Sweet Tea Cocktail Recipe

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Sweet Tea Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


Sweet Tea cocktail, also known as Southern Sweet Tea, has its roots in the American South, where it has been a popular beverage for centuries. It is believed to have originated in the 18th century when tea was first introduced to the region. The combination of tea, sugar, and sometimes a splash of lemon or other fruit flavors, made it a refreshing and popular drink among the southern population. Over time, the addition of alcohol, particularly vodka or rum, turned it into a delightful cocktail enjoyed by many.

  • Origin: American South
  • Popularity: High in the southern United States
  • Ideal for: Hot summer days, outdoor gatherings, and BBQs

How Sweet Tea Tastes?

Sweet Tea cocktail is a perfect blend of sweet, tangy, and refreshing flavors. The sweetness from the sugar and the natural flavors of the tea are balanced by the tartness of the lemon and the subtle kick from the alcohol. It's a light and easy-drinking cocktail that can be enjoyed by anyone who loves a sweet and refreshing beverage.

Interesting facts about Sweet Tea

  • Sweet Tea cocktail is often associated with the American South and is considered a staple beverage in the region.
  • The cocktail is traditionally made with black tea, but variations can be made with green tea or herbal tea.
  • Sweet Tea cocktail can be served in a variety of ways, including over ice, in a tall glass, or even in a mason jar for a rustic touch.


A few good options for Sweet Tea are:

  • Grey Goose
  • Belvedere
  • Khor
  • Smirnoff

Learn everything on which Vodka to choose

Black tea

Black tea is the backbone of this drink, providing a robust and aromatic foundation. It's strong enough to stand up to the sweetness and acidity, giving the drink its signature 'tea' essence. Less tea could make the drink too weak, while more could overpower with bitterness. A fun alternative could be green tea, which would offer a more grassy and milder profile.

Mary Mitkina


Sugar sweetens the brew and balances the lemon's tartness. The right amount ensures a pleasant sweetness without being cloying. Too little, and the drink may be too tart; too much, and it's a sugar bomb. Honey could be a natural alternative, adding a floral note to the cocktail.

Emma Rose

Lemon juice

This adds a bright, citrusy zing that cuts through the sweetness and gives the drink a refreshing quality. Tweaking the lemon juice could greatly shift the cocktail's balance—more juice adds sharpness, less makes it more subdued. Lime juice could substitute for a slightly different tang.

Alex Green

Vodka or rum

That's where the party starts! Vodka keeps things clean and straightforward, while rum brings in a gentle complexity with its sweet, caramel notes. If the amount is off, you could end up with either a dull non-alcoholic tea or an overpowering booze fest. For a twist, bourbon introduces a smoky vanilla character.

Mary Mitkina


Chills the drink, enhancing the refreshment factor. Without it, you're sipping on lukewarm disappointment. Crushed ice can make the drink even cooler, both literally and figuratively!

Emma Rose

Lemon slices

They're not just for show! The slices infuse a subtle citrus aroma and make for a pretty garnish. If you skip them, you miss out on some zesty flair. Oranges or limes can also be used for a splash of color and a twist in the aroma.

Alex Green

Mint leaves

Mint adds a burst of cool freshness that elevates the cocktail. Forging the mint means losing that crisp, clean finish. Other herbs like basil could offer a more herbal touch, if you're looking to experiment.

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Sweet Tea Drink

  1. Brew the black tea and let it cool to room temperature.
  2. In a separate container, dissolve the sugar in 1/4 cup of hot water to create a simple syrup.
  3. In a shaker, combine the cooled tea, simple syrup, lemon juice, and vodka or rum.
  4. Add ice to the shaker and shake well to chill the cocktail.
  5. Strain the cocktail into a tall glass filled with ice.
  6. Garnish with lemon slices and mint leaves.

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh ingredients: Freshly brewed tea and freshly squeezed lemon juice can make a big difference in the taste of your Sweet Tea cocktail.
  • Chill your glass: A chilled glass can help keep your cocktail cool for a longer period of time.
  • Adjust to taste: Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar and lemon juice to suit your personal taste.

Perfect Pairings

Appetizers & Snacks

  • Charcuterie Boards - The contrast between the smoky meats and cheeses with the refreshing cocktail is heavenly.
  • Southern Fried Chicken - The sweet tea cocktail complements the spices of the chicken in a comforting and familiar way.


  • Barbecue Ribs - The sweetness of the cocktail pairs wonderfully with the tangy, smoky flavor of the ribs.
  • Cobb Salad - The light and refreshing nature of the salad matches the airy and sweet tones of the cocktail.


  • Peach Cobbler - The sweet and citric profile of the drink cuts through the richness of the cobbler.
  • Lemon Bars - The lemon in both the cocktail and the bars creates a zesty and unified flavor experience.

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What you could change in Sweet Tea

  • Tea: You can use green tea or herbal tea instead of black tea.
  • Sugar: Honey or agave syrup can be used as a substitute for sugar.
  • Alcohol: You can use bourbon or whiskey instead of vodka or rum.

Explore all drinks starting with S here

And of course - twists🍹

Green Tea Honey Twist

Replace black tea with green tea and sugar with honey. Brew 1 cup of green tea, add honey while warm, and allow it to cool. Mix with lemon juice and your choice of spirit. This twist will present a more floral and earthy profile with a less pronounced sweetness.

Bourbon Sweet Tea Punch

Swap vodka/rum with bourbon and amplify the Southern charm. Add peach nectar for a fruity note. The bourbon will introduce a vanilla and caramel depth with a hint of smokiness, making it richer than the original.

Spiced Tea Delight

Incorporate a cinnamon stick and a star anise into the tea as it's brewing. Once the tea is cooled, proceed as usual. The spices will infuse the drink with warm notes, creating a more complex and fall-inspired sweet tea cocktail.

In case you forgot basics how to make Sweet Tea

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Sweet Tea

Can I add other fruits to my Sweet Tea cocktail?

Yes, you can add other fruits such as peaches or strawberries to your Sweet Tea cocktail, depending on your preference.

What sort of rum is best used in a Sweet Tea cocktail?

Either dark or light rum can be used in a Sweet Tea cocktail. The type of rum used can greatly influence the flavor of the cocktail.

Does the Sweet Tea cocktail have any non-alcoholic versions?

Yes, you can easily create a non-alcoholic version of the Sweet Tea cocktail. Just omit the alcohol and use more tea or any other non-alcoholic mixer.

Can I add spices to my Sweet Tea cocktail?

Yes, depending on your preference you can add spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg for additional flavors.

Is there a specific type of vodka best used for a Sweet Tea cocktail?

No, there isn't a specific type of vodka to use for a Sweet Tea cocktail. However, using a high-quality vodka can enhance the overall flavor.

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