Southern “Sweet Tea”

25 Jun

(Original Source:

Sweet tea is known as the “wine of the South.” This delicacy is made by adding sugar to black tea while it is still hot and then blending the sweetener so that the sugar becomes part of the tea. Afterward, the tea is refrigerated and ice is added. Some people add lemon for flavor. The farther south you go, the sweeter the tea becomes. Under NO circumstances is sugar added as an afterthought once the tea is cold. That is simply iced tea, not sweet tea!

I have modified the original recipe for “Ol” Alabama Sweet Tea” so that it has a “moderate” amount of sugar, commensurate with what you might find in southern Virginia and the Carolinas. I can’t take it any sweeter, but if you want to taste Alabama sweet tea, double the amount of sugar! In the Deep South, many restaurants don’t even serve unsweetened iced tea.

Preparation Time:
Cooking Time:


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 gallon water
  • 1 tray ice cubes
  • 3 family sized teabags of orange pekoe tea
  • 3 cups cold water, or as needed


  • Pour the sugar into a large pitcher.*
  • Bring water to a boil in a large pan.
  • When the water begins to boil, remove from the heat, and place the teabags in.
  • Let steep for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Remove tea bags, and return tea to the heat.
  • Bring just to a boil, then pour into the pitcher, and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Fill the pitcher half way with ice, and stir until most of it melts.
  • Then fill the pitcher the rest of the way with cold water, and stir until blended.

* If using a glass pitcher, be careful about pouring in hot tea to prevent cracking. Consider making the tea in a heat resistant container and transferring to the pitcher later.

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Posted by on June 25, 2011 in Beverages, Tea


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