Southern Sweet Ice Tea


I love sweet tea more than coffee. We make it by the gallon every other day and sometimes everyday. We drink it at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When my husband first saw this picture, he asked, “Why are you putting tea on your site?” I am putting tea here because I have met many people who can’t stand sweet tea. When I ask them why they say they don’t like it, they say they don’t like some chain restaurant’s, grocery store’s or fast food restaurant’s sweet tea. Then they say they like Arizona or Lipton tea, and then follow up by saying they like one of those brand’s specialty teas like Lipton’s white tea (the one in the bottle). Many restaurants, especially fast food and other chain restaurants use large amounts of corn syrup to sweeten their tea. This creates an overly sweet tea that few people like. It is possible to sweeten tea and enhance the flavor without ending up with brown sugar water. This post is a friendly reminder that you can easily and economically make delicious sweet tea at home.

So what is the formula for perfect sweet tea? Well that is very subjective. There are a handful of people who treasure heavily sweetened tea. Many people like it moderately sweetened, and some people like to appreciate tea with no sugar. And which brand of tea do you use, Lipton or Luzianne? Many southerner’s swear by Luzianne, however I can’t really tell a huge difference in taste. Currently, we use the gallon size tea bags from Lipton. I get them at Sam’s, they are very convenient. I bring my water to a boil in a saucepan, then take the water off the heat, and add the bag. I let it steep, covered for about 15 minutes. Some people bring the water to a boil with the tea bag in the water, others boil the tea. There is one thing for certain, you shouldn’t let the tea steep for a very long time because it may become bitter.

Now time for the sugar. You must add the sugar to the pitcher first, then add the hot tea, then dissolve the tea in this water. Sugar is very difficult to dissolve in cold liquid. How much sugar? I have suggested 1 cup per gallon, but use your personal taste to get it just the way you like it. After the sugar is dissolved, I add just the tea bag and fill the pitcher with filtered water. I would recommend using filtered water if you are filtering your water to drink. If your water is good enough not to filter, just add it non-filtered.

Here are my favorite ice tea variations:

  • Sweet Green Tea, just use all green tea bags.
  • Sweet Mint Tea, Halve the amount of tea bags and add fresh mint leaves to the hot water.

What is your favorite type of ice tea?

Southern Sweet Ice Tea  Beverages

Southern Sweet Ice Tea

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1 gallon sized iced tea bag, 6 family sized tea bags, or 12 regular tea bags
1 cup sugar, a suggestion
Filtered water


Bring water to a boil. Remove water from heat and then drop tea bags in boiling water. Let steep for 15 minutes. Pour hot tea concentrate over sugar.

Stir to dissolve sugar. Add tea bag and finish filling pitcher. Stir tea and squeeze bag gently and remove.

All text and images © / Eclectic Recipes
*Nutritional Information is not guaranteed for 100% accuracy.

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  9 Responses to “Southern Sweet Ice Tea”

  1. AmyRuth — February 17, 2010 @ 9:17 am

    Good Morning (as I finish my last dribble of coffee) I am originally from OK but currently reside in MO. Love my coffee in the morning – unsweetened. So I like the definite flavor of the coffee. Sometimes I like tea sweetened and sometimes I like it unsweetened. On a hot summer day, the unsweetened quenches my thirst. However my son Blake, loves sweet tea. So now, I have the correct method for making the real sweet tea. YAY! Thanks so much.

  2. 5 Star Foodie — February 17, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

    Mmm.. this sweet tea would be a delightful afternoon drink!

  3. Nancy aka Spicie Foodie — February 19, 2010 @ 7:11 am

    Great recipe and photo, Tea is my favorite drink and specially iced tea.

  4. Maija Haavisto — February 22, 2010 @ 2:17 pm

    My favorite ice tea is green tea and mint. Mint makes it so refreshing! Ricola also has a nice herbal tea with some green tea and mint (and many other herbs), the kind of ready-made tea which is granules that dissolve into water. I don’t normally like such teas, but this one is good.

  5. child psychology course — March 3, 2010 @ 6:06 am

    I like tea in morning & after evening food.

    Thank you very much for your this topic

  6. Santiago Mcelhenney — March 17, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

    You can depend me in for a Digg. Thanks for posting this on your web site!

  7. dark maple syrup — August 26, 2010 @ 11:19 pm

    I used to drink a ton of diet pepsi. I discovered tea and now I actually prefer it to soda. But, I drink it without sugar. Thanks for the recipe, maybe I’ll give ‘sweet tea’ another shot.

  8. Jenny — March 2, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

    I have to disagree on the steeping time. My husband and I are both from and live in Mississippi. We both love tea of all sorts. In fact, our moto for tea would just so happen to be, ‘ the stronger the better ‘. We like it nice and dark- like a fine wine. I start making tea around lunch time. We boil the water with 1/4 of a cup of sugar in a large soup pot (1 gal of water). When it comes to a rolling boil I add the tea bags. I turn off the stove and let it sit covered until 5-7pm. Then its ready to drink. Theres nothing bitter about it. Just pure delicious tea goodness. I will admit that if the tea bags are left in the pitcher for more than a day or two 2 it will become bitter, but its a rare day for a gallon of tea to last more than one meal with my husband. When we go out, the waiters usually have to leave a pitcher or two of tea at the table. 🙂

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