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Healthy Sweet Tea Recipe

Delicious and low carb, this Healthy Sweet Tea Recipe uses honey instead of buckets of sugar. Healthy Sweet Tea is refreshing and better for you than other sweet tea recipes. 

Glasses of healthy sweet tea with lemon and mint on a wooden board

A Healthy Sweet Tea recipe is here my friends! It’s healthified. And bonafied. and gasp made by a Yankee?

I have learned that one thing that all southern boys love is sweet tea. And southern boys demand it SWEET. My wonderful brother-in-law Scott, is from Huntington, West Virginia. Scott has been vocal that sweet tea in the Seattle area is neither sweet enough, or “tea-y” enough.

I set out to prove that not only can a crunchy granola Yankee chick make sweet tea, she can make it healthier and still taste great!

I started by consulting the internet. Two cups of sugar per pitcher were pretty standard. Uh, no thanks.

How Can I Sweeten Tea Without Sugar?

It rhymes with sunny, money, funny, and runny.

It’s a bunny. Obviously. Bunnies are the secret ingredient.

Ok, you got me, it’s honey. Traditional sweet tea recipes call for sugar. Lots and lots of sugar. We prefer to use honey and add it while the water is still hot enough to allow the honey to incorporate but not so hot that it kills the awesome beneficial properties.

Why Do You Add Baking Soda to Iced Tea, Ya Big Freak?

I let the tea bags (:snicker:) steep for a long time to get a strong tea flavor, but that can cause the tea to become bitter. The baking soda neutralizes that and just gives you the perfect tea flavor without a funky aftertaste.

Baking soda is my secret ingredient for cutting the acidity or bitterness out of lots of foods and drinks. Many people add sugar to balance out bitterness, but baking soda gets the job done like a baller (shot caller).

Don’t believe me? See it in action in Easy Tomato Soup, Homemade Pizza Sauce, and Real Food Instant Pot Orange Chicken.

How to Make Healthy Sweet Tea – Step by Step

  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a near boil.
  2. Add tea bag(s) and baking soda, and cover the pan. Remove from heat, and let steep for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove tea bags, pour into a pitcher, add the honey and stir. Add 4 cups of cold water and place in the fridge. Pro tip: if you would like to serve immediately, add 2 cups of cold water and 2 cups of ice.Process shots for making healthy sweet tea

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes:

  • Need to make more or less of the recipe? Click and slide the “servings” number on the recipe card and the ingredients will adjust as needed. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
  • Don’t have family style bags? Use 7 small tea bags instead.
  • Adding honey to cold iced tea just does not work. Make sure you add it after the 15-minute steeping process.Glasses of healthy sweet tea and lemonade on a board board with mint, lemons, and a lime

Variations on this Healthy Sweet Tea Recipe:

  • Our preferred way of enjoying this healthy sweet tea is 3/4 tea, and 1/4 lemonade – ‘Palmer style!
    • Pro tip: use lemon flavored sparkling water to make it a sparkling Arnold Palmer with less sugar.
  • Try experimenting with flavored teas like fruity or tropical teas.
  • Add lemon or lime wedges or add fresh fruit.

I won’t even compare this Healthy Sweet Tea Recipe to “real” sweet tea in terms of sugar consumption. But, let’s just say this version won’t give you the crazy energy rush that would allow you to tie a rope around your waist and tow your car home.

One year ago: The Best Long-Lasting DIY Garden Trellis
Three years ago: Homemade Dairy-Free Strawberry Ice Cream
Four years ago: Homemade Strawberry Vanilla Jam
Five years ago: The Queen of King Quilts

Making this recipe or others?

Post a photo on my Facebook page, share it on Instagram, or save it to Pinterest with the tag #sustainablecooks. I can't wait to see your take on it!

Two glasses of healthy sweet tea with mint and lemons
Print
4.5 from 4 votes
Healthy Sweet Tea Recipe
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

A healthier version of sweet tea that uses honey instead of buckets of refined sugar. One simple secret ingredient gives you a strong tea taste, without the bitterness.

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: healthy sun tea, healthy sweet tea, sweet tea with honey
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 34 kcal
Author: Sarah
Ingredients
  • 1 family style black or green tea bag
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 4 cups water, boiling
  • 4 cups water, cold or ice cubes
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
Instructions
Stovetop Instructions
  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a near boil.

