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Recipe: Smooth Sweet Tea

Southern sweet tea, perfect for hot summer days

Smooth Sweet Tea Ingredients

  • 1 pinch baking soda

  • 2 cups boiling water

  • 6 tea bags

  • cup white sugar

  • 6 cups cool water

How to Make Smooth Sweet Tea

  1. Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda into a 64-ounce, heat-proof, glass pitcher. Pour in boiling water, and add tea bags. Cover, and allow to steep for 15 minutes.

  2. Remove tea bags, and discard; stir in sugar until dissolved. Pour in cool water, then refrigerate until cold.

Smooth Sweet Tea Nutritions

  • Calories: 72.6 calories

  • Carbohydrate: 18.7 g

  • Cholesterol:

  • Fat:

  • Fiber:

  • Protein:

  • SaturatedFat:

  • ServingSize:

  • Sodium: 41.3 mg

  • Sugar: 18.7 g

  • TransFat:

  • UnsaturatedFat:

Smooth Sweet Tea Reviews

  • I would give this recipe 100 stars if I could I am in love with McDonalds sweet tea. I would go every morning after I dropped the kids off at school and buy 2 large teas with no ice. I would grab a drink here and there I would crave it if I didnt have any left Well sorry Mcdonalds You have met your match I double this recipe and make a gallon of sweet joy I love the baking soda trick. It really does keep the tea clear and not bitter. Thank you so much for this recipe

  • As if this recipe needed ANOTHER 5 star rating, but I couldnt help myself. I agree with another reviewer that the baking soda DOES take the bitterness out of the recipe. I had stopped making iced tea for that very reason, and then I found this recipe. Its absolutely delicious. For those of you who see the baking soda in this recipe and frown in curiosity, turn that frown upside down. The baking soda makes it delicious (and is necessary in my opinion) Now, I will say that I did not use quite as much cool water as the recipe calls for. I think I stopped at about 4 cups. But the strength of your tea is such a personal taste thing, so I would recommend that as youre adding the water, give it a good stir after the first few cups and taste it and see whatcha think. As for the sugar, I used exactly what the recipe called for (keep in mind I used less water) and it tasted perfect. Not too sweet, because I dont like sweet, sweet tea. This recipe can be tweaked to suit any taste. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful recipe. Its absolutely delicious Try it...once you do, you wont have it any other way

  • Some of my family members are not sweet tea drinkers, they prefer their iced tea unsweetened so I tried the pinch of baking soda in unsweetened tea and it seemed to be just as effective at smoothing the bitterness and preventing it from getting cloudy. Thanks for the tip

  • A lovely recipe. I used 1 cup of sugar (If youve ever had the "Tradewinds" brand of iced tea, then youll know what I mean when I say I prefer "super sweet" to simply "sweet". The baking soda worked its magic even better than I thought it would. I also substituted ice for some of the cold water which speeded up the cooling process. This will make you feel like youre sitting on your wrap around porch in a white rocking chair, even if you live in the city without so much as a patio.

  • I made this yesterday for my husband, as hes big on sweet tea. Yes. Thumbs up. He approves Ill be making the sweet tea like this from now on. EDITED: This also works with Splenda and agave nectar

  • Yey No more cloudy tea And all it took was a pinch of baking soda? So clear you can see right through it. Using 1/2 cup of Splenda was the perfect sweetness for us and I thank you cookincode3 for sharing your great tip

  • I love this recipe My man is from Ga and misses his sweet tea. This did the trick and thinks it is the BEST tea he has had. I double the recipe using 4 family sized tea bags and only add 10 cups of water after the 1 1/2 cups of sugar dissolves. He says its the BEST sweet tea ever.

  • Pouring boiling water into a glass pitcher (even a "heat-proof" one) is a recipe for disaster. The glass will crack/shatter. The best thing to do is to pour it into a plastic container first and then put it in the glass pitcher after it has cooled.

