Black Folks Southern Sweet Tea

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Black folk’s Southern sweet tea is a beloved Southern beverage that’s a must-have in every Southern kitchen and restaurant across the South. Year-round. 

 

Black Folks Southern Sweet Tea

 

What makes this Southern iced tea recipe so special?

As Ruby from Blackish exclaimed in the series finale when she thought Bow and Dre were going to move to Atlanta, 

“All that sweet tea and cobbler!”

For starters, Southern sweet tea is a delicious blend of refreshingly sweet and tangy flavors. (Mostly sweet flavors when it comes to making Southern-style sweet tea the Black way!)

But sweet tea is more than just a thirst-quenching beverage – it’s a symbol of Southern hospitality and good company, and it’s enjoyed throughout the deep South.

Drinking sweet tea on a hot day is the epitome of comfort, and sweet tea is a great meal starter, too! Especially when served with fresh cookies

 

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What are Black folks tea cakes?
An African American Southern dessert, Black folks tea cake is a sweet little biscuit. Light, airy, and sometimes compared to soda bread or pound cake. Tea cakes are a traditional African American treat that date's back to the 1600s.
Check out this recipe!
Black Folks Southern Tea Cake Recipe

 

There’s truly no better way to cool off than with a glass of sweet tea. So I’ve got the low-down on making Southern sweet tea – the Black folks’ way – the only way you’ll want to make it every time!

My motto is…

“Soul food recipes easy enough for anyone to make and everyone to love!”

Even if you’re not from a sweet tea and cobbler state.

 

Black Folks Sweet Tea

 

What is Southern sweet tea?

Sweet tea is a common colloquial term for iced tea, typically a Southern tradition. 

 

What is Southern iced tea?

Southern sweet iced tea is most often made from black tea, sugar, and water. Then poured over ice.

It’s a dark tea optionally garnished with natural flavorings like lemons, oranges, mint, or a flavored simple syrup (i.e., strawberry iced tea). And always sweetened with sugar. 

 

How is Southern sweet tea served?

Southern sweet tea can be served hot or cold. However, sweetened tea is most often served cold over ice with a lemon slice. 

The hot tea version is often served as a breakfast, brunch, or an evening treat with cookies, cakes, and pastries.

 

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Black Folks Southern Peach Cobbler Recipe

 

It’s also not uncommon that restaurants serve unsweetened tea over ice so you can add your desired amount and choice of sweetener.

There’s a significant problem with this, tho. 

It’s hard to sweeten tea when the beverage isn’t hot, so the sugar can quickly dissolve. As a result, most of the added sweetener simply falls to the bottom (womp-womp).

 

What is Southern sweet tea?

 

What is Black folks’ Southern sweet tea?

Unlike English tea, Black folks’ Southern sweet tea is never served with milk or creamer. Yet always served over ice. 

Black folk’s Southern sweet tea is one of those recipes where we like a bit of tea to go with our sugar!

 

Juneteenth Southern Hibiscus Sweet Tea
What is the official drink of Juneteenth?
Southern hibiscus sweet tea. It's a delicious red drink, and hibiscus flowers are native to West Africa. So, hibiscus tea has been part of Black culture since the beginning!
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What Is The Official Drink Of Juneteenth? Juneteenth Southern Hibiscus Sweet Tea

 

Where did Southern sweet tea come from?

Southern sweet tea has been a staple drink in the United States since the early 18th century. The original recipe may have called for tea leaves boiled in water and sweetened. 

Today’s Southern sweet tea is steeped in water with tea bags and brewed naturally with the finest ingredients to create a rich, smooth taste with the perfect balance of sweetness.

 

 

How do you make traditional Southern sweet tea?

Traditional Southern sweet tea is straightforward to make. 

Did you know that you can use the Instant Pot to make food and drinks?

This recipe shows you how to make Southern sweet tea with an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker for modern ease and efficiency.

 

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I wish everyone knew how easy Instant Pot cooking is for busy households – one-pot… straight to plate!
Print my helpful Instant Pot cooking times chart to always know how long to let meats, seafood, vegetables, eggs, rice, grains, and beans pressure cook inside the pot.
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Instant Pot Cooking Times Guide by The Soul Food Pot

 

What kind of tea is sweet tea?

