Strawberry-Basil Sweet Tea


Switch up your sweet tea routine with seasonal berries.

Strawberry-Basil Sweet Tea
Photo: Johnny Autry; Food and Prop Styling: Charlotte L. Autry
Active Time:
25 mins
Stand Time:
15 mins
Chill Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 40 mins

Sweet tea gets a seasonal makeover in this fun, fruity recipe. Well-suited for a fancy ladies' lunch or a casual beach day, this Strawberry-Basil Sweet Tea will be the drink of the summer.

Balanced and not overly sweet, this beverage is tea-forward with hints of strawberry and basil. The strawberry-basil simple syrup can be used for a variety of other mixed drinks, with or without alcohol. At many modern cocktail bars, herb garnishes are heavy-handed to give you the scent of the drink before the taste—replicate that experience with a plentiful bushel of basil as a garnish.

You can use the tried-and-true Southern trick of adding baking soda to the tea to prevent cloudiness, but know that since the thick strawberry syrup is not clear, it will cloud a bit more than regular sugar. Our Strawberry-Basil Sweet Tea is fantastic all on its own, but if you're in the mood, feel free to spike it with a little something stronger (might we suggest a splash of bourbon?).


  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, plus more for garnish

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, plus basil sprigs for garnish

  • 3 family-size black tea bags

  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)

  • Ice cubes


  1. Place strawberries, sugar, and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. Boil, undisturbed, 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer, stirring often, until strawberries are very broken down and mixture is thickened and slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Carefully skim any foam that rises to top of saucepan, and discard.

  2. Pour strawberry mixture into a blender. Secure lid on blender; remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour mixture into a heatproof bowl; stir in basil, and let stand 10 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a separate bowl; discard solids. Cover; chill until ready to use (or up to 2 weeks).

  3. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Remove from heat. Add tea bags to water, and let steep 5 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags (do not squeeze bags). Stir lime juice and 2 cups strawberry-basil syrup into tea. (Reserve remaining syrup for another use.) Pour mixture into a pitcher. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. To serve, pour chilled tea into ice-filled glasses, and garnish with strawberries and basil sprigs.

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