Southern Sweet Tea Recipe

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The secret to southern sweet tea is simple. This southern sweet tea recipe will teach you how to make that perfect glass of sweet tea, every single time.
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Every home cook in the south has a southern sweet tea recipe. Sweet tea is just a way of life around here. Always served ice cold, sweet tea is like a good cup of coffee.

In every true southern fridge sits a pitcher of sweet tea ready to be served. Today I’m sharing my southern sweet tea recipe for that perfect glass of sweet tea, every single time.

Best Sweet Tea Recipe
This isn’t your average copycat recipe, this sweet tea recipe is better than Chick-fil-a, McAlister’s, and McDonald’s. The best homemade southern sweet tea recipe from a true southerner of Georgia. The secret to the best southern sweet tea recipe is you only need 3 ingredients! Perfect sweet tea every single time. You won’t believe how easy it is to make authentic, homemade southern sweet tea.

While sweet tea is not the only tea that I drink, growing up in the South sweet tea is a beverage that can be found as a beverage option at most restaurants. Sitting on the front porch, sipping a tall cold glass of sweet tea is just what we do around here to relax after a long day.

With every meal and served at every restaurant, sweet tea is more than just a southern staple its a part of our life down here.

Secret Southern Sweet Tea Recipe

Some may think that Sweet Tea has some sort of “secret ingredient”. But this simply isn’t true.

There is only one rule to really good sweet tea and that is the sweeter the better.

The brand of tea bags doesn’t matter that much, although many in the south will swear by Luzianne. So long as it is black tea, the brand doesn’t matter all that much. I typically will just pick a store brand to save a few pennies.

But please note that instant tea is no good here. I prefer to use single tea bags versus family size, but really any size will do.

No Boil Southern Sweet Tea Recipe
No Boil Southern Sweet Tea Recipe

What do you serve Sweet Tea in?

I picked up this gallon glass dispenser, I thought it was absolutely perfect for holding my tea in the fridge and oh so easy to refill my glass when I’m running low.

Mason Jars have been my jam for a while. We switched from drinking out of normal glasses to only using wide mouth mason jars as our beverage vessel. Sweet Tea and Mason Jars are a perfect Southern pair. 

Taking your Sweet Tea To-Go?

If you are taking your tea on the go, you can’t go wrong with an RTIC tumbler. I’m obsessed with mine. It keeps your sweet tea perfectly cold. It amazes me that I can take this tumbler with me when I run errands and my beverage is still be cold when I return to my car on a hot summer afternoon.

Next to a mason jar, my RTIC Tumbler is my second favorite way to enjoy a gold glass of sweet tea.

Homemade Sweet Tea Recipe
Homemade Sweet Tea Recipe

Lemon or No lemon

That is the question. Many people like the taste of fresh squeezed lemon in their sweet tea, many people do not. It is all a matter of personal preference.

For me, personally I do not like lemon in my tea. I like my sweet tea plain and simple just like the recipe.

But if you like the flavor of lemon, I encourage you to add a slice or squeeze of lemon into a glass of freshly poured southern sweet tea.

Sweet Tea Recipe

Southern Sweet Tea Recipe
The secret to southern sweet tea is simple. This southern sweet tea recipe will teach you how to make that perfect glass of sweet tea, every single time.
5 from 4 votes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 gallon


  • 1 gallon hot water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 10 single black tea bags


  • In a gallon pitcher, add two cups of granulated sugar. 
  • Fill the jug with hot water (I just use hot tap water because it’s quick and convenient). 
  • Place 10 single black tea bags in the jug and allow to steep for 30 minutes to 1 hour. 
  • Remove tea bags and squeeze out excess tea from the bag before discarding. 
  • With a slotted spoon, stir the tea until the sugar on the bottom is completely dissolved. 
  • Refrigerate overnight because sweet tea always tastes its best on the second day. Serve in a mason jar filled with ice.


Sweet Tea is at it’s best for about 2-3 days after making. If you notice that the tea has become cloudy, it is no longer good and it’s time to make a fresh batch.
If you plan to serve this sweet tea recipe cold from the fridge WITHOUT ice, then reduce the sugar to 1 1/2 cups. As the tea sits in the fridge it becomes sweeter. The recipe as it is written is to be served in a glass filled with ice.
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Keyword Tea
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  1. During the summer love to make sun tea and I’m really regretting not picking up this cute glass pitcher with a stand from 5 below yesterday. I really think I should go back and get it so that I can make sun tea this summer. Yum. I also like my tea sweet too. The only reason that I didn’t pick it up was that I’m the process of moving and it would have been just one more thing to move.

  2. Theresa Dove says:

    I’m from Texas, so IDK if that’s “Southern” or just Texan? LoL
    We make tea by boiling it also. I use Liption family size bags. (We like strong tea.) I use 5 for a 2 gallon glass jug & boil those in a big saucepan full of water. Turn it off once it boils & let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Then I add 2 & 1/4 cups granulated sugar to my 2 gallon glass jug. As I pour the hot tea over the sugar I run some cold water in the jug too (as to not crack the jug, from the hot tea!!!) STIR, STIR, STIR!!! Until all the sugar is dissolved & your jug is full of tea. Taste it to make sure it has enough sugar & water. Serve over ice, w/lemon, or plain. DELICIOUS!!!!

