How to Make Sweet Iced Tea

Making sweet iced tea that is served in so many restaurants takes a knack.  While it isn’t difficult it does take some special steps in making the iced tea.  Our suggestion would be to start with an iced tea such as Lipton’s or Luzianne.

two glasses of sweet iced tea

Making a pitcher of southern sweet iced tea is easy!

Sweet Iced Tea Ingredients

Here’s a list of what you need:

  • Water
  • Tea bags
  • Sugar

How to Make Southern Sweet Tea

  1. Pour boiling water into a 2-quart pitcher.
  2. Add tea bags and steep the tea for a couple of minutes.
  3. Remove and discard the tea bags.
  4. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
  5. Fill the pitcher with ice.
  6. Add enough cold water to fill the pitcher.
  7. Enjoy your iced tea.

You can adjust the amount of sugar to make your tea sweeter or less sweet.

More Tea Recipes

Favorite Summer Drink Recipes

Check out more of my easy drink recipes and recipes for beginners here on CopyKat!

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Kelly from MN

    The big thing is adding sugar while tea is hot. It’s the only way it thoroughly dissolves. And you don’t need to even boil your own water. I make my tea in the coffee pot with a couple tea bags. I fill whatever container I want to use 2/3 the way full, toss in the sugar and stir then fill the rest with ice.

  2. Really Needed Some Sweet Tea

    You don’t even know how badly I needed some sweet tea right now. To everyone in the comments who had some helpful hints and tips, and to whoever posted this recipe, thank you so much. This is absolutely amazing. Never even made sweet tea before.

  3. Makell Bird

    A trick to cutting the bitter taste is to add a PINCH of baking soda (no more than a pinch or it will taste funny). I’ve read in a lot of other places it’s best to steep for 4 mins not 2. 1/2 cup of sugar doesn’t seem sweet enough. I agree with most that it takes 1 to 1 and a 1/2 cups to sweeten.

    Another little trick for those that don’t know is to use tea bags for canker sores or tooth aches in your mouth. Black Tea (like lipton) works best. Tea has a natural sedative that heals the pain in your mouth. I’ve done this twice and it works like a charm, better than canker sore medicine that only numbs your mouth for about 10 mins and has a NASTY taste. The raw tea bag is a nasty taste too but it works.

    • ChibiHoshi

      The toothache remedy only works with tea that has tannin with sufficient astringency. Blacks or green teas are good, White and herbals have low tannin.
      And it is best to use a USED tea bag and not a fresh unused one.

  4. a southern girl

    all this over tea! ya’ll are funny, i’m 24 and i love sweet tea, being from the south myself i came here looking to learn to make good tea. my husband had to make it up til now cause i just couldn’t get it right but all of ya’lls advice did me some good, i just made some killer tea! thanks everyone and ya’ll calm down 🙂

    • Shackleford

      Are you really a southerner? I’m from the Pine Belt here in Mississippi and I have not known one southerner, no matter how deep a redneck, type “ya’ll.”

      • Trish Anna

        Well, I grew up in Louisiana, and live in Texas now. I don’t think I’m that “deep a redneck” (though my family a few generations up was) … but I type “y’all” quite often in online conversation, depending on who I am talking to. And in fact, I had quite a discussion with a friend one time whether “y’all” or “ya’ll” was correct — I still maintain that “y’all” would be proper, since it is short for “you all” and the apostrophe stands in for the ou and a after the y, so should be placed there.

        I had to wonder if she was really a southerner if she could reach 24 years of age and not know how to make sweet tea. To be honest, I’m pretty surprised there’s a “recipe” or “instructions” as well, though I know a trick or two that aren’t part of the regular simple steps. I came here out of curiosity to see if any such “tricks” were mentioned, and they weren’t. I make my tea similar to what is talked about here, except I DO steep it for at least 15 minutes (it never gets bitter) and I use less sugar (there are other tricks to making it taste sweeter). And I never make less than a full gallon at a time, unless I don’t want to wait and make some in a quart-sized mason jar while I’m also making the gallon.

      • Stephanie

        I type yall all the time as well. It comes naturally since that is how I talk. I loved the point of how does one make it to 24 and not know how to make sweet tea in the south. Very strange imo. I steep for 15 minutes because I do not like weak tea and it turns out perfect every time.