  • Following this recipe exactly I make this daily in my household. To keep this on hand I make the concentrate, freeze it in a container, pop it out then store it in the freezer gallon size ziplock bags. Whenever I run out I just place the frozen concentrate in a gallon container and add the 6 cups of water and WHOLAH Simple and Tasty

  • Very good tea with no bitter aftertaste I only let mine steep 10 minutes. I subbed 1/4 cup of organic agave in place of the sugar. I will be making this again soon.

  • I used about 1/4 t of baking soda and it was neither too much or little for the full recipe. It really did take away the bitterness and made a really nice sweet tea. I used the full 3/4 c of sugar and did not find it to be too sweet.

  • Well, I can see where all the 5 star ratings come from This stuff really is good, so good you could bottle it and sell it Im the unsweetened iced tea drinker in the house so thats saying something. Im going to try the baking soda trick with the unsweetened iced tea as well. My husband loves this iced tea - Thanks for the recipe well put it to a lot of use over the summer months

  • This tea is great My husband is from Virginia and loves sweet tea, and he is giving this rave reviews. I like that it tastes like tea (it isnt just syrupy tasting) but is never bitter, even after a few days in the fridge. If you like mint iced tea, just put several fresh-picked mint leaves in to steep with the tea bags. It is so refreshing on a hot day I know others increased the sugar to one cup, but the recipe is really perfect as written; sometimes I even use a tiny bit less sugar. This tea is now a summer staple in our house

  • This is my go-to recipe for iced tea; the baking soda really eliminates any bitterness. If you decrease the sugar to 1/2 cup and replace the cool water at the end with lemonade, you have a delicious tea lemonade, best with black or green tea, in my opinion. If you replace the cool water at the end with milk, you have an incomparable tea latte -- you must try it with chai or earl gray Absolutely amazing.

  • Just another member giving a 5 star review I used 1/2 cup of Splenda and it was sweet enough for me. Love the Baking Soda trick.For those of you who would like a precise measurement for what a "Pinch" is - its 1/16th of a teaspoon or half of the 1/8th teaspoon.1/8 teaspoon = Dash1/16 teaspoon = Pinch1/32 teaspoon = smidgen

  • This is the best sweet tea ever, thats what my 3 year old said. i used 2 family size tea bags since that what i had. i didnt pour the hot tea into my glass jar, i was afraid it would break. so i boiled 2 cups of water in a large pot, removed from the heat and added the baking soda & tea bags covered and let sit for 15 mins. then i added the sugar and when it was desolved i added the 6 cups of cold water. then i poured it into my glass jug.

  • Very good recipe. I do not like my ice tea getting watered down when I put it over ice. So I freeze some of the tea in old fashion ice cube trays and pour the tea over "tea cubes." Flavor stays just as I prefer it - like tea.

  • Iced Tea has always been a staple for me in the spring and summer months, even though I have always hated that bitter aftertaste. Well, the pinch of baking soda takes care of that Thank you, thank you for making my favorite drink even better I add fresh lemon slices to the pitcher (and sometimes lime slices, too).

  • Iced Tea has always been a staple for me in the spring and summer months, even though I have always hated that bitter aftertaste. Well, the pinch of baking soda takes care of that Thank you, thank you for making my favorite drink even better I add fresh lemon slices to the pitcher (and sometimes lime slices, too).

  • This might be the only thing I drink for the rest of my life, except for the occasional beer. I was hesitant because I like lemon (or lemonade concentrate) in my iced tea, but now Im a convert. Thanks so much (I followed the recipe as directed, but put in about a 1/2 tsp soda)

  • This is highly addictive Ive made it twice this week and Im trying to watch my caffeine intake...This is the perfect sweet iced tea No need to buy it anymore

  • Very Good I love it exactly as written or with flavored tea. My favorite is with peach tea =)

