How to Make Southern-Style Sweet Tea

Coffee & Tea, Drink, How-To, Learn, Regional Spotlight

The Southern states take tremendous pride in their sweet tea, which is always iced. You can order it “sweet” or “unsweet” as a standard accompaniment to lunch, but when it comes to the former, no one skimps on the sugar.


Like so many of the treasured regional recipes we’ve featured here — from corn bread to fried green tomatoes to Texas sheet cake — sweet tea is a tradition. The ritual of making and drinking it has been passed down through generations, and the memories associated with it are as sweet as the drink itself.


After all, there’s a reason that in the movie Steel Magnolias, Dolly Parton refers to sweet tea as “the house wine of the South.”


Many Southerners are partial to Luzianne teas, produced in Louisiana and widely distributed throughout the Southeast. “Sweet iced tea is a staple in Southern kitchens, and everyone has their own secret recipe,” explains company representative Ashlee Dunn. “But the basic ingredients are quality tea and sugar.”


Luzianne collected favorite sweet tea traditions shared by the company’s Facebook fans, and here’s what a few people had to say:

  • “I’ve made 2 gallons every day for the past 27 years. The tea pitcher is never empty at our house. When one is empty another one is ready to go in the refrigerator.” – Peggy-Harold Duncan
  • “No sweeter sound than when your 16 month old grandchild takes a sip of refreshing tea and smacks her little lips and says….AAAHHHHHHHH.” – Janet Mercer
  • “In the south there is nothing but sweet iced tea. It was quite an eye opener to go up north, as a child, and order iced tea and it was unsweetened… You just cannot get it sweet, no matter what you do. So if you want REAL iced tea, y’all have to come to the south and get some good old Luzianne sweet iced tea :)” – Debra Martinez


Sweet Iced Tea


2 cups boiling water

1 family-size tea bag (Luzianne or another quality brand)

1/2 cup to 1 cup sugar (to taste)

2 cups cold water


In a pot, pour the boiling water over the tea bag. Steep for 3 to 5 minutes, then remove the tea bag. Add the sugar and stir, then stir in the cold water. Refrigerate until cold. Makes 1 quart.


What’s your iced tea vote: sweet or unsweet? Tell us in the comments below!

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