Friday, May 9, 2014

Low to No Calorie Diet Iced Tea

A low to no calorie recipe for a full gallon of presweetened, robust iced tea, using sugar substitute.

Low to No Calorie Diet Iced Tea (Milo's Copycat)

It used to be you ordered tea anywhere in The South, and iced sweet tea was what you both expected and got, without you having to say so.

There is no doubt that we are still very endeared to our sweet tea in The South, but these days you have to specify - sweet, unsweet, half and half sweet and unsweet, half and half, tea and lemonade, or, hot! I don't have a huge sweet tooth, and find most everybody else's sweet tea to be far too sweet for me, so when The Cajun and I eat out anywhere, I always order the half sweet and half unsweet and that suits me just fine.

Now... {Southern Style Hissy Fit Soapbox Warning} before somebody starts fussin' with me... I do realize that many Southerners already have their own way of making tea, and I'm sure I'll hear from them.

Seems some folks were born with a natural cookbook in their head and knowing exactly how to make everything without the likes of me, or anyone else, to teach or tell them anything. Well, the Good Lord forgot to install that built-in, internal knowledge for me.

Like many of you, I had to learn - from my Grandma Mac, from my Mama, from friends, cookbooks and simple trial and error. Since there are plenty of folks who land here looking for a good tea recipe, and plenty more, who tell me they can't seem to make a pitcher of tea to save their life, even following the recommendations on the boxes... well, I know I'm not alone. So, this is for the rest of us. All of you tea experts can just go on about your day without letting us know how silly you think we are, bless your hearts.

Oh, and while I'm fussin' anyway... I use my microwave to boil the water for my tea using my 8-cup Pyrex bowl, and, while my preference is a sugar/Stevia blend for sweetening, it is an expensive product, so especially in the heat of the summer when I make gallons of this diet tea, I very often use a brand of Sucralose. If using either one of those things tends to upset you or makes you wanna lash out and lecture God and everybody about what they should do, save your breath. I am a nearly 60 year old intelligent and educated woman and quite capable of discerning for myself what to do with my life, including what I consume, bless your heart. Just move on along, nothing to see or do here.    {soapbox out}

As much tea as we consume in this humid Coastal environment that I live in, sweet tea has become all but an occasional treat in our household these day. Like many of you, we too are watching our sugar intake these days, so while we enjoy a glass of sweet tea once in awhile, we have been making pitchers of unsweetened tea for years and adding a sugar replacement per glass.

Ever been so busy that you didn't even have time to make a pitcher of tea though?

Well, during our recent move, I barely had time to turn around, much less write recipes, cook, or even make tea, and it was hot, dirty work, so we made our way through multiple gallons of pre-made iced tea.

There are several brands available these days, but I do really like Milo's the best, which I think is as good as homemade, because well... it IS homemade, although I occasionally buy other brands, like Red Diamond too, though it's harder to find the sugar free version around here.

There are lots of much fancier brands of iced teas now, really, but I like these two the most. I hear that Duck Dynasty's Uncle Si even has his own brand out now. Well, The Cajun is definitely a sweet tea and Coke addict, but during this move, I was able to convince him to try the No Calorie, Splenda sweetened version of Milo's.

And then we finally got to a point where the moving wasn't so hectic. And we ran out of jugs of tea. And, I had an epiphany.

As many times as I've made a pitcher of unsweetened tea, The Cajun, being a sweet tea lover, would rarely touch it. But... he was drinking the Splenda sweetened Milo's. So I took the empty jugs, mixed up a homemade batch of no calorie tea with Splenda in them, stuck the jug in the fridge, and didn't say a thing. Let's just say The Cajun liberally consumed my impostor tea with enthusiasm. Is that a bad thing? Not if I can get him away from drinking full sugar sweet tea and cold drinks for just a bit, I really don't think so.

Now, in all fairness, I haven't worked out the cost, though I am making the assumption that making your own no to low calorie tea surely is a little less expensive, after-all you are paying for the convenience for a premade product, but I admit, I'll still enjoy the convenience every once in awhile.