  2. Add tea bag(s) and baking soda, and cover the pan. Remove from heat, and let steep for 15 minutes.

  3. Remove tea bags, pour into a pitcher, add the honey and stir. Add 4 cups of cold water and place in the fridge. Pro tip: if you would like to serve immediately, add 2 cups of cold water and 2 cups of ice.

Sun Tea Instructions
  1. Place tea, honey, 8 cups of room temperature water, and baking soda in a sun tea jar or large glass pitcher and place in the sun. Stir occasionally if possible to distribute the honey. Length of time to “cook” will depend on how hot the temperature is in the sun.
  2. Serve over ice if you’d like to serve immediately. Transfer to the refrigerator and cool.
Nutrition Facts
Healthy Sweet Tea Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 34
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 16mg 1%
Potassium 5mg 0%
Total Carbohydrates 9g 3%
Sugars 9g
Protein 0g 0%
Iron 0.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This recipe was originally published in Jue 2017. It has been retested and updated with reader feedback. New photos have been added and the recipe has been made printable.

Delicious and low carb, this Healthy Sweet Tea Recipe uses honey instead of buckets of sugar. Healthy Sweet Tea is refreshing and better for you than other sweet tea recipes. #sustainablecooks #healthysweettea #sweettea #lowcarb #drinks #healthydrinks #partydrinks

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19 comments on “Healthy Sweet Tea Recipe”

  1. Baking soda…I never would have thought of that. I just happen to have an over baked batch of sun tea going…it DOES work to cut the bitter. Cool!

  2. Im just curious do you have any home made hippy lemonade recipes! this Bitch loves Palmers style

  3. Thank you so much for posting this that! Being that I am from the south and a true southern gal I LOVE sweet tea and probably drink a pitcher every other day by myself. I just found your blog this weekend and look forward to trying this and many other of your recipes.

  4. I thought the point of raw honey was not to heat it. Are we killing the benefits? Hope not, cause it sounds delish!

    • It kills the health benefits if you hate it too rapidly. My advice would be to make the tea without the honey and then once it’s done boiling, let it steep. Once it’s cooled down to a semi drinkable temperature maybe just a little hotter than drinkable, add your honey and then mix with cold water. That way you’re not killing the benefits of the honey, and you’re still getting the same great taste and sweetness etc.

  5. I thought the point of raw honey was not to heat it. Are we killing the benefits? Hope not, cause it sounds delish!

  6. Why not just steep the tea for a shorter amount of time and avoid the bitterness altogether? 15 minutes is a very long time and I have never steeped it longer than 5. Just curious, I’ve been making sweet tea all my life and came across your blog looking for a less sugary method. Kudos and thanks in advance.

  7. I squeeze a small amount of organic agave syrup in ours. We prefer our tea just a little sweet. I will try the baking powder for sure. I’m guilty of adding a tiny sprinkle of salt to coffee or the grounds to “reduce” the bitter taste.

  8. I read elsewhere about the baking soda too 🙂 I love sweet tea, especially in the summer! Thanks for posting and reminding how easy it is to make!! I know my kids should love to help with this!

  9. I was in the drive-thru line at Wendy’s and happened to see them mixing up the sweet tea there (in WV) and they were pouring a five pound bag of sugar into a five gallon bucket of tea. No wonder it tastes like syrup to me!

  10. I worked at Arby’s a bit over a decade ago in South Carolina and they use 10oz of sugar per gallon (1x 32 oz cup filled up to the top for a 3gal container was normal, then a 21oz cup and a 32oz cup filled for a 5gal container).

    I’ve done honey before and while good, I could definitely tell the difference (almost every Mexican restaurant in the south has super sweet tea and I use that as a comparison when I make tea). I just switched to raw blue agave in my coffee 12 months ago and will try that in my tea next time I brew.

    Thanks for the baking soda idea! Have not heard or thought of that!

  11. I’ve read that making tea in the Instant Pot also makes it smoother tasting. I haven’t tried it yet though.

    • That would be great for larger batches too! I think my 8 quart has a max fill line of about 6.5/7 quarts. If you have one of those huge drink dispensers it would be nice to brew a huge batch. I must investigate.

  12. Ya big freak