Easy Southern Sweet Tea Recipe

by Alli

As a born and bred southerner, I grew up drinking sweet iced tea and my mama made the best southern sweet tea. It’s sweet, smooth and so delicious. 

If you think that every southerner uses the same sweet tea recipe, you are wrong. Every southerner has a tried-and-true recipe that has been handed down from generations. We may even use the exact same ingredients but the process is usually different. Today, I’m sharing my family’s southern tea recipe.

Iced tea is a staple in the south and I also make a delicious tropical tea punch. And you have to try my yummy peach tea punch. Have you ever had sweet tea-infused ribs? Those ribs are a winner too!

Simple Ingredients for Southern Sweet Tea (Full Recipe Below!)

  • Water
  • Tea Bags
  • Sugar
  • Baking Soda (optional)
  • Sliced lemons (for garnish)
  • mint leaves (totally optional)

My mom never used baking soda when making sweet iced tea. My grandma did. It’s a personal choice. Grandma taught me that soda neutralizes the tannin in black tea and gives it a smoother taste. 

two glasses of sweet tea over ice on a wooden table. The glasses of iced tea are garnished with lemon slices and mint leaves

Sugar Substitute For Southern Sweet Tea

If you love sweet tea but are trying to cut back on sugar, Splenda makes a great sugar substitute when making this tea. I haven’t tried any other sugar substitutes other than Splenda. Just use 3/4 of a cup of Splenda and follow the directions on the recipe card below. 

Tips for Making Southern Sweet Iced Tea

  • Use high-quality tea bags specifically designed for iced tea. Mom only used Tetley tea bags. I use Lipton or Tetley. 
  • Don’t let the tea bags steep for too long (not over 5 minutes).
  • After making the tea, allow the pitcher of tea to cool to room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator. 
  • Iced tea will last for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Of course, around here, it never lasts that long. 
Yield: 1 gallon (16 servings)

Southern Sweet Tea Recipe

two glasses of sweet tea over ice on a wooden table. The glasses of iced tea are garnished with lemon slices and mint leaves

Southern Sweet Tea is cool, smooth, and refreshing. Serve over ice and garnish with lemon slices.

Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 9 minutes


  • Water
  • 3-4 family size tea bags
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch baking soda (optional)
  • lemon slices, for garnish
  • mint leaves, optional garnish


  1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Let steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Add sugar to a gallon pitcher. Stir in the tea, being careful not to drop the tea bags into the pitcher. Add a pinch of baking soda, if desired. Mix in additional water to make a gallon.
  3. Allow to cool to room temperature. Serve over ice and garnish with lemon slices. Store in the refrigerator.

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Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 194Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 6mgCarbohydrates 50gFiber 0gSugar 50gProtein 0g

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