    1. I would consider Texas as “southern”. Thank you for sharing how you make your sweet tea.

  3. Jaclyn Danae Thrift says:

    Southern Sweet Tea has baking soda :)

    1. Jaclyn, I’m sorry but I believe that is a myth. I’ve lived in Georgia my entire life and learned how to make southern sweet tea from my mom who learned from her mom, and so on. For generations we have been making sweet tea this way and never once has anyone (family, friend, or otherwise) ever mentioned putting baking soda in their tea. Baking soda is not a true southern tradition, I think that is more a “Pinterest hack” or what a restaurant might do to help keep the tea from going bad when making large batches ahead of time if anything. That’s just not how we do things around here. There is no need in messing with the traditional recipe, in my opinion. Besides, southern sweet tea drinkers typically make a new pitcher of tea everyday or every other day. It is too good to stay around for long. ?

      1. Lisa Gregory says:

        My Grandma always added a pinch of salt or baking soda to coffee & Tea as it cuts the bitterness. In the summer I love to make Sun tea & other seasons I boil water in kettle and pour over tea bags. Love sweet tea & I’m diabetic so I use stevia. Love the idea of adding mint, I will have to try that ?

  4. Oh my goodness, I will save this post! My husband loves tea like this and will appreciate it big time I’m sure!

  5. I prefer Lipton tea bags and you are totally right on using the single serve bags over the family size. The taste never comes out quite right with the larger bags.

  6. I love sweet tea and my stepdaughter makes it with Plantain Mint tea (Bigelow is the brand). She does a combination of the black tea and the mint tea..this is excellent if you like mint flavor.

    1. I LOVE peppermint tea! I usually have peppermint tea in the morning for breakfast or as a treat when craving something sweet. I love to combine peppermint tea with the rich flavor of black tea. It’s a personal favorite for me as well. Thank you so much for sharing. I could talk about tea for days. I absolutely love the stuff!

  7. This is great! I did a year’s study in Auburn, Alabama and fell in love with sweet tea then. I have always wanted to recreate it but have never succeeded! Will try this weekened yayyyy! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. I would love to hear what you think. Remember to serve in a tall glass full of ice as it can be quite sweet without it.

  8. I’d love to try this recipe for REAL Southern Sweet Tea, but I’m in early diabetic stage. What could I do to adapt this recipe for myself, if anything..?

    1. I make my dad-a diabetic-sweet tea weekly. I use stevia leaf extract. He loves it. I hope you enjoy it! On the stevia pkg it givesyou measurement equivalents.

      1. That’s awesome Franceska!!! Thanks for sharing.

  9. The perfect beverage for hot summer days! Thanks for coming and linking up at The Weekend Social. Your post has been pinned to our board! Please be sure to come back next week starting Thursdays at 9PM EST on ! I hope to see you there!

  10. Andi Schafer says:

    I am from New Hampshire and just love sweet tea which I can only find in the South. I have asked so many people, even those who have lived in the South. Make tea and put sugar in it, they say. Sun tea is pretty close but not the real thing. I can’t wait to give your direction a try. Thank you so much. I am pretty excited. If I can make your “sweet tea”, I will feel like one lucky person.

    1. That is so awesome @Andi, I sure hope the recipe turns out great for you!

    2. I live on the Mississippi gulf coast. We boil our tea on the stove. If they are the big bags of tea I just boil about 2 with a pot ful of water. Once it comes to a bowl I pore it in a jar with a cup of sugar and stir. Bam it’s done. Sometimes my dad would pick fresh mint leaves and stir those in and that’s tasty to.

      1. That’s awesome, Mindy. Thank you for sharing. I find it so interesting hearing how others make their tea. I may need to try the mint leaves in my sweet tea sometime, that sounds so refreshing. I love mint!

      2. North Carolinian here born & raised. We boil ours on the stove top too. I love a good strong tasting tea, so I usually steep 5 large bags in about 4 cups of water for 5 minutes. Then add my sugar, stir to dissolve and pour into a pitcher already filled with about 6 cups of water. I’m a weird southerner in the fact that I don’t like lemon in my tea. It changes the flavor completely & I hate it, in my opinion it sours it. I would advise northerners or west coasters to try the tea without citrus first to see how they like it and then add a couple drops at a time to taste to see which one they prefer!

        1. I completely agree with you, Donna. Lemon absolutely changes the taste of tea completely. I don’t like it either. If I want the flavor of lemon then I’ll make homemade lemonade. Tea should be simple.

  11. We have always served our sweet tea in mason jars. It just doesn’t taste as good any other way. I’ve also found that when I stir with a whisk, the sugar dissolves much faster and more thoroughly. The Aladdin dispenser is adorable.

    1. I completely agree! Mason jars are the best. I don’t think I have a long enough whisk to reach to the bottom of that gallon container. I use a slotted spoon to stir the sugar to make sure it dissolves well.

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