Homemade Sweet Tea

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How To Make Homemade Sweet Tea

Those of you from the South may find this post a little funny because sweet tea is an everyday thing in much of the South and some of you were weaned on the stuff.

There is a whole generation of adults, though, who don’t know about sweet tea because sugar was put on the “bad food” list when they were growing up, but surprise, surprise it is once again ok to use sugar in our drinks. Yeahhhh!!!!

Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to buy sweet tea at the fast food restaurants and in the bottles. I cringe every time I see someone pay through the nose to buy sweet tea when it is so easy to make and costs only pennies for a pitcher full. Also many buy bottles of regular and green tea for the antioxidants. Be careful what you may not realize is that when tea sits it loses it’s antioxidants so making it fresh is best. 

To help you save some money on what may be becoming your favorite drink or what might still be an old favorite, here is my recipe for homemade sweet tea.

Even though I am not officially a true Southerner, I will warn you I drink mine so sweet it will curl your hair. You can adjust the sugar if you want, but try it this way first and see what you think. Part of the secret to good iced tea is having the sugar properly dissolved. Just adding sugar to regular unsweetened cold tea doesn’t get it completely dissolved, but there’s an easy secret to this dilemma when making sweet tea.

Some people make a simple syrup to help dissolve the sugar, but you don’t have to go to all that trouble because this recipe makes it’s own simple syrup with the tea.


Homemade Sweet Tea

2 quarts water
3 regular size tea bags
3/4 cup sugar

Boil part of the water (about 3 cups). This doesn’t have to be precisely measured. Just estimate using enough so that when you pour it over the tea bags and sugar, it will cover them well.


While the water is boiling, place the tea bags and sugar into a 2 quart pitcher.


After the water boils, pour it over the tea bags and sugar. Cover and let it steep for at least 5 minutes if you are in a hurry. I let mine sit for 30 minutes or more (or until I remember that I made it ;-).



 Then, gently stir it. You don’t want to break the tea bags.



 Add more cold water up to the 2 quart line. Chill.



If I will be serving mine over ice, which is the way I love it, I will only add water to the 1 1/2 quart line instead of 2 quarts.



Of course, after you try it, you can adjust the sugar and water to your preference.

Sometimes I will use 2 regular flavored tea bags and one flavored tea bag (like peach or raspberry). This adds just the right amount of flavor to it. If you like lemon, toss in a slice!





  1. rose says

    jill you must be a mind reader … hehehehe 😀 … bc b4 i pulled up the website/blog, i just made a new batch of tea for my hubby…
    for xmas last year, my kids bought be an iced tea maker from walmart (it was on sale) … b4 that, i normally made it by using our coffee pot or i just boiled a pot of water and when done boiling add a few tea bags to stoop to favorite color…
    yes iced tea is sooo easy to make and yes only costs pennies too…
    hubby usually adds his own sugar (sugar twin) as he drinks it (i normally make his unsweetened and for mine, i add the sugar when the tea is brewing, making sure the sugar dissolves completely)…
    and withe iced tea maker, its soooo much easier too… just add the tea bags and voila, same consistency taste all of the time…
    he used to be a big coffee drinker but now he loves his tea! … and this week, the supermarket had buy one get one free of the lipton 100 tea bags on sale … which is a huge savings… 😀 …
    thanks for posting this… and you are soooo right, tea with some lemon or even one bag with those flavored tea bags makes a refreshing drink! … 😀 …

    thanks again for posting… 😀
    hope all is well with everyone 😀

  2. Bea says

    I have made this Iced Tea many times since I read the recipe in your cookbook. It’s the best and sometimes I add a little flavored Kool-Aid to it for a different flavor. It’s so much better than spending all that money on store bought drinks.

  3. Gina says

    I make it a little differently, since it is SO hard to keep ANY in the refrigerator when my husband is home (he drinks it all!)

    I take a pint-sized canning jar and fill it to within an inch of the top and microwave it for 3 minutes (until it boils). Then I put three normal-sized tea bags in and set the timer for 15min. When the time goes off, I take the bags out and squeeze them (yes, I know!). Then I put in a pinch of baking soda (smooths out the bitterness) and add 1/2c Splenda. Let cool slightly, put in refrigerator. Then when hubby drinks all the iced tea, I take the 1/2 gal. pitcher, pour in the canning jar of “iced tea mix,” fill to the top with cold water and I have a new pitcher all ready to go! (Then I set up the next canning jar…) So I always have “iced tea mix” ready to make up a 1/2 gal. So much cheaper than the instant mixes from the store!

  4. Margaret says

    I’m a true southern gal from VA and we make our iced tea like this.
    Rinse thoroughly a one gallon milk container.
    Fill about 1/4 full with hot water.
    Put 1 and 1/4 cups of sugar in hot water to dissolve.
    I use Nestea instant tea (this is NOT the powdered tea with sugar and lemon) for the old-fashioned flavor I like.
    Put 6 tablespoons of Nestea in the container and fill nearly to top with cold water.
    Put on lid and shake until mixed.
    This will be a strong brew but in a glass filled with ice, awesome. I drink this all year long.

    You could also steep 6 reg size teabags (I use decaf tea and just use the store brand since they are cheaper) in water that has boiled and then been turned off. Pour this in the container with the sugar and water and then fill with water. Shake and pour over ice.

