Make some Southern Iced tea and enjoy the mind-blowing and refreshing flavor. This is the recipe for the perfect sweet tea. I am also sharing two more ways to make iced tea, a cold brew recipe, and a Sun tea recipe. Plus, a video and step-by-step images to guide you through making this super-hit drink this summer!
What is Southern Iced Tea
Initially, iced tea was made using green tea; later, Americans started using black tea imported from India. The original recipe calls for water, loose tea, and sugar.
The southern Iced tea is sweet and sometimes very sweet hence diluted in a large glass full of ice cubes. You can also find it flavored with lemon.
Many enjoy their iced tea without sugar; you might wonder how since black tea without sugar is bitter? I was introduced to cold-brewed tea and found no bitterness in the taste.
What you need to make the best-iced tea
Water – You will need boiling water and chilled water.
Loose black tea – Do not use Lipton to make Southern tea; it’s not strong enough. Try to use Indian black tea, it is strong and perfect when cold-brewed or used with boiling water. Indian tea also has a hint of sweetness. I believe the type of black tea you use is what makes or breaks iced tea.
Sugar – I have used raw sugar. Hence the color of the tea showing in the images and the video is a little darker than your usual sweet tea.
Lemon or lime juice – You can omit the lemon juice, but it makes this tea super refreshing.
Adding simple syrup instead of Sugar and how to make it
If you think that the amount of sugar in this recipe is too much for you, I would like to clarify that this tea is always served with a glass full of ice cubes. It gets diluted, and the amount of sweetness is then balanced. However, if you wish, you can skip adding sugar when following this recipe and instead make a simple syrup. Pouring simple syrup into a glass of iced tea allows you to enjoy the amount of sweetness that best suits your taste.
How to make simple syrup for sweet tea
- To make simple syrup, in a pan, add 1 cup water and 1 ¼ cup sugar.
- Mix until the sugar dissolves.
- Let the mixture come to a boil. Let the mixture boil on medium-low for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Allow the syrup to come to room temperature and then refrigerate.
- The syrup can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to a month.
- If you add flavors like lemon, vanilla, or mint to the syrup, it will last for up to two weeks in the fridge.
- Pour the iced tea in a glass full of ice, pour as much syrup you prefer, and mix.
What type of tea to use?
My favorite is Assam tea; it is strong and flavorful. Iced tea made with Assam black tea gains more body by the day. The three brands I go for are Society, Tapal Danedar, and Red Label. These brands are great for making Karak chai (Indian strong tea) and cold brew iced tea.
How to make Southern Iced tea
In this recipe, I mix boiling water with chilled water to cut down the acidity from the black tea.
- In a bowl, add the sugar, tea, and 3 cups of boiling water and mix. Cover the bowl and let it steep for 6 minutes.
- Strain the mixture. Discard the black tea leaves and pour the tea into the pitcher.
- To the pitcher, add the chilled water and lemon juice. Mix and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
Two more ways to make iced tea
Cold Brew: Add all the ingredients except lemon juice to a pitcher, mix well and refrigerate from 9 to 12 hours. Use room temperature water when using this method. Strain out the tea leaves, pour the tea back in the pitcher, and add lemon juice. This tea can stay in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Sun tea: This way of making tea is not popular nowadays. However, it is the method used in the old golden days. Many warn from steeping the tea in the sun because of the accumulation of bacteria. If you want to follow this method, add room temperature water to the pitcher (better be a glass pitcher) and add loose tea. Cover the pitcher and place it where sunlight is, preferable out in your yard or near the window.
Let the tea steep for 3 hours and then refrigerate for 4 hours. Strain out the tea leaves, then add sugar and lime juice to the pitcher and mix. The tea will taste mellow, and you can keep it in the fridge for up to two days only.
If you love cold-brewed tea, you will love my Vietnamese Cold Brewed Iced Coffee
How to serve Ice tea
- To enjoy your iced tea, serve it with a glass full of ice.
- You can also add slices of lemon for a more refreshing flavor.
- I like to add mint leaves to my iced tea. First wash the mint leaves and then lightly pound the leaves to release the oils. I add the mint leaves first, then the ice cubes, and then slices of lemon, and finally pour the tea into the glass.
Perfect Southern Iced Tea
- 1/3 cup fresh lime or lemon juice
- 3 cups boiling water
- 3 1/2 cups cold water
- 1/4 cup loose black tea or 9 tea bags or 22gm
- 1 1/2 cup sugar, I used raw
- In a saucepan, add 3 cups of water and let it come to a boil. Once the water boils, remove it from heat. Over boiling the water will change its taste.
- In a large bowl, add the boiling water, tea, and sugar. Mix to dissolve the sugar. Cover and keep aside for 5 to 6 minutes.
- Strain the black tea leaves, or in case you are using tea bags, remove and discard them.
- Pour the tea into a pitcher. Add the cold water and mix well.
- Add the lemon juice and mix.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour.
- When serving, fill your glass with ice cubes then pour the iced tea.
- You can make this tea without sugar, instead, use simple syrup (recipe in the post), and pour as much as you wish in your glass.
- In the post above I have written about, how to make cold-brewed tea for less acidity and sweeter taste.
- The Sun tea method is mentioned in the post.
- The best brands of black tea mentioned under the title “What type of tea to use?”.
- You can use raw sugar instead of white. Brown sugar will add a caramel-like flavor to your iced tea.