Sweet tea is one of the most popular drinks in the southern states. Sweet tea is typically made from black tea with sugar, syrup, or sweetener added to it. In most cases, sweet tea is served cold and typically with a wedge of lemon and lots of ice. However, most people might make sweet tea hot which is a perfectly valid way to drink it. In some cases, it might also be mixed with alcohol to make a cocktail or even mixed with soda.
It’s one of the most versatile drinks, but that also means that there are loads of different ways to make it. So for the rest of this article, we’re going to talk about how you can make sweet tea at home the way you love it. We’ll also be suggesting a couple of changes that you can make to your sweet tea in order to truly transform it into something that you’ll love. After all, who wouldn’t love to invent their own signature sweet tea?
How to make good sweet tea at home
First, let’s talk about the most basic kind of sweet tea. The bare-bones, classic southern sweet tea that we all know and love.
Basic sweet tea is made from three simple ingredients; black tea (usually in bag form), sugar, and water. Let’s take a look at the instructions on how to make a simple sweet tea for yourself.
Ingredients for good sweet tea at home
These are the ingredients you’ll need for a single serving.
- 1 regular black tea bag
- Teaspoon of sugar
Instructions for good sweet tea at home
- Boil half a cup of water
- Place your tea bag into a cup
- Pour the boiling water into the cup and let the tea bag steep for five minutes
- Remove the tea bag and discard it
- Add sugar to the tea and stir until dissolved
- Add another half cup of cold water to top it off
- You can drink it as is, or you can add a slice of lemon, a sprig of mint, or some ice to cool it even more
Making this good sweet tea recipe your own
There are a couple of things that you can do to change this recipe to your liking.
- Instead of boiling half a cup of water, boil a whole cup and use everything to make a cup of hot sweet tea instead. This is a great alternative for cold days.
- Slice up a lemon and add several pieces to your tea for a tangy taste.
- Add a sprig of mint for a little fragrance.
- If a single bag makes it too strong, you can easily add more water. A single tea bag can make up to 16 ounces of sweet tea if you let it steep for a bit longer!
- Try different brands of tea bags. You might find some fruity varieties, or you might prefer one brand over another. There are lots of different tea bags to try!
That’s it for our simple but good sweet tea recipe. You can make this a lot easier with an electric kettle or water warmer, especially if you only want to make one cup at a time. But what if you’re serving loads of guests? What if you want to make a lot more and keep it cold so you have plenty to keep you satisfied throughout the entire day?
How to make a perfect gallon of sweet tea
Ingredients for a perfect gallon of sweet tea
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this:
- 3 to 4 family-sized tea bags or 12-15 individual tea bags
- A cup of sugar
Instructions for a perfect gallon of sweet tea
- Boil 4 to 5 cups of water
- Remove from heat once boiled and add your tea bags
- Let the tea bags steep for around five minutes. You may want to get a long spoon and stir them occasionally to ensure they are submerged in the water
- Remove the tea bags
- Add your sugar to the tea
- Prepare a gallon pitcher and pour the tea into it
- Fill the rest of the pitcher with cold water and ice depending on your preferences. This is typically 3 quarts (12 cups) but you can adjust this depending on how much ice you add.
- Continue stirring to ensure everything combines and let it refrigerate or serve immediately
And that’s it for a perfect gallon of sweet tea. Keep it in the fridge and serve over ice whenever you get a craving for sweet tea!
Making this perfect gallon of sweet tea your own
Ready to make a signature sweet tea that is unique to you? Here are a couple of suggestions on what you can do to transform the taste and add your own little spin.
- Remember that you can use different kinds of tea bags to create a unique blend of flavor. You can experiment with different fruity flavors, different brands of tea, and even use different amounts of tea bags to adjust the taste. There’s a lot you can do with such a large amount of sweet tea and the tea bags you use will have a huge impact on the taste!
- Instead of just adding sugar, you could experiment with different kinds of syrups as well. Just make sure that these dissolve properly and that you don’t have a lot of it stuck to the bottom of your pitcher.
- You can slice up some lemons to add to the tea and make it a little more interesting. However, remember that adding the whole lemon slice is going to impart a bitter flavor due to the skin. Consider shaving off the skin or counteracting this with more sugar.
- Making a large hot pitcher of tea like this can be difficult because it will cool really quickly. Instead of using a pitcher, you may want to use something insulated such as a thermos.
- If you’re going to add ice then make the tea stronger! As the ice melts it will dilute the tea, making it taste bland if you have too much of it. You can counteract this with a stronger tea to ensure the taste stays consistent.
- But if you’re feeling really fancy, you can actually make a second batch of sweet tea and turn it all into ice cubes! This ensures that the flavor never dilutes and makes it a fun summer treat.
And that’s it for our gallon of sweet tea recipe. Experiment with different types of tea and different amounts of tea bags and you can easily create something that is unique to your household.
How to make Southern sweet tea
As the originator of sweet tea, you’ll find loads of unique sweet tea recipes in the southern states. But there’s something about the original tried-and-true southern tea recipe that we all fall in love with time and time again. No matter how many unique variations there are, the original is sometimes the best!
Thankfully, it’s very simple to make authentic southern-style sweet tea because all it takes is one extra ingredient; baking soda. Yes, it sounds strange, but it’s actually the secret to turning a regular pitcher of sweet tea into authentic southern sweet tea!