  • The best sweet tea I have ever had. We were curious as to how much of a difference the pinch of baking soda would make. To our surprise, it makes all the difference in the world. So smooth, absolutely no bitterness and no cloudy tea Perfect. We have been using this recipe for a while now and I make a double batch a couple of times a week. Its always gone in one day with this crowd. Thanks for sharing

  • Being born and raised in the deep South, I had to laugh when I read that this was a "Southern" sweet tea posted by someone from New York and now living in Seattle, Washington (No offense meant at all; just ironic). Nobody I know from the south has ever heard of putting baking soda in tea but I was intrique enough to try it. Turns out, it doesnt change the taste at all. The result is just like the tea we make in south Mississippi Im not sure what its purpose is in this recipe but my 83 year old mother said her mama would occasionally put baking soda in fresh beans to help keep kids from getting a tummy ache. (Who knows.) Either way, this tea is very good and very "Southern," with or without the baking soda. Thanks cookincode3.

  • Just thought Id share that the longer you let tea steep the more bitter it gets. That is why you should only steep tea for 3-5 minutes. Any longer and you get bitter tea.

  • Amazing This will be in my fridge forever, I LOVE iced tea Also, for those inexperienced cooks who dont know, a pinch is about 1/16 tsp so dont over/under do it

  • I am a Virginia girl, and I love authentic southern sweet tea. This recipe rivals many of the sweet teas I have ever hadI used my Iced Tea Maker for this recipe, with a few minor adjustments, it came out fantastic.The recipe (as is) makes about 2 quarts. My machine makes 3 quarts. To accomodate, I adjusted the baking soda up by a half of a pinch,used 3 family sized tea bags (equivalent to 9 regular tea bags), and increased the sugar to 1 cup + 3 tablespoons. If you use an iced tea maker, just sprinkle the baking soda at the bottom of the pitcher, add the recommended amount of ice based on the amount you are making, and once the tea has finished brewing all you will need to do is add the sugar, stir, and enjoy Thank you for such a great recipe.

  • This is the BEST sweet tea recipe I use 1/2 cup of splenda instead of sugar.

  • So I just made the tea doubling the recipe to make a gallon. Its the best I have had since my grandmother stopped making sweet tea. Beautiful clear red color. I did make a few changes -- insted of the individual tea bags I used 2 gallon sized bags and only 8 cups cold water and ice to fill the rest of the way - no patientce to wait for it to chill in our house lol BTW dont forget the lemon wedge it is even better than I thought it could be

  • Yum

  • I make sweet tea on a daily basis in our home. Its delicious and refreshing. Just a note...when placing tea bags in the boiling water, anything over 9 minutes burns the tea leaves and makes it bitter. I steep them for exactly 9 minutes and its perfect tea every time. the pinch of baking soda will take the bitterness out, yes. Also, by placing the hot tea in the fridge, that makes it cloudy. Try pouring it over ice cubes to make up the water volume.

  • Not particularly caring for this recipe. Its a bit inefficient whn one can just leave tea bags in a gallon of water in the sun for 45 mins, add sugar, lemon and ice.

  • Yep its McDonalds tea although I had to cut the sugar to 1/2 cup. Ive also made this using Splenda and it works just fine. Do yourself a favor though and dont skip the baking soda, it keeps the tea clear and cuts out the bitterness often times associated with tea.

  • From all the good reviews, no one probably needs to hear mine to help them decide whether or not to make this, but here it is anyway. This tea is outstanding. I scaled the recipe up to 3 quarts (12 U.S. servings) and used two family size Luzianne iced tea bags instead of nine little ones. Great recipe

  • I can now drink ice tea again I have never heard of adding baking soda, but after reading the reviews I figured I might as well try it. It worked Im happy because I absolutely LOVE ice tea--just hate the bitterness that often accompanies it :) The only thing I changed was I doubled the recipe to equal a gallon, but only used a cup of sugar. Thats just enough sweetness for me :)

  • I have lived in the South for almost 25 years and never learned to make iced tea. It would always be cloudy and bitter no matter what I did. Finally I did it I made iced tea and its really good

  • Not that this recipe needs another 5-star rating...I love iced tea, but am reluctant to order it at restaurants or make it at home because it is so often bitter. Well...not any more While a little too sweet for me as written, this recipe makes the smoothest-drinking glass of iced tea on Earth I have now adjusted the amount of sugar downward to suit my taste buds and get a consistently wonderful result. Thanks, cookincode, for this wonderful recipe

  • The baking soda really made the tea taste good. Will use that again.