    • stella says

      Margaret, thanks so much for this quick and easy recipe. It was just the taste i was going for, but couldn’t quite get! I also like the nestea powder =]

  5. Mary Whitaker says

    I am a true Texas girl who has ended up living in North Dakota for 2 years now. When we first got here I was shocked that no one served sweet iced tea with meals, room temperature water is a staple with meals here. Yuck. After two years of having friends over regularly for cards and BBQs I have them all addicted to my super sweet Texas tea which they request in advance of coming. I have also introduced them to Wolf brand chili (shipped in by my mother) and brisket smoked on the grill. I am changing the taste buds of North Dakotan’s one person at a time.

    • Carol says

      Oh Mary, how I agree. My mother-in-law grew up in South Dakota and we were planning on attending a family reunion there many years ago. I finally realize why she only had three spices in her kitchen cabinets, salt, pepper, and chili powder, . I have never visited anywhere that food tasted so bland or why my father-in-law loved to come to our house for dinner. Don’t get me wrong, she was a good cook and her fried chicken was to die for and her potato salad was excellent. Ice tea? Was a pitcher of cold water with Lipton Instant Tea with lots of sugar. Glad you are introducing that region to some savory tastes.

  6. Kim says

    Just a note for tea fans. 1) you can use a family sized tea bag in two qts of boiling water and let it steep(sit) for 15 to 45 min depending on how strong you like your tea. Add another 2 qts. for a full gallon. If you do this with the lid still on the pot then your water will still be warm enough to dissolve sugar. Just use a pot that isn’t your fav. because tea will discolor it. 2) if you live in a hot climate (like SC for me) you need to put that tea in the frig! It will get an acrid/ nasty aftertaste if left out in 80+ weather for more than 12 hrs. I’ve poured more tea done than drain…:) 3) if you don’t like alot of sweet or you just need to control calories.. try 1 cup of sugar per 1 gal tea or use store brand of artificially sweetened lemonaide ( one that is supposed to be for making 2 qts. and use it in your gal. tea. (mother-in-law does this)
    PS you’re right I weened my #3+#4 boys onto tea from nursing. But it seemed a better sugar alternative than the juice I used with the 1st two!

  7. Debbie says

    I’ve been making my own iced tea for a few years now. I love making it myself because I can control the sugar and add in extra flavourings if I feel like something a little different. This is how I make my iced tea.

    2 black (orange peko) tea bags
    2 green tea bags
    Enough hot water to fill my medium size tea pot

    Let tea steep for 30 minute.

    Pour steeped tea into juice jug.
    Add 1/4 t 1/2 tsp baking soda
    Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup water.
    Top up the jug with cold water until it’s full.

    Allow to chill in fridge.

    NOTE: Baking soda cuts the acid thus reducing the need for more sugar.

    I change out the green tea with herbal teas to change the taste sometimes. I’ve used a summer berry, orange marmalade and camomile lemon. I still prefer the original recipe but the herbals make a nice change sometimes.

  8. elizabeth says

    I love Gina’s idea. I also make a small amount of strong tea and then add water and ice, but I never thought of having a jar always on hand in the fridge. Brilliant! :)

  9. vickie says

    when purchasing tea at drive thru(mcdonals, wendys,etc) i ask for half and half…half sweet and half unsweetened, helps cut down on sugar if you need to. god bless you and yours

  10. Amy says

    As a yankee that married a southerner, I had to learn to make iced tea. I still don’t drink it, but those that drink my tea really like it. I use the cheapest brand of tea bags I can find, usually 100 bags for about $1.25. I put 8 regular tea bags in a pot of water and bring to a boil. You can either let the tea cool or mix it up right away. The longer you wait, the stronger your tea. Pour the water off of the tea bags into a 2 qt pitcher, remembering to squeeze the tea bags dry. Add 1 cup of sugar to the tea and then add enough water to make 2 qts. Our family will go through at least a pitcher a day.

  11. Jan says

    I tried this receipe last night and it worked great.
    I just put the tea bags in a large measuring cup with the tea bags and put the sugar in the pitcher. Came out great.

  12. says

    I take a gallon pickle jar ,fill it with water and put 6 regular size tea bags in the jar,put the lid on the jar and set it outside. Makes the best tea. It is not bitter either.

  13. Lucy says

    Everyone has their own recipe according to their taste! I grew up in the South and I hate the super-sweet tea served there. I put 1 1/2 quarts of water in a covered pan, bring to boil, shut off heat, put 2 regualer size Lipton tea bags in, recover, and let steep for 10 minutes. Put 1/4 cup sugar in 2 quart pitcher. Remove tea bags and pour tea into pitcher. Stir to dissolve sugar and add ice or cold water to fill, and chill overnight.

    The problem with sun tea is that it doesn’t last as long as the water has not been boiled. I’m immune-suppressed and sun tea is actually dangerous for me because of the bacteria growing in it.

  14. says

    Iced tea in Canada is a pitcher of tea add ice cubes and sugar and lemon juice either fresh or bottled. put slices of the lemon into the pitcher. pour and drink.
    I can’t have the lemon any more and I do not care for cold tea with sugar as it is way too sweet so I make mint tea and add half a tsp of splenda to the glass.
    I visited a friend in Kansas a few years ago and we went to this big buffet restaurant and they had tea and I looked for a mug because I figured it was hot. Took a glass of it and tried to drink it but so much sugar had been added to me it was like a syrup. They brought me a glass of tea with no sugar which I could sweeten myself.

  15. Patrice says

    I love my sweet tea.. fill a big pot full of water (one gallon), set on the stove and right before it comes to a boil add my sugar (1 1/2 cups) and stir till dissolved. I then put 8 regular size tea bags in cover and remove from heat. It sits for a couple of hours and then strain my bags and pour in the pitcher and into the fridge.. Lasts on day in my house.

