11 Ways to Step Up Grandma’s Sweet Tea

Add a dash of this or a splash of that for a refreshing burst of flavor. Grandma would approve!

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ice tea with slice of lemon in mason jar on the wooden rustic background
Shutterstock / Ekaterina Kondratova

Nothing beats a glass of cool sweet tea on a hot day—even when you’re not in the South. It helps us all kick back and relax, and there’s no reason not to make it your own!

Start by making our Smooth Sweet Tea, and get ready to mix in fresh flavors.

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Citrus juice fruit and slices of orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime. Vitamin C. Black background
Photo: Shutterstock/Gaus Alex

A Burst of Citrus

Nothing will balance out your sweet tea better than the pucker of some lemon or orange. Both flavors add a bright splash of sun to the classic warm-weather quencher. (Be sure to offer lemon/orange wedges to your guests, too.)

Here’s our sweet citrus iced tea recipe.

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Berries on wooden background.
Photo: Shutterstock / iravgustin

Lots of Berries

Juicy raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries—either individually or in a multi-berry mix—add big bursts of flavor. Plus, the subtle blush of color perks up your presentation for guests. For an even deeper flavor, muddle some berries at the bottom of each glass with a spoon.

Check out this cool raspberry tea recipe.

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Blueberries and lemon
Shutterstock / Letterberry

Lemon & Blueberry

Who says you have to choose between the citrus and berries? Lemons and blueberries are flavor BFFs and they work together beautifully to brighten up a pitcher of sweet tea. If you decide to muddle some blueberries in the pitcher, keep a few of them whole to accent each glass.

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Mint. Bunch of Fresh green organic mint leaf on wooden table closeup. Selective focus. Peppermint in small basket on natural wooden background
Photo: Shutterstock/Subbotina Anna

Fresh Mint

Think of this as a non-alcoholic mint julep. Add a few sprigs of fresh mint but hold the bourbon–and you’ll have the perfect Southern “mocktail.” You could also add fresh lime for a sweet tea mojito!

(Here are 22 more mocktails to spark ideas for your next pitcher of sweet tea.)

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Microplane fresh ginger
Taste of Home


To add spicy warmth to your cold drink, grate in some fresh ginger. The slow-burn taste of ginger adds a subtle layer of flavor and blends effortlessly with lemon.

Don’t want to mess with fresh ginger? Skip the slicing and go with a refreshing splash of ginger ale.

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Honey drip in jar on the table
Photo: Shutterstock / Oksana Shufrych


Sure, sweet tea is already, well, sweet! But substituting some of the sugar with honey takes the tea to another level. Honey-flavored tea will cool you down while delivering some pretty incredible health benefits.

Tip: Honey plays well with lots of other ingredients, including ginger, lemon and berries.

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Ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks
Photo: Shutterstock / Bukhta Ihor


Add some spice with a pinch of ground cinnamon–or float a few cinnamon sticks in the pitcher. Instead of using real cinnamon, you can also pop some red-hot candies in your sweet tea. (Seriously!) They’ll bring the cinnamon heat, plus a rosy glow.

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Chai spice
Shutterstock / Liliya Kandrashevich


If a little spice is good, then more spice must be better. Adding chai spices (like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves) to your sweet tea makes an afternoon on the porch feel exotic. Splash in milk or vanilla-flavored creamer for an iced chai latte.

Get started with our chai blend.

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Ripe peaches in basket on wooden background
Photo: Shutterstock / Africa Studio


Add peaches or peach nectar to your sweet tea for a sweet surprise. We love peaches accented with lemon and mint! You might also try a dash of cinnamon–the contrasting flavors are delicious.

(Got Georgia on your mind? We’re peachy-keen on these fruity recipes!)

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Pineapple fruit cut on wooden
Shutterstock / MSPT


There’s nothing like pineapple to bring your imagination on a tropical vacation. If lemon sends you to a sunny backyard, then pineapple takes you straight to the beach. Add a splash of coconut water–and you’ll want to put a tiny umbrella in your tea.

Give our pineapple iced tea recipe a try.

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Photo: Shutterstock/Billion Photos

Fresh Basil

Adding basil with either strawberry or raspberry brings a surprising sophistication to an afternoon in the backyard. The basil is subtly sweet when paired with a fresh berry, like in this recipe for basil raspberry tea.

Can’t get enough refreshment? Make sure you’ve seen all our fave sweet tea recipes!

Cathryn Jakicic
Cathy Jakicic has written about everything from business and bacteria to beads and baking in her career —but she greatly prefers the last two. She is a baker and a crafter and loves to try new recipes for both.