It's no secret, us Southerner's like our tea cold and sweet and here's the secret how to make Southern Sweet Tea at home!
The secret isn't really a secret - it's simple-syrup. And there's a few different ways to brew the tea so, read on and learn how to make the real deal!
My Grandmother Rozie could make a mean batch of sweet tea...dang, it was really good...and ultra sweet!
At our family gatherings, we have to warn everybody, "Ya'll, this is Rozie-tea" meaning, "if you don't like Sweet Tea, Go Home!"
You'll love this recipe!
- Quick and easy - once you brew it, which takes 5-minutes, the rest is a breeze!
- Simple syrup - store it in the fridge and have sweet tea anytime you want
- Perfect for a hot day - put a dash of fresh lemon in your southern tea and sit a spell!
Here's what you'll need:
It doesn't take much to make this National Drink of the South! Tea bags, sugar, water, ice - now how simple is that?
How to make authentic Southern Sweet Tea
A really good, sweet tea requires a simple syrup which is equal parts sugar and water. Just put it in a saucepan and heat it until the sugar dissolves.
Now, you can make good ole' Southern Iced tea without it, but you have to add the sugar to when it's warm (right after brewed) in order for the sugar to completely dissolve.
You see, in authentic Southern sweet tea, there's never any undissolved sugar in sweet tea...ever!
Make a simple syrup:(steps 1 & 2 below)
Make a simple syrup: combine equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan (2 cups sugar and 2 cups water); stir and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves (about 1-minute)
There's a couple of different methods in brewing tea, but I'll just mention a few:
- Stove top: Bring about 6 cups of water to a boil; add in three tea bags; turn heat off and let steep for 5-minutes
- Kettle: Bring a kettle of water to a whistle; place tea bags in a large heat-tolerant pitcher; pour hot water over tea bags; let steep for 5-minutes
- Coffee-Maker: Put three tea bags in the filter area; don't use a coffee filter; add about 6 cups of water to the coffee maker; turn on "brew"; once water has filled the coffee pot, remove and pour into a pitcher
Add simple syrup and ice: Steps 3 & 4 below:
Pour the warm tea into a heat-tolerant pitcher and simple syrup in ½ cup increments; add a little, taste, and adjust to your liking.
After adding ice to the pitcher, taste the tea and see if you want it sweeter; if so, add more simple syrup. Pour over ice and serve!
Tips and Questions:
What tea do Southerners use?
By far, the most popular brand is Luzianne brand, which is a combination of orange pekoe and pekoe cut black teas that are harvested globally. The beauty of Luzianne is that it doesn't turn cloudy.
God forbid any Southern hostess serve her guests a glass of cloudy tea! I've found other name brands turn cloudy...
How to prevent cloudy iced tea?
The most common reason for cloudiness is over-steeping. I steep Luzianne tea bags for 5-minutes and that's it. A short steep minimizes the tannins, which contribute to cloudiness.
If you accidentally over-steep, you can easy correct a pitcher of cloudy tea by adding in a teaspoon or two of baking soda to the warm tea. Baking soda does not change the flavor.
Do I refrigerate it before serving?
This Southern sweet tea recipe is relatively strong so you can pour it directly over ice (while it's warm) and serve-no need to chill it first. The ice will dilute and cool it just enough! It's easier to correct a strong tea than a weak one.
Can I leave the tea pitcher out overnight?
I don't recommend it and here's why: one of two things will happen. Little fruit flies might get in it and two, it has sugar and believe it or not, if it sits out too long, it starts to mold.
You can leave it out while you're serving and about two hours later, but at the end of the day, it should be covered with plastic and refrigerated.
What can I do with leftover simple syrup?
If you've got leftovers, place the syrup in a jar and refrigerate. Use later when making homemade lemonade or limeade!
How long can I store the syrup?
Place the mixture in an airtight jar (like a Mason jar) and refrigerate for up to three weeks.
My tea is too weak and/or too sweet:
If you made a pitcher of weak tea or a pitcher that's too sweet, you can correct it by brewing a few more (2) tea bags in 3 cups of water. Add the stronger tea to the weak one...then adjust the simple sugar accordingly.
Southern Sweet Tea
- 3 tea bags
- 2 cups sugar
- 8 cups water 2 cups for the simple sugar; 6 cups for brewing the tea
- In a saucepan on medium heat, add 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar; cook and stir until sugar has dissolved; remove from heat and set aside
- Brew the Tea: (see How to Brew Tea in recipe notes)Bring 6 cups of water to boil and add tea leaves; allow to steep for about 5 minutes ORPlace tea bags in coffee maker with no coffee filter; run 6 cups water through the coffee maker
- In a large heat-tolerant pitcher, add the hot tea; pour in simple syrup in ½ cup increments until the tea is sweet enough for you!
- Add a few handfuls of ice to the pitcher
- Put more ice in glasses and pour tea over ice and enjoy!
- Glass pitchers work best; plastic pitchers may melt (do not ask how I know this)
- Stove top: Bring about 6 cups of water to a boil; add in three tea bags; turn heat off and let steep
- Kettle: Bring a kettle of water to a whistle; place the tea bags in a large heat-tolerant pitcher; pour hot water over tea bags; let steep
- Coffee-Maker: Put three tea bags in the filter area; don't use a coffee filter; add about 6 cups of water to the coffee maker; turn on "brew"; once tea has filled the coffee pot, remove from coffee maker pour sweet tea into a pitcher
- The most common reason for cloudy tea is over-steeping. I steep Luzianne tea bags for 5 minutes and that's it. A short steep minimizes the tannins, which contribute to cloudiness.
- If you accidentally over-steep your tea bags, you can easy correct a pitcher of cloudy tea by adding in a teaspoon or two of baking soda to the warm tea. Baking soda does not change the flavor.
♥ If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and rating below! Thank you!