  16. Sandy says

    Will certainly try the baking soda to cut down on sugar.
    I make my sweet tea by putting sugar in pitcher and adding just enough water to keep pitcher from breaking when I add hot tea. I heat water & tea bag on stove. Then pour it into pitcher of water/sugar, sqeezing tea bag dry, and stir to dissolve sugar. Then I add water to make amount wanted. I like to put orange slices in sugar water also. Good way to use oranges that are getting overripe. Gives a nice flavor.

    • says

      You know Sandy for some reason that made me think and wonder what peach syrup from canned peaches would taste like in place of some of the sugar in tea especially if you like peach flavored tea. Hummm. Haven’t tried it but might be worth checking out.

      • Sarabeth says

        I can my own blackberry syrup, mainly for blackberry tea! I love it. I have tried blackberry flavorings and nothing tastes as good as the real blackberry taste. Pick blackberries, rinse, dump out water, add 1 cup of favorite juice (I use white grape, peach mango.) Warm in sauce pan on low heat. Mash berries after warm. Strain through strainer or cheese cloth. (Or use juicer if you have it.) Add 1/2 as much sugar. So if it makes 4 cups of juice, add 2 cups of sugar. Heat on medium-low, stirring in sugar, until boils, then put in clean canning jars and seal. Will stay good for 2 years! It doesn’t ever last that long : ) For short term use – pour cooled syrup into ice cube trays or muffin trays and freeze, keep in freezer in ziploc bags until ready to use. Then you can flavor just a cup of tea! You can also do the same thing for other berries; we can strawberry syrup for strawberry lemonade. Enjoy.

      • JAMES R. says

        If you like peaches, it tastes DELICIOUS!!!!!

        Raspberry, pear, apple, apricot…these are just a few of the fruits I have tried….

        I always try to incorporate natural fruit juice as often as I can to cut down on the cane sugar….Cane sugar has a tendency to get me wound up to where I’m bouncing off the walls.

  17. Joan says

    I brew my “starter” as most of you do but without sugar. When I mix it in a 1/2 gallon jar, I add one “Crystal Light type” 2qt. serving of artificially sweetened peach tea flavor. It makes it sugar free but with a delicious flavor. Everyone who tastes it wants my secret recipe!

  18. Tammy says

    Sandy brought up a point about Sun Tea and bacteria. I always wondered why to me it tasted spoiled or sour. Now I know why, and it makes perfect sense! Years ago, an older lady at our church would make 2 gallons of sun tea for every fellowship meal, and everyone RAVED over it. I couldn’t stand it for the above reasons. Ick! I make mine like most of the ones above, and everyone loves a good, strong, sweet tea poured over their ice in the glasses. :)

    • says

      Also Tammy what many people don’t realize is that the sun really doesn’t have any thing to do with it. If you just set your tea on the counter for the same amount of time you get the same results.

      I’m afraid I have to agree with you on this one. I don’t like sun tea either. I always keep my tea in the fridge because if it sets out I can taste a difference and it does taste sour to me too but that might be a good taste to some. I know Tawra loves malt vinegar on her fish but I just gag at the taste.

  19. Bea says

    Jill I made the Peach Iced Tea last night and I like it. To me it tastes like the bottled stuff that you pay a fortune for. I had a 29 ounce can of peaches, so I drained it, and got a full cup of peach sugar juice from it, plus I added a 1/4 cup of regular sugar, and made the tea like the recipe says using just the 3 tea bags and 2 quarts of water, and it came out yummy. I tasted it after just adding the 1 cup of peach juice from the can, but it wasn’t sweet enough, so I added the 1/4 cup of sugar and it’s great. The peach sugar juice contains corn syrup like what they add in the bottled Peach Teas, and the juice from the can also contains the peach flavor, so I think it worked. I used the peaches to make jello.


    My cousin always makes “refidgerator” tea.It tastes like what the LIPTON TEA commercials are trying to tell thier customers what tea will taste like. the tea bags are placed in the picther( I add my sugar in boiling water( 1 cup) to dissolve and add first in the picther. Place 8 reg tea bags in water and cover and place in fridge about 4 hours. Can leave in longer for stronger tea.This is the absolute most refreshing tea I have ever tasted. I keep it stored in fridge and drink within the same day it is made.Pouring out any that MAY be left at bedtime and starting again for the next day.

  21. Sandi P says

    I grew up with sweet tea, and could never understand or make the connection that in the summer (peak time of sweet tea consumption) I had terrible headaches. Long story short, I am allergic to black tea (migraines). I was heartbroken, since I love both hot and iced tea. Fortunately, whatever I’m sensitive to is NOT in Green tea. The taste is just the same, maybe a bit less bitter. Now my whole family loves sweet green tea.

  22. rose says

    i now make my tea with the luzianne bags .. hubby loves it .. i put one bag in the coffee pot (i use one of those coffee filters too) .. and fill the pot up to the top with water and brew ..
    this tea tastes good warm or cold ..
    when done .. take some for me and sweeten and then add water (1/2 tea ; 1/2 water combo in the small pitcher i use) and the pot with the rest of the tea hubby drinks . he likes his room temp bc the cold bothers him (part of the cancer/leukemia) and this tea doesnt upset his tummy ..
    no bitter aftertaste either ..
    i used to give him lipton (i drink that hot wiht my breakfast) .. but this brand seems to be alot easier on his tummy ..
    not sure why tho..

