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How To Make Southern Sweet Tea

Learning how to make Southern Sweet Tea is super easy. I will show you how Southerners make this essential drink made for the summertime and Sunday supper dinner refreshments.

A pitcher filled with Southern sweet tea along with two glasses of tea with ice, lemon slices and mint

Grandmamas all over the south make sweet tea perfectly. And I’m gonna share with you all the tips and tricks to make the best Southern sweet tea this side of the Mississippi. This drink, along with Classic Jamaican Lemonade, are quite refreshing especially during the hot months of the year.

A large clear pitcher and two clear glasses of Southern sweet tea against a blue background with lemon wedges and mint as a garnish

What is Sweet Tea?

Sweet Tea ain’t hard to figure out folks. It is brewed tea sweetened with sugar. Southern Sweet Tea is served cold over ice or chilled in a pitcher in the fridge. It is truly the South’s quintessential beverage, and you must learn how to make it properly.

Does Sweet Tea Have Caffeine?

Most times yes. Standard black teas like Lipton and Luzianne are typically used to make it which have caffeine in them. You can also use a decaffeinated tea if you prefer.

A large pot filled with steeping tea bags

How to Make Southern Sweet Tea

Essentially you just need two ingredients, tea bags and granulated sugar. Oh and water too!

Now some folks will add some fancy additions like lemon or limes and mint or other herbs but the traditional way doesn’t need any of that. That comes down to personal preference.

  • Boil your water in a large pot or grab a tea kettle. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium saucepan or a tea kettle over medium heat.
  • Next steep your tea bags for 10 to 20 minutes. The sweet spot is about 15 minutes. But it will get stronger the longer you let it steep.
  • Now add that sugar baby! I personally like to give a little leeway here because you want to do this according to preference as well. Once you add the sugar, allow it to completely dissolve, taste then add more.
  • Pour tea to your pitcher then fill with more water. Now taste your tea. If you need more sugar, add it then while it is still hot and can dissolve.
  • Refrigerate until it’s time to serve.
A gold measuring cup pouring sugar into black tea

Additional Sweet Tea Recipes to Check Out

If you want more amazing sweet tea recipes, check out these:

Two glasses filled with sweet tea and a pitcher nearby
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How to Make Southern Sweet Tea

Learning how to make Southern Sweet Tea is super easy. Learn how the Southerner’s make this essential drink made for the summertime and Sunday supper dinner refreshments.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 279kcal
Author Jocelyn Delk Adams


  • 5 cups water
  • 5 tea bags like Lipton or Luzianne
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (by taste) up to 1 1/2 cups
  • lemon or lime optional


  • Add water to a medium sized pot over high heat until boiling.
  • Once boiling, remove from heat and add tea bags. Steep for 10-20 minutes (the longer you steep, the stronger the tea).
  • Stir in sugar in increments until it completely dissolves into the hot tea and taste as you go.
  • Remove tea bags from the pot then pour the tea into a pitcher then add more water to fill it and serve with ice.


Feel free to go up to 6 tea bags if you prefer a stronger tea.  Also you can steep longer to concentrate more flavor.


Calories: 279kcal

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