Days Gone By - stories from the past

The Ten Commandments for the perfect Southern Sweet Tea

There  is nothing more traditional in the South than serving a cold glass of sweet ice tea on a hot sultry day. Even poems have been written about sweet tea and in the movie Steel Magnolias , sweet tea was called, “the house wine of the South.”

sweet-tea-featurePicture courtesy of Porter

There are many recipes for the perfect glass of sweet iced tea, but like the Ten Commandments for Grits, and  Ten Commandments for Cornbread, there are some rules you should follow.

Ten Commandments for Sweet Tea

(Here is an example of a good stoneware pot for brewing tea –RSVP White 6 cup Stoneware Chai Teapot)


  1. Thou shalt have a designated pot for brewing the tea. (My favorite is a stoneware or a ceramic teapot like the one above. It seems to brew the tea faster.)
  2. Thou shalt buy fresh quality tea. (Many people have their favorites. Some popular brands in the South are Lipton (my favorite) Tetley, or Luzianne.)
  3. Thou shalt use no less than 6 to 8 teabags for a gallon of tea.
  4. Thou shalt not bruise the tea leaves. (This means don’t throw them in a pot of water or boil water with tea bags in it. This is the purpose of the designated pot. Place the leaves with the strings hanging out in the designated pot and pour the hot boiled water gently over the leaves.)
  5. Thou shalt steep the tea bags for no less than 10 minutes and no more than 30 minutes.
  6. Thou shalt stir and dissolve two (or more) cups of sugar in three cups of hot water in a large pitcher.
  7. Thou shalt remove the tea bags from the designated teapot and gently pour the brewed tea into the large pitcher of sugar water.
  8. Thou shalt stir the tea and sugar water very gently. (Add more room temperature water to make a full gallon and taste for sweetness and add more sugar, if needed)
  9. Thou shalt cover and let the tea stand until it is room temperature, then pour into a glass filled with ice and a lemon wedge on the rim. (Crushed ice is best)
  10. Thou shalt never put ice into the pitcher of tea nor place in refrigerator to cool faster. Only put the tea in refrigerator after it has cooled to room temperature.

Example of a good pitcher for iced tea – Lenox French Perle Pitcher, Large, Ice Blue

These are my ten commandments for making Southern sweet tea. What are yours?

Vinegar of the Four Thieves  -many people swear by this potent natural remedy for many illnesses – Would you like to know Thomas Jefferson’s recipe for Vinegar of the Four Thieves or how to make Ox Tail Soup? Discover this recipe as well as many household tips from the past in  Vinegar of the Four Thieves: Recipes & Curious Tips from the Past

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Two cups of sugar? Are you kidding? Gross.

  2. I don’t see anything blasphemous or heretical about the fact that my system can’t tolerate sugar in tea. Splenda or stevia does just as well.

  3. NOPE. Cup of sugar, at most. And I steep my tea in water that has boiled, but cooled just below boiling, and usually for 24 hours. Gives much richer tea flavor, and never bitter. And they left out the part about using only filtered water. So much clorine and other stuff in tap water these days.

  4. I am from the south, and I drink it straight no sugar etc..

  5. Has to be strong and sweet with lemon.

  6. Drinkin a glass right now!

  7. I have been making sweet tea since I was a child and never put but one cup of sugar…

  8. I’m not even gonna read this article, because I’m afraid I am a sweet tea sinner! Ignorance is bliss, right? 😉

  9. Cloverdale tea for the Quillen family requires 3 cups sugar per 1 gal tea!!!!

  10. Is there any other form of sweet Tea..either with Suga or Honey..??

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