  • The baking soda really does make the tea nice and smooth--definitely no bitterness. I used Lipton iced tea bags and think 3/4 cup sugar is a tad too sweet...next time Ill probably use 1/2. Great stuff. *UPDATE* I just followed this recipe exactly using Tazo Passion Tea bags. It is EXACTLY like Starbucks sweetened passion tea, except a much better deal -- and that makes it all the more amazing DEFINITELY TRY IT

  • Great b. soda trick - love the tea, but I prefer to cut the sugar in half. This recipe tastes just like McDs Sweet Tea, which I always order 50/50 sweet and unsweetened.

  • Clearly not from the south...

  • Love this recipe I add in 1/4 cup of lemon juice at the end and its PERFECTION... way better than the bottled high fructose corn syrup iced teas. So easy, too UPDATE 2/7/13 - If you love this sweet tea, then you absolutely have to try it with green tea Just made it this way today (including the 1/4 cup lemon juice) and it tastes so similar to those bottled citrus green tea drinks. YUM

  • Best Ive made....could even cut sugar further

  • I knew this was a recipe for "sweet tea", but I honestly wasnt sure what "sweet tea" tasted like, having never had it before.For my taste, this tea was far too sweet. It had a nice flavour to it (I used Early Grey tea), but much too sweet.Still giving 4 stars, as I cant rightly downgrade a "sweet tea" for being sweet. lolBut, if I try this again, I will cut the sugar down by about 1/2.

  • This is a huge hit I made this for a SoCal gathering of AR Buzzers this last Saturday. I used Earl Grey Tea perfectly flavored with natural bergamot. I followed the directions to a "T" Who could have guessed what a little pinch--and I mean pinch--of baking soda can do Perfection in a glass Thank you for posting this recipe

  • Yum I doubled it using 4 c of boiling water and filled the pitcher up to a gallon. I used 4 family sized bags of tea. Delicious

  • No better road on the way to diabetes and tooth decay. Its so good my daughter finally stopped dragging me to mcdonalds for her daily shot. Way too go allrecipes. Im sorry but I have to go. Im getting a sugar rush and have go climb some walls. TALLY HO

  • I have been searching for a tea like this WONDERFUL

  • Just like southern sweet tea, this just hits the spot.

  • OMG AMAZING just amazing. Thank you

  • Mmmm, mmmmm, mmmm, mmmmmm and again, mmmmm. I am a Yankee born and bred but I have spent quite a bit of time in Atlanta and this is IT. Southern sweet tea at its best. I had heard about using baking soda to make clear iced tea and it sounded odd to me but just a tiny pinch yields a crystal clear tea with no discernible flavor. Adjust the sweetness after the first batch if you want to but try it first as written. It really is a treat.

  • I made it for the first time last night. I doubled the recipe so I have plenty of tea, but I have already had several glasses. Very good Ive always wondered why my tea never tasted as good as many restaurant teas, but now it is I live in Hawaii, where it is very hard to find sweet tea...even McDonalds doesnt have it here. Doesnt matter now that I can make it myself

  • This tea is really good. I think the baking soda really makes the difference, I was very surprised it wasnt bitter. I do reduce the sugar, though to about 1/3 cup.

  • We didnt care for it.

  • Loved this If you like McDonalds sweet tea, youll love this

  • Awesome recipe. I would give it ten stars is if I could.

  • Great tea. Brings back memories of time spent with my grandparents, who were from the South.