  23. says

    I’m trying to kick my pricey and unhealthy Mountain Dew habit by drinking sweet tea. I’ve adapted a recipe that I found on topsecretrecipes.com, and it seems to work pretty well.

    I bring about 4 cups of cold water almost to a boil, then add 3-4 tea bags (cheap Walmart black tea at the moment). I cover it and let it steep for a while, then remove the bags, pour it in a 2 quart pitcher, add about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of honey, then fill the pitcher with cold water and chill. I have a lot of honey that I got from my neighbor who has bees, so this is pretty economical for me, and I like the taste.

    • JAMES R. says

      Honey, in my humble opinion, will always trump cane sugar. Honey does not get me wound up & bouncing off the walls like cane sugar does.

      PLUS, there’s the taste of the honey….what’s not to like about it? And it’s healthier for your body than cane sugar. 8=P

  24. rose says

    if anyone wants to try a delicious tasting enlish tea .. its by carrington .. it has a ceramic/porcelain tea pot on the box .. its sold at walmart for like 96/98 cents (96 cents where my daughter lives and 98 cents where i live) .. its tiny but it comes with 20 tea bags .. and to be quite honest .. it tastes exactly like mcd’s tea! (iced tea) ..
    it tastes great with our without cream .. and also hot or cold! ..
    just wanted to share .. 😀

    • Tam says

      McDonald’s iced tea is made with Lipton family size tea bags and an entire bag of sugar in a great big 5 gallon I believe dispenser. They brew the tea using a couple of their coffee pots. They add the sugar to the dispenser then the hot water, stir with a huge spoon that looks like a paddle and then add cold water. At least that’s how they made it when I was a teenager and worked there.

  25. Lyn says

    For a tea that isn’t bitter, you only have to steep it for 3-4 minutes (I use 2 family size tea bags for a gallon). I have found that longer leaves a bad taste in the tea. Never leave the heat on under the water once you add the tea bags – again it leaves a bitter taste. We drink a lot of sweet tea in Texas and I usually take the sweet tea to the church fellowships by request of several members….. Also, different brands of tea taste differently. My preference is Tetley or the cheap Wal-Mart brand.

  26. kat says

    I’m from AL (roll tide!) and have been living in St. Louis for 14 years. All my friends ask for tea, and when my husband and I cater, we always provide it gratis the first time if the client doesn’t ask for it; we get a lot of repeat clients asking for it. When I was still a young woman, I drank a gallon a day with 2 cups of sugar; now I’ve scaled it back to 1.5 cups of sugar, and only a glass or two every so often for my figure’s sake. There’s nothing like working in the garden and taking a tea break. A funny thing about midwesterners – they don’t realize sweet tea is regular tea! The waitresses ask, “Do you want regular tea or sweet tea?” So sad! My sister, who taught me how to make it, let’s hers steep in the pitcher for at least 6 hours. When it’s a strong brandy color, you know it’s ready. Yummmmmm!

    • says

      Kat I agree with everything. Even though I am sort of from the mid west my dad was in the service and we lived all over including the south. I am like you I always thought all tea was made not just sweet but sugary sweet. I didn’t know there was any other kind.

      Rarely I would go some place and the would have it unsweetened and they would give me sugar to put in it but that did not get it. The sugar wouldn’t dissolve and it just wasn’t the same. I also let mind set for ever until it is nice and dark. What’s funny is when I drink hot tea though I don’t make it as strong. Go figure. I too use about 2 cups per gallon but have had to cut back a little.

      Anyway I am glad to know I am not the only “different” one when it comes to my tea. :) :)

  27. Pam says

    HI Does anyone have the recipe for the Lipton Green Tea with Citrus? I really like it but think I could make it cheaper so can someone help me

  28. Liz says

    Sweet Tea recipe from a southern girl (Arkansas). Yes, I was weaned on sweet tea!
    4 small bags or 1 Family size bag
    1 cup sugar
    2 quarts water
    Boil about 1 quart of water. Turn off burner, and place tea bags in hot water. Steep for at least 5 min., then pour into pitcher with cool water (so the hot tea doesn’t shatter the glass pitcher, as has happened to me on a couple of occasions.) Add enough water to make 2 quarts. Add sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Don’t refrigerate. Leave at room temp. Something about refrigerating it makes it taste different.
    Pour over ice. Yum!

  29. Cathy says

    Hello. My husband makes iced tea in the Back to Basics iced tea machine from Target, it is only available on the Target website. We like this machine better than the ones that can be bought in stores. He does not use ice cubes like the iced tea machine directions indicate….he has a method where he uses more water and it makes a full pitcher;then we don’t waste ice and the tea doesn’t weaken in the fridge due to the ice. We prefer Tetley British Blend and usually use artificial sweetener. We drink iced tea all year round…we are not coffee or hot tea drinkers.

  30. Marilyn says

    Hi: I found that putting the sugar in the water before boiling it works best and it definitely is dissolved. After it boils, I remove it from the heat and then add the tea bags. I go about my business and when I check back, it is ready to put in a pitcher and into the refrigerator.

  31. Debora Waddell says

    I have found that adding the tea and the sugar to the water at the same time and then boiling it works best for my daughter and I. You just have to pay attention and don’t let the tea bags burst, which if you do just strain them through a tea strainer or wire sieve.

