Perfect Ice Tea Recipe

I am southern and as all of you probably know.. we southerners like a good sweet ice tea recipe. I have been perfecting my sweet tea recipe for quite a while and I am ready to divulge it to you.

You really need to forget about the ice tea makers and the instant stuff.. it just isn’t the same as home brewed.

I have a whistling tea kettle that holds 1/2 gallon of water and it is perfect for the job.

Fill a tea kettle or a medium sauce pan with water and let it come to a boil.

While it is heating up, get a gallon pitcher and measure out 1-1/4 cups of white granulated sugar. If you tend to be really southern and like your tea as sweet as they do then go ahead and go for a full 1-1/2 cups.

You will also need 3 family size tea bags.. I prefer the Luzianne brand but you can use just about any kind that you like as long as it is a mix of black and orange pekoe.

Place the tea bags on top of the sugar with the string tabs hanging over the edge of the pitcher.

Once the water starts boiling, turn it off and pour 1/2 gallon of water into the pitcher and place a cover on the pitcher loosely.

Let the tea steep for 10 minutes and then remove the cover from the pitcher.

Squeeze the tea bags with a spoon against the side of the pitcher for good measure and toss the tea bags in the garbage.

You will notice that the sugar is still in the bottom of the pitcher so you will need to stir the tea until the sugar melts completely.. THIS IS IMPORTANT and takes about 45 seconds to 1 minute of stirring.

Once the sugar is completely dissolved and mixed into the tea.. fill the remaining space with another 1/2 gallon of cold water.

Stir the tea really well once again and the tea is ready to serve.

I guarantee you that this will be the absolute best tea you have ever tasted!

Let’s review.. it’s really not as difficult as it sounds:

  • Boil 1/2 gallon of water
  • Add sugar and 3 family size tea bags to gallon pitcher
  • Pour boiling water into pitcher
  • Let steep for 10 minutes
  • Squeeze and remove tea bags
  • Stir sugar into tea really well
  • Add 1/2 gallon of cold water
  • Stir well and serve


  1. This is the only way to make tea.

  2. I am from South Louisiana and this really is the only way to make iced tea – i use either 4 or 5 family bags depending on my mood and if anyone else is going to drink it (5 bags for me and 4 for everyone else). I let it steep until the water is back at room temperature and then squeeze the bags. I also use 1 cup of sugar per gallon. for interesting tea, try using some light brown sugar with the white – play with the proportions until you find something you like.

    • Becca C says:

      I agree about the 4 or 5 bags and letting it come back to room temp. The best method ive found is 4 cups water to 2 cups granulated sugar in saucepan over medium heat until the water is hot and the sugar is dissolved (making it liquid sugar) i then add the bags and once at room temp i squeeze the bags and add to the rest of the water that ive already had in the fridge getting cold. Makes perfect tea!

  3. Thank you Alan! I will have to try upping my teabags to 5 and see if I like it that way. Also need to try some of the light brown sugar that you mentioned..sounds really good.


  4. Proper way to make the best tea

    1 gal spring water
    1 Lipton gal size tea bag or(Lipton 12 individual bags, maybe 4 or 5 family size bags)
    11-12 oz sugar

    cover and bring to boil, turn off heat, stir in bag(s) and sugar, cover and let sit on stove overnight, next day remove bag pour and chill.

    Have gotten some restaurants owners mad for telling this secret.

    • Ack! This is why some restaurant tea tastes of heavy tanins and a metalic twinge. Never leave the tea in a metal pot, especially overnight. The tea should steep in the water, not boil. Someone mentioned using 1/2 gal instead.. then adding 1/2 gal of cold water. This is the secret of good southern restaurants.. its called “shocking” the tea and it produces a much smoother flavor without the tanins.

      • Allowing your tea to sit over night is not a good idea as tea only has four hour hold time have you ever noticed a slightly OFF taste or smell in tea at a restaurant? That’s tea that has been left in the temperature danger zone for longer than four hours and has soured ugh…..

  5. michael c. says:

    I make it 2 gals. at a time I use 8 family size tea bags 2 gals. plus 1/2 qt. of water in large pot bring it to a boil, let it cool off for about 2 hours then I add 1 1/2 cups sugar (I don’t want it to sweet) pour into gallon containers and chill over night in refrigerator next day pour add ice and enjoy.

  6. Gwen Smith says:

    almost the same way that I brew my tea, sounds good – but I notice you said once the tea starts to boil, I’m sure that you meant once the water starts to boil. I will make mine your way next time. Also putting in just a pinch of baking soda while tea is hot helps to take that bitter edge off that tea sometimes have

  7. Won’t pouring boiling water into a glass pitch cause it to crack? That has been my worry about making large amounts of iced tea – which I love. I’ve been looking for a pyrex pitcher because of this. Any information would be greatly appreciated.


  8. Michael, glass will crack if exposed to extream temperature change. If the pitcher was cold from the fridge (40 deg or so) then yes, but at room temp boiling water (or as it should be near boiling water) it should have no problem.

    If your still afraid try pouring some boiling water in a less expensive pint glass and see the results

  9. I add 2 peach mango tea bags to mine from time to time to add something different.

  10. I steep the tea in the same pot then, remove tea bags, add sugar then pour into ice filled pitcher.
    I agree with Gwen and the pinch of baking soda but also have to remember NOT to squeeze out the tea bags because of the acidity it adds (new to me this year)
    I’m going to try steeping it in something else, adding boiling water, then to the pitcher of ice.
    Remember NOT to squeeze the tea bags!

  11. Will someone plese tell an ignorant brit just WHAT are family size teabags?Never met them -so how many individual(Liptons) bags = 1 family bag.

Speak Your Mind