Southern sweet tea is typically made with black tea. Then flavored with sugar, lemon, orange, or fresh mint sprigs.

Sweet tea was initially made with green tea before Americans began substituting black tea for green tea during World War 2 when green tea wasn’t imported.

 

How much sugar is in sweet tea?

This Southern Black folks’ sweet tea recipe calls for 3 cups of sugar added to the tea bags or tea leaves as they steep, allowing the sugar to dissolve and sweeten the tea. 

Finally, pour the warm tea into a gallon pitcher or a tall glass over ice cubes. 

The lemon, orange, or mint garnishments are typically added directly to the pitcher of tea.

 

What is Black folks’ Southern sweet tea?

 

Kitchen equipment for Black folks’ Southern sweet tea 

 

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Shop my kitchenware!

The Pioneer Woman Instant Pot  |  The Pioneer Woman measuring bowls  |  Pyrex measuring glass  |  Kate Aspen heart-shaped measuring spoons  |   Target dish cloth  |  Anthropologie similar Hestia mug  |  Amazon large & slotted spoon set  |  Target faux marble serving plate  |

 

What do you need to make Southern sweet tea?

 

Ingredients for Black folks’ Southern sweet tea 

  • 8 small or 4 large black tea bags
  • 5 quarts of cold water
  • 3 cups of granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of baking soda

 

What do you serve with Southern sweet tea?

 

Instructions for Black folks’ Southern sweet tea 

  1. Cut the strings off the tea bags. (Careful not to cut the actual tea bag because you don’t want loose tea floating around.)
  2. Open the Instant Pot lid and pour the water into the stainless steel inner pot. (Or, if using the stovetop, add all the ingredients to a large pot, steep/soak the tea bags in the boiling water for 30 minutes, and move on to step 8.)
  3. Then stir in the sugar and baking soda and add the tea bags.
  4. Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is up – in the position for sealing) and pressure cook on high for 4 minutes.
  5. When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural pressure release for 15 minutes.
  6. To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  7. Using oven mitts, remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot burner.
  8. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tea bags from the pot.
  9. Pour the tea into a pitcher and optionally add lemon wedges or fresh mint.
  10. Serve Black folks Southern sweet tea over ice, and enjoy!

 

Why is sweet tea popular in the South?

 

Why is sweet tea popular in the South?

Why do Southerners like sweet tea?

Because sweet tea is just as Southern as Carolina collard greens, Virginia hams, or Georgia peach cobbler

Part of Southern culture is that the people in the region are accustomed to this beverage. Sweet tea is consumed so much in the South that you’d think the Mississippi River was made of sweet tea!

 

What do you serve with Southern sweet tea?

Additionally, in the South, fried foods are prevalent. So it’s pretty common to see people eating foods like Southern fried chicken, potato salad, or fried fish and enjoying a glass of perfect Southern sweet tea!

 

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Southerners enjoy sweet iced tea from Thanksgiving to Juneteenth!

 

Black folks Southern sweet tea FAQs

Where and how did iced tea originate in the United States?

The oldest known iced sweet tea recipe in print comes from a community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia. (My home state). 

The book is a collection of recipes and domestic ideas by distinguished and notable housewives of Old Virginia. Perhaps the first of The Real Housewives franchise –

The Real Housewives Of Old Virginia?!

 

How do you make traditional Southern sweet tea?

 

Can you use the Instant Pot to make iced tea?

Instant Pot drinks are a real thing, from homemade eggnog to hot chocolate.

This recipe shows you how to make Southern sweet tea with an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker for modern ease and efficiency.

 

What do you need to make Southern sweet tea?

Many recipe variations exist for Southern sweet tea, making it hard to give a standard formula. 

This is my North Carolina family’s recipe for how we make Black folk’s Southern sweet tea. 

Like many of my Southern recipes, they’re older than me! Tried, true, and trusted for many, many years.

