Sweet Tea - The House Wine of the South - TSLC

When life hands you lemons… squeeze them into some sweet iced tea and thank God you were born a southern girl!

Southerners love iced tea and drink it by the gallon!  We even like it in a Mason jar.  It was Dolly Parton in the movie, Steel Magnolias, that called Southern sweet tea, “the house wine of the South”.  There was never a truer statement. Talk about the South and sooner or later sweet tea comes to mind. Southerners love this sweet liquid and Southern girls are taught to make it by their Southern mamas.  In the South, tea is appropriate for all meals and you start drinking it before you can walk. Sweet tea makes Southerners think of home, tradition, picnics and hot afternoons “sippin” sweet tea while “swayin” in the swing on the front porch.  Southern girls know you can’t be considered a serious Southern belle unless you know how to make sweet tea.

There are lots of ways to make sweet tea but it has to have sugar.  In many cases, the more sugar the better and I prefer to use Luzianne tea.

4 family sized tea bags
1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar
3 quarts water
Bring the water to a boil. Remove from stove and add sugar so it will dissolve in the hot water. Add tea bags and let steep about 30 minutes.  Pour in enough water and ice to make a gallon of tea.
(I like a couple sprigs of mint in my iced tea, too)
Some people add a pinch of baking soda. This is supposed to keep the tea from becoming cloudy.   Enjoy!
Click here for:  Classic Sweet Tea using Simple Syrup
I think John Egerton said it best when he said:   “Iced tea is too pure and natural a creation not to have been invented as soon as tea, ice, and hot weather crossed paths”.

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  1. Whoa…. 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sugar for not even a gallon of tea? Is that a misprint? That is an insane amount of sugar especially if this is something you drink daily. Just wanted to make sure these were the correct measurements.

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      You can make it to your taste, Kristina and use however much sugar you want in the tea. Southern sweet tea has a lot of sugar in it. You might want to click on the Classic Sweet tea link make with simple syrup and try that recipe.

  2. Michele Winslow says:

    My Mom’s family is from North Carolina, so Sweet Tea was a staple growing up. Better half grew up in England so of course he likes tea. Introduced him to sweet tea, and he loves it. Thanks for the recipe, I will see if he can tell difference between power I’ve been using and the real thing. Again Thanks.

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      You’re very welcome! Have a wonderful week πŸ™‚

  3. Michele Winslow says:

    I’m also diabetic. I’ve used Truvia for about 3 or 4 years, can’t tell difference. They also have a “baking” product which is a little sweeter. A little on strawberries brings out the juices and sweetness just a regular sugar would.

    1. A mixture of strawberries to add a little twang sounds sorta good


    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I always use Luzianne tea.

    2. I also use Luzianne, and because it is not available in stores here in Seattle, I order it from amazon.com

  5. I love sweet to but have type 2 diabetes and cannot have the sugar, have yet to find a substitute for sugar that taste good, any suggestions?

    1. You might want try using Truvia. It’s granulated like sugar.I haven’t tried it in iced tea, but I’ve made desserts with including ones that you bake. It doesn’t change the flavor like Equal. It should do fine.

  6. I was taught to make it this way back in 65 by my MIL here in south AL

    Boil 1 qt.of water and remove from heat at first bubble.

    Add 5 regular teabags and steep for no more than 5 minutes. Remove teabags and add 1 cup of sugar, stir well and fill a glass 2 qt. Pitcher with the concentrated tea. (Never use plastic)

    Fill the rest of the pitcher with iced cold water kept in fridge overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate. (If not on a well)

    No mint leaves, no lemons. Nothing should detract from the perfume of the Camellias leaves. (I quote)

    I guess everyone has their own secret recipes, but I do know that this recipe has turned non-iced tea drinkers into addicts! πŸ™‚

  7. dolores oarker says:

    I remember going to Vegas and asking for sweet iced tea …waiter looked at me like “what are you talking about”. LOL…I learned it was going to be difficult getting sweet iced tea in Vegas!

  8. Yikes a Yankee Jersey girl loves her tea just like this lol ..learn something new everyday..Thanks

  9. Thank you for this recipe! I have always made mine strong, like yours and am glad to see you use the water for a vehicle for the tea and sugar. Nothing better than a nice strong, sweet glass of ice cold Luzianne tea…year round! Love the idea of using the mint. Not sure why I never did that before πŸ™‚

  10. I moved to Michigan from Mobile, Ala. I was very used to making a pitcher of tea every morning to have on hand all day, along with a bowl of cut lemons for those who wanted to add lemon. We never used mint in our tea. Don’t know why. I carried that tradition as a new housewife to the north with me. My husband was a Michigander and he got used to tea over the years. Now he wonders when there is none in the fridge! My son is 35, he makes tea every day too. We are keeping the tradition going even if we are in the cold North.

