How to Make Southern Sweet Tea

Okay all you non-southerners or otherwise sweet-tea-impaired bloggy peoples, I’m going to give you my recipe for homemade Southern Sweet Tea! It’s just as good as Chick-Fil-A or Chicken Express tea if I do say so myself. And it’s easy peasy.

Amber’s Southern Sweet Tea

  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, pour into 1 gallon tea pitcher.
  2. Add three family sized Lipton tea bags and let it steep for at least ten minutes (or thirty depending on how strong you want it. Just don’t let it cool completely.)
  3. While it’s still plenty warm for the sugar to dissolve, gently squeeze excess water from the tea bags and remove.
  4. Stir in 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar (you can reduce down to 1 cup if you prefer it less sweet, but why?)
  5. Fill with cool water to 1 gallon line and stir.
  6. Pour over ice in tall glass and serve with a straw.

That last step is important! If you’re going to drink tea like a southerner, you need a big ol’ honkin’ glass of it. Find the biggest drinking glasses you can find. Or you can do like we do, and just drink it out of quart canning jars. = )

And here’s a few more tea tips for you:

  • A good, sturdy tea pitcher is a must! Preferably glass. But if you use a glass tea pitcher, do not pour the boiling water directly into the tea pitcher. Pour it first into a pyrex measuring glass or bowl to let the tea steep and cool some before adding to the pitcher.
  • If you can’t make a whole gallon for whatever reason – simply follow the same process as above until you get to step #5. Before filling with water, pour half of the tea concentrate into a cup, measuring cup, etc and store in fridge. Fill with water to the 2 qt line. When the tea is gone, your next pitcher will be ready in only minutes. Just pour the tea concentrate in, fill with water and serve.
  • If you’re going to need lots of tea for a family gathering – make up the concentrate ahead of time and store it in individual increments (you can wash and reuse soda bottles for easy storage and mixing.) You’ll be able to keep the sweet tea flowing without much interruption and without using much space in your fridge, saving room for that big bowl of fruit salad or that whip cream topped chocolate pie.
  • For tea on the go – It might be easier to transport bottles of concentrate, gallons of water and bags of ice. Perfect for that 4th of July picnic at the park.
  • If a tea bag breaks – don’t give up on the tea! Pull out your coffee pot, place a clean filter in it, and slowly pour the tea through the filter and into the carafe. Bye bye tea grinds, hello sweet tea.


You may find that your family will get used to having sweet tea around the house. Children may begin requesting sweet tea at odd times of the day. Reports have been made of husbands drinking the last of the sweet tea straight from the pitcher and placing the empty pitcher back in the fridge. Sweet tea may cause immediate euphoria, slight weight gain and intense cravings. Symptoms of withdrawal may occur when sweet tea is not administered regularly. If these or other side effects occur, the best course of treatment is usually the administration of sweet tea. Neither Lipton Tea nor Classic Housewife is responsible for any ill side affects or addictions you may experience.


This post was originally written for Works for Me Wednesday hosted by Kristen @ We are THAT Family on March 4, 2009. If you’ve landed here from a Google search, welcome! You might also be interested in my post about homemade southern biscuits. Enjoy!

Photo Credit:Attribution Some rights reserved by Pen Waggener

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March 4, 2009 12:52 pm

Okay, I just HAD to share this story with you after reading your post. My family moved to the South from Colorado several years ago, and one night we went out to eat at a local restaurant. My dad ordered iced tea. When it came he took a big drink and got a funny look on his face. He gave my mom a taste and then called the waitress over to ask her why she gave him SYRUP instead of tea. She explained (in such a thick accent it was barely English) that all they served was sweet tea. My… Read more »

March 4, 2009 3:30 pm

I LOVE SWEET TEA….thanks for sharing!!!!

Sarah’s last blog post..Works for me Wednesday…a perpetual calendar…of sorts…

March 4, 2009 7:45 pm

Your sweet tea picture looks so inviting. I have a version I make with the mint that grows in our yard and it is truly addictive. Another kind I found on someone’s blog uses apricot nectar (along with the tea and sugar) and that’s delicious, too. Love that sweet tea! Thanks for the inspiration.

Alyssa @ Keeping The Kingdom First
Alyssa @ Keeping The Kingdom First
March 4, 2009 11:15 pm

Ok, I don’t even like sweet tea, Amber, but right now I am totally craving it! We need to meet up again and enjoy a chat over sweet tea!

March 5, 2009 9:47 am

How funny! Yesterday I was so in the mood for my fav tea– around here its a summer thing and I am SO ready for warmer weather!!!

I aslo make mine in a concentrate (four bags of peach tea, four bags of mint, 1/2 cup honey, 2cups boiling water) and pour just a little into a glass whenever I want it.

Which does seem to go with that whole weight gain thing… I probably shouldn’t even try adding that much sugar!!!

Kelly@DesignsofMine’s last blog post..So You Know

Momma Knows
Momma Knows
March 5, 2009 12:32 pm

OK Amber, I needed another recipe for tea!! 🙂 I love my tea very sweet (my hubby does NOT) and I drink tea all day, every day. For that “slight weight gain” issue I use Splenda instead of sugar, but yumm! Thanks!!

Momma Knows’s last blog post..Far Above Rubies Freebie TODAY

March 5, 2009 2:52 pm

This is hilarious, Amber. When I moved away from Alabama, I had to figure out how they even made teas unsweet. It wasn’t even a concept to drink it unsweet. We drank it ALL DAY LONG. If it’s not made at dinner-time, my daddy would be aggravated. You just can’t eat without sweet tea to the side.

Thank you, friend for joining Seth today. You are always good to us, and I do very much look forward to another letter.

Amber@theRunaMuck’s last blog post..vitamin D for the memory

March 7, 2009 4:45 pm

I love the disclaimer. You may want to add that too much in the evening will wire the kids before bed! We love sweet tea.

Houstonmom’s last blog post..City of Houston Agenda / police officer

March 12, 2009 11:05 am

LOVE sweet tea! The warning on the post cracked me up!

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Chris P.
Chris P.
July 17, 2010 8:51 pm

What exactly is a “family sized” Lipton tea bag?

July 22, 2010 1:01 pm
Reply to  Chris P.

Chris, it’s one of the larger bags. About twice the size of the standard one-cup tea bag.

Linda D.
Linda D.
July 16, 2011 6:52 pm

This was absolutely delicious! 1 and a half cup is actually really sweet for me, but it was still good. Thanks for this!

March 18, 2012 5:24 pm

Do you have to use “family sized Lipton tea bags” or can you use a generic tea bag/ multiple bags? i want it to have the same taste as it says in this article. (:

March 20, 2012 9:30 pm

When I have the smaller bags, I use 6 small bags for a gallon of tea instead of 3 or 4 family sized tea bags. =)

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