Brew Southern Sweet Tea That's Even Better Than Grandma's

Erika Marty

Sweet tea is about as American as baseball and apple pie. The Southern beverage is a staple at mealtimes and the perfect way to refresh yourself during the hot, humid summer months. If you're anything like us, you crave the sweet, tasty tea all year long. Fortunately, this tea is quick and easy to whip up so you can enjoy it while lounging by the pool or at the office while you daydream of your next vacation. While it's often brewed with Luzianne or Lipton black tea bags, we've created this sweet tea recipe using loose tea to develop flavors that even grandma would be proud of.

Sweet Tea Recipe

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Bring water and one cup sugar to a rolling boil using a large saucepan on the stove set to high heat.
  2. Remove the pot of boiling water from the burner and add in the black tea leaves.
  3. Let the leaves steep in the hot water for 3 to 5 minutes. The longer the steeping time, the stronger the flavors.
  4. Use a fine-mesh strainer to remove the tea leaves and allow the hot tea to cool to room temperature.
  5. Once cool, pour the tea into a large glass pitcher. Add a few lemon slices and serve over ice cubes. Garnish with a sprig of mint if desired and a slice of lemon.

Tips For How to Make Sweet Tea

Use Loose Leaf Tea Instead of Tea Bags

Swap out the family size tea bags and use loose leaf tea instead for better flavor. Loose teas contain the entire leaf of the tea plant while tea bags typically contain the dust and fannings — or broken, ground-up pieces of leaves. Tea bags contain inferior tea pieces that can cause bitter flavors and poor taste. Stick with loose leaf tea for the best flavor.

Sweeten Smartly

Not all sugars are the same when it comes to brewing tea. Solid sugars, — like brown sugar and can sugar — react differently than liquid sugars like honey and simple syrup. Solid sugars should be added to the tea when the water is still hot. That's because solid sugar doesn't dissolve well in cold water.

Liquid sugars can be added at any stage of the brewing process, but dissolve best when added to warm or hot water. Simple syrup is a great way to sweeten individual glasses for guests that may want a touch of sweeter flavor than your brewed pitcher of iced tea.

While our recipe calls for one cup of sugar, you can certainly up that to several cups of sugar if you have sweeter tastes. The best sweet tea depends on different tastes so brew up the flavor that pleases your taste buds the most.

Mix Things Up

While traditional sweet tea is made with black tea leaves, hot water, and sugar, don't be afraid to experiment and mix things up. Adults may enjoy a splash of Kentucky bourbon or Tennessee whiskey to liven things up in the evenings. Other authentic homemade recipes call for additions like honey and min to take taste up a notch. You can also brew the tea with funky alternatives like green tea, oolong tea, or even rooibos tea.

Sweeten The Summer With Sweet Tea

Head into the kitchen and start brewing tasty ice tea Southern style with this sweet tea recipe. The prep time takes just a few minutes and brewing is done in a snap so you can spend less time brewing and more time savoring the sweet tea. Tea drinkers are sure to love this tea recipe and it's the perfect way to invite guests into your home for a little refreshment and hospitality.

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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