Spearmint Iced Tea

Disclaimer: This tea is sweetened, but is not sweet tea!
I’ve spent the past two years in the South, but I do not claim to be a Southerner. I grew up in the North, where we added sugar packets to our glasses of unsweetened tea. I realize now what these Southerners have known all along- that sugar doesn’t dissolve well in cold tea.
I typically drink water (I’d rather eat my calories) instead of tea, but there is a giant patch of spearmint taking over our garden that must be stopped. The first thing I thought to make with the mint was tea (mint chocolate chip ice cream was a close second). I consulted a few tea recipes, but I knew they would be too sweet for my tastes. I concocted a simple recipe of my own and managed to get a few dear Southern friends (Kentucky natives) to drink some yesterday while they were passing through.
While this tea is still pretty sweet for me (I usually dilute my glass with water), the spearmint flavor keeps me coming back. I think I could reduce the sugar by half and it would still be enjoyable to me. The mint just has a way of fooling your taste buds into thinking the tea is sweeter than it really is. A glass of this tea is light, refreshing, and best enjoyed with friends.
Spearmint Iced Tea
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Makes 1 gallon.
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 8

  • 1 bunch fresh spearmint (I cut 5-6 stalks from my garden, plus more for garnishing)
  • 4 family size tea bags
  • 1 cup sugar (you can add or reduce the sugar to your liking)

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to boil. When the water is boiling, add the spearmint and tea bags, remove from the heat and steep for 20-30 minutes.
  2. While the tea is steeping, pour the sugar into a gallon jug (a funnel is helpful if you’re not using a wide pitcher). Cover the sugar with hot water and mix until the sugar dissolves (a cup or two of hot water should be fine). When the tea is done steeping, discard the mint and tea bags and pour the tea concentrate into your gallon container. Add cold water until your container is full. Refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice with a sprig of mint.

6 Responses to “Spearmint Iced Tea”
  1. Anonymous says:

    First things first, Kentucky may be largely rural, and south (little “s”) of New York, but it is not the South (big”S”).

    Despite being very Southern and coming from very Southern family, I still live in a divided household when it comes to the tea. My sister in law uses three cups of sugar per gallon (whoa!) and its almost too much to bear. My father in law likes his stong and unsweet. The way we settle the dispute is to make up a pitcher of both and then the in-betweens like my husband and I just pour half and half, so you still have all the tea flavor without the sugar. As for me an my house, we use 1/5 c sugar to 1 gallon and 9-10 tea bags. THAT is sweet tea.

  2. Natalie says:


    I realize Kentucky isn’t in the deep South, but I consider anyone with a Southern accent to be Southern, even after living in Middle Georgia. Just my opinion! 🙂

    Sweet tea is different to everyone- I wasn’t trying to stir up any controversy, just sharing a tea recipe with you. That’s why I added the disclaimer at the beginning that this is not sweet tea. Thanks for reading!

  3. Lisa says:

    Shoot, as soon as I detect an accent, it’s “South”. For me, that would be “Central Illinois” lol. I had never had sweet tea until my SIL from MS came up for a visit. I fell in love but would rather not have all the extra sugar. It’s too addicting! I have tons of mint so tomorrow I’m going to try out your tea recipe. Thanks for posting it 🙂

  4. lynne says:

    I’ve been looking for something close that my mother made while growing up. I wasn’t able to get anything close to how good her tea was. We grew up in the midwest, though her recipe was handed down to her from my great grandmother who was born around 1870. My mother also didn’t make it super sweet, it was a great balance of the spearmint, sugar, water and black tea. I did find the particular spearmint she used ( I think?) and planted it in my yard about a month ago…
    I forgot the name, though it was labeled as a spearmint used in the south for tea.
    Everything is a mint julip when I look for the exact recipe. So I am happy to see your recipe here. I’ll try and make this once the mint starts growing more.

  5. Bonita says:

    Loved this recipe. Followed your instructions exactly and I thought it was great and so did my family. Thanks for sharing!

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