Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Easiest Sweet Tea Ever

At many restaurants and eating establishments outside of the South, they don't offer sweet tea. If you do ask for sweet tea, they will offer you regular unsweetened iced tea and refer you to the sugar and artificial sweetener packets for you to add your own sweetening.

Now to the uninitiated and those people unfortunate enough to not live in the South, Sweet tea is not just unsweetened iced tea with sugar stirred into it. That bears repeating, with emphasis. Sweet tea is NOT just unsweetened iced tea with sugar stirred into it. Not by a long shot.

Adding sugar to already cold tea is an exercise in futility. Most of the sugar ends up at the bottom of the glass, and you can never get it sweet enough. Proper sweet tea has the sugar added while it's hot, or at least warm, so that the sugar incorporates into the liquid--technically I guess it becomes a suspended solution. (It's been too long since I took a chemistry class, so I may not have the terminology right!)

You can vary the strength of the tea and the amount of sugar, and even the technique used to make it, but good sweet tea is like nectar and ambrosia to us southern folk.

Over the years, I've made a couple of different versions of sweet tea, but this is one of my favorites because it's so easy. This makes 1 gallon.


8 tea bags
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c sugar

Start with hot, but not boiling water. If you have good tap water and safe pipes, you can run the hot water from the tap till it's hot and steaming; if you want to use other water, or if you don't trust your pipes (some older buildings may have lead, etc in the pipes), you can bring your water to an almost boil, or boil it and then allow it to cool slightly.

Fill a gallon pitcher about 1/3 to 1/2 full of hot water; add 8 regular tea bags. Let this steep for at least a couple of hours. (I have to confess, I've even left it overnight with no ill-effects) Fish out the tea bags, and add your sugar. The person who taught me how to make sweet tea used 1 1/2 cups of sugar per gallon; for my family this is a little too sweet, so I cut the sugar down to 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups per gallon, depending on who's going to be drinking it. Stir this into the concentrate, and fill the pitcher the rest of the way with hot, but not boiling water.

Pour into a tall glass filled with ice, with or without lemon added, and enjoy!

Tune in tomorrow for my easy version of "unsweet" tea. It's a totally different technique, but does make a good mild unsweetened tea that never gets cloudy in the fridge.

For links to more recipe posts, go to Tasty Tuesday at Forever...Wherever or Tempt my Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

Until next time...good cooking, and good eating!


  1. Great tip for those not so fortunate to have been properly raised in the South. Fun post. Thanks for sharing and linking up to TMTT.

  2. I'm a major sweet tea drinker! My mother-in-law's blog is named "Sweet Tea!" Thanks for the recipe. I never measure anything, but I should! :-)

  3. Love that sweet tea! Thanks.

  4. It's so sad a lot of people aren't born and raised in the South! I'm a Mississippi girl, born and raised and at home sweet tea is as follows:
    Boil water
    Pour into pitcher with three lipton bags
    Steep for 10 minutes
    At 6 scoops sugar, and fill to the top with cold water

    I'm surprised all of our teeth haven't fallen out!

  5. Yes, I do feel sorry for people who aren't southern. They just don't know what they're missing, bless their hearts!

  6. I make my tea in the coffee pot! I use 6 or 7 tea bags (dependinjg on how strong you want it), fill the pot and run it twice and use about 1 3/4 C sugar!