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  33. says

    Don just bought me a French coffee press which I use to make tea.
    My favourite right now is hibiscus flower and rosehips. nice and tart. I make it in that and have it hot at first and gradually it gets room temp and then I add ice to it. Takes more sugar than reg. tea as it has a very tart flavour.
    But it is a nice refreshing drink. If it ever gets hot this year it will be great.

  34. says

    I use up the odd tea bags, that I’ve collected over the winter, in iced tea. For my favorite iced tea I use a bag of a fruity tea and a bag of just black tea. When my fruity teas are all used up I begin adding a handful of fresh herbs from the garden to steep with the black tea bags. Pineapple mint with black tea is a good one. And I’ve found iced tea is a good way to use up all the green tea that people give to me (because it’s healthy — but I think it tastes like grass!) We practically never drink soda, just iced tea and lemonade (and rhubarb lemonade).

    • says

      how do you make rhubarb lemonade?
      never heard of it but would like to know.
      Can’t use the lemon but I could put the rhubarb into other types of tea.
      instructions for doing it would be appreciated.
      Already picked lots of rhubarb and it isn’t even really warm yet so need ideas on using it up.
      thanks in advance.

      • says

        I make a rhubarb infusion that I then use as the liquid in lemonade. But you could also use just the straight rhubarb infusion, (double the amount of rhubarb, instead of adding lemon juice). The full recipe is on my blog, but I’ll try to provide a condensed version here, Rhubarb Lemonade: Simmer 2-3 stalks rhubarb (each cut into 2 or 3 pieces) in stainless saucepan, with 4 cups water, 10 minutes (until rhubarb is soft). Cool, then stir in 1/4 cup lemon juice, and about 1/2 cup sugar (or to taste).

        • says

          Forgot to add, after rhubarb infusion cools, strain out rhubarb pieces, then stir in lemon juice and sugar! Could be an interesting glass of rhubarb lemonade with out the straining!

  35. rose says

    i love tea.. hot and cold .. my son prefers the tea at our supermarket publix (it is good) .. but i prefer the homemade way .. hubby .. he makes his own tea with those herbs and spices (they seem to be more soothing on his stomach) .. but regardless, we are a tea drinking family .. hehehee 😀 …
    hubby has given up coffee altogether (i had to give away 6 bags to family members bc he had to stop drinking it) and every so often he gets one cup of coffee from dunkin donuts bc he misses it (and its usually early in the day so his stomach can digest it) ..
    i dont use luzianne anymore (not bc of the taste but bc the bags are big) .. my new recipe uses 2 reg size lipton tea bags, aobut a 3/4 cup of sugar (not sure bc its 3 large cups of water (i think its 16 oz coffee cup size) 24 teaspoons of sugar) .. i boil the waater .. add the sugar and stir til dissolved .. then add the tea bags til they start to steep .. then shut off the burner and let it stoop to desired color .. sometimes i have to add a 3rd tea bag bc it needs it .. (i like the color like a brandy color) .. then when cooled i put it in a cleaned out OJ bottle (its the tropicana OJ bottle .. the medium size one) .. and every day i make a fresh batch (if there is any left in the jug the next day) ..

  36. rose says

    those teas sound delish grandma and lili .. altho i have never had rhubarb .. i am anxious to try rhubarb/strawberry preserves on some biscuits .. i think it will be good .. 😀 ..

  37. says

    rose being so far north rhubarb is the first edible we can harvest in the spring.
    Neys provincial park was a prisoner of war camp and the guards planted quite a bit of it around the area for themselves and the prisoners to pick and enjoy.
    It was used as a tonic by pioneers.
    We also have lots of wild strawberries so when they come into season people used to stretch out the tiny berries by mixing them with the rhubarb.
    It seems funny that when you are miles in the bush and think you are the first people to ever step foot in that area all of a sudden you find a patch of rhubarb and know that at some point people actually lived there.
    enjoy your preserves. I like mine with pineapple and bananas stewed with the rhubarb and not a lot of sugar I like the pucker power.

    • says

      I was thinking of you guys and your rhubarb today. I just finished proof reading another book we are coming out with and it had a recipe for rhubarb cake in it. I love rhubarb but I just eat it raw. My grandma use to always go it and we would go out, pick a stock, rinse it off and pour lots of sugar on it and crunch away.

      • says

        never did like dipping the stalk into sugar. could have had something to do with the fact our rhubarb patch was 4 blocks from home so didn’t want to wait. We would use the biggest stem with the biggest leaf for shade on the walk home and munch on a stalk or two.
        Guess we were young enough to not mind wearing a rhubarb leaf on our heads. Even though I own a purple hat the leaf would be above and beyond now. They would certainly take me to the looney bin.
        such memories. why does food always bring them back.

  38. says

    I live in NC. I make minee a little different. first i bring my water to a boil then turn it off and drop in 6 regular tea bags or 3 family size. in a gallon size container i add 2 cups of sugar. i let the tea steep for about 15 minutes. when it has cooled off i run cold water in my container while pouring in the warm tea. once filled i stir then refrigerate. we go thru 2 gallons a day. (4kids,3grandkids and me and the hubby). so if yours curls hair…..lol not sure what mine would do… lol