You don’t need much when making your sweet tea. Around a quarter of a teaspoon of baking soda is enough to help your sweet tea stay fresher for longer. If you’re making a single serving then a tiny pinch is all you need. Add this to the boiling water and make your sweet tea as normal. You’ll find that it cuts out some of the bitterness (helpful if you add lemons as well!) and helps it stay delicious for longer.
How to make sweet tea without sugar
The great thing about sweet tea is that it can also be enjoyed by people that want to cut down on the amount of sugar that they’re consuming.
All you have to do is swap out the sugar for sweetener! We recommend a granulated sweetener to ensure that it easily dissolves in your sweet tea. The exact amounts may be a little different compared to regular sweet tea, so you may want to adjust this to your own tastes.
Alternatively, you can actually use other sweet things such as syrup or fruit juice. Although these do contain sugars, it’s often from natural sources and can impart a unique flavor to your tea.
What is the healthiest sweet tea?
Sweet tea is often seen as unhealthy because you’re adding a lot of sugar to the drink. However, you can avoid this by using sweeteners instead! Alternatively, you could experiment with syrups which can be better for you and don’t contain as many calories.
You can even pick up pre-sweetened sweet tea bags that contain no calories. Just check out our huge range of sweet tea bags at Southern Breeze!
How long can I store sweet tea?
Sweet tea is usually so good that you’ll finish it on the same day. However, if you find yourself leaving it for a while then you can safely refrigerate your sweet tea for up to a week as long as it’s covered or bottled.
However, if you leave the sweet tea for longer than 8 hours, then the flavor may be impacted. As such, we highly recommend that you drink it all on the same day if possible!
Can you mix sweet tea to create different drinks?
Absolutely! There are loads of different ways to mix sweet tea to create a unique drink or cocktail. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
How to make sweet tea and lemonade
The Arnold Palmer is a delicious drink that combines iced tea and lemonade. The drink is named after the professional golfer because it’s one of his favorite drinks. Simply mix one part lemonade with one part sweet tea and you’ll get an Arnold Palmer. This is a huge hit with kids and adults alike and adds a lemony flavor to your sweet tea.
Here are some tips for making a great sweet tea and lemonade:
- Lemonade can be quite sweet so you may want to omit adding sugar to the tea if you plan to make an Arnold Palmer. You can always add more sugar later in the process to adjust the taste.
- There are lots of different kinds of lemonade and you’ll need to adjust your recipe to fit your tastes. For example, some lemonades are known for being more acidic while others focus on the sweetness. You could even try British-style lemonade which is carbonated. This adds a unique twist to this drink and makes it attractive for anyone that loves soda.
- You can also leave out lemons as the citrus flavors will come from the lemonade instead!
- If you’re going for a very lemony taste then add a sprig of mint to give it a unique twist and balance out the flavors. This takes the drink up a notch in freshness and makes it great for hot summer days.
How to make sweet tea cocktails
Another fantastic way to serve sweet tea is to use it in alcohol and non-alcoholic cocktails. Here are some ideas for you to try out:
- Bourbon sweet tea - A simple cocktail that involves a shot of bourbon that is topped up with sweet tea. Mix well, serve with a wedge of lemon, and add plenty of ice. It’s one of the most refreshing drinks you could ever ask for!
- Backyard sweet tea - Another amazing cocktail that uses a 3:1 ratio of black spiced rum and sweet tea. Add plenty of ice and some lemon shavings to add a citrus tang. A sprig of mint can also add more flavor to this combination.
- Tailgate sweet tea - Also known as just Tailgate Tea, this is a flavor-packed cocktail that mixes 4 parts sweet tea with one part pineapple juice, one part orange juice, a splash of lemon juice, and one part bourbon. The ratios can be adjusted to your liking as well. If you like a bit more citrus, add a bit more lemon and orange juice! If you love the tropical flavors, add more pineapple juice! This is great for serving large crowds and can even be garnished with some lemon, orange and pineapple slices.
- Pineapple sweet tea - Pineapple offers some amazing flavors that go perfectly with sweet tea. Simply replace the water with pineapple juice, adjusting as necessary to ensure that you get the perfect balance of tropical sweetness and the refreshing taste of black tea. You may want to reduce the amount of sugar for this recipe because pineapple juice is very sweet! You’ll definitely want to add some mint leaves for this, and a splash of lemon juice can be added depending on your tastes.
We hope you enjoy these sweet tea cocktail ideas and use them for your own creations in the future. Sweet tea is extremely versatile and we highly recommend trying different things to make your own unique signature drinks!
What are the best tea bags for sweet tea?
Making sweet tea is easy with Southern Breeze. Our tea bags come pre-sweetened, meaning that you don't need to add additional sugar. Simply steep in water and you’ve got a fast and delicious sweet tea to enjoy. We also offer zero-calorie options with no sugar, no carbs, and no nonsense. Just the delicious taste of sweet tea that you know and love minus the guilt.
Southern Breeze also offers many different cold brew flavors. From blackberry iced tea and mango iced tea to a refreshing mint or watermelon, why not try something different the next time you make a jug of sweet tea to enjoy? You could even try combining these flavors to create something special! Our sweet tea bags come in single-serving sizes so you can enjoy a glass of sweet tea on your own, but we also have family sizes so you can make enough for the whole family.
Take a look at our tea bag selection today and start making your own sweet tea at home with ease.