How To Make The Best Sweet Tea Brews

Erika Marty

Sweet tea is an American icon and nowhere is it more beloved than in the South. Here, sweet tea isn't just a drink to enjoy in the summertime, it's a staple of most people's favorite memories enjoying cool evenings on the porch with loved ones. It's an integral part of family life and it also plays a role in social gatherings and Southern hospitality. Find out how to make the best sweet tea right here plus a few unique twists to take things up a notch.

What is Sweet Tea?

In the South, sweet tea is traditionally made using black tea bags from either Lipton or Luzianne. These are typically family size tea bags rather than regular size tea bags to make brewing easier. The tea is heavily sweetened and served as an iced tea in large glass pitchers.

While we love brewing up a classic batch of Southern sweet tea, we also enjoy experimenting and mixing things up. That's why we've put together this list of our favorite sweet tea recipes with a twist on the classic.

How to Make Sweet Tea - The Classic Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of water (filtered or spring water, not tap water)
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons Cup & Leaf Black Tea
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon wedges

Instructions:

  1. Turn the stove to high heat and bring water and sugar to a rapid boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the tea leaves to the boiling water using a tea strainer.
  3. Simmer the hot water for 3 to 5 minutes and then remove from heat.
  4. Let the tea steep until the water mixture reaches room temperature. The longer steeping time allows the tea to develop a rich, bold flavor.
  5. Remove the tea leaves and pour into a large glass pitcher. Serve immediately over ice cubes and garnish with lemon slices or store in the refrigerator.

Rosehip, Raspberry, and Green Sweet Tea

Since this recipe is made using green tea rather than black tea, you'll need to brew the tea at a lower temperature. That's because green tea can develop bitter flavors when brewed at higher temperatures.

Make sure to brew the tea using water at a temperature between 150 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results. This type of sweet tea is also the perfect candidate for brewing sun tea using cold water, which will help avoid bitter tastes.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil and then reduce heat until the mixture reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Remove from heat and add in the rosehip tea and green tea leaves.
  3. Allow the green tea leaves to steep for 2 to 5 minutes before removing. Allow the rosehip tea to steep until the tea cools to room temperature.
  4. In a large glass pitcher, gently crush the raspberries to release flavor.
  5. Remove the tea leaves and pour the tea mixture into a large glass pitcher. Serve with a raspberry and mint sprig garnish.

How to Make The Best Sweet Tea

The secret to making the best sweet tea is to use the highest-quality ingredients. Don't use cheap tea bags from obscure brands. Cheap tea typically contains the dust and fannings produced during the tea process rather than whole tea leaves. That means you don't get as many healthy ingredients or flavor. Instead, use high-quality tea bags or loose tea from reputable brands.

When it comes to water, stick to filtered water or spring water instead of tap water. Tap water is treated with chemicals and additives that can alter the flavor of the tea. When adding sweetener, make sure to add solid sweeteners — think cane sugar and brown sugar — when the water is hot. Cold water doesn't dissolve solid sugars well. Simple syrup or agave can be used to sweeten tea that is already iced.

Brew the best southern sweet tea by using ingredients you love and focusing on high-quality products. The beauty of this tea is that prep time and total time take just a few minutes so you can enjoy a delicious beverage in no time. Play with flavors and let your imagination dream up new ideas to discover new twists to the classic recipe. Whatever your favorite flavor, tea drinkers will enjoy taking a break from hot tea to relish a glass of refreshing sweet tea.

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Erika Marty

As a digital nomad, I get to work from anywhere in the world and discover new teas every week. When I'm not working, you can find me mountain biking, hiking, and petting every stray dog I meet.

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