How I Make Tea {Scott’s Cold Sweet Tea}

We’re heading out this week on a little road trip to my sister’s house. Chances are, when we arrive, there will be a pitcher of Scott’s Cold Sweet Tea chilling in the refrigerator. And, lucky me, I know just the cabinet to find a tall glass!

I’ve always liked iced tea. As a kid, my tastebuds leaned on that sugary Lipton mix, preferably the one flavored with lemon. It was so easy to stir a couple heaping spoons into a tall cold glass of water and cool off.

Nowadays, however, my sweet tea drinking is on a little different, and I think much better, level. And my brother-in-law Scott is to thank for keeping me on my tea making toes.

Scott uses a method that involves adding just a pinch of baking soda to the pitcher. I guess this is not something new, but I certainly hadn’t heard of it until just last summer. (Did you know about this?!) 

The baking soda gives the drink clarity. And it also takes the edge off the tea’s natural acidity, making for a smoother, more enjoyable cold sipper. Needless to say, Scott’s method is now my method. He’s a real smart guy.  :wink:

There is so much you can do with a cold glass of sweet tea! Stir in some fresh lemon juice or make an Arnie Palmer with half lemonade and half tea. Smash in some summer berries, citrus slices, or sprigs of fresh herbs. I loooooooooove mint in my tea!

How do you like your cold tea?! 

Scott's Cold Sweet Tea

Yield: 8 cups


  • 1 pinch baking soda
  • 2 c. boiling water
  • 6 tea bags (regular Lipton tea or your favorite black tea)
  • 1/4 to 3/4 c. sugar, depending on your preference for sweet (I like to use super fine sugar)
  • 6 c. cold water


Sprinkle baking soda into a heat-proof pitcher. Pour in boiling water and add tea bags. Let steep for 15 minutes. Discard tea bags. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour in cold water. Bring to room temperature and then refrigerate.


From my brother-in-law, Scott Bebensee.


30 Responses to “How I Make Tea {Scott’s Cold Sweet Tea}”

  1. #
    Dana Tock — July 18, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Russ’ Favorite Iced Tea
    The sugar mix below was born out of lack. We only had about 1/4 cup of each type of sugar left at the time! When I tried making it with white cane sugar the next time when we were restocked, my husband Russ didn’t care for the tea as well. Now I keep our sugar mix for tea on hand in the cupboard in it’s own special container. :D

    1/8 tsp baking soda
    3 family sized Luzianne Iced Tea bags
    6 cups (1-1/2 quarts) boiling purified water
    1 cup sugar mix (dark brown, light brown, demarrara & cane)
    ice cubes
    enough cold purified water to fill the rest of a gallon container

    In a heatproof bowl (I use a Pampered Chef 2 quart mixing bowl), put baking soda and tea bags in. (I wrap the strings of the tea bags around the handle of the Pampered Chef mixing bowl to keep the paper from getting into the tea.) Pour in boiling purified water and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a pitcher with a straining lid with ice and purified water to allow the water to get very cold. When the steeping time in finished, using tongs, gently squeeze the tea bags from top to bottom into your hot tea container. Be careful not to splash. The tea will still be very hot. Discard the tea bags. (I put them in the compost. They’re great for plants!) Time to add the sugar mix. Stir well (I use a wooden spoon) until all the sugar has mixed into the hot tea. Add about 10 cubes of ice to the hot tea to help with chilling. Using the strainer on your pitcher, pour the semi-chilled tea into a gallon sized container in the sink. Add the chilled, purified water to the brim of the gallon container. ENJOY your smooth, delicious, not-too-sweet, heavenly tea! :D

    • Dana Tock replied on July 18th, 2012 at 8:30 am

      Made one little error toward the bottom of the directions. “Using the strainer on your pitcher” should have been placed before “Add the chilled, purified water to the brim…”. Sorry about that.

  2. #
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — July 18, 2012 at 10:02 am

    What a great tip, thanks for sharing Brenda!

