Homemade Sweet Tea Recipe

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Enjoy a tall glass of homemade sweet tea for a refreshing break from the summer heat!

I have to admit that this California native has never been to the south. And while I’ve had a bit of sweetener in my tea on occasion, I’ve never had that real, authentic sweet tea that seems to be a staple in that part of the country.

Clean Eating Sweet Tea

Apparently, the difference between southern tea and west coast tea is all about WHEN you add the sugar as well as how much sugar you use. With true sweet tea, you add a lot of sugar (up to 2 cups sugar per gallon of tea by some accounts!!) while the tea is hot and brewing. With west coast tea, you typically add just a little sugar after cooling.

Now I’m not here to argue the method for making sweet tea. I’m sure there are many. But I thought it was high time I gave this drink a try, clean eating style! I will say that even with clean and natural sugars, this tea is kind of a sugar bomb. So plan your day accordingly. But it’s nice to know that if you really want to enjoy something like this, you don’t have to absolutely destroy your eating plan either.

Now according to some of my readers, in order for this to truly be authentic, it absolutely MUST be served on a front porch. It wasn’t made clear to me whether or not I needed a rocking chair, but since I don’t have one, I had to make do with sitting on the stairs of my front porch. I think I got roughly the same effect.

Tea Varieties

  • Lipton
  • Luzianne
  • Tetley
  • Orange Pekoe (This can be hard to find. If you want to use it, you may have to order from amazon.)

P.S. – I have to admit that this recipe was FAR to sweet for my west coast taste buds. I had to add water. So if you find this is too sweet for you as well, simply add more water and leave the tea bags in a little longer as needed.

And as I said, there are many ways to make sweet tea. So if this doesn’t seem right to you, please be kind to this California girl. But I sure would love to know how you make it! Leave me a comment and share!

P.S.S. – I was told that the baking soda gives the tea a “smoother” flavor. I suppose it could depend on the tea used, but I added it. Feel free to leave it out if you prefer. You can’t taste it.

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Homemade Sweet Tea Recipe

Clean Eating Sweet Tea

Homemade Sweet Tea

A delicious summer favorite ya’ll!
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Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American, Southern
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 7 cups
Calories: 57kcal
Author: Tiffany McCauley



  • Bring 3 cups of water to boil, remove from heat and stir in the Sucanat.
  • Bring 4 cups of water to boil, remove from heat, quickly stir in the sugar water and add your tea bags.
  • Stir in baking soda.
  • Let sit for 10-15 minutes, or until the tea reaches your desired strength.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature before putting the tea over ice or in the fridge.


Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 57kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Sodium: 61mg | Sugar: 14g | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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I'm Tiffany, a writer for MSN and the AP Newswire, a cookbook author, digital publisher, food lover, and mom. I create healthy, clean eating recipes for everyday living.

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  1. The baking soda, in addition to cutting the bitterness, also keeps the tea from “going bad” so quickly! I am from the South and started adding the baking soda about a month ago, to rave reviews! !!!!!

  2. Bridgette says:

    I am suprised this would be considered clean,
    considering what chemicals and processed things are in tea bags, whether its sweetened or unsweet.

    1. Bridgette – You can use whatever tea you like. Typically, loose leaf tea is clean, which is why I mentioned the orange pekoe tea. But it’s totally up to you.

  3. Katy | Alphabet Soup says:

    I haven’t read all the comments, but if you steep your tea too long, you run the risk of it becoming bitter. A pinch of baking soda will help with the bitterness and lowers acidity. (You can throw a pinch of baking soda in your tomato-based sauces to do the same thing!) There are pretty much as many methods and ratios to making sweet tea as there are Southerners, lol.

  4. I was born and raised in the heart of the South. We have always used baking soda in our tea. My mom and my grandma’s all did it that way. I was always told it made it smoother and darker. However since moving to Iowa, I no longer make it that sweet (I now use about 1/4 cup of sugar) but I still use the soda.

  5. What a really good funny article!!! I am a Southern Belle by way of SC & GA living in N. VA. Your article hit it right on the head with everything you said. Sweet tea was always a staple growing up & still is to this day. I have had to adjust my taste buds for the further north you go, you have to ask if sweet tea is served.

    I had forgotten about the baking soda until you mentioned it. It really does make a difference in the taste. Too funny!!

    I so enjoyed reading your article & the comments!

    Thank you!

  6. I am from Maryland. Born and raised on Maryland Sweet. My grandmother used to add fresh mint.
    In an attempt to get away from the sweetness I make a new kind of tea. I use 4 green tea bags (Organic) 2 Moroccan Mint tea bags. I boil the water, add the tea and put a lid on the pot for around 15-20 minutes. After removing the teabags I then add a few tablespoons honey, 1/4 cup real freshly lemon juice and between a 1/2 and a cup of sugar.
    It is the best and freshest tasting tea.

  7. Hey there!!

    I want to try this so bad! Thank you!!

    I am from California, but have family in the south and love sweet tea, but not quite as sweet as southern sweet tea. I put 1/4cup of sugar in a jug and run HOT water to dissolve the sugar, then I use 4 family size tea bags and let it seep for an hour or two. (After reading this post I guess I like STRONG tea. haha.)

    But anyway, I am very particular about my tea. If it brews too long it tastes “rotten” to me. Would the baking soda help with that? Say, if I accidentally left it brewing overnight instead of a few hours… I noticed someone said it keeps it from rotting, I wondering if their definition of rotting is the same as mine. haha

    Also, I was wondering if there are any other clean eating sweeteners we could add, besides sucanat?? Maybe Agave nectar?? I am new to this “clean-eating” thing and am not too “hip” on the natural/unprocessed sweeteners yet.


    1. Brianna – Agave isn’t clean. You could try honey or coconut sugar. Some clean eaters use xylitol as well. Hope that helps!

  8. See??? I didn’t know that!! Thank you 🙂

  9. I’m from Louisiana and I’ve been putting baking soda in my sweet tea for years to cut down on bitterness. I agree though that 1 cup to 2 cups per gallon is more the ratio. This is a rare treat for me anymore. Maybe once a year but can’t wait to try this healthier version. Thanks so much!

  10. I like cold brewed teas so how would i adapt this??

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