Does Sweet Tea Have Caffeine? (Explained For Drinkers)

Sweet tea is a refreshing drink no matter the time of year, but it is hard to know - does sweet tea have caffeine?

No need to worry; I will break down the facts behind how much caffeine is in Southern sweet tea - both homemade and takeout.

Keep reading for a basic Southern sweet tea recipe you can customize year-round.

Never hesitate over health concerns again - grab a glass of sweet tea and relax with these handy facts.

In short, caffeine is in sweet tea, but the amount can vary depending on many factors, including the type of tea leaves used, the brewing time, serving size, and more.

On average, it is estimated that homebrewed sweet tea contains 2.56 mg of caffeine per fluid ounce - that means around 41 mg of caffeine per average cup or serving.[1]

Sweet tea is a staple of fridges across the Southern United States. This beloved Southern staple is renowned for its refreshing taste when served chilled on hot summer days.

However, as it is made with brewed black tea leaves, those watching their caffeine intake may take pause, not wanting to upset any health issues or a healthy diet.

It is worth noting that the FDA suggests that the average healthy adult can consume 400 mg of caffeine a day or about 4-5 cups of brewed coffee.[2]

The tasty drink has a moderate amount of caffeine, but how does it compare to bottled or takeout sweet tea?

sweet tea brand comparison

Arizona Sweet Tea

An eight-ounce can of Arizona sweet tea tends to have between 15-25 mg of caffeine. Depending on the flavor, this would make it between 30-50 mg in a 16-fluid ounce.

Gold Peak Sweet Tea

Gold Peak sweet tea contains around 44 mg of caffeine per 16.9 fluid ounces, putting it at only slightly more caffeine than average homemade recipes.

Pure Leaf Sweet Tea

Pure Leaf sweet tea has a caffeine content of 45 mg per 20 fluid ounces - this makes it around 45 mg per 16 ounces.

Lipton Sweet Tea

Does Lipton Southern tea have caffeine? Lipton Southern sweet tea is a godsend for anyone watching their caffeine levels.

This popular Lipton Southern tea drink has 24-26 mg per 20 fluid ounces - one of the lowest on this list and has less caffeine than most homemade brews.

Sweet Leaf Tea

The amount of caffeine in Sweet Leaf sweet tea is between a whopping 69 and 88 mg per 18.5 fluid ounces. This means it has more caffeine than other entries on this list.

McDonald’s Sweet Tea

A 16-fluid-ounce serving of McDonald’s sweet tea contains 50 mg of caffeine, making it one of the higher ones so far.

mcdonalds sweet tea glass

Chick-Fil-A Sweet Tea

Chick-Fil-A’s sweet tea drink has a very high level of caffeine - 62 mg per 16 fluid ounces.

Dunkin Donuts Sweet Tea

Dunkin’s takeout recipe has 45 mg of caffeine per 16 fluid ounces, putting it about average on the spectrum.

Dunkin' Sweetened Iced Tea

Publix Sweet Tea

Publix sweet tea uses decaffeinated tea leaves, ensuring that their sweet tea drinks are actually decaf. This makes them the best choice for those who are looking to lower their caffeine intake.

Crystal Light Sweet Tea

Another low-level entry, Crystal Light Sweet Tea has around 10-15 mg of caffeine per serving. This is significantly lower than average home Southern sweet tea recipes.

What Exactly Is Sweet Tea? (Benefits & How To Make It Yourself)

Sweet tea is a traditional iced drink often served hot or chilled in the Southern United States.

This popular beverage is typically made by brewing black tea bags or loose-leaf tea in hot water before adding sugar and more water and refrigerating.

Once ready, the black tea mix is poured into glasses over ice and often served with a straw and lemon slice or other garnish.

You can enjoy sweet tea throughout the year as an afternoon pick-me-up alongside your daily cup of black tea or decaf coffee. The health benefits of homemade sweet tea are:

  • You can control your sugar intake by adjusting the sugar content or choosing unsweetened tea recipes
  • It has less caffeine than some branded caffeinated drinks while still giving a gentle energy boost
  • You can control how much caffeine is in each serving, which can help you lower your blood pressure[3]
  • You can choose to use natural flavors or other sweeteners over sugar as part of a healthy diet
sweet tea in glass jar

Homemade Sweet Tea Recipe

But how do you make sweet tea at home? Making sweet tea could not be easier.

Have our basic sweet tea recipe that you can customize to your tastes.


  • Medium saucepan
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring jug
  • Long handled spoon
  • Wooden spoon
  • 1-gallon pitcher or various smaller ones


  • Six black tea bags (or unsweetened iced tea)
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 and ½ cups of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda (optional)
  • Ice
  • Mint leaves or fruit slices to garnish (optional)


  • 1
    Bring four cups of water to a boil on medium heat
  • 2
    Once boiling, remove from the heat and gently drop your black tea bags into the water
  • 3
    Let the tea steep for at least 15-20 minutes
  • 4
    Add the sugar and baking soda to the pitcher while you wait
  • 5
    Prepare your garnishes while you wait (optional)
  • 6
    Stir the water with the wooden spoon and remove tea bags, pressing to the side as you remove them to get as much tea as possible.
  • 7
    Add the warm tea to the pitcher and stir with a long spoon until the sugar and soda completely dissolve.
  • 8
    Add the rest of the cold water to taste.
  • 9
    Place the pitcher in the fridge for at least three hours or, ideally, overnight.
  • 10
    When ready to serve, add ice to your glasses and pour the tea equally between them.
  • 11
    Add your garnishes and straws (optional) and serve immediately.