  11. I like tea sweetened with real sugar occasionally, but usually drink it straight. A grammar school friend of mine served a glass of iced tea to me while we were standing on her front porch years ago. That was in S.E. Tennessee. I had never seen tea without sugar in it. I took one sip and yikes….it was straight. I watched for my chance and poured it out into the yard. But once I married a Yankee, who did not want sugar in his iced tea, I conformed to the ways of the North.

  12. I live in ALASKA and drink Sweet Tea 12 months of the year. Never really had “recipe” since I’m not from the south, but glad to see I’ve been on the right track all these years. πŸ™‚

  13. My Daddy is from Louisiana. My momma from Atlanta Georgia via my grandparents. Im Southern Caifornia born. What other way is there to make and drink tea!!? This my drink!! Takes you back to where you aint never been!

  14. Awww, They are making it the way they like it : ). Judy said it best, there are so many different ways to make Sweet Tea. Those of us born in the South, we all know tea isn’t tea unless it is sweet, but how we get there is all a matter of choice. I can’t imagine a week without Sweet Tea…oh yes I can, my trip to Puerto Rico…all that heat and NOOOO sweet tea to be found. I thought I was going to shrivel up and dry out. Loved Puerto Rico and Pina Coladas on the beach were nice, but next time I’m going to make a big pitcher and keep in my hotel room and fill up those empty water bottles so I can travel the Island sipping sweet tea.

  15. Born and raised in Virginia so very used to Sweet Tea, but I have lived in California for the last 15 years. My friends just don’t understand my need for “Tea” particularly Sweet Tea. While they drink wine, I order Iced Tea (mind you I have to add the sugar myself, it ain’t the same). When they come over, I always have Iced Tea ready. I just smile to myself…if any of them were born in the south, they’d understand.

    1. I understand!!! I’m from southern Indiana but have lived in AZ 15 yrs. Love my sweet tea!!!!!!!. AZ doesn’t know what it is!

  16. I make 2 gallons a day…I have a gallon with me at all times. even at work…From the South but live in Ohio…lol

  17. I make this tea all the time but I add one can of frozen lemonade concentrate to the recipe. It’s delish!

  18. Love that Luzianne and wish we could buy it in Canada, eh?

    1. I too went to Canada and I could’nt make tea with red rose tea I had. My family send me my tea from Okla still make tea back in USA

  19. Priscilla Cooley says:

    For an adult glass of tea…Make your favorite glass of tea, add a shot of any good rum, tropical is even better. Fill glass with ice! We call it Southern Satisfaction!

  20. I am a California girl with two southern Memaws! I order Luzianne tea from family on the south it’s all I serve here on our California Dairy Farm!

  21. Made the sweet tea! Yum! Love it!! I can tell this will go fast

  22. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have found your blog! I grew up in the Big Blue Nation and I’m a KY Southern girl through and through! Unfortunately my family isn’t born and bread southern and now that I’m living in the PNW I miss all my favorite southern foods but don’t know how to make them! I can do some stuff but have never been good with sweet tea and am dying for a good Hot Brown! I’m finally getting a really good Jam Cake recipe too and won’t be embarrassed to give them to these Yankees as gifts this Christmas!
    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  23. Hi, first time I’m having a look at your web site. Your recipes look delicious, I am definately going to try them. I’m from Australia, and we don’t have Luzianne tea here, nor do we have family sized tea bags, but I’ll look and see if there is somewhere where I can import them ‘Down Under’. Would love to try this tea when we have our hot dry summers here. Thank-you for sharing your recipes. I’ll be visiting this web site many times.

  24. skbaugh@gmail.com says:

    in two q pan boil 7 tea bags, then pour into a gallon jug with 1 1/3 cups sugar mix and add water. best tea ever !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. A few years ago I was in the North Carolina and if I wanted tea (which, as many Aussies do, I have for breakfast) I had to specify “hot tea” or it would come sweet and iced! So… not for breakfast, but I did learn to love it. I have particularly good memories of a long lunch that featured fried chicken, collard greens and a bottomless mason jar of the most beautiful iced tea. Every summer I say I’m going to make some, and never do. You’ve inspired me!

  26. I grew up drinking my mother’s sweet iced tea. She was born in Nashville, Tennessee. Her tea was the best. The ingredients are simple, but I sure can not make it like she did. I love iced tea with lemon in it, which is how she made it.

    1. The difference in the taste of water has a lot to do with the taste of your tea. My grandmother had a well and her tea was the best but an aunt in miss. Had a salty taste to her tea. Maybe you would want to try bottled water. Just saying.

      1. I use the water out of the “soft water” spigot so that it has a bit of salt in the tea. I want to have this on my tombstone “Best Sweet Tea Maker in _____ County! πŸ™‚

  27. In my part of the south (Louisiana) we don’t even have to say sweet tea, we just say tea because all tea is sweet unless you specify that you want unsweetened tea, and WHY would anyone want that!!! hahaha