As Southerners, there are lots of things we are proud of – our state flag, our BBQ, mama’s fried chicken recipe, our local football team. But universally there’s one thing every Southerner feels passionate about: iced tea. As proof, our friends at the Tea Association of the USA tell us that 85 percent of the tea consumed in the U.S. is iced.
Order an iced tea in a restaurant in the South and what’s in your glass is drastically different than what you’ll get above the Mason Dixon line. Our beverage of choice is best brewed strong and served in a tall glass with lots of ice and real sugar.
We could spend an entire afternoon on the front porch debating the merits of Sonic ice vs. chunk ice cubes, and don’t even get us started on whether iced tea should be made with simple syrup or granulated sugar. I’ve seen less heated discussions between Ole Miss and LSU fans.
Everyone has their favorite way to brew sweet tea. It usually starts hot with tea bags (never loose tea) added to boiling water. How long you leave the tea bags in to brew is a matter of debate, but what’s not up for discussion is the squeezing of the tea bags to make sure every last drop makes it back into the pitcher. Sugar is added while the tea is still hot. Next comes added water to double the volume and dilute the potency, then the tea is refrigerated to chill.
No matter how you make your sweet tea, it’s hard to imagine a family reunion, baby shower or afternoon pool party without it. If you’re looking for some new and different sweet tea recipes to add to your arsenal, we’ve gathered our favorites below.
Southern Sweet Tea – This classic recipe is simple and sweet. You can toy around with using various teas here. Most southern teas feature the black variety. You could also try green tea or herbal teas, like chamomile or mint, for a distinctive flavor. Garnish with a lemon slice or a mint sprig for an added zing.
Lime Tea Punch – Iced tea doesn’t always have to be plain or served with a slice of lemon. This Lime Tea Punch is a delicious alternative on a classic sweet tea, whether you use the rum or not. The tart lime juice is balanced by just enough sugar without being overly sweet.
Orange Sweet Tea – By adding some gorgeous citrus, you can update your classic southern iced tea into a brand new fun beverage. Use oranges, lemons or even grapefruit in this easy recipe.
Flavored Sweet Sun Tea– Long summer days make brewing iced tea a breeze. The sun creates just enough heat for the tea to steep and the sugar to melt. Glass is best used here. Plastic can sometimes leech harmful chemicals into the finished product. A warming pitcher of tea makes for a great centerpiece at backyard gatherings.
Mint Julep Sweet Tea – No southern home is complete in the spring and summer without mint julep ingredients. This refreshing cocktail gets its signature taste from loads of mint leaves. The recipe calls for already brewed iced tea, which the Southern Sweet Tea recipe above is great for. We suggest using wheat-based bourbon. This bourbon is smoother and helps the mint and tea shine.
Raspberry Ginger Sweet Tea – North meets South in our Raspberry Ginger Sweet Tea recipe. Traditional sweet tea gains an air of sophistication with the addition of fresh raspberries and ginger. Extending a pinky finger when sipping is optional.
Strawberry Sweet Tea – We all know how much Southerners love their sweet tea, so we took a classic sweet tea recipe and kicked it up a notch. Sweet strawberries pack a punch in this fruit infused iced tea.
Ruby Red Tea – This sweet tea recipe combines cranberry juice for a bright red color and lemonade for a lemon flavored kick. Perfect for front porch swings and backyard barbeques.
Watermelon Sweet Tea – Sweet tea combined with fresh squeezed watermelon juice for a sweet summer beverage.
Thai Iced Tea – This tea is quite different from the rest, in that it uses Thai tea mix instead of tea bags. Thai tea is strongly spiced black tea. It features cardamom, star anise and other flavors that are like chai. The addition of a heavier cream helps balance out these strong flavors.
Love sweet tea so much you could eat it? Here are two sweet tea recipes where you can do just that.
Sweet Tea Lemon Icebox Pie – When you mix the flavors of Southern sweet tea with a classic lemon pie, you get our Sweet Tea Icebox Lemon Pie. The shortbread cookie crust perfectly compliments the silky smooth and tart filling. Step on up and grab a slice ya’ll.
Sweet Tea Popsicles – When it is hot outside, nothing hits the spot like a cold glass of iced tea. With these Strawberry Sweet Tea Popsicles, you get all the tea flavor you love with the sweet kick of strawberries frozen inside.
No matter your taste preference, there are plenty of sweet tea recipes for you. Find one that you love and your celebrations are set all spring and summer long.