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+ servings
iced sweet tea with a straw coming out of it

How to Make Sweet Tea-Southern Sweet Tea Recipe

Here in the South, we love our sweet tea. Making it from scratch at home is very easy. Follow these easy steps and tips on how to make sweet tea perfect every time.
Course Drinks
Cuisine Southern
Prep Time 0 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
steep 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 97kcal


  • 2 family sized tea bags 6 small sized bags
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar for less sweet, use ¾ cup
  • teaspoon baking soda


  • Boil 2 cups of water.
  • Remove boiling water from heat.
  • Mix in your 1 cup sugar and ⅛ teaspoon baking soda (optional, see notes) and stir until dissolved.
  • Add 2 family sized tea bags to the water. Steep 15 minutes for strong tea flavor or 10 minutes for a lighter tea flavor.
  • Remove tea bags.
  • Add tea to your pitcher and add the remaining 6 cups of water. Stir.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.



This recipe is for 2 quarts.
  1. Some Southerners add a pinch of baking soda. This will take away any bitterness from the tannins that the black tea leaves may release. This is a trick I have learned over the past couple of years. You will not taste the baking soda. My other family members do not add it, so this is totally optional.
  2. To make a gallon sized tea, use 2 cups of water to boil, add 2 cups of sugar and ⅛ teaspoon of baking soda after it has been removed from heat, use 4 family sized tea bags when steeping, and add 14 cups of cold water at the end. 
  3. Never pinch the tea bags when removing them from steeping. This could release tannins and add a bitter taste.
  4. Never pour hot tea into a glass pitcher. It may make the pitcher shatter. Wait for the tea to cool if you are using a glass pitcher.


Calories: 97kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 1mg | Sugar: 25g | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg