Homemade Southern Sweet Tea is the house wine of the south. This recipe comes out perfect every single time thanks to a simple tip.
THE HOUSE WINE OF THE SOUTH
Every gal in the south has her own way of making sweet tea. We're pretty proud about it too actually. Around my house we like our tea strong and sweet. So if you ever have trouble getting your tea just right each and every time, give this recipe a try.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
As a Virginian, I am proud to say that the first known printed version of sweet iced tea was by Marion Tyree who lived not too far from my current hometown. Marion, of Lynchburg, Virginia, printed the recipe for sweet iced tea with lemon in her book, "Housekeeping in Old Virginia". She initially used green tea and it wouldn't be until a few years later that black tea would eventually be used. I'm sure many southern towns want to lay claim to sweet tea but she is credited for publishing the first known version of sweet iced tea.
It is a well known fact that many northerners (above Virginia) like unsweetened tea and southerners like their tea sweetened. In general, I think it is just part of the culture of each region. Sweet tea took off in the south and became a part of everyday life. It just never took off in the northern regions like it did in the south.
Have you ever made tea and then the next day it tastes a bit tart or not as fresh? Or maybe you made tea and let the tea bags soak a little too long? Baking soda helps that tea taste better longer by taking out the bitterness. It's a trick that your Grandma probably used and you never even knew it. It's been a secret for generations!
You can substitute Splenda for the sugar, if you prefer. Also, we like our tea pretty sweet so you can certainly cut down on the sugar if you find it too sweet.
Yes. It eventually gets a sour taste. The baking soda does help extend the life of the sweet tea but it will eventually "go off." Sweet Tea is best consumed within the first 48 hours of when you made it. Keep sweet tea stored in the refrigerator.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (FULL RECIPE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST)
- family size tea bags (I prefer Luzianne or Lipton, but use what you got)
- baking soda
HOW TO MAKE SOUTHERN SWEET TEA:
Boil only ½ gallon of the water on stove.
Once water comes to a roiling boil, pour into one gallon pitcher. Add 3 tea bags and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda (you don’t need to stir.) Set your kitchen timer (I use my microwave) for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, take out tea bags. Do not squish tea bags before taking them out, just let them drip for a minute. If you squeeze, you’re likely to get some tea leaves in your drink. Add sugar and stir. Add the other ½ gallon of cold water to the pitcher and stir again.
Cool in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.
CRAVING MORE RECIPES?
Southern Sweet Tea
- 3 family size tea bags
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 gallon water, divided use
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Boil ½ gallon of the water on stove in a pot. Once water comes to a roiling boil, pour into one gallon pitcher.
- Add 3 family-size tea bags and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda (you don’t need to stir) to the pitcher. Just make sure the bags are submerged in the water.
- Set your kitchen timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take out tea bags. Do not squish tea bags before taking them out, just let them drip for a minute.
- Add sugar and stir.
- Add the other ½ gallon of cold water to the pitcher and stir again.
- Cool completely in the refrigerator for several hours then serve in a glass with ice.
- Also, we like our tea pretty sweet so you can certainly cut down on the sugar if you find it too sweet.
- Baking soda takes any of the bitterness out of your tea. It is great for other uses as well. If you are soaking beans overnight and are putting them in a pot to make the next day, add a small dash of baking soda to your pot before cooking. It keeps beans tasting their best.
Originally published: January 2011
Updated & republished: February 2022