How to Make Sweet Tea

I’ve never been much of a hot drink person. I don’t like coffee – unless it’s iced and has plenty of chocolate in there to disguise the coffee taste. I’ve never been a tea fan either, unless it’s iced tea. I’m always trying different recipes on how to make sweet tea or any other type of iced tea.

I love traveling in the states and asking for iced tea with my meal. It’s real brewed tea, cooled and served over ice. There are sugar packets and sweeteners on the table so I can sweeten as I like. Here in Canada, if you ask for iced tea, it comes from a dispenser, same as where the Coke, Pepsi, 7-Up, etc are served from, and it’s probably Nestea. It’s the pre-sweetened tea similar to what is sold in cans at the grocery store. You don’t want to add sugar to Canadian iced tea!

I like the McDonald’s in the states because it sells sweet iced tea. It’s refreshing and thirst quenching and my first choice at the pop dispenser. And no, the McDonald’s in Canada does not sell it. Generally speaking, I don’t get to McDonald’s too often because I’m a vegetarian and most of the items on the menu are a pass for me. But when I’m in the states, I might stop in for a sweet tea.

I’m not a southern girl and have never traveled to any of the states where sweet tea is a thing, so this recipe is my best guess, loosely using the McDonald’s sweet tea as my taste test.

My sweet tea costs pennies to make and fills several glasses. What does it cost at McDonald’s or other restaurants? Over a buck for sure. And probably free refills, but most people aren’t going to drink 2 quarts of sweet tea when they go out for a meal.

Here’s how to make sweet tea.

How to Make Sweet Tea

Start off boiling water, keeping in mind you’ll want around 3 cups of boiled water to steep the tea. It doesn’t have to be an exact measurement, but in that range.

How to Make Sweet Tea

How to Make Sweet Tea


While the water is boiling, get out your 2 quart pitcher and add a pinch of baking soda to it. Why baking soda? Many people swear it helps the tea from going bitter and gives it a smoother taste. I’ve never noticed a big difference one way or the other, but I err on the side of caution here. I don’t want bitter sweet tea, so I put a pinch of baking soda in the pitcher.

How to Make Sweet Tea

I add 3 tea bags, and here I just use normal black tea bags. Whatever the cheapest ones I can buy at Walmart. Feel free to use herbal flavored tea bags, and I have an upcoming post for using flavored tea bags to make iced tea. For this recipe on how to make sweet tea, I use plain old black tea. Then I add between half a cup to 1 cup of sugar. You can vary this depending on your taste. Make this recipe a few times and adjust the sugar until you get it just right for you. I messed up once and put in closer to 2 cups, and was kind of wondering why I had so much undissolved sugar. How sweet it was! I pulled out another pitcher and diluted the iced tea with more water.

Caution: do NOT use sugar substitutes. I’ve tried – and BLEHHHH!!!! I dumped out the whole pitcher. What a waste!

How to Make Sweet Tea

Pour 3 cups of boiling water into the pitcher and put the lid on, or use a plate or something to cover the jug.

Now, go read a book or watch TV or find something to do for 30 minutes. Though I don’t mind confessing that sometimes I’ve forgotten that I’m making sweet tea and I’ve come back to it an hour or so later.

Stir to dissolve the sugar, being careful not to bust the tea bags. Leave the tea bags in the pitcher, and add cold water filling it to the 2 quart line. In my case, that’s the top of my pitcher.

How to Make Sweet Tea

Then I put it in the fridge to chill because it’ll still be somewhat on the warm side, but sometimes I can’t wait. I’ll fill a glass with ice cubes and pour in the sweet tea.

You can alter the amount of cold water depending on your taste, just like you can alter the amount of tea bags or even use flavored tea bags. The longer you leave the tea bags steeping in boiling water, the stronger the tea will be. Adjust the recipe a few times to get it just right for you. I find the sweet tea goes fast. It might not even last till the end of the day.

How to Make Sweet Tea

If you wish, put sliced lemons into your glass of sweet tea.


Are you a Southern girl or do you know how to make a killer sweet tea? Don’t be shy. Leave a comment on what makes your sweet tea special!



  1. My husband is the sweet tea drinker. I don’t use any sugar.
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful posts at Over The Moon Party.
    See you next week.

    1. Hi Bev. I don’t make sweet tea too often because of the sugar, but it’s nice for a change. I like it, but I usually brew herbal teas that don’t necessarily need to be sweetened. Thanks, I always try to remember to stop by the Over the Moon party!

  2. […] My version of the sweet tea the USA McDonald’s sells. This tea is great for using up extra tea bags such as black, orange pekoe, or mild herbal teas. It’s easy to boil 3 cups of water, add 3 tea bags, and half to a full cup of sugar, let it steep for 30 minutes or so, then add water to the top of the pitcher. This pitcher of iced tea won’t be sitting around in your fridge for too long! Click here for my sweet tea recipe. […]

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