Homemade Sweet Tea Vodka makes for a tasty addition to cocktails or it can be sipped straight. Make it with your favorite kind of tea to dream up your own flavor combinations.
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Sweet Tea Vodka & Homemade Firefly recipe
Growing up in the South, sweet iced tea is a staple. Not just at parties and barbecues, but it’s common to order at restaurants with lunch or dinner.
I know people who have to drink a glass of sweet tea every day!
(Personally, sweet tea can get to be a bit too sweet for me, which is why I like making it myself. If I’m out and craving a tea, I’ll ask for “half-and-half tea,” or half-sweet, half-unsweet iced tea.)
In my college days, my friends were obsessed with sweet tea vodka. There was always a bottle at parties for shots or mixing into drinks!
Now that I’m grown up, I know it’s still a favorite on bar carts here in the South, because it brings a little touch of that sweet tea flavor to all kinds of drinks, from the mojito to the hot toddy.
What is Sweet Tea Vodka?
Sweet tea vodka is simply vodka that’s been infused with tea and then sweetened.
My first introduction was to the Firefly brand. In fact, the Firefly distillery made the first sweet tea vodka on the market. Their distillery is in Charleston, South Carolina, one of my favorite Southern cities.
Lots more sweet tea vodkas followed, including Seagram’s Sweet Tea Vodka, Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka and Southern Sweet Tea Vodka.
Firefly Spirits also makes a Skinny Tea Vodka. If you are looking for a lighter version with less sugar, see my tips below under the section “Variations and Substitutions.”
Use the best vodka you can afford! In my Vodka 101 crash course, I’ll tell you how to pick out a bottle of vodka. My go-to brands right now are Tito’s, Reyka, Absolut and Deep Eddy Vodka.
Although vodka is the typical spirit for making this sweet tea infusion, but bourbon can work really well too!
I love using all kinds of teas in cocktails, for example, this chai old-fashioned would be perfect with chai-infused bourbon.
Tea is one of the best natural ingredients for adding flavor to cocktail recipes.
You can make this vodka with virtually any kind of tea! The classic sweet tea vodka uses black tea, which is the most common kind of tea for iced tea.
Lipton is a very common brand of black tea, especially in the South — it’s what many restaurants use to make their sweet tea. Luzianne is another common one but there are tons of others on the market too.
Green tea, white tea and rooibos tea all work just as well. You can use all the same flavors or you can mix and match to create your own flavor combinations.
You can use tea bags or loose-leaf tea. You will need about 1 teaspoon of loose-leaf tea for every tea bag.
Sugar or Simple Syrup
As a cocktail blogger, I almost always have plain simple syrup in my fridge, but it’s okay if you don’t!
It is super easy to make with just sugar and water. You can use granulated sugar, brown sugar or even honey.
You can also use just about any flavored simple syrup: See the section called “Variations and Substitutions” below for some ideas.
If you plan to mix it into other kinds of drinks, you may wish to leave out the simple syrup entirely so that you can sweeten each drink individually.
How to make Sweet Tea Vodka
The recipe below shows you how to make a cup of sweet tea vodka, which can make 4-8 cocktails. See the next section for instructions on making a whole bottle.
Add the tea bags to a large mason jar. Cover with vodka. The color will begin to turn immediately. Cover with a lid and let rest for 8-12 hours.
Meanwhile, make a simple syrup to sweeten the vodka. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water.
Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool completely. (You can make it ahead of time. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.)
Remove tea bags from the vodka, pressing out any remaining liquid.
Tea drinkers may already have a tea bag squeezer, which is basically a little set of tongs. A regular set of tongs works too. You can also use a spoon, pressing the tea bag up against the edge of the container to force out the extra liquid.
Stir in 2 ounces of simple syrup into the vodka. Taste it and add more if you like.
How to Make a Bottle of Sweet Tea Vodka
To multiply the recipe, use about 3 teabags for every 1 cup of vodka.
If you’d prefer to make a whole 750-ml bottle of vodka, use 10 regular tea bags. Infuse for 8-12 hours, then decant back into the vodka bottle.
Variations and substitutions
Skinny Sweet Tea Vodka: Use sugar-free simple syrup made with your favorite sugar substitute, or simply use less simple syrup.
Honey Tea Vodka: Use honey simple syrup instead of simple syrup.
Lemon Sweet Tea Vodka: Add ¼ ounce lemon juice or more, to taste, into the mix.
Peach Tea Vodka: Mix in homemade peach syrup instead of plain simple syrup.
Mint Tea Vodka: Use mint simple syrup made with fresh mint instead of the unflavored kind. This one is perfect for mojitos!
Uses for Sweet Tea Vodka
There are so many great ideas for this versatile spirit.
Pour it over tea ice cubes to sip it straight without dilution.
Add a shot to a glass of homemade iced tea.
Make a spiked Arnold Palmer (AKA the John Daly cocktail). Add 1-2 ounces of sweet tea vodka, then add half iced tea and half lemonade.
Use it in a hot toddy for a tea twist. (You may want to use less honey, though.)
Make a Southern Mule by using sweet tea vodka instead of regular vodka in the classic Moscow mule recipe.
More homemade liqueur recipes
- Honey Whiskey
- Cinnamon Whiskey
- Irish Cream
- Coffee Liqueur
- Cape Velvet Cream
- Plum Brandy
- Spicy Jalapeño Tequila
— Did you make this recipe? —
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Homemade Sweet Tea Vodka
Sweet Tea Vodka is easy to make from scratch with vodka, tea bags, sugar and water.
- 3 tea bags
- ¾ cups vodka
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- Add the tea bags to a mason jar. Cover with vodka. Cover with a lid and let rest for 8-12 hours.
- Meanwhile, make simple syrup to sweeten the vodka. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water. Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
- Remove tea bags from the vodka, pressing out any remaining liquid into the jar.
- Stir 2 ounces simple syrup into the vodka. Add more if desired.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 ounce
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 36Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 0g
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