  5. Raised on Nothing but TEA!!

    My Family only drinks Sweet Tea were from the South.We go threw 2 gallons a day.Here’s how we do it in in our family Ole style Tea. For 1 gal. of tea. You will need. I gal jug. 2 1/2 cps.sugar,10-14 reg.size tea bags what ever brand you like.bring water to boil turn off stove drop in tea bags stir after 1 min. let set 1-2 more min. then take out tea bags are you get bitter tea. add your sugar while the tea is still warm it make it real sweet.pour into container of your liking .If the container isn’t full fill to top with water.You can have one gal. plan sweet tea or 1 with lemon make sure you add real juice not the fake stuff.Use common thinking people its not that hard..

    • mrsolu

      2 1/2 cups of tea in a gallon of tea???? OMG!!! That is EXTREMELY sweet tea!!! I use 1 cup of sugar for one gallon of tea and about 7 tea bags……………NOT 10-14!!! Wow!!! Never knew it was done that way in the south.

      • Anonymous

        What I was amazed at more than anything about this post was the response that it created. I mean every point I made in my version, someone had an issue with. I don’t I wrote a radically poor way of making tea, but rather, this is such a personal topic, that it people feel the need to respond.

      • Shackleford

        That’s the fun thing about the internet. People either use it for reference, bash people, or try to prove each other wrong. Just because people make their sweet tea different makes you wrong. However, you do have to have a pretty bad sweet tooth to put 2 1/2 cups sugar in a gallon of ice tea. =P And by your recipe, 1/2 cup isn’t sweet tea. See, that’s MY opinion, but not bashing yours. You like it the way you do.

      • stephaniemanley

        I never realized it, that sweet tea was so personal. But, yes, folks love to bash each other online. It’s so easy to do, I know that 99% of these people wouldn’t say such things to someone in person. Being anonymous enables people to behave in ways they wouldn’t every day.

    • Westside779

      Wow, your tea must be really sweet with all that sugar. I use 2 family size tea bags per two gallons of tea. I steep the tea for 5 minutes before adding it to the other water and sugar.

      • Westside779

        I forgot to mention, I only use 1 1/2 cups of sugar to the tea, and I miswrote, it is to one gallon of tea, not 2.

    • Westside779

      Wow, your tea must be really sweet with all that sugar. I use 2 family size tea bags per two gallons of tea. I steep the tea for 5 minutes before adding it to the other water and sugar.

  6. Joe M.

    Miss Aletha’s Iced Tea
    (Thanks, Mom, I miss you!)

    2 cups water
    4 family size tea bags
    1-1/2 cups sugar or 3/4 cup Splenda blend

    Put water in appropriate size pot and put in tea bags
    Heat until just boiling
    Remove from heat and remove tea bags, squeeze out gently with tongs
    Add sugar to hot tea and stir until dissolved
    Put concentrated tea in 1-gallon pitcher and add cold water until full and stir to mix
    Enjoy over ice and refrigerate until cold

  7. Someone from Alabama

    OMG, I can’t believe someone needs a recipe to make tea. I’m from Alabama and tea down here is like breathing air, its a part of life. Just boil your water with however many bags you want with as much sugar you want in whatever kind of pitcher you want. I will add its best to let water boil add tea (I use 3 family size for a gallon)because bags will bust. I let it get to room temperature. I put 1 1/2 cup sugar in a plastic pitcher add the tea then fill with water to top. Simple.

    • CC

      5 stars
      OH MY I so heartedly agree with you, I do have to admit when I read your note I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants. But then again I do have a friend who follows a recipe to make boiled water. 🙂 CHEERS, CC PS You don’t have to be from Alabama to make Sweet Tea, I live in California and you and I use the same ‘recipe’.

      • Stephanie

        There are folks out there with skills better than us, and far worse than us. You would be surprised at what I get requests for. Thankfully it hasn’t been toast yet.

  8. Cindy Bailey

    Never ever ever cover a pitcher of hot steaming tea.Let it come to room temperature before covering and refrigerating.If you cover a pitcher of tea while still steaming it will taste like pond water later!!

    • Gracie

      That’s nonsense! I cool tea in the frig all the time and it’s fine. Also, to those who don’t understand why someone from the South doesn’t know how to make sweet tea: Many of us grew up with parents who weren’t born in the South and had no idea how to make the basics. My mother used to cook vegetables that still had a snap to them, and all my friends thought she was crazy. She also made terrible iced tea – too strong and bitter – and I had to watch my friends’ mothers make it. It’s not just intuitive, there really is an art to it.

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