Sweet Tea: Champagne of the South


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Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no such thing as sweet tea in the south! Shocker! That is because it is all sweet. If you ask for tea, you will get sweet tea. There is no need to distinguish between sweet and unsweetened tea.

Knowing how to make sweet tea is as natural to me as pickin’ daisies. It is a staple in my house. If I run out of tea, everything must stop, and I have to make a new batch.

The misconception that many people have about sweet tea is that it isn’t versatile. Hogwash! Sweet tea is as versatile as wrangler blue jeans. Today I will share with you my personal recipe for Southern Sweet Tea.

Pitcher of fresh lemon iced tea with filled glass on a rustic wooden background

Southern Sweet Tea Recipe

(Author’s Note: I make mine in gallon pitchers, so please adjust accordingly)

  • 5-8 family-sized tea bags, for authenticity use Luzianne, but Lipton tea is a close second
  • 4 cups of boiling water
  • 10-12 cups of cold water
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sugar
  • Pinch to 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda*
  1. In the pitcher, place tea bags and add hot water.  Allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes (The tea may taste bitter if you let it sit any longer).
  2. Remove tea bags, add the sugar while the tea is still warm.  Stir until mostly dissolved.
  3. Add cold water.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Add the baking soda last, stir gently.
  5. Place in the icebox (or freezer for you non-country folk) and let it chill out.
  6. Serve over ice. Take a nice long sip and revel in the southern goodness.

*The Secret is the baking powder. It cuts out the natural bitterness of the tea and makes for a smoother taste

Sweet Tea Variations

Now for the versatility. You can add any flavoring you want. Almost everyone knows that you can add lemons to your tea, but what about oranges? Mint? How about tangerines?  Tea does not have to just be tea.  It can be bold!  Flavorful! Full of all sorts of surprises!

I created 3 different fruit flavors for a small tea tasting, lemon, raspberry, and apple. These were made straight from the fruit.  A few contributors of Little Lake County each have their own favorite variations of my southern sweet tea.

Sweet Tea
Photo Credit Courtesy of Rosie Bridges Photography

Loralie enjoyed the raspberry, but she loved the plain sweet tea the best

Hyacynth thought most of the flavors were too sweet, however, she really enjoyed the plain sweet tea

Rosemary was in lust with the lemon flavor, the apple was a very close second

Me?  I love plain, old fashion sweet tea.

What summer drink is your go-to when you are craving something cold?

Want more easy and fun recipes? Find all our favorite recipes here.

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Sweet Tea: Champagne of the South

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