How to Make Sweet Tea

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Make refreshing and ice cold Southern-style sweet tea at home, a quart at a time, using family-size tea bags. See how to make it perfectly sweet!

Sweet tea with lemon slices in cup with ice.

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Sweet Tea

  • Sweet tea is tea that has been sweetened with sugar — that’s it!
  • It’s a popular style of iced tea in the South.
  • Sweet, refreshing and easy to make.
  • The tricky part is figuring how much sugar to add to get it perfectly sweet.
  • Recipe makes 4 cups with 1 family size iced tea bag.
  • No special tools are needed to make this iced tea at home.

RELATED: Quick & Easy Iced Tea

Sweet tea ingredients

Sweet Tea Ingredients.

My Ice Tea Pick:

Luzianne Iced Tea

Photo Credit:

Family-size tea bags that make 4 cups at a time.

How to Make Sweet Tea

1. Make hot tea concentrate

Heat water on the stovetop (bring to simmer then turn off heat) or in an electric kettle with a temperature setting (set to 180°F).

Tea Sommelier’s Tip: I’m using simmering water instead of boiling hot so that the tea cools down tea quicker. The tea inside tea bags are made up of tiny bits of tea leaves which means it brews it quicker.

Use filtered water if possible for the best tasting iced tea.

Pour hot water into a pitcher and add 1 family size iced tea bag and steep. Discard tea bag.

RELATED: Quick & Easy Lemon Iced Tea

2. Add sugar

Add sugar and stir until it dissolves.

3. Dilute with cold water and chill

Pour cold water into the pitcher to cool down the concentrate.

Chill tea in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Leave in refrigerator for 1-2 hours to completely chill.

Serve sweet tea in cups with ice. Optional: Line cup with thinly sliced lemon.

Conversion Chart

4 servings 4 cups
(1 quart)
1 family size or 4 regular tea bags1/4 cup
8 servings 8 cups
(2 quarts)
2 family size or 8 regular tea bags1/2 cup
16 servings 16 cups
(1 gallon)
4 family size or 16 regular tea bags1 cup

Sweet Tea Tips

  • To prevent tea from getting bitter, don’t use boiling hot water and don’t brew it for more than 5 minutes.
  • Add sugar while the tea is still hot to make it easier to dissolve.
  • To cool down the tea faster, you can add ice to the pitcher but that may result in a cloudy tea. 
  • Squeeze half a lemon into the sweet tea to give it more of a citrus kick.

Questions You May Have

Is there caffeine in sweet tea?

Yes, sweet tea is made of black tea so there is caffeine in the drink.

What is a family size tea bag?

A regular tea bag makes 1 serving but a family size tea bag is bigger and makes 1-2 quarts or even 1 gallon of iced tea.

Do I need to add baking soda to sweet tea?

Nope, a lot of sweet tea recipes add baking soda to make it taste smooth, but if prepared properly, tea can taste just as smooth without it.

How many regular tea bags can I use instead of 1 Luzianne family size?

Replace 1 Luzianne family size tea bag with 4 regular sized tea bags.

Luzianne has Cold Brew Iced Tea in family size tea bags too — should I use that instead?

I’ve tried both the cold brew and iced tea bags, and the plain family size iced tea bags tasted a lot better so that’s the one I recommend.

Sweet tea with lemon slice in cup with ice.
4.78 from 9 votes

Easy Sweet Tea

By: Jee Choe
Make sweet tea at home perfectly refreshing and sweet each and every time.
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings



  • Boil 2 cups of water.
    Heat water on the stovetop or in an electric kettle with a temperature setting. Set the water temperature to 180°F if using the electric kettle. On the stovetop, boil water then wait 2-3 minutes for the water to cool to bring down the water temperature. Filtered water will make a better tasting iced tea.
  • Combine hot water and tea bag into a pitcher.
    1 Luzianne family size iced tea bag makes 4 cups of iced tea.
  • Steep tea bag for 5 minutes then discard tea bag.
  • Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
  • Add 2 cups of cold water into the pitcher.
  • Chill tea in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
    Leave in refrigerator for 1-2 hours to completely chill.
  • Pour tea into cups with ice.
    Optional: Add lemon slices in each cup.


To make 4 cups (1 quart): 4 cups water + 1 Luzianne Family Size Tea Bag (or 4 regular tea bags) + 1/4 cup sugar 
To make 8 cups (2 quarts): 8 cups water + 2 Luzianne Family Size Tea Bags (or 8 regular tea bags)+ 1/2 cup sugar
To make 16 cups (1 gallon): 16 cups water + 4 Luzianne Family Size Tea Bags (or 16 regular tea bags) + 1 cup sugar


Calories: 48Carbohydrates: 12gSodium: 24mgSugar: 12gCalcium: 14mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @ohhowcivilized or tag #ohhowcivilized!

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