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Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea

May 24, 2022
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea

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This refreshing, fruity Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea is perfect for any gathering. Made with fresh strawberries and just the right amount of sweetness, it's a foolproof crowd-pleaser!

Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea

This Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea is a refreshing home-brewed sweet tea made from black tea and a simple strawberry syrup and boasts of great hints of lemon, strawberry, and a whole lot of sweetness—just like they like it down south! The perfect drink for the sunniest of days regardless of the season!

Closeup of a glass of Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea

I'm so excited to finally share this Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea recipe! I've been meaning to add this recipe to Orchids + Sweet Tea ever since I posted my Traditional Southern Iced Sweet Tea. Strawberry season is just too incredible not to celebrate with this refreshing drink! Lovers of strawberries will definitely drink this one right up and I promise that this sweet tea will be a new family fave all Summer long!

You know that I’m a Southern girl at heart (born + raised), so this cup of goodness brings back so many great memories. For those of you that are in the South, I do hope that this recipe makes you proud. Haha. If you're looking for more refreshing spring and summer drinks, try my Pink Lemonade, Southern Peach Iced Tea, or this Loaded Hibiscus Mocktail!

This strawberry sweet tea is perfectly sweet without being overly sugary. It's great for BBQs or any summer gathering, easy to make, uses fresh strawberries for the best flavor, and is a hit with both adults and kids! It's a total WIN WIN!

Jump to:

Why Sweet Tea? What is Strawberry Sweet Tea?

Much like Lemonade (for many people), this sweet tea is the epitome of a Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter—– an all-around MUST HAVE in the South. Yes, ya’ll—it’s that serious!

Sweet tea is a beloved Southern classic made by brewing black tea and sweetening it with sugar while it's still hot. It's served cold and often flavored with fruits like lemon, peach or, in this case, strawberries.

Wooden bowl of strawberries

Why You Will Adore This Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea

  • Perfectly balanced --- Not overly sweet, just right for sipping on a hot day.
  • It’s super easy to make.
  • The vibrant color adds a fun + festive touch to any occasion.
  • Perfect for sipping on lazy afternoons or at backyard BBQs.
  • A crowd-pleaser for kids + adults alike.
Glass of Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea topped with strawberry halves

How To Make Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea

For those who aren’t familiar, sweet tea is not just sugar and water with a tea bag. I know, CRAZY! There’s a specific process: Steep the tea (the longer, the stronger the flavor). Mix in sugar (or your favorite sweetener) until it completely dissolves. Pour into a pitcher, add lemons for extra flavor, and chill completely before serving over ice. Sweet tea is always best served cold, so adding crushed ice to the pitcher or chilling it beforehand is a must!

Ingredients

Simple Strawberry Syrup:

  • Strawberries sliced. Fresh or frozen works!
  • Filtered water. For the simple syrup.
  • Organic cane sugar. For sweetness!
  • Lemon juice. Freshly squeezed works best and adds a nice balance of tartness.

Sweet Tea:

  • Filtered water. This is the base of the sweet tea!
  • Black tea bags. I like to use organic, but you can use whatever you have on hand!
  • Lemon juice. Again freshly-squeezed is best.
  • Agave or maple syrup. You could also use raw honey!
  • Baking soda. My secret ingredient! This prevents it from becoming cloudy!
  • Sliced strawberries. This helps infuse the sweet strawberry flavor.
  • Lemon slices. They add a nice visual touch when served in a pitcher.
  • Crushed ice. Ice cubes also work fine.

SHOP MY FAVORITE TOOLS FOR DRINKS, ESPECIALLY FOR THIS SWEET TEA!

Here, I’ve curated a list of drinkware and mocktail essentials that I use to achieve my favorite drinking experiences, especially with this Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea. Everything from my fave glassware, blenders, ice cube trays, and more. SEE THEM HERE!

Glass of Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea topped with strawberry halves

Why Add Baking Soda to Sweet Tea?

OK, so I know that this must be a shocker, but yes—you do add baking soda to sweet tea. Why? Whelp, although it seems super weird to do so, adding baking soda to your sweet tea prevents it from getting cloudy and bitter. If you’ve ever tried leaving your leftover sweet tea in the refrigerator for a few days, only to find out that after a day or so, it’s bitter and not as enjoyable—-then know that adding a small amount of baking soda does the trick!

In addition, just know that baking soda has health benefits as well, so it won’t harm you! For one, baking soda is great for helping with indigestion and acid reflux. Also, it’s great for keeping your mouth healthy among other benefits.

How Much Sugar for 1 Gallon of Sweet Tea?

Yes, so the major question here is—-what about all of that sugar---how much do I need to add for optimal sweetness? Firstly, I’ll start by saying, there are plenty of sugar substitutes that can work for this recipe without compromising taste!

To start, you can use organic brown sugar or organic cane sugar instead of regular white sugar to keep things healthier. Also, you can substitute sugar for stevia or allulose for an even healthier option. While I haven’t tried this recipe with maple syrup (because I believe that the overall taste would change), I do think that using Agave works as a great option as well.

Overall, I start out with 1 cup of sweetener and then add additional to taste depending on how "fresh" tasting the sweet tea is after adding the steeped black tea mixture and simple strawberry syrup----usually no more than an additional ½ cup.

Glass pitcher of Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea

Best Sweet Tea Store-bought Brand?

