Southern Style Sweet Tea Recipe

Just like mom used to make, this Southern Style Sweet Tea Recipe is simple and easy. A staple in my house growing up, this one is as perfect as it gets. Not too sweet and totally refreshing!

Easy to make and ready in minutes, Southern Style Sweet Tea is simple and refreshing. |

There are things in life that can totally take you back to a memory in about half a second….a certain smell…..the sound of the ocean….the taste of your favorite childhood treat. Know what I mean?

Like the report cards they handed out in school when I was teeny, tiny had a certain smell, and whether you did well or not in school would determine if this was a good smell or bad. (For me, it depended on the year.) 🙂

Every time I drive to the beach, I put the windows down as soon as I cross the bay bridge because the smell of the ocean immediately transports me back to my childhood summers when our one week trip to the beach each year was the highlight of my life. The smell of the salt air always puts me right in a happy mood and should be bottled up for the long winters when I start to feel much less beachy.

Easy to make and ready in minutes, Southern Style Sweet Tea is simple and refreshing. |

This Southern Style Sweet Tea recipe has the same effect.  My mom used to make this almost every day, it seemed.  There was never a time, that I remember, our refrigerator being without a gallon of sweet tea.  

It was the first recipe I ever remember making from scratch and, to be honest, we didn’t even call it sweet tea.  We just called it Iced Tea….being that we’re not southern in any stretch of the imagination. So, when I started hearing all about Southern Style Sweet Tea I was dying to try it….and on a business trip to Birmingham one swampy summer I finally got to try the real deal Sweet Tea!

One sip and I was instantly reminded of the tea my mom used to make by the bucket full. SHE was making SWEET TEA….ALL

So, no wonder I have an instant connection with all southern food like Chicken Fried Steak…..or Shrimp and Grits. Well, maybe not the reason but I truly think that I’m supposed to be a southern gal. It’s in my blood….I don’t know how it got there but the whole southern lifestyle is more my speed.

Easy to make and ready in minutes, Southern Style Sweet Tea is simple and refreshing. |

What is Southern Sweet Tea?

Sweet tea is much more than iced tea with a spoonful of sugar stirred in. Southern style sweet tea is, generally, made in big batches by boiling water and stirring in sugar until it’s dissolved….sort of like a less sweet form of simple syrup. 

Then, the tea is steeped in the sugar water for a bit until the water has cooled a bit.  The tea bags are removed and you, now, have a sweet tea concentrate…in a nutshell. Pour the tea into a pitcher and top off with water.

Southerners keep pitchers of sweet tea in their fridge for last minute guests and to cool off in the sweaty summertime. We love it for the same reasons here in the northeast!

What ingredients are in Sweet Tea?

This easy Sweet Tea recipe is made with just a few simple ingredients:

  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Black Tea Bags

That’s it, the simpler the better in my opinion. 

Can you make Sweet Tea with Green Tea?

YES! You can totally substitute the black tea with green tea for a lighter flavored iced tea recipe.  In fact, sweet tea was originally made with green tea until WWII when green tea importation was cut off due to the war.

Americans switched to black tea, at that time, because it was easier to find….and that’s how Southern Sweet Tea came to be. History lesson OVER. 🙂 It is summer, after all.


Easy to make and ready in minutes, Southern Style Sweet Tea is simple and refreshing. |

Now, I’m making my own Southern Style Sweet Tea this summer and it’s just as good as I remember my mom’s to be.  

I like to serve it up at parties on a big tray along with a bucket of ice (because some people are not as big of an ice fan as I am), some simple syrup (because who wants sugar granules floating around in their tea!), sliced lemons (for those that like a little pucker with their sweet). Kind of a “Build your Own Sweet Tea” bar, if you will. 

Easy to make and ready in minutes, Southern Style Sweet Tea is simple and refreshing. |

To make your Southern Style Sweet Tea even sweeter, mix in a little bit of Homemade Lemonade for a DIY Arnold Palmer Drink or serve with a splash of your favorite sparkling wine and a handful of fruit for a tea-rific twist on Sangria!

What to Serve with Sweet Tea

Pimento Cheese in a mason jar with a silver spreader and crackers from

If you’re looking for more refreshing summer drinks, try these reader favorites!

Mint julep cocktail in a glass julep cup with mint and crushed ice.

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Southern Style Sweet Tea

Classic and refreshing, this is the same sweet tea recipe my mom used to make!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Beverage
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 12 -14
Calories 96 kcal


  • 4 cups water plus more for filling pitcher
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 teabags
  • lemon wedges if desired


  • Bring 4 cups water to a boil over high heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved.
  • Turn off the heat and add the teabags.
  • Steep for 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove the teabags and transfer the tea to a gallon pitcher. 
  • Fill the pitcher with water and chill. 
  • Serve with lemon wedges and simple syrup, if desired.


Tea can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.


Calories: 96kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 0gFat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 4mgSugar: 24gCalcium: 3mg
Keyword sweet tea
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