Learn how easy it is to make my 2-ingredient Southern sweet tea recipe. It’s the most refreshing drink to enjoy on your porch throughout the year.
Nothing, I mean nothing, is more Southern than sweet tea. We drink sweet iced tea at almost every meal (yes, iced tea for breakfast is quite good, actually), we make it daily year-round, and we even put it in our baby’s bottles. Dr. Phil once jokingly mentioned that Southerners started drinking sweet tea at age three, but Mama and I looked at each other in complete confusion as we knew perfectly well all of us had started on it by age one!
Go to any Southerner’s home and the first question they ask after sitting down is, “Ya wan’ some tea?” These days I make my sweet tea recipe with Splenda, but it tastes just as good. Sweet tea just makes the meal.
So, how do you make sweet tea? It’s easy! All you need is your favorite black tea bags (plus some water for brewing) and some sugar/Splenda. All we’re going to do is brew the tea either in a saucepot or in a coffeemaker (more details below), and then combine it in a pitcher with cold water and sugar. That’s all you need to do before you can enjoy a big glass of icy and refreshing Southern sweet tea.
Okay, enough chatting, let’s make some sweet tea, y’all!
What You’ll Need to Make Sweet Tea:
- Tea bags
- Granulated sugar (or Splenda)
- Small sauce pot or a coffeemaker
Helpful Kitchen Tools
How to Make My Sweet Tea Recipe:
Brew the tea
There are two popular ways of brewing tea. The one Mama and I use the most right now (this may change when the wind changes direction) is the saucepot method.
For a half gallon of tea, put five regular-sized tea bags in a pot. Cover with water (you want about three inches of water in your pot).
You don’t have to worry about taking the tea bag labels off either.
Now, as Mama says “In a pot, bring tea just to a boil and then remove from heat and turn off the eye”.
Cover and steep the tea for 15 minutes.
Your tea is now ready to be mixed.
If you do this, though, be careful to remember to remove the coffee grounds from your basket. Growing up, Mama would have supper on the table looking all wonderful and we’d take a sip and discover we were having “coffee tea”. Hehe, we always had fun with her when that happened!
Make the sweet tea
No matter which method you choose, in a matter of minutes you will have brewed, concentrated tea.
Take your pitcher and fill it about halfway with cold water. Then add your sugar (or Splenda).
This is a VERY important step because if you add your sugar to the hot tea, it will scorch the sugar and you’ll have terribly bitter tea.
So, we want to start with cold water, add the sugar…
…THEN add the hot tea.
Adding the brewed tea will warm the water enough that the sugar will easily dissolve.
Give that a good stir then serve your sweet tea over ice.
So, we always drink the tea fresh. It can be kept in the refrigerator but Southern people prefer fresh sweet tea. Personally, I always throw out the leftovers and start fresh the next day and so does my Mama. But if you did want to extend the life of your iced tea, use the baking soda trick below and store it in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- There are many tea brands on the market. Mama prefers Luzianne but I usually use Tetley or Red Diamond. Just make sure you get a general blend or orange pekoe tea that’s specifically blended for iced tea (all of these brands will have this marked on the package). Orange pekoe is a generic term for a basic, medium-grade black tea.
- A handy tip: when you squeeze your tea leaves or tea bag, you release extra tannins which will cause a more bitter taste. So just dump ’em without that extra squeeze.
- Adjust the amount of sugar to suit your taste. You might like more or less and that’s totally fine!
How do you serve Southern sweet tea?
You simply serve sweet tea in a glass with ice. Some people like to add a squeeze of fresh lemon, a dash of bottled lemon juice, or a lemon slice garnish. Mama likes to add an orange slice. Give it a go and see what you think!
What is the mixture of sweet tea?
Sweet tea is simply a mixture of brewed black tea with sugar, served cold over ice.
How long should I steep tea for sweetened iced tea?
You want to steep the black tea bags for up to 15 minutes. The longer you steep, the stronger the tea taste.
Why do Southerners put baking soda in sweet tea?
So, some Southerners add a pinch of baking soda to their sweet tea to remove any bitterness from the black tea leave tannins. However, this is totally optional and not something I’ve ever done. But if you wanna give it a go, add it to the water when you boil your tea.
How does Paula Deen make sweet tea?
Paula Deen makes sweet tea how I make sweet tea! The only difference is hers includes a garnish of fresh lemon slices and fresh mint.
Check out these other refreshing drink recipes:
- 5 tea bags
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- Place tea bags in a saucepot or coffee maker (down in the coffee pot). If using the coffee pot, run a cycle of water through it to brew the tea. If using a saucepot, fill it about three inches with water and bring it just to a boil, then remove it from the heat.5 tea bags
- Fill a pitcher halfway with cool water and add sugar. Stir. Then add hot tea and stir again. Add more water, if necessary, to make two quarts. Serve over ice.3/4 cup granulated sugar
Thank you for reading Southern Plate! Have a GREAT Day!