  39. Jim says

    I have read most of the above recipes and can not figure why you drink your sweet tea so sweet! If you are in a restaurant and they bring you sweet tea that they have to use a knife to stop, like molasses on a cold morning, have them bring you some unsweet and then mix. Or have the tea half and half. We make a sweet tea that is more like a lemon tea punch! Put the juice of one lemon or however many you want, in the sugar at the bottom of the pitcher or container you are making it in, add the hot tea until the sugar melts, add the rest of the tea and voila. This is wonderful tea that you don’t have to add anything to. I always add ice cubes to cut the strength of the tea, and then pour the tea over large glasses or (my favorite) quart Mason jars filled to the brim with ice. Just be careful. I have gotten a brain freeze from this procedure. Finally, the Lemon Tea or as we called it church tea (as it was prepared by the 50 gallon portion for church socials) if there is any left, put it in the fridge. It will turn cloudy, but it does not take away from the taste. Enjoy Ya’ll

    • says

      Some people love really sweet things more then others. I have 6 grandkids and one of them could really care less about anything too sweet while others of them and myself could inhale gallons of sweet stuff. Of course I and they have to control ourselves and doing with out it for awhile doesn’t make the craving less like so many say it does. Some people love more salty things or sour things. It is a combination of taste buds and what you are use to.

  40. Linda Holleman says

    It sounds like most of you go to a lot of unnecessary trouble to make tea. I put 3 largs bags in a gallon jar, adding about a cup of sugar. Fill it full of water, screw on the lid and put it in the refrigerator. By the next day,
    the tea will be perfect! No adding anything. Just remove the bags and stir. Most of the sugar will be disolved. You have to be careful with tea left at room temperature or you can get ill. So it is safer to ‘brew’ it and keep it in the refrigerator.
    Linda :o)

  41. Terrie says

    I use my Pyrex 4 cup glass measuring cup to make tea in the microwave. Fill it about half full with water, add 6 cheap tea bags, and a pinch of baking soda. Microwave 6 minutes, then let sit for a while. If I am making tea with sugar (usually only for company), I measure 1 1/4 cups sugar into gallon jug, pour hot tea over, fill with water, and stir. Usually I add 13 heaping pink spoonfuls of Sweet ‘N Low instead of sugar.

    I refrigerate my tea, and love it! I would never pour it out unless it has soured. I think I was weaned on tea, too. I like sugar in it, but do not need the calories, and the sugar makes my asthma, allergies, and sinus problems worse.

  42. says

    Actually, I put my sugar in with the water (2 cups or water or so) bring it to a boil, add the tea bags for about 30-60 seconds. Then I remove from the heat, let steep for 5-6 minutes, then add this to my just shy of a gallon jug. I use cold water and or ice in the gallon container, so it is already cooler, and the sugar is mixed in when the water starts boiling…

  43. Toni Lowery says

    I LOVE sweet iced tea! My husband and I drink Splenda tea and my duaghter has the real stuff. I make mine by putting hot tap water in a 2 quart bowl with 3 family size Luzianne tea bag submerged. I microwave it for 5 minutes and then pour in a gallon pitcher. Add from 1 1/2 to 2 cups of either sugar or splenda and stir it up until well blended then fill the rest of the gallon with half ice and half cold water and stir again. YUMMY!!!! Especially in 100 degree weather here in South Carolina. :)

  44. Dorothy says

    Unbelievable!!! I was looking for a tea recipe. I haven’t made iced tea for over 1 1/2 years. Thank you!!!

  45. Julie says

    My family and I love tea so much! Here’s how I make it:

    Take a 2-quart pan and add a couple of inches of cold water. Add 2 lipton family size tea bags. Turn burner on high and slowly the water will heat and the color of water gets darker and prettier. Right before it boils, I take the pot off the burner and let it sit about 5 minutes. Then I take the tea bags out (put in my compost jar) and add 1/2 cup sugar. Stir and stir until dissolved. When ready to drink it, I add 2 to 3 trays of ice to the pot, then fill the rest up with cold water. Stir. Pour into a 2-quart pitcher and enjoy…..I love it when it’s so pretty and dark and has bubbles on top because it is so fresh. If any is left before bed, I dump it out and make fresh the next day.

  46. Terrie says

    I grew up drinking sweet tea, as do many children here in Alabama–at least in my generation (I’m 42 now). Here, if you say, “Tea” people automatically assume that it’s sweet and cold. Can’t remember ever drinking milk with meals, only tea, though my mother says she did give me milk with meals when I was young. I think many of us were weaned from the bottle straight to sweet tea!

    • says

      I’m like you Terrie. Even though I am not from the south I always assumed tea meant sweet tea until I moved to Kansas and most people here make it without sugar and have you add it if you want. Never have gotten use to it that way. I like my sugar heavy and dissolved.

  47. Shawna says

    I am new to making home made iced tea. Here in Canada, most people I know just use a powder sugary mix! My husband loves it when the sugar “crunches”. Trying to improve our health, I have been experimenting with different kinds of tea recipes, the first one was a complete flop, but I’m going to try this one tomorow!

    • says

      Shawna if your husband likes the sugar crunches I assume that means he likes his sugar undissolved. If that is the case when you make this recipe make it just like it says but don’t add the sugar until after it has steeped and is cold. The sugar doesn’t dissolve well in cold tea so there will be lots of undissolved sugar if you do it this way.

  48. Marie says

    Howdy yall,

    I am from the true south and had tea in my bottle (no joke) In reading some of the replies I want to clear a few things up. WHen you make “sun” tea dont add the sugar until you bring it in and then put it straight in the fridge after you mix the sugar in. It will dissolve due to the heat of the water. Here is also how I make my tea and I find everyone likes it because its sweet but, not sugar sweet. (its also the way my family has made it for years. I have also done the math (yes some of us red necks are smart) and its about 10 calories per oz that you drink. (16oz glass 160 calories) I use the coffee maker or you can boil the water. If you boil the water add your tea bags after the water boils and turn off the heat so the bags will not bust. This is also for a gallon of tea so I add my sugar to the bottom of the pitcher with about 2 cups of hot tap water and stir the sugar before I add the tea. Stir until its dissolved. Once I add the tea I stir again and then fill the rest of the pitcher with ice and stir until it disslolves.

