How to Make {perfect} Sweet Tea

In this post: How to make sweet tea…perfect for a hot summer day…or any day for that matter!



sweet tea with a pitcher of flowers and a lemon

I’ve grown up on sweet tea. Whether it’s birthdays, holidays, or just getting together, every single family gathering has a pitcher of sweet tea…

As a youngster, I never thought about how it was made….just that it tasted good. Then later, I just took it for granted that you boil water and put in some tea bags and end up with good tea. But after I got married and had to start making it for myself, I realized that there is a little bit of finessing that goes into a really good pitcher of sweet tea. So, one day I asked my grandmama to show me how she made it and I’ve been making it that way ever since. 

Of course, there are many methods and recipes for making sweet tea, but this is the one that I love.


Bring 3 1/2 cups of water to a boil, then remove from heat and submerge 5-6 individual-size tea bags…

boil water for iced sweet tea


Allow the tea to steep in the saucepan for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put a heaping 1/2 cup of sugar into a heat-safe pitcher

measuring sugar for sweet tea


When the tea is finished steeping, strain the liquid into the pitcher and stir to completely melt the sugar…

making sweet tea


Add in 4 1/2 more cups of plain warm to hot water and continue to stir for a couple of minutes until it is thoroughly mixed.

Allow to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving over ice.

sweet tea in a pitcher with a lemon


Notes for making sweet tea:

  • Sometimes I don’t have the patience to wait for the tea to chill and I just immediately serve it over ice. It still tastes good, but not quite as good or as strong as when it’s chilled.
  • My friend, who used to live in Italy, learned to make coffee there. She was taught to pour a little bit into each cup, going around until the cups were full so that no one person got the top or the bottom of the coffee. For me, this is the same with sweet tea. If I don’t have time for it to chill in the refrigerator, I will pour a little into each glass because I feel like, no matter how much I stir the pitcher, the first serving of tea is the weakest. 
  • Sweet tea is a personal taste, so feel free to experiment with this recipe. If you like your tea stronger, add a few more tea bags or a little less plain water. Try ¾ cup of sugar if you like more sweetness. I know some even like a whole cup of sugar in a pitcher of sweet tea! 
  • In addition, some people swear by adding a pinch of baking soda to their pitcher in order to make the tea clearer. I’ve never personally done this, but it might be worth a try.



Sweet Iced Tea

Simple recipe for sweet iced tea....perfect for a hot summer day.

Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 cups


  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 5-6 individual tea bags
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups warm or hot water


  1. Bring 3 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan.

  2. Remove from heat and submerge tea bags.

  3. Allow to steep for about 10 minutes

  4. Meanwhile, add a heaping 1/2 cup (or more to taste) of sugar to a heat-safe pitcher.

  5. After the tea has finished steeping, strain the liquid into the pitcher and stir until the sugar has completely melted.

  6. Add 4 1/2 more cups of warm or hot water and continue to stir for a couple of minutes until it is thoroughly mixed.

Recipe Notes


Sweet tea tastes best when it has been allowed to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving over ice. 

Add more or less sugar to taste.

Add more plain water for weaker tea or add more tea bags for stronger tea. 

Use any type of tea, but black tea is the most common iced tea. You can also use decaf tea.


Other Recipes from the French Blue Cottage: 

Grandmama’s Soup

Easy Sourdough Bread

Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies



I know that sweet tea might be kind of a regional thing. If you’re from the South, you probably (like me), drink gallons of it. 

After all, according to Dolly Parton in the movie Steel Magnolias, “Sweet tea is the house wine of the South!” Can’t you just hear her sweet voice saying that?! ❤️

But if you do need a good recipe, try this one out and let me know what you think.

And if you have your own sweet tea tips, please share them in the “Leave a reply” section below!  ?


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