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Traditional Southern Iced Sweet Tea
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5 from 6 votes

Traditional Southern Iced Sweet Tea

This Traditional Southern Iced Sweet Tea is a refreshing home-brewed sweet tea made from black tea and boasts of great hints of lemon 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! A true Southern staple, where conversations cannot exist without a good glass of sweet tea.
Course Drinks
Keyword beverage, classic, easy, healthy, homemade, indulge, juice, lemon, natural, recipe, southern, summer, sweet, sweet tea, traditional, vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea


  • 1 gallon fresh water
  • 8-10 Lipton black tea bags, organic (You can use 6-7 for less black tea strength)
  • 2 cups organic brown sugar (See Notes!)
  • 2 medium lemons, rinsed + sliced w/ skin on (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda (See Notes!)


  • Start by adding water to a large pot over high heat and bringing it to a boil. Add your 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 brown sugar and stir until it's fully incorporated and dissolved. Let the mixture cool completely, about 1 hour or so.
  • In a large pitcher, add steeped tea mixture (keeping the tea bags out), lemon slices, baking soda, and 3 cups of ice and refrigerate immediately to keep it cold, about 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Once sweet tea has chilled considerably, serve: pouring sweet tea into prepared glass(es) and adding a slice or two of lemon, if desired.
  • Sip and enjoy!


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: You can always use pure cane sugar, allulose, stevia, or Agave 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!