For the most part, the basic ingredients in Southern sweet tea never change – water, tea bags, and sugar. But my family has a secret ingredient! (Not-so-secret anymore because I reveal it in this recipe! – The baking soda.)

Here are the essential recipe ingredients for Black folk’s Southern sweet tea:

  • Water – It would be best if you start with filtered cold water because if you start with warm or hot water, there’s a chance you may end up with cloudy tea.
  • Tea Bags – The black tea bag is the star ingredient of this Southern sweet tea recipe! 
  • Sugar – You can add sugar to your taste. Use granulated unrefined or refined sugar. Both are ideal for this sweet tea recipe.
  • Lemon – Optionally garnish with a few lemon wedges for a refreshing, tangy flavor.

 

Why do you add baking soda to sweet tea?

Baking soda. That’s the secret ingredient in this Black folks’ Southern sweet tea.

 

Why do you add baking soda to sweet tea?

 

What does the baking soda do?

Why do you add the baking soda? – Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is extremely good at neutralizing acids such as the tannic acid found in tea. 

As a result, baking soda makes the tea taste better. Still, more importantly, it makes the tea last longer.

 

Wondering what the difference is between baking soda and baking powder?

Healthline tells us, “While both products appear similar, they’re certainly not the same.

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, which requires an acid and a liquid to become activated and help baked goods rise. Conversely, baking powder includes sodium bicarbonate, as well as an acid. Therefore, it only needs a liquid to become activated.”

Suppose you have a recipe that calls for baking soda, and you only have baking powder. In that case, you’ll need 2 or 3 times as much baking powder to substitute for the same amount of baking soda.

 

How long is sweet tea good for?

If you want to have the very best of Southern sweet tea, you should drink and serve it fresh. Or refrigerate for about 8-10 hours, so it’s perfectly refreshing over ice when serving.  

And like most homemade drinks, sweet tea is good for about 5 days in the fridge. Refrigerator temperatures are best for holding the freshness of the tea.

 

What type of tea is best for Southern sweet tea?

 

What type of tea is best for sweet tea?

Black tea contributes to the unique flavor of Southern sweet iced tea. Black teas are always best for this drink because they have a unique taste that balances well with the other iced tea ingredients.

 

Can you make sweet tea with green tea?

Many iced tea recipes online use green tea as the main ingredient. The main reason for replacing black tea with green tea is that some people find black tea slightly bitter. 

 

What type of tea should you use?

Southerners have long since acquired a taste for black tea. And Black folk’s sweet tea is a recipe that calls for a bit of tea with your sugar!

But if you prefer a lighter taste, replacing black tea with green tea is satisfactory.  

In fact, sweet tea was initially made with green tea before World War 2. However, Americans began substituting black tea for green tea during the war when the green tea imports were cut off.

 

Does sweet tea have caffeine in it?

Sweet tea has caffeine in it. The caffeine amount differs depending on the strength of the teabag used and the serving size. 

On average, an 8-ounce serving of tea will contain anywhere from 20 to 50 mg of caffeine. But don’t worry too much about the drink’s strength because it’ll be diluted a bit by the added ice.

 

Black People Sweet Tea

 

How are sweet tea and iced tea different?

Sweet tea is a tea that has sugar added to it during the brewing process. Iced tea is brewed tea (sweet or unsweetened) poured over ice.

 

Will Splenda work instead of sugar?

Yes. Splenda is an excellent alternative to sugar, although the taste is slightly different. A little Splenda goes a long way for those of us who find we can’t live without our sweetener!

 

Can you substitute using sugar for Stevia?

Yes, you can substitute with Stevia, too!

 

Can you use any teabag for Black folks Southern sweet tea?

 

How many small tea bags do you use?

I would use 8 small tea bags to make this Black folk’s Southern sweet tea recipe.

 

Can you use any teabag?

Many people ask, “What type of tea brand should I use for your homemade sweet tea recipe?”

While I have no brand loyalty here, it would be best to opt for premium quality tea bags specially made to brew iced tea. 

 

Ice tea bags of a different size?

