Southern Brewed Sweet Tea

I was asked a few weeks ago for a recipe for sweet tea on the Facebook page (yep, I’m talking about you, Brittany).  I was kinda shocked by this.

I thought only Southerners liked sweet tea.  And since every Southerner knows how to make sweet tea, surely no one would want or need a recipe.

I told Brittany how I make mine and didn't think much else about it.

Then I had a life-altering experience in T.J. Maxx.

And now I feel somehow obligated to post a recipe that people either don’t need or don’t want

So, I left the onions with my ninja yesterday to quickly run over to Mom’s to pick up some outdoor cushions she’d bought for me.

Long story short:  the cushions didn’t work out for what I needed so I was going to run and exchange them (which I felt skeezy about doing since I’d told my ninja I would only be gone a quick minute so I was moving at lightning speed) but then the store didn’t have what I needed and I had a marathon shopping event hitting three stores in 20 minutes.  And by the time I was done at T.J Maxx I was parched!  Like, escaped desert convict parched.

I did a little touchdown dance when I saw they had one of those drink coolers near the register.  Note that I never, ever buy these drinks but you have no idea just how thirsty I was.  There were three choices: soda, water or lemon tea.  Since I’m not a big soda drinker and I can’t seem to will myself to spend $1.89 on water, I grabbed the tea thinking, “how bad could it be?”

I whipped the top off at the register, took a long haul from it and shouted at the cashier, “JESUS CHRIST, THAT’S AWFUL!!!!!”  Sorry again, Lord, for the tone.

No wonder the rest of the world doesn't like sweet tea!  If that’s what y’all are drinking, thinking it’s what we Southerners swear by, we need to talk!

So, now for the recipe that you either don’t need or don’t want:

Southern Brewed Sweet Tea
1 gallon water, divided
4 family sized or 8 regular sized tea bags*
1 ½ cups sugar**

Fill a pot with 2 quarts of cold water and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat, add tea bags and steep tea for 1-2 hours.  Remove tea bags.

Add tea and sugar to a gallon sized pitcher and stir until sugar has dissolved.  Add remaining 2 quarts of water and stir well.

Refrigerate until cold before serving.  Serve with lemon if you have it!

*I like Luzianne or Lipton but if you can’t find those use any orange pekoe / black tea blend.  And don’t try to jazz it up by using green tea or some wonky blend.

**I only use 1 cup but most folks like it sweeter.  I think what you get in the restaurants is probably closer to 2 cups.  Just play with it until you get it where you want it.

UPDATE:  Ninja Barb just weighed in below in the comments and reminded me about the Onions!  When I finally did get home they looked at the bottle in my hand and wanted to know what it was (prolly because it looked like a soda bottle and they rarely get soda).  I told them it was tea but not like they're used to.

Since they're kids, they HAD to have some so I poured them each a shot in a juice glass.  They both took a swig.  Angel Baby grimaced like I'd just given her a shot of bourbon, shuddered a few times and spit it out.  Brutus swallowed his but started making this throat clearing sound in his mouth.  Then later at supper he took one look at his glass and asked, "Mama, is this that lemon stuff you made me drink or the regular tea?"

LOL... the apples don't fall far from the tree :)

Print Page


  1. I'm just glad you didn't bring me back some of that tea..and you forgot to mention the stricken looks on your onions faces when you let them taste it! N

  2. Yep, this is my recipe too, has been for years. Now that the kids are older they think I should put more sugar, they didn't like my reaction so they deal with my recipe =)) That's one thing you don't do is mess with momma's tea, lol

  3. So glad that your household isn't soda- and bottle water-infused. Hate that stuff. But let me add this brief story to your sweet tea recipe -- thanks to all the times I watched my grandmother make sweet tea in the kitchen of her Cumming, Georgia hilltop, I knew how to make that tea. In my sleep I could make that tea. And every summer I took my northern-girl butt back home and doing everything exactly the same, it was impossible to recreate her delicious iced tea. You know why? The water. The cool well water emerging from her kitchen tap was filtered through hundreds of feet of Georgia clay. The closest I ever came was using ... [sigh] ... bottled water. And still, it isn't close enough.

  4. I knew a lovely Danish immigrant whose take on southern sweet tea was 3 c. of sugar to 1 gal tea, using large lime wedges in place of lemons. It was different and an acquired taste, but really delicious once you wrapped your head around the difference.