    4 family tea bags
    1 cup of sugar
    Makes one gallon of sweet tea.

  49. Marie says

    I also want to add that if you add a Earl Gray tea bag and make ur tea you make your sweet tea it really changes the taste and for a true south girl I really like it.

  50. Melanie says

    I live in the South and enjoy sweet tea but I have also become what my husband and I like to refer ourselves as “Tea Snobs” NO LIPTON for us. We have the enjoyment of having tea shops near us so we prefer using loose leaf tea and there are SOOO many flavors!!! HOWEVER, you should NOT brew your black teas(Lipton,Tetley,Storebrand teabags)longer than 5 mins and Green teas no longer than 3 mins. It will still be strong but it will not be bitter tasting. Also referring to your post about reusing coffee grounds you can also reuse tea bags and loose leaf. It will not be as strong in taste and color but will still brew nicely or do like with the coffee and add a new tea bag to the others. Have you tried Fruit tea? Awesome!! take a can of peach, apricot or whatever flavor nectar you like, a can of pineapple juice, your brewed tea and sugar to taste. brew your tea like you do for sweet tea but don’t put as much sugar, after this is made add the pineapple juice and can of fruit nectar and mix well. taste and then if not sweet enough add more sugar.

  51. Barbara says

    I’ve made it for years, but I never knew it was SWEET TEA! I drink i all the time. Grandma just called it Ice Tea! Howver baking soda! It dos get bitter a times. Sounds good, ‘ll go make some right now=byee!

  52. Sam says

    I am a southern girl who grew up drinking sweet tea! 3 Tea bags will make for a pretty strong tea. The easiest way to make tea is using the Mr. Coffee tea maker. It works great. If you don’t have one, this is how we grew up making it. Simmer a small pot of water with two family size tea bags in it. When it comes to a slight boil, turn it off and let it sit. Add 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar to a 3 quart pitcher. When you are ready, add the tea water to the pitcher without letting the tea bags fall in. Stir the water in the pitcher to dissolve the sugar. Continue adding water to the pot with the tea bags and pouring into the pitcher until it is full. Let chill in fridge for about an hour before serving. :)

  53. says


  54. says

    I never liked sweet tea, (we call it ice tea in Canada) until I learned to make my own. I use 4 teabags to a large pot of boiling water and steep it with a teaball full of dried grated (not powdered) ginger. When the steeping is done, I add one to one and a half cups of sugar, and one half cup of lemon juice. Stir while still hot, cool and refrigerate. The last batch I made, I used camomile tea, and to my taste, it reminded me of the soda drink called Mountain Dew.

  55. Tina says

    Made, for the first time ever, sweet tea. I used a gallon of distilled water that was half full and poured half the water into a pan. I added three green tea bags with honey), added 1/3 cup of sugar, brought to a boil. I let it boil for a few minutes, then I turned off the heat and let the tea seep got 15 minutes. Removed bags, added tea mixture to remaining cold water in the gallon jug. Capped it and shook it, poured over ice and it was excellent.

  56. Lady Diva says

    One of my favorite variations on iced tea is mojito iced tea. Make a gallon pitcher of mint-flavored iced tea (I make “polar tea” brewed in the fridge, and only use 4 teabags for a gallon, use more if you prefer). When it’s brewed, stir in a thawed can of frozen limeade concentrate and a splash of rum extract. You can substitute lime juice and sugar to taste for the limeade, and use regular tea bags with a little peppermint extract if you don’t have mint tea. Different, delicious and very refreshing! :)

  57. Jackie Martin says

    Everyone has always liked my iced tea, but, I do make it differently. About 3 cups of water, 1/2 cup sugar, put it on to boil. Once it has boiled. drop in 6 tea bags and let steep. Pour into a gallon pitcher, fill up with cold water and refrigerate. I have also added one mint tea bag for a different flavor. The more you boil your simple syrup, the sweeter it gets. Let’s you reduce the amount of sugar you use. I have even done this with 1/3 cup of sugar and is sweet enough for me.

  58. Ann says

    My 15 year old son makes the tea all the time around here. We do cheat and use the Mr. Coffee tea maker with 6 tea bags and a little more water than it calls for. We use 1 1/3 cups sugar per pitcher.
    My son stopped drinking soft drinks for 5 weeks now. After the withdrawal, life is good! He has lost 20 pounds as well. He has eaten better but I think the big think is he stopped drinking soft drinks!

  59. serenity says

    As a curious, money saving Brit who follows your website and newsletters closely, this was a real treat to try, and so cheap to make compared to buying! Thank you so much, it was a big hit with our kids, we will be making this all summer long!

  60. Sheri says

    We have diabetes in our family. Sweet tea is out! One tea I find refreshing is green tea with Bengal spice tea (cinnamon, cloves and black pepper). The cinnamon helps to make the tea taste sweet. I was raised with straight black tea, like in China. My children don’t get tea, coffee or caffeine drinks until they are adults. And we limit their chocolate and sugar.