  • Although I have always made a good tea, I gave this a try and switched brands as well. Lipton has always been a go-to for me, but I went and bought Luzianne before making this recipe. The result was unbelievably astonishing and thats not a lie This is the kind of Southern House Wine you want to put in a fancy glass pitcher and serve the right way Thanks a bunch for sharing Makes living up north just a tad sweeter, lol.

  • FINALLY I am originally from Tennessee and my Midwestern husband was always dissapointed that I didnt know how to make a good batch of sweet tea. I experimented sooo many times and it always ended up cloudy and bitter. If I added more sugar to cut the bitterness it ended up super-duper-cavity-sweet. I always wondered what the secret was and now I know...BAKING SODA I just had my first few swigs of a fresh batch after trying this recipe and I seriously could not believe my taste buds. Wait till my husband tries this, Im a true Southern Woman now (I dont think Ill share the little baking soda trick with my friends, Ill let them wonder what my secret ingredient is *evil laugh*)

  • I used green tea, its good Cant believe I didnt think of this myself. Baking soda nuetralizes the acid Thats the key, thanks for posting older recipes, I wouldnt have gone looking for this.

  • I cannot believe I was born and raised in Alabama and never heard about this baking soda trick Thanks for sharing The tea is yummy....adjust amount of sugar to your liking and it is perfect Southern iced tea :)

  • The BEST

  • This is the perfect technique for iced tea. The pinch of soda makes all the difference.

  • Perfect recipe for perfect sweet tea

  • This is so smooth. We made it all last summer ... cant wait for the warm weather and sun to return to Seattle

  • Ever what it is that good tea does, this tea does it. Thanks.

  • Its not that it didnt taste good, but it was missing something. I only made half the recipe but fell short on the sugar (used 1/8 cup, maybe slightly more) so perhaps it lacked the the sweetness of sweet tea (which I have never tried, I may add. They do not sell this at McDonalds in Canada- I work there) and maybe some lemon may do some good on cutting back the overly strong tea taste. I want my iced to taste like theres tea in there, but not like plain black to left on the counter that got cold. Im going to give this recipe another chance when I have more sugar and add lemon wedges; then let it sit a few hours and see how it turns out.

  • Wow was super smooth and very yummy perfect

  • The best sweet tea in the world I would definately recommend.

  • Yum Yum Yum We looked for the perfect sweet tea and found it right here Thanks

  • Living in Canada we can not get REAL sweet tea anywhere including Mcdonalds. I have tried making it on my own for years and it was never just right ..till now LOVE this recipe it turns out perfect the only change I made is I used 1/2 c of splenda instead of sugar because I am diabetic ...but Ice cold it is PERFECT

  • Great tip about the baking soda It really does work. Have made this many, many times with different combinations (stronger/weaker, sweeter/not so sweet, etc.). This worked the best for us ... 1/8 tsp baking soda, 5 Red Rose tea bags, 1/4 c honey, same amounts of water and steeped for 15 minutes. MMMMM perfect Thanks cookincode3 for sharing

  • I have made this recipe lots of times and it is my go-to recipe My husband prefers his tea unsweetened so I just use 2 tablespoons of the sugar to counteract any bitterness the tea might have. My son likes the sweetened tea. Perfect either way

  • Im not a huge sweet tea dranker but I really like this recipe. So far Ive made this twice. The second time I tried it with chai tea and it was wonderful.

  • The best. Garnish with fresh mint and a lemon slice or use frozen cubes of lemon juice. I rimmed the glass with Cat Hills Minty Sugar, sooooo good on a hot day

  • THE BEST SWEET TEA EVER. This IS the southern sweet tea I grew up on. I grew up in both Virginia and Mississippi, so I definitely know my Southern iced tea.

