How to Make Southern Fruit Tea
Fruit tea is a staple here in middle Tennessee. Many restaurants boast the very best “Southern Fruit Tea” which is a sweetened tea mixed with a variety of fruit juices like orange and lemon. Now you can make it at home!
What is Fruit Tea?
Now, we’re not talking about the flavored variety of tea bags here. Nope, we’re talking about Southern Fruit Tea! It’s sweet tea (Southern staple) combined with a variety of fruit juices, almost like a fruit tea punch. But we just call it “Fruit Tea” here. It’s a Nashville staple.
First thought to have been served from Miss Daisy’s Tea Room in Franklin, TN, you’ll find variations of this sweetened fruit tea punch all over middle Tennessee. Everyone has a favorite and the loyalty is strong!
I love the fruit tea at Loveless Cafe, The Picnic Cafe in Belle Meade, and Calypso Cafe. I spent many lunches with friends at Calypso, sipping fruit tea (and their famous salads) while in college at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Not only in the middle Tennessee area, but all across the South, you’ll find variations of this fruit tea. It’s always served ice cold and perfectly sweetened.
It’s refreshing, full of my favorite citrus flavors, and easy to make. You can tailor it to your favorite flavors (a little more pineapple here, a little less orange there – lots of possibilities). Find my favorite recipe below!
Boozy Southern Fruit Tea
Can you make fruit tea into the perfect cocktail? Absolutely! It’s one of my favorite party beverages to date.
Trust me, you’ll want to keep a pitcher of this cocktail on hand for spring and summer parties.
To make this fruit tea into a cocktail, all you have to do is simply add dark rum. I’d recommend about 1 cup of dark rum if following my recipe below (for 8-10 servings). For a tropical twist, try with coconut rum!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe:
- Simple Ingredients: You can find these ingredients at any grocery store! We’ve made this fruit tea on vacation in little towns at the beach and mountains, and we can easily find everything we need!
- It’s a crowd-pleaser: This fruit tea is great for a crowd! You can also double the recipe for large parties!
- Tons of variations: Switch it up! Add dark rum for a boozy version or simply switch it up with lime juice or even cranberry juice during the holidays.
What to serve with Fruit Tea?
Hosting a shower or party and need a few bites to eat that pair well with this tea? These are perfect! I also have lots of fabulous party recipes in my cookbook, The Southern Entertainer’s Cookbook!
For parties, I usually like to have one signature drink (like this tea) along with water and a tray of garnishes (like citrus fruits and mint). If you can’t find mint in the grocery store, I highly suggest growing your own! I have a black thumb, but I can grow mint, it’s super easy to grow and versatile as a garnish for foods and drinks.
How to Make Fruit Tea:
The first step is to make a simple simple tea, but with the “secret ingredient” of a cinnamon stick. The addition of the cinnamon stick gives the fruit tea that little something “extra” that will have all your friends asking for this recipe!
Be sure you don’t buy already-sweetened tea bags. Just plain black tea bags will do the trick as we will sweeten the tea ourselves.
Once you have your tea made (full recipe below), you sweeten it with sugar (yes, you can substitute in your preferred sweetener of choice) and add the following:
- 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate thawed
- 1/2 cup frozen lemonade concentrate thawed
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
Next is chilling the tea in the refrigerator so it’s nice and ice cold to drink! Leave the cinnamon stick in while chilling and discard before serving. That’s it, easy fruit tea is ready!
This is a super simple iced fruit tea punch, and it’s great to have in your “recipe notebook” or wherever you keep recipes. It’s perfect for parties, showers, potlucks, and year-round entertaining.
Serve your fruit tea punch with anything from sandwiches and BBQ or “fancy it up” in a stemmed glass and a pretty garnish for a dinner party.
Garnishing is always a must in my book. It instantly takes things from a “drink” to a “fancy cocktail” with a garnish.
Just grab a few lemons, oranges, and a pineapple. I love how the fresh fruit infuses the drink with even more flavor too.
So find a hammock or porch swing, sit back, and sip away with this drink, y’all!
Don’t miss these other favorite drink recipes:
- Champagne Punch (perfect for a celebration)
- Pineapple Sweet Tea
- Bay Breeze Cocktail
- 2 quarts water - (8 cups)
- 2 family-size tea bag - (or 6 standard size bags)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate - thawed
- 1/2 cup frozen lemonade concentrate - thawed
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and add tea bags (tie strings together for easy removal later) and cinnamon stick.
- Allow to steep for 8-10 minutes. Remove tea bags.
- Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Stir in orange juice and lemonade concentrates as well as the pineapple juice. Pour fruit tea into pitcher, cinnamon stick included. Chill until cold. Discard cinnamon stick before pouring.
- Pour fruit tea over ice and garnish with fresh citrus slices and mint sprigs. Enjoy!
- mint sprigs
- orange slices
- lemon slices
- pineapple wedges
- cinnamon sticks
- maraschino cherries
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Love fruit tea. Can’t wait to try your adult cocktail version!!!
Thanks DeAndrea! I’m a fruit tea lover too. It’s so refreshing! Glad you’re going to try this adult one!
Yes, yes, yes!
Oh my goodness yes!! I am not from the south and love this kind of sweet tea. This is so much more fun! Thx for the recipe and the cocktail suggestions.
Wow how yummy! I love tea and all kinds of delicious beverages so it’s right up my alley. Can’t wait to share this with my girlfriends on our next evening together!
Wow! This is really delicious and so refreshing!
Can’t wait to try this. Boiling the water right after I finish writing. 😃
Question…do you add the pineapple juice along with the concentrates? It’s not in the directions. Thanks for the recipe. I’ve never had anything like this so I’m excited to try it!
Hi Kimberlee! Thanks for that catch. YES, you add the pineapple juice along with the concentrates! :)
Please add some guidance on how much sugar to add. Those of us not familiar with making sweet tea have no clue.
Hi, the amount of sugar is listed in the recipe. It’s 1 cup. You can certainly add less (or more) to taste!
This looks so good! What a great recipe for a special occasion or everyday!
Thanks for sharing! Does it keep long?
This looks so good! What a great drink to make for friends in the summer!
Thanks for sharing! How far ahead of time can I make it?