Ask Difference

Iced Tea vs. Sweet Tea — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on November 16, 2023
Iced Tea is simply cold tea, often served with ice, while Sweet Tea is cold tea that has been sweetened, traditionally while it's still hot.
Iced Tea vs. Sweet Tea — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Iced Tea and Sweet Tea


Key Differences

Iced Tea is a broad term that refers to tea that has been cooled down, usually by adding ice. It can be made from any type of tea leaves, be it black, green, or herbal. Sweet Tea, on the other hand, is a specific type of iced tea, notably popular in the Southern United States, which is brewed strong and sweetened with sugar while it's still hot.
While Iced Tea can be sweetened or unsweetened based on personal preference, Sweet Tea is, by definition, always sweet. Many people add sweeteners like sugar, honey, or artificial sweeteners to their Iced Tea, but it's not a requirement. In contrast, the very essence of Sweet Tea lies in its sugary composition, which is integrated during the brewing process.
One can encounter Iced Tea in many variations globally, from the simple cold tea in Europe to the aromatic Masala Cold Tea in India. Sweet Tea's identity is more rooted in American culture, especially the South, where it's considered a staple beverage often paired with hearty meals.
Preparing Iced Tea usually involves steeping tea leaves in hot water, letting it cool, and then adding ice. Some might cold brew their Iced Tea by steeping tea leaves in cold water for extended periods. For Sweet Tea, the process typically starts the same, but sugar is added to the hot brew until dissolved, ensuring the final drink is both sweet and chilled.
Though both Iced Tea and Sweet Tea offer refreshing solace on a hot day, their distinction lies in their preparation and taste profile. While Iced Tea provides flexibility in flavor and sweetness, Sweet Tea promises a consistently sugary, robust flavor with every sip.

Comparison Chart


Can be sweetened or unsweetened
Always sweetened


Tea steeped and cooled, optionally sweetened
Tea steeped, sweetened while hot, then cooled

Geographical Popularity

Popular worldwide
Predominantly popular in the Southern U.S.

Brewing Variations

Can be hot brewed or cold brewed
Traditionally hot brewed

Flavor Profile

Flexible, dependent on type of tea and added ingredients
Consistently strong tea flavor with pronounced sweetness

Compare with Definitions

Iced Tea

Cold tea that can be sweetened or unsweetened.
He prefers his Iced Tea with just a hint of lemon and no sugar.

Sweet Tea

A refreshing drink characterized by its pronounced sweetness.
After trying Sweet Tea in the South, he was hooked.

Iced Tea

Cold tea served with or without ice.
On a hot day, there's nothing better than a glass of Iced Tea.

Sweet Tea

Cold tea that has been brewed strong and sweetened.
She made a pitcher of Sweet Tea for the barbecue.

Iced Tea

Tea that has been cooled, either by refrigeration or adding ice.
She prepared the Iced Tea by letting it cool in the refrigerator.

Sweet Tea

An American iced tea variation with integrated sugar.
Sweet Tea pairs perfectly with fried chicken and biscuits.

Iced Tea

A versatile cold drink made from steeped tea leaves.
For her party, she made a fruity version of Iced Tea.

Sweet Tea

A specific type of iced tea known for its sugary composition.
The restaurant serves a famous raspberry-flavored Sweet Tea.

Iced Tea

A beverage made from tea leaves and served chilled.
Iced Tea can be made from black, green, or herbal teas.

Sweet Tea

Iced tea sweetened with sugar during the brewing process.
Sweet Tea is a staple beverage in the Southern United States.

Common Curiosities

Is Sweet Tea more popular in certain regions?

Yes, Sweet Tea is particularly popular in the Southern United States.

Is Iced Tea always sweet?

No, Iced Tea can be either sweetened or unsweetened, while Sweet Tea is always sweet.

Is the sugar in Sweet Tea added after cooling?

Traditionally, the sugar in Sweet Tea is added while the tea is hot to ensure it dissolves.

Is Sweet Tea usually stronger in flavor than regular Iced Tea?

Typically, Sweet Tea is brewed stronger to complement its sweetness.

Is Sweet Tea always made from black tea?

While traditionally made from black tea, variations exist. However, black tea remains the most popular base.

Can Sweet Tea be made using artificial sweeteners?

Yes, while traditional Sweet Tea uses sugar, some people opt for artificial sweeteners to reduce calorie intake.

How long can I store Iced Tea in the refrigerator?

Iced Tea is best consumed within 3-4 days for optimal freshness.

Do I need to use loose tea leaves for Iced Tea?

No, both loose tea leaves and tea bags can be used to make Iced Tea.

What makes Sweet Tea different from regular Iced Tea?

Sweet Tea is brewed strong and sweetened with sugar while it's still hot.

Can Sweet Tea be made without sugar?

By definition, Sweet Tea is always made with sugar. Without sugar, it's simply Iced Tea.

Can Iced Tea be made from any type of tea?

Yes, Iced Tea can be made from black, green, herbal, or other types of tea.

Can I make Iced Tea by simply adding ice to hot tea?

Yes, adding ice to hot tea will cool it down, creating a basic Iced Tea.

Can I flavor my Iced Tea with fruits and herbs?

Absolutely, Iced Tea is versatile and can be flavored with fruits, herbs, and other ingredients.

Can I make a decaffeinated version of Sweet Tea?

Yes, by using decaffeinated tea leaves or bags, you can prepare a decaffeinated Sweet Tea.

What's the best way to sweeten Iced Tea?

For even sweetness, it's best to add sugar or sweetener while the tea is hot. Cold tea may not dissolve sugar effectively.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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