spiked arnold palmer in a glass made with homemade sweet tea vodka

I couldn’t let you go off into the firework-speckled sunset without a refreshing, fabulous, FUN project that’s practically made for the 4th of July, could I?

Homemade Sweet Tea Vodka paired with sweet lemonade, crushed ice, and a big ol’ lemon wedge is just the thing you need for this sizzling hot holiday weekend!

spiked arnold palmer in a glass with lemon and mint

Homemade Sweet Tea Vodka

Have you ever had sweet tea vodka before? Its essentially lightly sweetened tea made with vodka, instead of water. Can you say UPGRADE?! Hahahahahaha. I swear I haven’t had (m)any of these cocktails today.

There are several brands of popular Sweet Tea Vodkas on the market but, according to my research, none will confirm if they’re gluten free or not. Furthermore, since there’s no labeling laws around having to disclose what’s in a particular alcohol product, we have no idea what they contain in terms of added sugar, artificial flavoring, coloring, etc.

Trust me, there’s an easier way. Combine black tea bags and a bottle of vodka, steep, then lightly sweeten with simple syrup. 3 ingredients + 15 minutes = voila, homemade Sweet Tea Vodka!

sweet tea vodka in a mason jar

How to Use Sweet Tea Vodka

There are two main ways I like to use sweet tea vodka:

  1. Spiked Arnold Palmer: An Arnold Palmer, named after the legendary golfer, is a drink made from half lemonade half iced tea. A spiked Arnold Palmer (also called a John Daly) is Sweet Tea Vodka paired with lemonade. It’s as good as it sounds, and so refreshing on a hot day. I prefer a ratio of 2:1, lemonade to Sweet Tea Vodka, poured over ice and served with a fresh lemon wedge.
  2. Twisted Tea: Combine water and Sweet Tea Vodka, again in a 2:1 ratio, in a glass with plenty of fresh lemon wedges and ice. Simple, classic, and instantly transports me to a rocking chair in front of a mature oak tree in the south a la Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood.

spiked arnold palmer in a glass made with homemade sweet tea vodka

How Much Sweetener to Add

I like making sweet tea vodka myself because get to decide how much sweetener to add. Instead of granulated sugar, I use simple syrup which is equal parts sugar and water heated until clear. If you plan on pairing your Sweet Tea Vodka mostly with lemonade I recommend adding 2 – 4 Tablespoons simple syrup to the tea vodka. If you plan on drinking it with plain water, I’d add somewhere between 6 – 8 Tablespoons simple syrup.

Remember, you can always add more sweetener, but you can’t take it away!

mason jar of DIY sweet tea vodka

How to Make Homemade Sweet Tea Vodka

First gather your supplies: you’ll need a 750ml bottle of Vodka and cold brew iced tea bags. If you can’t find cold brew ice tea bags you can use standard tea bags. I always go with Tito’s and Lipton, respectively, which are gluten free.

ingredients to make homemade sweet tea vodka

Pour the vodka into a pitcher or large mason jar then add 4 cold brew tea bags and let steep, undisturbed for 15 minutes. If you’re using regular tea bags, steep until the liquid is a dark, rich amber color — up to 2 hours. Don’t let the vodka get too dark – over-steeping can cause tea to become bitter.

cold brew tea bags steeping in vodka

Remove the bags one by one then squeeze the excess vodka out with your fingers into the jar. Don’t waste a drop!

cold brew tea bags steeping in vodka

Next add simple syrup to the tea vodka. Simply combine equal parts sugar and water in a microwave safe jar or container then microwave until clear — just a minute or two. You can do this several days ahead of time.

homemade simple syrup in a mason jar

Again, go on the lighter side if you’ll mostly be pairing the Sweet Tea Vodka with lemonade, or a little heavier if you’ll be mostly pairing with water.

simple syrup being poured into a mason jar

That’s all she wrote! Funnel the Sweet Tea Vodka back into the vodka bottle then store in the fridge so it’s nice and chilled when you’re ready for a cool drink.

sweet tea vodka in a vodka bottle

I hope you have a fabulous, fun, safe, and happy holiday – cheers, and enjoy!

spiked arnold palmer in a glass made with homemade sweet tea vodka

More Refreshing Cocktail Recipes

Homemade Sweet Tea Vodka (For Spiked Arnold Palmers + Twisted Tea)

5/5 (1 REVIEW)


Homemade Sweet Tea Vodka can be made in just 15 minutes! Pair with lemonade to make Spiked Arnold Palmers, or with water and lemon for twisted tea.


makes 1 bottle sweet tea vodka

  • 1, 750ml bottle vodka
  • 4 Cold Brew Iced Tea Bags
  • 2 - 8 Tablespoons simple syrup (see below)
  • For the Simple Syrup:
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup water


  1. Pour vodka into a pitcher or large mason jar then add 4 cold brew iced tea bags and let steep, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. Don't over-steep or the tea vodka can taste bitter. Squeeze excess vodka out of bags into the iced tea vodka then discard.
  2. Meanwhile, combine sugar and water for simple syrup in a microwave safe container then microwave for 1 minute, stirring halfway through, or until simple syrup is clear. Can be done several days ahead of time. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Add simple syrup to taste (see notes) to vodka then stir to combine. Store the Sweet Tea Vodka in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid, or funnel pack into the vodka bottle.
  4. To Use: Mix 1 part Sweet Tea Vodka with 2 parts mixer (lemonade, water, etc) then pour over ice and serve with fresh lemon wedges.


  • If you can't find cold brew tea bags, use regular tea bags and let steep until vodka is a rich caramel brown color - a couple hours. Again, avoid over-steeping.
  • The amount of simple syrup you should use depends on how sweet you like your drinks! I prefer lightly sweetened drinks and add 3 Tablespoons simple syrup to the tea vodka if I plan on pairing it mostly with lemonade. I prefer 6 Tablespoons simple syrup added to the tea vodka if I plan on pairing it mostly with water.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

photo collage of homemade sweet tea vodka