Iced Tea Recipe

This classic iced tea recipe gives you a refreshing beverage in just a few easy steps. Iced tea is as simple as it sounds: tea served with ice. It is inexpensive, hydrating, and invigorating on a hot day. Iced tea can be served sweetened or unsweetened.

Iced Tea

I wanted to make sure I got it right, so I asked my mother in law, Joy, how she makes iced tea. She is a bonafide Georgia girl and a real gem of a Southern cook, so I know this recipe is tried and true. And as it turns out, it's really easy. Score!

Iced Tea Recipe

Makes a half gallon of iced tea (8 cups).

What You'll Need:

  • 8 cups water
  • 6 black tea bags
  • 1 cup sugar (or to taste)


  1. Boil 4 cups of water in a saucepan.

  2. Place tea bags in the water and remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes.

  3. Remove tea bags and squeeze out excess water.

  4. Add sugar (if desired) and stir to dissolve.

  5. After allowing the tea to cool a little longer, pour into a pitcher and add 4 cups of cold water. Serve over ice and add lemon or lime wedges if desired.

*Secret Ingredient: Mama Joy says to add a pinch of baking soda (1/8 tsp) at Step 2 to remove some of the tea's bitterness, leaving a smoother taste.

Hold the Sugar! (and other sweet options)

Iced tea doesn't have to be sweet. If the above recipe is too sweet for you, reduce the amount of sugar or leave it out completely. My personal taste is a "lightly sweetened" version which uses only 1/4 cup of sugar in place of the full cup.

When served unsweetened, iced tea is a healthy alternative to soft drinks!

Tip: When catering to a group, it's easy to let each person sweeten his/her own tea as desired when you make unsweetened tea and serve it with simple syrup.

About Iced Tea

Americans have been drinking iced tea since the 1800s - basically ever since refrigeration and commercial ice production have been available. The beverage's popularity skyrocketed in the early 1900s after it was served at the World's Fair in St. Louis in 1904. Most iced teas are made with black tea, the preferred type of tea to serve cold.

Bottled and canned iced teas have become very popular, as well as instant iced teas. These teas are convenient and come in many flavors and varieties, but it's hard to beat the real thing!

It's Not Just the South Ya'll!

Although commonly associated with the South, iced tea is quite an American beverage as it is served throughout the country. It is also popular in Canada, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere in the world. Canned and bottled versions are popular in many international locales, with Nestea and Lipton being two of the most popular brands.

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