    I'm a 1c. of sugar or 13 splenda packets to 1gal tea gal, myself. I can also use the unsweetened plain major tea brand and then add my own sweetener in a pinch.

    Any of y'all ever had Honest Tea? they know what they're doing for off the shelf tea.

  5. I just discovered your blog and it's pee in your pants funny! I'm going to feature it on my blog - hope you don't mind. All my Texas gals will get such a kick out it and they'll love the Southern-fare recipes of course!

    1. Well, I'm glad you stopped by! What's your blog? I'll have to check it out! I can prolly get to it by clicking on your name, can't I? Nobody ever said I was the sharpest light bulb.

    2. I just finished my post - hope you won't mind the extra traffic : ) My blog is www.southerncharmcottage.blogpsot.com

    3. GURRRL! That is total and complete AWESOMESAUCE! Thank you so much! How do I follow you? Are you on FB, Pinterest, Twitter, etc?

    4. Girl, my blog is all I can manage to keep up with at the moment - but if you have a google account you can Follow! You can also get to my e-mail from my blog. Hubby (I use an alias for my husband and 3 kids too - just not as cool as yours) and I visited Charleston last year and we LOVED it!

  6. any body have a recipe for frutied tea(friut) anyway if so please let me know thanks

  7. Luzianne, Luzianne, Luzianne, never bitter. And never squeeze the bags! I'm about as Southern as you can get.

  8. Southerner's are not the only ones who like sweet tea. We love it here in PA! Thanks for the recipe, I am going to make some tonight!!!

  9. Mandy, I am right there with you on the bottled tea. It's the most disgusting thing I've ever tried. Luzianne teabags are the best, believe it or not I learned that from some Mexican friends in Atlanta, 'cause I had been using Lipton for years. I'm pretty sure it's against the law in some southern states, but I absolutely HATE lemon in my tea! If I'm in the mood for lemon in my drink, I want fresh "squoze" lemonade. Don't want lemon in my water either. We make our tea in either a 2 cup or a 4 cup glass Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave. Just get the water boiling, about 5 minutes, then add in the 4 family size Luzianne tea bags. We let that steep a couple of hours in the microwave (or overnight when we forget about it or get too lazy), and then pour that over 1 1/2 cups sugar and add cold water to fill the gallon pitcher. My husband likes to leave the tea bags hanging in the pitcher...I let him since he makes the tea more often than I do.

  10. There is nothing better than southern tea..or southern anything! My daughter is marrying a *gasp* yankee who wont drink sweet tea and doesnt like fried chicken! How does a southern momma deal with the embarrassment!

  11. I am a (gasp) yankee, raised by a southern mother, on sweet tea and fried chicken. I love both. We moved North when my father was transferred to New Jersey and I became a yankee!!! My sister married a Texan , who apologizes for my being a yankee when he introduces me to their friends. I have to say that it sometimes hurts my feelings! lol! I have your bbq chicken in the oven right now, and it is smelling GOOD!!! Love your recipes!!

  12. I just found your blog and I'm CRYING laughing! I think we MUST be related! I plan on trying every recipe you've provided! And THANK GOD I'm not the only one who knows (AND LOVES) stewed beef and rice! (It's just Stew.. beef in my family though) LOVE LOVE LOVE you already!!!

  13. You can also add the sugar to the pan of water before you boil it. Then it's already disolved. I learned this when on a trip to New Orleans. They also use what they call simple sugar. They have it in most of the stores in the south. But it's basically just sugar and water mixed together then and to the tea.

  14. I am also a Canadian girl who for some years lived in Ok, Tx as well as Fl . I love love my sweet tea!! Everyone home in Canada thinks Im crazy because I feel putting lemon in iced tea is blasphemous! I winter in Fl now and most of the southerners here think Im the cats meow because I love collards and grits and just about all things southern. Just found your site and am taking it back to Canada in the spring! I will get those Canadians eating southern fare.
    PS .. My hubbys nickname is Ninja... too funny!

  15. I'm wondering...why do you steep your tea for 1-2 hrs.? That seems like a really long time. Thanks for the great recipes & laughs! I've referred friends to your blog & they love it also! :)

  16. The first flush is renowned as the producer of a better green tea. Immortalitea


Hi there! While I’m not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven’t been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments.

I can tell you now 1) I have no idea if you can substitute Minute Rice or brown rice in my recipes because I’ve never used them and 2) If I know how to convert a recipe to a Crock Pot version, I will make a note about it (otherwise, I don’t know).

And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y’all! - Mandy