  3. #
    Sheila — July 18, 2012 at 10:31 am

    My Cece and I do love us some sweet tea! We always buy it. I have never tried to make it, but now I need too! Love little tips like the baking soda thing….who would have thunk it?! Thanks for sharing! Hugs to you Brenda, hope your visit with your sister is the best! Sheila

    • Brenda replied on July 22nd, 2012 at 10:13 pm

      Love hearing from you, Sheila! Had such a great visit with my sister and her family. xo

  4. #
    Grandmereb Lovestobake — July 18, 2012 at 11:27 am

    My grandmother was a born and raised “Georgia Peach” that married and lived in North Carolina for most of her life. She always used a pinch of baking soda in her sweet tea too. It was so good and we drank it all summer long.

    Have a fun and safe road trip to visit your sister. :-)

  5. #
    Deborah Vogts — July 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! I’m off to try it now. Never heard about the baking soda. Thanks bunches!

  6. #
    Jillian — July 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Love your site! I have never heard about the baking soda but will definitely try it! I like to mix my tea with orange juice and mint. Really really delish!

    • Brenda replied on July 22nd, 2012 at 10:11 pm

      I haven’t tried orange juice in my tea, thanks!

  7. #
    Paula — July 18, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Like you, I had not heard of the baking soda tip and it seems to be a good one to try. Great photos Brenda!

  8. #
    Amanda — July 19, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Brenda, I’m from South Carolina which means I like my sugar with a little tea. LOL

    No, really, I like my tea strong but really sweet. I’ve never heard of the baking soda tip, but will definitely try it next time!

  9. #
    SusanSkovbo — July 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    We are huge fans of ice tea – especially this (steamy) summer. Can’t wait to try the baking soda tip!

  10. #
    Karmi — July 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Thanks for the instructions you have provided here and I hope I can make this soon together with my kids.. I am sure my husband would love this too.

  11. #
    cluttercafe — July 19, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    I make this every couple of days. Except I use organic blue agave syrup as a sweetener. It’s a bit healthier and still tastes great. Thanks

  12. #
    Lauren | Hippie Dog Company — July 20, 2012 at 6:58 am

    I’ve never heard of using baking soda either. Great tip! Can’t wait to try this!

  13. #
    Dee Ann — July 20, 2012 at 9:00 am

    We make old fashioned sun tea…how would I incorporate the baking soda into this? Would I put it in the mason jar with tea bags while it steeps in the sun? Can’t wait for your response so I can try this!

    • Brenda replied on July 22nd, 2012 at 10:04 pm

      Hi Dee Ann – In a quick search, I found a few places that mention it online, where they add the baking soda right away with the water and tea bags before placing it in the sun.

  14. #
    nest of posies — July 23, 2012 at 9:18 am

    it’s my signature drink of choice.


  15. #
    Lisa | With Style and Grace — July 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I use to be a hard core coffee drinker, but now I’m seriously ADDICTED to iced tea! It’s all I drink and sometimes, all day long.

  16. #
    Norma — July 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    What’s the baking soda for? I’ve never heard of that…

    • Brenda replied on July 24th, 2012 at 8:06 pm

      Hi Norma – I talk about the baking soda in the post.

  17. #
    Ignatius Nayan D'Rozario — July 24, 2012 at 2:09 am

    I am curious… What does the baking soda do/why is it needed in this recipe?

  18. #
    Brenda — July 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Hello Ignatius – I talk about the baking soda in the post.

  19. #
    Heather — July 29, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Never heard the baking soda trick and I’ve lived in the South my whole life… I will add a pinch to today’s tea pitcher!

  20. #
    Sweetsugarbelle — August 1, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Oh how I love tea…these days I’ve taken to drinking it with Splenda, otherwise I’d weigh 200lbs…but the way I grew up making it was dissolving sugar in boiling water than steeping the bags for twenty minutes or so…the baking soda trick is new to me, however, and I cannot wait to try it!

    • Brenda replied on August 2nd, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      So you basically make a simple sugar and then steep the tea in it. Interesting. Haven’t seen quite that method before. But I likey! :)

  21. #
    Linda — August 9, 2012 at 9:32 am

    As a North Carolinian, I love sweet tea! I add 1 3/4 cups of sugar to a gallon…and that’s not as sweet as a lot of folks make it down here. I should try the tip about adding baking soda…thanks!

    • Brenda replied on August 9th, 2012 at 11:52 am

      That’s ALOT of sugar!!! Which I can completely appreciate, though, Linda. ;) So nice to hear from you!

  22. #
    http://www.bakespace.Com — February 9, 2013 at 7:50 am

    I your way with words truly enjoying this site.


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