Sweet tea is as famous in the South as “southern hospitality.” When you think of this drink, you can’t help but conjure images of lazy summer afternoons on a local patio. But it’s not just a great drink! In fact, sweet tea also has some really amazing health benefits.
The best southern sweet tea is made from black tea leaves. Black, green, and oolong teas are actually all from the Camellia Sinensis plant — black tea, however, is made with different amounts of fermentation than green or oolong tea. The quintessential dark tea is fully fermented before drying, which results in the deeper color and flavor that sweet tea is known for.
Health Benefits of Sweet Tea
Like a daily multivitamin, sweet tea contains important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc. While sweet tea won’t replace nutritional supplements, getting nutrition from whole food sources like tea is important for a well-rounded diet.
Feeling low on energy? Black tea offers a gentle infusion of energy without the jitteriness that might come from coffee. Also, in various studies, caffeine has been associated with higher metabolism, increased fat oxidation, and better endurance during exercise.
The flavonoids found in black tea have been associated with benefits to your cardiovascular health. German researchers suggested that it could reduce or prevent clogged arteries while providing anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and lipid-lowering properties.
The longer fermentation time of black tea also results in two powerful compounds — theaflavins and thearubigins — which may have additional associated benefits. More research is needed, but it’s very cool to learn what exists so far!
For the best refreshing, brisk, and yummy Sweet Tea, try our Classic Black Tea. Winner of “Best Black Iced Tea” at the World Tea Expo, we carefully hand-blended bright Nilgiri tea with smooth, rich Yunnan golden buds to create a supremely classic infusion for the perfect beverage.
How to Brew The Perfect Sweet Tea
There is a fine art to brewing the perfect sweet tea. The key is steep time and it’s the most guarded secret south of the Mason Dixon Line. Here’s your guide to making a really great and authentic sweet tea:
- 1 ounce organic Classic Black tea
- 1 1/8 cup organic unbleached cane sugar
- 12 cups purified or Spring water
- 1 gallon glass pitcher
Bring water to a boil in a pot. Once the water is boiling, add your Classic Black Tea and remove the pot from heat. Stir the water with a non-metal spoon for 30 seconds.
Steep the leaves in the hot water for exactly 4 minutes and 30 seconds. The tea will take on a bitter taste if steeped for longer.
Add ice and sugar to the pitcher. After the brewing time is up, pour the tea through the strainer and into the pitcher. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until cold.
Grab a glass, fill it with ice, and pour in the chilled sweet tea. Don’t forget to garnish with a lemon wedge.
Tips, Tricks, And Substitutions
Avoid having sugar at the bottom of your pitcher by making a simple syrup while the tea is steeping. In a glass, mix the granulated cane sugar with 2 cups of hot water. Mix until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add this over the ice in the pitcher before adding the hot tea. (The person that gets the last glass of tea will be thankful for this trick!)
For an even healthier sweet tea, substitute the organic cane sugar with ¾ cup agave or raw honey. Or try one of our naturally flavored iced teas like our Summer Peach Iced Tea, which includes sweet, sun-ripened peaches to bring out a fruity and crisp flavor without needing sugar or other addons.
Want to spice up your sweet tea? Add a slice of orange and a cinnamon stick while the tea is cooling in the refrigerator. Discard the orange and cinnamon once the tea is cool.
Next time your friends are over you can serve them a glass of this southern sweet tea and get a ton of compliments. You can also feel free to experiment with healthier sugars and even toss in some mint leaves to make sweet tea with an unexpected twist.
You don’t have to be Southern to love sweet tea, but you do have to love a great, anytime drink that’s easy to make and hard not to love!