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!

More Tea Recipes:

Refreshing Olive Garden Peach Iced Tea

McDonalds Sweet Tea

Starbucks Green Tea Frappuccino

two glasses of sweet iced tea

How to Make Sweet Ice Tea

Learn how to make the perfect glass of sweet iced tea.
5 from 3 votes
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Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Tea
Servings: 4
Calories: 96kcal


  • 8 cups water
  • 4 small bags of tea or 2 family sized bags of tea
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  • Boil water and once the water is boiling add to a pitcher (2 quart) and add tea bags.  Steep for 1  to 2 minutes only.  If the tea bags are left in longer the tea may become bitter.  Remove tea bags and stir in sugar mixing completely.  You may want to adjust the amount of sugar that you will add.  Fill the pitcher with ice and then cool water to fill the picture.  Enjoy your iced tea.


Calories: 96kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 25mg | Sugar: 24g | Calcium: 15mg
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About Stephanie

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. plastic

    When I use a glass pitcher, i place a knife in the pitcher prior to adding the hot water so the pitcher will not crack.

  2. Nay

    Woody, your method seems WAY too complicated for a simple tea. I agree with the plastic pitcher though…no way. My grandmother always would steep the tea bags in the pot after boiling the water, then pour it into the ice filled glasses, then let everyone else sweeten their own tea. What’s bad, is if you use sugar, it doesn’t dissolve very well in a gold glass, but if you use sweet n low or splenda, it dissolves just fine.

    • Stephanie

      I have to make a follow up comment on this. I never realized everyone was so passionate about tea making. I learned a lot of my tea making from the folks at , I love their tea, it is fabulous. I have gone onto purchase a special water heater that dispenses hot water at three different temperatures for perfect tea. I appreciate so many of your comments. So regarding the plastic pitcher, I had glass one there, people complained, people complained over plastic, so I am curious what type of container do you put your tea into?

  3. La Guera Preciosa

    All of you missed the most important ingredient of all… LOVE!! My mom always tells me that if you cook in a kitchen without putting a little love into it, it just won’t turn out right… =) NC Born and raised…I still enjoy home made sweet tea with my family. It’s tradition. Thanks for sharing your secrets…

  4. Woody says:

    I put about 2 inches of water in two pans. Pan one gets three large or six small tea bags and I bring this to a boil and remove from heat. While pan one is heating up, I put a Tsp of baking soda in pan two along with 1 cup of Splenda. Stiring soda and splenda together till water is clear. When pan one comes to a boil I take it off and heat the mixture of pan two. When it comes to a boil I just turn off the burner. Take the Ice Tea jug and fill half way with ice. Then pour tea and sweetner in the jug over ice. As for my tea jug I have to add water to the top.

  5. Michael Wood

    I have been making sweet tea all my adult life and I am 54 years old. First of all I have never found that leaving the tea bags in the hot water for more than 1 to 2 minutes makes the tea bitter. I do know the longer you leave them to steep the stronger the tea, and have left mine in for hours and to me it is just fine. Once the water begins to boil you must remove it from the stovetop burner after adding the tea bags.My mother told me what makes it bitter is if you have the bags in the water and boil them or leave them on the burner after the water has come to a boil. Also the video shows a plastic pitcher, this is a big no-no. Adding hot water to a plastic container will give it a plastic taste as the hot water causes something in the plastic to be released into the water. I always use a glass pitcher, fill pitcher 1/3 with ice, add sugar to ice, and then pour in semi-hot to warm steeped tea

    • Trish Anna

      Now here’s a man who knows how to make tea … lol I’ve steeped mine for hours before too. I’m always surprised when people say not to steep more than a few minutes. That’s true for many herbal teas, but not black tea, in my experience. But … just as he said, I NEVER let the tea bags boil in the pan. Really, I try to catch the water just as it’s beginning to boil, but if I miss that, I use it anyway with no problems. Only difference is that I dissolve my sugar in the hot steeped tea instead of putting it over ice … I want the sugar well-dissolved before it gets too cold.