There are plenty of ways to customize this basic recipe: from using decaf tea leaves to using syrup or other natural sweeteners, there are so many ways to make brewing sweet tea your own.

Sweet tea with lemon

Caffeine Level In Sweet Tea Vs Other Drinks

Sweet Tea Vs Coffee

Both sweet tea and coffee beans naturally have caffeine in them.

The average coffee bean is estimated to have around 1-10 mg of caffeine[4], whereas black tea leaves have an estimated 47 mg of caffeine.[5]

This is interesting as when tea leaves and coffee are brewed, they have 40-50 mg and 80-100 mg of caffeine, respectively - the difference is that coffee is more concentrated than tea.

Whether you are drinking coffee or watching your regular tea consumption, it is worth being mindful of your caffeine levels.

Sweet Tea Vs Iced Tea

Sweet and iced tea are often confused with each other as they are so similar. Let’s go over some of the differences between the brewed tea titans.

Iced tea is typically served over ice in the summer. Rather than having sugar added to it, iced tea relies on the addition of fresh fruit and cut fruit juices for natural flavor.

Sweeteners like honey or other flavors like lemon juice are usually added after it has been poured over ice.

One of the major differences between iced teas and sweet teas comes down to tea leaves. Sweet tea is always made with black tea leaves, whereas iced tea can use a different type of tea.

Ice tea is more flexible and can use one of a variety of tea leaves, including:

  • Black tea
  • Green tea
  • Herbal tea
  • White tea
  • Oolong tea
  • Decaffeinated tea

Sweet Tea Vs Coke

Alongside energy drinks, soda can often be considered to have a high amount of caffeine and sugar. So can sweet tea have a higher caffeine content than Coke?

Let's examine the caffeine content of common Cokes.[6]

  • Coca-Cola - 24 mg per 12-ounce can
  • Diet Coke - 45.6 mg per 12 ounces
  • Diet Cola - 22 mg per 8 ounces
  • Cola - 30-45 mg per 12 ounces
  • Lemon, Vanilla, Cherry, Diet Cherry Cola - 34 mg per 12-ounce can

The caffeine content of specific brands of cola will vary, but they are often moderate to high.

The caffeine found in a cola beverage is not necessarily harmful in moderation and is often on par with sweet tea.

sweet tea comparison with other drinks

How To Reduce Caffeine in Sweet Tea Drinks

While some may think that the more caffeine, the better, for others, the amount of caffeine they have can affect their health.

Some ways to reduce the amount of caffeine in sweet tea are:

  • Use decaffeinated tea leaves
  • Use fewer tea bags
  • Shorten the brewing time
  • Use cooler water in the brewing process
  • Mix your tea leaves with mint or lemon verbena
  • Dilute the final beverage with more water

These will affect the taste of the tea, but you can customize other areas as well for the same great pick-me-up without the caffeine.

Related Sweet Tea Caffeine Content Questions

Does sweet tea keep you awake?

Whether sweet tea keeps you awake depends on the amount of caffeine in sweet tea, how much caffeine you drink regularly, and when you drink it. If you want your sweet iced tea to keep you awake, try adding a shot of cold brew or more tea bags. If you are having trouble sleeping, follow our tips above and avoid drinking caffeinated drinks a few hours before bed.

How much caffeine is in home-brewed sweet tea vs takeout sweet tea?

How much caffeine is in takeout sweet tea will vary depending on the brand and recipe. If unsure, check the restaurant's menu or ask your server for details.

Is decaffeinated sweet tea as good as regular sweet tea?

Whether something is good or not is subjective. However, it is possible to customize your decaf sweet tea so it tastes exactly how you want it to.

How much sugar is in sweet tea?

The amount of sugar in sweet tea can vary just as much as its caffeine content. If you are following a recipe, you can always customize the sugar content of your sweet tea. For bottled iced tea, you can check the label for more details regarding its sugar content.

Does Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka have caffeine?

Yes. Although it’s not disclosed exactly how much, the caffeine from the tea leaves is naturally present.


Is there caffeine in sweet tea? In short, there can be depending on the tea leaves used.

There is a reason why sweet iced tea is such a popular drink year-round.

Whether you grab a bottle at the store or try your hand at a home recipe, it is always worth being mindful of how much caffeine is in sweet tea.



Chloe Page


Chloe Page
A lifelong mocha fan, Chloe is an award-winning writer with over eight years’ experience weaving words. Her journey in the coffee industry is highlighted by extensive research and interviews with coffee experts. In her moments of relaxation, you'll often find her sipping on Bird and Blend tea, thoughtfully scribbling in her notebook.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... Bird and Blend Co Tea

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