  • This beats any prepared mix Ive tried. I agree with others that said the baking soda is essential for taking away that bitterness. It was a tad on the sweet side for me but everyone else in my family thought it was perfect From this transplant to the South...Thank You for teaching me the secret to Smooth Southern Sweet Tea

  • Perfect recipe name - smooth is exactly right I used less sugar, but the baking soda is the secret; my iced tea tasted wonderful. Thanks for the great idea

  • Awesome taste I used really cheap tea and it still came out great

  • Great tasting tea Works well for regular tea as well as decaf. Ive seen this recipe before in a recipe book.

  • Great recipe. I add a teabag of raspberry zinger tea to the six regular teabags and a half cup of sugar does the trick for me. Nice subtle raspberry flavor.

  • Here in East Tennessee, folks can be downright snobby about their sweet tea. And Ive never made a pitcher that I felt confident serving to guests... Until now THANKS A MILLION No more store-bought for us Not sure of the kitchen science behind it, but the pinch of baking soda does the trick and as long as I follow the recipe exactly, my sweet tea is perfect every time and a pitcher never makes it through the day

  • This is my absolute favorite sweet tea recipe Sometimes I add a few slices of fresh ginger to my batch of sweet tea. I have also substituted two of the tea bags for flavored tea bags, such as peach to make a delicious batch of flavored sweet tea

  • My husband loves this tea. I send it with him to work in a thermos with ice and he says it is so refreshing to drink on a hot day.

  • Simple yet delicious. Baking soda is key. I always use an extra pinch

  • I always make this. It is our favorite iced tea recipe. The only change that I make is to use 5 cups of cool water, rather than 6.

  • I actually added a bit more baking soda than the recipe called for because the one i originally made was VERY bitter. Overall, however, a wonderful recipe.

  • The iced tea normally drank in my part of Canada usually has lemon in it. I thought I would look for something different. I tried this recipe and we all really enjoy it. I will make this again. I cut back on the sugar and still like it. Thanks for sharing.

  • I make this recipe, followed exactly, with an organic earl black tea and it tastes JUST like STARBUCKS black iced tea. This is good, and I live in the South and drink Tea instead of soda

  • I used Splenda instead of sugar. Its a little too sweet for me, so I made a second pitcher and used 1/2 cup instead. I also, doubled the recipe. Much better

  • Tastes great, I wished it had made more though. I mixed it in a huge glass container so it wasnt even a quarter full.

  • Delicious Sweet but not too sweet, and plenty of tea flavor so it doesnt feel like youre just drinking sweetened water. This is the perfect iced tea.

  • L love this sweet tea. l followed the recipe exact except i doubled everything to make a big pitcher. l give this recipe 5 stars

  • I love this tea I almost didnt try it because of all the references to McDonalds sweet tea, which I dont like at all. (Watery, not very sweet, very little tea flavor... Maybe its made differently in my part of the country, or my McDonalds makes it terrible?) I had trouble getting the sugar to dissolve, so now I boil the water and split it, one half to steep the tea, the other to dissolve the water. It turns out strong and sweet

  • YUM I dont drink sweet tea, but my southern husband loves it. I decided to make him some today and found this recipe. I used an all-natural sugar substitute (I cant talk myself into drinking pure sugar :P) and it turned out AMAZING. Thank you for sharing this recipe, especially since it exposes the secret of baking soda. Ill be making more as my in-laws are coming to town next week.

  • Perfect adjust the sugar to your taste. we use only about a quarter cup.

  • The best

  • I make it by the gallon. 8 Orange Pekoe tea bags. Boil 2 Qts. of water, remove from heat & add 1/2 tsp. baking soda ( kills any bitterness),place tea bags in to steep for 13 mins. 1 3/4 cup sugae disolved in 2 cups boiling water. fill a gallon jug n cool. AWESOME. Squirt of real lemon juice optional.

  • This recipe is awesome. I was very skeptical of the baking soda but I went for it. Now Ill never go back. We love tea and Im always adding new flavors. This version is so smooth. We prefer a strong bold flavor and now it has a smoothness that flows

Source: Smooth Sweet Tea

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