      Hehe, coming in to this convo after it’s a few years old, it really is funny to see how passionate people can be about their own way. It’s understandable though … down here in the south, sweet tea is a big thing! 🙂

  6. Someone :)

    “The only difference is, if you make it at home, it’s likely to be made with table sugar, and not high fructose corn syrup, as you find at so many restaurants.” — Rob

    Rob is mistaken. The only high fructose corn syrup you’ll find in restaurant tea is if you order the flavored Lipton brands. Even in the corporate places (Applebees, Ruby Tuesday), sweet tea is brewed with tea bags and sugar. 🙂

    • Stefanie

      Um…2 quarts=Half gallon. Just sayin’
      Wonder why many recipes, and even a Kool Aide package tells you to get a 2 quart container. Go figure 😉 Just sayin’ ~Stephanie

  7. kevin

    I think it’s funny somebody actually has a recipe for sweet tea. 🙂

    In SC, we normally have 1 to 2 cups of sugar per gallon of tea!

  8. Jem

    Let me make a correction to Lisa’s comments. If you put the sugar in the pitcher of room temp water, it won’t dissolve. Pour the hot water over the tea bags in a Pyrex bowl. Add sugar and let sit for about five minutes. Strain out the tea bags, squeezing the bags to get the most out of the tea. THEN add it to the room temp water. ( I already have the ice in the pitcher at this point but its not important) I suppose that means the only correction to the original post would be to not add water into a glass pitcher. Enjoy!

  9. admin

    Gail says:
    I have a suggestion for this recipe that will take all of the bitterness out and you only have to use 1 family size teabag, because it draws the tea from the tea leaves. I go ahead and put the teabag in when you put the water on to boil, but the trick is to add a pinch (1/8 teaspoon or less) of baking soda. I always keep baking soda by my stove anyway (in case something catches on fire), but I sprinkle it on top of the teabag as I drop it in the cold water to boil. It can steep as long or as short as you would like, but there is no bitterness. The trick is to not put too much baking soda.

  10. admin

    I never anticipated the responses on this either. I personally love bulk tea leaves from, and that is what I use in my ice tea. I can’t understand why so many people buy prepared iced tea from the grocery store, it is so easy to make at home.

  11. Alex

    BDW…I usually use one small bag of tea per 300 ml water and three tea spoons of sugar. this seems to be as good as it can and if u add some lemon juice it’s perfect! This is for those who are not sure how much of everything goes in the tea 😛

  12. Alex

    Wow…I never thought that making ice tea was such a mystery for some people. Don’t take it the wrong way, I don’t mean to offend anyone, just that when I read about those “special steps” I was expecting something mode…complex. I was making ice tea when I was 7 and I used plants my grandmother picked, packaged tea was a luxury :)) Well, Lipton is good and no garden herb has that flavor. Ice tea is easy to make and a delicious healthy refreshing treat! U can use honey instead of sugar and if your throat is sore, drink warm tea with honey and chew bees wax. You’ll be better in no time! Cheers! 😀

  13. Zach

    Lisa, like your ideas… how much water should be boiled though.. obviously the main recipe here is showing 2 cups.. um, yeah, that makes no sense.. approximately how much water and sugar in your recipe? I’d love to make it your way. Thanks =)

  14. Lisa

    Don’t add boiling or hot water to pitcher, especially a glass pitcher — the pitcher may shatter and you’ll have a mess. Use 2 quart pitcher and fill 1/3 way up with room temperature tap water. Instead of putting tea bags in the pitcher put them in the water after in has come to a boil and heat has been turned off. Add the sugar to the room temp water before pouring tea steeped water into pitcher — use a spoon to keep tea bags from dropping into pitcher and to press the tea bags up against the side of the pan to get the last bit of good flavor from your bags. After this fill the pitcher to two or three inches from the top. Don’t add ice to pitcher but instead serve the tea over ice cubes in your tea glasses. It is always best to use a glass pitcher and serve tea in glass, plastic can and will give it an off flavor. The tea will also stain plastic. I know I’ve done a good job if I look through the pitcher and see a lovely translucent red/brown color, if the tea does not have the red color and is just brown or if it is foggy you’ve overcooked your teabags.

    Sweet tea has been on the evening meal, we call it supper, table every single day since my first memories. If you steep the tea gently like this and never boil it you need much less sugar to sweeten.

  15. jT.

    I grew up drinking tea almost every day. It’s pretty much expected that with your dinner you’re going to have sweet tea rather than a soft drink. Back home in Alabama we never used the Lipton stuff…it was unheard of.

    For the best sweet tea you have to go with Leroy Hill.

  16. Rob

    The only difference is, if you make it at home, it’s likely to be made with table sugar, and not high fructose corn syrup, as you find at so many restaurants.

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