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.
Sure, we live in a time where people are trying to consume less sugar, but like so many of the treasured regional recipes we’ve featured here—from corn bread to fried green tomatoes—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 we know 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,” a company representative, Ashlee Dunn, explained to us. “But the basic ingredients are quality tea and sugar.”
Luzianne collected favorite sweet tea traditions shared by the company’s Facebook fans. “I’ve made two gallons every day for the past 27 years,” Peggy H. wrote. “If you want REAL iced tea, y’all have to come to the South and get some good old sweet iced tea,” Debra M. added. Here’s a foolproof recipe.
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.