Add this low-calorie, sugar-free sweet tea to your summertime drink lineup! This refreshing iced tea is a perfect beverage for a hot day and can easily be made without sugar or any other high-carb and high-calorie sweeteners without compromising the taste.
So, if you are trying to cut back on sugar, but without resorting to unhealthy artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose, here’s how to make sweet tea without sugar that is light, crisp, sweet, and refreshing.
Best Sugar Substitute For Sweet Tea
Stevia is a great sugar substitute for sweet tea. Derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, it is a natural sweetener that is calorie-free and has a glycemic index of zero. This means that it does not raise blood sugar levels and is a good choice for people trying to lose weight or follow a low-carb, low-calorie diet.
Stevia is also about 300 times sweeter than sugar, so you need less of it to achieve the same level of sweetness. Although some people say it has a licorice-like aftertaste, it can be quite effectively neutralized by adding citrus or mint to your sweet tea. Stevia comes in liquid, powder, and granule form.
Learn more about Stevia and its benefits here.
I will also give you my second choice of natural sweetener below.
For The Perfect Pitcher of Ice-Cold Glass of Sweet Tea You Will Need:
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- A tea-maker machine. I use a Mr. Coffee Iced Tea And Iced Coffee Maker which is a handy option if you are an avid sweet tea drinker like me OR a small saucepan will also do fine.
- A pitcher; this comes with the tea maker. Otherwise, you need a pitcher that holds about 2 quarts (2 liters) or 8-10 cups.
- A long spoon for mixing.
1. Four Black Tea Bags
Although you can make sweet tea with green tea, oolong, or white tea, I prefer classic Southern sweet tea made with black tea. I use PG Tips, a British brand. Why? Because their black tea is excellent, with a beautifully distinct flavor and aroma.
Although PG Tips are made in Manchester, England, you can buy them on Amazon here. However, if you cant find PG Tips Tea Bags, Lipton, Luzianne, and Tetley tea bags are also great options.
Also, PG Tips promote sustainable agricultural practices, and their tea bags are plastic-free. For my taste, 4 bags makes a beautiful, light amber tea. If you like it darker, you can add a bag or two.
And lastly, PG Tips black tea contains only a trace amount of carbs per serving making it a perfect option for this low-calorie sweet tea recipe.
I only use filtered or bottled water because I don’t want a bunch of chemicals in my tea, but tap water does work.
Use 1 teaspoon (roughly) of Stevia Liquid Sweetener. If you are not used to it, Stevia can taste a bit weird if you use too much of it, so go easy on it.
The amount is to taste, of course, but I only use about one teaspoon to make 2 quarts of tea (2 liters). If this is your first time using Stevia, go with less. You can add more after you taste it. You can’t take it out!
OR, if you like much sweeter tea, use Swerve-the Ultimate Sugar Replacement (granulated). Swerve measures just like sugar. I would start with 1/4 cup of Swerve for a 2 quarts pitcher of tea. If it still isn’t sweet enough, add more.
4. Ice Cubes
Finally, add lots of ice!
Top Tip: Brewed tea can sometimes get cloudy, and trust me, cloudy tea doesn’t taste right. It’s sour. How do you avoid this? Add a 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to the tea after brewing. This eliminates cloudy tea every time.
How To Brew Amazing Sugar-Free Sweet Tea?
I use a Mr. Coffee iced tea-maker, but my mother made it on the stove in a pot the old-fashioned way. You can do it either way.
Making Sweet Tea Without Sugar – The Tea-Maker Way
Top Tip: I do NOT put ice or water in the pitcher as some manufacturers suggest. It’s unnecessary. I put the ice in my glass right before I’m ready to drink it (explanation below).
- Fill the reservoir of the tea maker. For the Mr. Coffee model, you pour the water into the top of the brewer to the max level, about a pint or so. But this works differently according to the brand of machine.
- Add 4 to 5 tea bags. On my machine, the tea bags go into a steeping reservoir on top of the pitcher. In some models, the reservoir is at the top of the brewing section. Follow the instructions for your machine.
- In the pitcher itself, add the liquid stevia OR the Swerve (not both) and the baking soda. (It is very important to add the sweetener to the pitcher, especially if you’re using the granulated Swerve. It will dissolve easily in the hot tea, but it will NOT if you try to add it after you’ve already added cold water.)
- Dock the pitcher with the brewing section as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Press the ON button.
- Wait until the machine is finished brewing. (On my machine, the little red light goes out when it’s finished.)
- Remove the steeping reservoir and set it aside.
- Stir to mix in the Stevia/Swerve (and baking soda).
- Add water to fill the pitcher and stir to mix.
- Pour it over lots of ice, add a few slices of lemons or fresh mint to the tea if you like and serve.
- Refrigerate the rest of it, for up to 4 days.
The Old Fashioned Stove-Top Way To Brew Sweet Tea
- Pour 2-3 cups of filtered water into a pot or saucepan (quart size or larger).
- Bring the water to a boil, then turn off the burner. You can also use tea kettle to boil water.
- Add your tea bags to the pot.
- Let the bags steep in hot water for about 5 minutes. The time is not crucial, but the longer they steep, the darker the tea. I like mine fairly light so I only dunk for few minutes.
- Pour the hot tea into your pitcher.
- Now add your Stevia or Swerve and your baking soda, so they’ll dissolve quickly in the hot tea.
- Stir to mix in the Stevia/Swerve (and baking soda).
- Add cold/room temp water to fill the pitcher and stir to mix.
- Chill the sweet tea completely before drinking it.
- Pour it over ice and enjoy. (Add few lemon slices or fresh mint, optional).
- Refrigerate up to 4 days.
Top Tip: Do not over boil it, or you’ll boil out much of the oxygen, which makes for a less flavorful tea.
How To Drink Sweet Iced Tea Properly?
(According to a Southern Professional)
- Make sure you allow the tea to chill for at least 2-3 hours before serving. You don’t want to melt the ice and water down your tea.
- Use a large glass, because tea is awesome and more is better! I always drink mine from a quart-sized Mason jar, but any large glass will do.
- Add a sprig of mint or a slice of lemon to balance out the flavors and give it a unique twist.
- Drink it and be refreshed!
- Repeat as needed.
TOP TIP: Fill the entire glass with ice all the way to the top. Most people screw this up. They think too much ice will ‘water down the tea, when in fact, the opposite is true. If the glass is full of ice, the temperature of the tea will drop to almost freezing in a matter of seconds. This prevents the warmer tea from melting all the ice, which is what happens when there isn’t enough ice in the glass. Too little ice waters down the tea.
Start your summer off right with this sweet and refreshing low-calorie sweet tea recipe!
Making sweet tea without sugar is easy and can be done with a few simple ingredients. When using stevia, you can avoid adding extra calories and sugar to your tea.
Give it a try today!