When searching for a big box of Lipton tea bags, I did notice that there were a ton of options available these days when it comes to flavor. They even have the Southern Sweet Tea mix, which makes things a lot easier for those who may not have want to make it from scratch or just need a quick fix without the time.

But if you're looking for ready-made sweet teas that are the best, I've found that Milo's Sweet Tea is a great option that has been around for a long time. In addition, Sweet Leaf teas are really great as well.

Can I Add Alcohol To Sweet Tea?

If you’d like to make this fruity drink a boozy cocktail-like sweet tea, go for it! You can add a shot of clear liquor, like tequila or vodka in each glass of ice. Then pour and serve! Or you can add it completely to the entire pitcher if desired.

Glass of red Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea topped with strawberry halves

Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea Q + A's

How to best store leftovers?

Keep any leftovers in the refrigerator, tightly covered in your pitcher or in a sealed mason jar (for smaller leftover amounts). Best if consumed within a few days.

My homemade sweet tea is too sweet, can I fix it?

No sweat! If your sweet tea is too sweet, just toss in more water or lemon juice. When you pour it over ice, it tends to thin out quicker. Also, remember, it tastes way sweeter when it's warm compared to when it's ice-cold. So, before you go adding more water, give it a chill over some ice and see if it hits the spot. You might find it's just right!

Can I use concentrated lemon juice?

When you're in a pinch yes you can! But save it as a last resort. Fresh lemon juice gives the best flavor!

Can I use frozen strawberries instead of fresh?

Absolutely! Just make sure to thaw them first for the best flavor infusion.

More Southern Must-Try Recipes

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you tried this Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. And don't forget to tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram  and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea! I love hearing from you!

Closeup of a glass of Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea

Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea (without Brown Sugar)

May 24, 2022
4.58 from 7 votes
This Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea is a refreshing home-brewed sweet tea made from black tea and a simple strawberry syrup and boasts of great hints of lemon, strawberry, and a whole lot of sweetness—just like they like it down south! The perfect drink for the sunniest of days regardless of the season!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 12 servings

Ingredients

STRAWBERRY SIMPLE SYRUP:

  • 2-3 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, sliced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice

SWEET TEA:

  • 3 cups water, for boiling
  • 8-10 black tea bags, organic (You can use 6-7 for less black tea strength)
  • 1 gallon filtered water
  • 2 Tbsps freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup Agave or maple syrup (Add more for extra sweetness if preferred)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda, optional (See Notes!)
  • Sliced strawberries, for garnish
  • 2 Lemon slices
  • Crushed ice

Instructions

MAKE THE SIMPLE STRAWBERRY SYRUP:

  • In a saucepan, add together all ingredients over medium-high heat, stirring until combined. Once strawberries begin to soften, continue stirring until mixture begins to thicken a bit, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

BOIL + STEEP THE TEA:

  • Add 3 cups of water to a saucepan over high heat and bringing it to a boil. Add the tea bags to the boiling water and let it continue to boil for another 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and let tea bags continue to steep for 15-20 minutes. NOTE: The longer that the tea bags steep, the stronger the flavor. You can let them steep up to 30 minutes before it begins to get bitter.
  • Meanwhile, add in the Agave or maple syrup and stir until fully combined and dissolved. Let the tea mixture cool completely, about 1 hour or so.

ASSEMBLY:

  • In a large pitcher, gallon of water, add steeped tea mixture (discarding of the tea bags), strawberry syrup (straining out the strawberry pieces), lemon slices, baking soda, and crush ice and refrigerate immediately to keep it cold until ready to serve. NOTE: It's best to have the sweet tea sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or so.
  • Once sweet tea has chilled considerably, serve by pouring the sweet tea into prepared glass(es) and adding a slice or two of lemon and strawberries, if desired.
  • Sip and enjoy!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Keep any leftovers in the refrigerator, tightly covered in your pitcher or in a sealed mason jar (for smaller leftover amounts). Best if consumed within a few days.
  • SWEETENER: Traditionally, sweet tea is made with brown sugar, however, you can always use organic cane sugar, allulose, and stevia, instead of brown sugar.
  • BAKING SODA: Adding baking soda to your sweet tea prevents it from getting cloudy and bitter. If you've ever tried leaving your leftover sweet tea in the refrigerator for a few days, only to find out that after a day or so, it's bitter and not as enjoyable----then know that adding a small amount of baking soda does the trick!

Nutrition

Calories: 121kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.004g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 45mg | Potassium: 46mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 0.1mg

DID YOU MAKE THIS recipe?

Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea

Script text: Xx, Shanika

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  1. I just picked a load of strawberries from my garden and am currently brewing up this tea. The baking soda tip is genius!

  2. This sweet tea recipe is so refreshing for those hot summer days. Adding strawberries takes sweet tea to a whole new level of delicious!

  3. I was looking for a recipe like this, thank you for sharing! I can't wait to try it soon!

  4. This is such a lovely recipe! I've never added strawberries to the mix before and this is just brilliant. Thank you!!

  5. This recipe sounds delicious! I do have a question. You don't say in the description what to do with the gallon of filtered water. Am I correct to assume that it you add it the same time as the baking soda?

    • Hi Lillian! Thanks so much! I do apologize for any confusion! You actually add in in with the steeped tea and remaining ingredients! 🙂