can occur in tea, giving you nothing but a smooth taste to enjoy.

Pitcher of sweet tea, with condensation on the outside, ice chunks around it, and sliced lemon.

Other Southern Recipes to enjoy: 

Classic Sweet Tea

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 cups
Author: Serene
This home-brewed Southern Sweet Tea is smooth, refreshing, and simple. This classic southern drink is quick and easy to make at home.
Cup of sweet tea in a glass topped with crushed ice, lemon wedge and a sprig of mint.



  • Lemon wedges
  • Mint leaves


  • Pour 2 cups of water into a medium size saucepan over medium heat. 
  • Stir in the sugar and baking soda. Continue to stir occasionally while the water heats. The sugar will disappear and the water will turn clear. Once the water reaches boiling point (small bubbles forming) remove from heat
  • Dunk the tea bags a few times in the water, then leave the teabags in the water with the strings hanging over the side. After minimum of 10 minutes remove the bags. (can allow to steep overnight if desired)
  • Pour the tea mixture into a large pitcher. Add in the remaining  4 cups of cold water and 1 cup of ice. The tea can be served immediately or placed in the refrigerator to chill even further. Can be stored for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. 




  • Tea Bags: Use the tea bags that make iced tea. Typically Lipton or Luzianne. If you don’t have family size bags on hand use 3 regular size for each family size bag. 3 Family size bags would equal 9 regular size bags.
  • Baking Soda: just a pinch takes away any bitterness. 
  • Steeping time: the minimum time needed is 10 minutes. It can steep overnight. 


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Sodium: 9mg | Sugar: 25g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

Recipe first published on June 6, 2019. Updated on April 29, 2020 with new images.

Welcome to my kitchen!

Welcome to the House of Yumm!! My name is Serene. I’m the food photographer, recipe developer, and official taste tester around these parts.

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