    I can tell that you have a sweet tooth! Sweet tea is way too sweet for me! I don’t want or need the sugar. I want to taste the tea. I do squeeze lemon in my plain tea! I also use filtered water. It tastes much smoother that way. Now my husband likes sweet tea! In the winter, he has sugar sludge at the bottom of his tea mug! Eew!

    I think it’s time to make my tea again… Thank you for reminding me!

  61. says


    Thank you for posting this recipe, Sweet Tea is one of those simple pleasures in life that doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg!

    There really isn’t anything quite as nice as a fresh brewed glass of Sweet tea (maybe with a little lime, or mango thrown in for a kick) and a good friend to enjoy it with!

  62. Myra says

    I really can’t believe that so many people do not know how to make TEA.

    what is this world coming too – Guess I am old and crabby but really.

    Point – never squeeze your tea bags into your tea = that is what makes it bitter.

    • says

      That is why we wrote Dining on a Dime. There was a whole generation of gals (and guys) born in the 70’s and 80’s whose mom’s started working full time and they didn’t think or were too tired at the end of the day to teach their kids the basics. I was shocked when I first found this out. Combine that with gourmet cooking like Julia Childs was popular at that time so there were very few cookbooks coming out that had things like how to mash potatoes, cook a roast and make ice tea. We were one of the very first to come out with a book like that. Now of course being a stay at home mom is once again the in thing to do and more and more are going back to the basics.

  63. Tommie in Abilene says

    I have observed over the years that trying to sweeten a glass of ice cold tea takes about twice as much sugar
    as sweetening when tea is being made and is hot. Just my humble opinion. p.s. My favorite summer drink is half a glass of unsweetened tea and half a glass of very sweet lemonade—–YUM. Thanks Mary Alice Parsons of Kentucky–she gave me my first glass.

  64. Liz says

    Having grown up in the South and being weaned on sweet tea, here is my recipe:
    4 regular tea bags or 1 family-sized tea bag
    two quarts water
    1/2 c. sugar*
    5 Sweet N Low packets*
    *(or use 3/4-1 cup of sugar, depending on how Southern you are!)

    Put 1/2 to 1-quart of water in a pan and bring to a boil. Turn off and add tea bags. Let steep (sit) for 5 minutes. Put about 3 cups of water in the 2-qt. pitcher and add steeped tea. Add sugar and sweetener. Add any additional water to make 2 quarts of tea. Stir well. I never refrigerate, unless it’s for a short time (never overnight) as it seems to alter the taste. Of course, we usually don’t have it that long! I never pour hot tea in a glass pitcher as it could crack or shatter the pitcher, as it did for me once. Also, sometimes if I alter the recipe for some reason, the tea might be bitter. Just add a pinch of baking soda to take the bitterness away.

    • says

      Thanks for the recipe Liz.One tip I might add no matter how anyone makes it is to put the tea bags in the pitcher, pour the boiling water over them,steep etc. then add you cold water. The reason I say to do this is it saves dirtying a pan. If I put the teabags into the pan with the boiled water then pour it into the pitcher I now have a pan and a pitcher to wash where if I steep the water and bags in the pitcher I can just let the pan dry and put away or better yet pour water from my tea kettle into the pitcher.

      Another thing I learned too was for years I waited for a quart or more of water to boil to steep my tea bags in but later learned that you only need a little water to steep the bags in (like Liz said 1/2 quart is plenty)so it takes less time waiting for the water to boil and it cools down quicker to use.

      • Liz says

        I remembered now why the tea was sometimes bitter. My husband didn’t realize that you don’t boil the tea or it can cause it to be bitter. That’s when you can add a pinch of baking soda to cut the bitterness.

  65. April says

    I have read through about 1/2 of the post and didn’t see this written so I thought I would share. My husband and I discovered this entirely by mistake and people often think we are crazy when we tell them, but when they try it, they find it true also. Ice can help you use less sugar. We boil our water in a pot on the stove. Boil our bags for about 30 seconds to a minute turn off to cool for a few minutes. In a gallon pitcher we fill it 1/2 to 3/4 with ice, (store bought, if homemade cubed I would use no more than 1/2) Add 1 1/2(me) 1 3/4(If hubby makes) of sugar, then pour the hot tea water over the sugar and ice, finish by adding cool water to fill and stir. The sugar is usually dissolved when the hot water pours over it or with just a little stirring and the ice is mostly melted leaving cold tea. This really makes the Tea very sweet. I like 2 cups of sugar per gallon when making without ice, my husband 3 cups. Using the smaller amount of sugar with the ice makes it even sweeter than if we had put the extra sugar in it. I have tried to look up the scientific reason for this and haven’t been able to find it. Therefore, I really suggest you try it. It can help you cut back on the amount of sugar you use. Most of you probably won’t like it as sweet as we do, so I would cut back about 1/4 cup from how you usually make yours and adjust from there. I know it doesn’t make sense but it does work.

  66. Lynette Smith says

    Ever wonder why some batches of tea are an unappealing cloudy mess, while others stay clear? It is all in the time you allow the tea to come to room temperature before sticking it in the refrigerator. Put hot tea into the refrigerator and it will cloudy, which is not appealing. Let the tea cool to room temp before storing in the’fridge, and it will stay clear. Now, if your tea won’t last overnight, it is your call. But if I am making a huge batch the night before, I will always give it time to get down to room temperature on its own before chilling in the ‘fridge. By the way, this is why tea brewed in the fridge remain crystal clear. Since I often drink my tea unsweetened, I will simply throw a couple of teabags into my container of cold water and set it in the ‘fridge – by morning it is brewed, with no bitter taste, always perfect.

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