For example, Luzianne has iced tea bags and larger family-size tea bags. The packaging will help you find the specific tea blend or bag size.

 

Soul Food Sweet Tea

 

Where is Luzianne tea from?

Luzianne tea is a famous Southern tea brand made in New Orleans, Louisiana (not St. Louis!)

 

What do you think about this Black folk’s Southern sweet tea recipe?

Instant Pot is an effortless and efficient way to steep tea.

What flavor tea do you use? Black or green.

Comment below and lemme know. Then subscribe HERE for all the soul food!

 

The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide
What is soul food? Soul food recipes are African-American recipes full of flavor! A legacy of Southern cooking the Black way. Check out this collection of the best soul food recipes!
Check out this recipe!
 The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide

 

Black Folks Southern Sweet Tea

Black Folks Southern Sweet Tea

Southern sweet tea is a delicious blend of refreshingly sweet and tangy flavors. (Mostly sweet flavors when it comes to making Black folks Southern sweet tea!)
But sweet ice tea is more than just a thirst-quenching beverage – it's a symbol of Southern hospitality and good company, and it's enjoyed throughout the deep South all year.
"All that sweet tea and cobbler!"
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Pressure Release Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 24 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Black people food, Southern Food
Keyword: Black folks Southern sweet tea, Black folks sweet tea, Black people sweet tea, soul food sweet tea, Southern ice tea, Southern sweet tea, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 20 cups
Calories: 116kcal
Author: Shaunda Necole

Equipment

  • Instant Pot electric pressure cooker (optional)
  • Or a large 6-8 quart pot

Ingredients

  • 8 tea small black teabags or 4 large (family-size) black teabags
  • 5 quarts water cold
  • 3 cups sugar granulated
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

  • Cut the strings off the tea bags. (Careful not to cut the actual tea bag because you don’t want loose tea floating around.)
  • Open the Instant Pot lid and pour the water into the stainless steel inner pot. (Or, if using the stovetop, add all the ingredients to a large pot, steep/soak the tea bags in the boiling water for 30 minutes, and move on to step 8.)
  • Then stir in the sugar and baking soda and add the tea bags.
  • Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is up – in the position for sealing) and pressure cook on high for 4 minutes.
  • When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural pressure release for 15 minutes.
  • To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  • Using oven mitts, remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot burner.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the tea bags from the pot.
  • Pour the tea into a pitcher and optionally add lemon wedges or fresh mint.
  • Serve Black folks Southern sweet tea over ice, and enjoy!

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 116kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 26mg | Potassium: 1mg | Sugar: 30g | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg
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Nutrition Facts
Black Folks Southern Sweet Tea
Amount per Serving
Calories
116
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
1
g
2
%
Sodium
 
26
mg
1
%
Potassium
 
1
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
30
g
10
%
Sugar
 
30
g
33
%
Calcium
 
7
mg
1
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

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8 Comments

  1. Cyrene
    June 5, 2022 / 5:29 am

    5 stars
    Will Lipton Green Tea will make a nice cold sweet tea?

    • June 5, 2022 / 4:45 pm

      5 stars
      Yes! You can use green tea with these same instructions for soul food Southern sweet tea.

      • SB
        June 9, 2022 / 1:57 pm

        5 stars
        Since you skip from Step 2 to 8 for stovetop recipie, do you only add baking soda when using Insta Pot?

        • June 9, 2022 / 3:17 pm

          5 stars
          Thanks for asking – if using the stovetop, still add all of the ingredients, and then go onto step 8 where you remove the teabags. Enjoy!

  2. SB
    June 9, 2022 / 1:58 pm

    5 stars
    Since you skip from Step 2 to 8 for stovetop recipie, do you only add baking soda when using Insta Pot?

    • June 9, 2022 / 3:18 pm

      5 stars
      Thanks for asking! Yes, still add the baking soda to this Southern sweet tea if you are using the stovetop or Instant Pot. Enjoy!

  3. SB
    June 9, 2022 / 2:05 pm

    5 stars
    Love your dress in the bio picture. What is the brand, where Did you buy it?

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