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glass of sweet tea with lemon
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5 from 6 votes

Lemon Sweet Tea

Lemon Sweet Tea is smooth, sweet, and oh so refreshing on a hot summer day! This classic Southern drink is incredibly easy to make at home, using simple ingredients, and with no bitterness!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Chill Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 10 mins
Course: Drink
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade iced tea
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 100kcal

Ingredients

Lemon simple syrup

  • 2 lemons
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water

Tea concentrate

  • 12 regular size tea bags (Luzianne is our favorite brand, but any brand will work)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

To serve

  • 10 cups water
  • lemon slices
  • rosemary sprig

Instructions

Make the simple syrup

  • Use a paring knife to slice the peel off of the lemons, then set aside for a minute.
  • To a small saucepan, add 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil over MED heat. Once boiling, add lemon peels and boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is clear (aside from the lemon peels).
  • Set simple syrup aside to cool.

Make the tea concentrate

  • Tie tea bags together at the top (by the tags). This makes it a lot easier to remove all the tea bags at once.
  • In another larger saucepan, add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and let sit for a minute or so.
  • Add tea bags and let steep for 5-6 minutes. Remove tea bags, but don't squeeze the tea bags (this could make the tea bitter).
  • Transfer hot tea mixture to a large gallon-sized pitcher, or several smaller pitchers.

Put it all together

  • Place a strainer over the pitcher and pour in the cooled simple syrup through a strainer to remove the lemon peels.
  • Add baking soda and 10 cups of cold water, stirring well to combine.
  • Cover pitcher and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until cold.

Serve

  • Serve over ice, garnished with a lemon wedge/slice and a sprig of rosemary if desired.

Notes

  1. Recipe makes approximately 1 gallon, which translates into 16 8oz glasses.
  2. Recipe can be halved if you don't need a large batch of sweet tea.
  3. The baking soda neutralizes any possible bitterness that comes from hot brewing tea, but can be omitted if you want. Just know that your tea may have a slightly bitter taste.
  4. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to the sweetness level, so please feel free to make and add more simple syrup (or less) if you'd like.

Nutrition

Calories: 100kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 31mg | Potassium: 19mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg