How To Make Sweet Tea Recipe – A classic southern tea with herbal tea bags and just enough sugar… Just the way my momma always made it

Southern Sweet Tea

The Best Sweet Tea… By Mistake!

My mom makes better sweet tea than your mom. *wink*  In today’s post, you can learn to make sweet tea just like my momma does it.

Mom has a habit of always making sweet tea when guests come over. She also has a habit of not checking to make sure she has all the ingredients she needs before she starts a recipe.

The combination of these two habits means that she has come up with some really interesting sweet tea variations over the years by digging through her herbal tea basket at the last minute.

Fresh Summer Drink

Herbal Tea vs. Black Tea

Did you know sweet tea actually tastes better when made from herbal tea, as opposed to classic southern sweet tea, made with black tea?

This of course is my opinion. But… It’s true.

If you happen to be an avid hot tea drinker and like to keep an assortment of teas on hand, this becomes a huge bonus when you make a sweet tea recipe.

I like to flip through my tea basket(s) and find a couple of flavors that I think might complement each other. I learned this from mom.

Yogi Ginger Herbal Tea

How Do I Know How Many Tea Bags To Use? Or How Much Sugar?

The great thing about this easy to make beverage, is that it can be highly personalized to each person’s preference. 

I suggest using 4 bags of the tea flavor you want to be more prominent, and 2 bags of the accent flavor. Then steap them in a pot of water with sugar.

The amount of sugar (or alternative sweetener) you use is a highly personal matter.

I like mine sweet, but not deep south sweet, if you know what I mean. It is best to add some, sugar, taste, then add more if needed so you don’t overdo it.

Tea Flavor Profiles

Herbal Sweet Tea is lighter in color, yet more complex in flavor, than traditional southern sweet tea, and is so refreshing on a warm day.

Today I used 4 bags of Sweet Orange Tea and 2 Bags of Peppermint Tea – So good!

Also Try:

  • Chamomile Lavender +  Lemon
  • Raspberry + Peppermint
  • Pear + Ginger
  • Pomegranate (or Pom Raspberry) + Licorice Root
  • Green Tea + Hibiscus

Tea Serving Hacks 

Using herbal tea bags and combining two varieties is a great way to play with flavors that complement your meal.

If you plan on pouring the hot tea over ice to chill and delude it (to serve immediately) then use a little more sugar. If you like a stronger tea and have time to wait for it to cool, use a little less sugar.


Sweet Tea Ingredients 

This is a very minimal ingredient list, which is also very customizable for the flavor profiles you enjoy. 

  • Water 
  • Herbal Tea Bags Any flavor you like
  • SugarOr honey or stevia
  • Lemons for a garnish which is also optional
Lemon Garnish

How to Make Sweet Tea From Scratch – The Southern Way

  1. If you are going to use herbal tea, find two flavors that you feel would complement each other and remove the paper tags from the bags. In a medium sauce pot, add the water and tea bags. 
  2. Keep an eye on the water until it comes to a simmer. Once it does, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let the tea steep for 3 to 5 minutes. 
  3. After the tea has steeped for a few minutes, spoon the tea bags out and mix in the sugar. 

The amount of sugar that you use is completely up to you, depending on how sweet you want the tea to be. 

I am not a fan of overly sweet tea, so I usually don’t add over a cup of sugar to mine. When you plan to serve this tea also determines how much sugar you should add. 

If you are serving it when it is still hot, you should add more sugar to the tea, because the ice cubes will dilute the tea. If you are going to serve it after chilling it in the fridge, you should add less sugar.

Get The Full (Printable) Recipe Below For How To Make Southern Sweet Tea.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How long does this recipe last in the fridge?

You can keep this beverage in your fridge for about a week (if no one finishes drinking it by then!) 

Can I spike this tea?

Of course! Throw in a shot of your favorite liquor to the glass to spike your southern sweet tea.

Does sweet tea have caffeine?

It depends on the type of tea that you end up using. All the herbal teas I selected are caffeine-free. If you use black tea or green tea, there is caffeine involved. 

Why do southerners love sweet tea? 

As the story goes, back in the prohibition days, people started to drink more tea when they were out in public because they couldn’t order alcohol. 

This wasn’t too out of the box, since sweetened tea was usually mixed with alcohol before the prohibition. Yet during the prohibition, sweet tea was the drink of the South to soothe their woes through the dry times. 

Southern Beverage

Other Beverage Recipes:

Sweet Tea Recipe
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How to Make Sweet Tea

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Learn to make this easy Southern Sweet Tea Recipe just like my mom.
Servings: 8 glasses


  • 8 cups water
  • 6 herbal tea bags
  • 1/3 – 2/3 cup sugar or sub your sweetener of choice


  • Select 2 types of herbal tea that you feel complement each other. Pour the water into a medium sauce pot. Then remove the paper tags from the tea bags and place them in the water.
  • Once the water has come to a simmer, turn off the heat and cover to steep for 3-5 minutes.
  • Scoop the tea bags out of the pot with a slotted spoon and stir in the sugar. If you plan to pour the hot tea over ice and serve immediately, add more sugar. If you plan to chill the concentrated tea before serving, add less sugar. Either way, serve cold over ice.



Serving: 1glass, Calories: 97kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Sodium: 13mg, Sugar: 25g, Calcium: 8mg
Course: Beverage
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Sommer Collier
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