Y'all already know my favorite tea for iced tea, but I figured I'd better do a couple of step by steps so you'll see I actually did refill the jug. I make this as a concentrate, similar to my sweet tea. Since so many of you love using the family size bags, that's how I wrote it and since we can't be foolin' around with single glasses and 2-quart pitchers in the heat of a Deep South summer, I wrote it for the full gallon.

Wow, that's a lot of yakkin' about tea! Let's just make some for pete's sake. Here's how.

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil. I use filtered Kentwood water just because we like the taste of it better over tap and I boil my water in a large 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup, in the microwave. If you don't have that piece of Pyrex in your collection, you should get it! Add four family size tea bags and steep for 6 minutes. A conversion to individual tea bags should be about 3 per family bag. Start there and adjust to your own personal preference on the next batch. Since caffeine now tends to cause disturbance in my sleep (ain't aging just grand?), I sometimes do a half and half tea of regular and decaf, and I also sometimes exchange out some of the regular tea for green tea. Luzianne has all of these teas - in family size bags too by the way!

Lightly squeeze the tea bags, remove and compost or discard. Whisk in the sweetener until fully dissolved. Now one note... I have noticed that the same measurement among various generic brands and types of sweeteners will vary by sweetness. Again, start with this measurement on your first batch and then adjust to taste on the next.

Fill a one gallon pitcher with 8 cups of cold water. Carefully add the tea concentrate to the cold water, stir and set aside to cool to room temperature. I know, I've broken my rule about plastic, but, as quick as we fly through this tea, I think I'll forgive myself,  reserve Mama's tea pitcher for company and not feel one bit bad about it.

Refrigerate until the tea is fully chilled and flavor develops before serving.

Recipe: Low to No Calorie Diet Iced Tea

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 6 min | Yield: 1 gallon

  • 8 cups of ice cold water
  • 8 cups of boiling water
  • 4 family sized tea bags, Luzianne preferred
  • 1-1/2 cups of no calorie granular sweetener (like Splenda), or to taste

Fill a one gallon pitcher with 8 cups of cold water; set aide. Boil the remaining 8 cups of water, add tea bags and steep for 6 minutes. Lightly squeeze the tea bags, remove and compost or discard. Whisk in the sweetener until fully dissolved. Carefully add the tea concentrate to the cold water, stir and set aside to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until the tea is fully chilled and flavor develops, before serving.

Sweet Tea: Substitute granulated sugar for the sugar substitute.

Cook's Notes: A conversion to individual tea bags should be about 3 per family bag. Start there and adjust on the next batch. I sometimes do a half and half tea of regular and decaf, and I also sometimes exchange out some of the regular tea for green tea. Luzianne has all of these teas! Substitute your own favorite sugar replacement, however, you'll have to make adjustments to taste for those, because they aren't always cup for cup replacements for granulated sugar. I have noticed a varied level of sweetness especially among generic brands of Sucralose. Again, start with this measurement on your first batch and then adjust to taste on the next. I often use Truvia or Domino Light which is a granulated sugar and Stevia blend, or use agave or whatever your favorite sugar substitute is, making adjustments as needed.


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©Deep South Dish
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Check These Sweet Tea Recipes Out Too Y'all!

Watermelon Sweet Iced Tea
Southern Fruit Iced Tea
Fresh Peach Sweet Iced Tea

Posted by on May 9, 2014
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  1. I've pinned your other tea recipes and pinning this one too. I make the real sugar stuff for family but I use Splenda for my tea. On Weight Watchers this is a great tasting drink and I can save points for food. Win - Win for me!! Thanks!!

    Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there!

    1. My husband would consume massive amounts of sweet tea so I was thrilled to see him enjoying this version! Happy Mother's Day to you too Kim!

  2. Out here in California we don't have Milo's, and only recently did our store carry Luzianne Tea Bag, but, our WalMart did start recently carrying Luzianne Tea Concentrate in pouches. A tad on the expensive side as a pouch is more than the tea bags, but, now I get to taste Luizianne Tea. I mix one pouch of concentrate in a 2 quarts of water, and it's already pre-sweetened with Splenda. It's delicious! I'll try your version next.

    1. I think I saw those when I passed the aisle but didn't stop to look at them. You do pay for the convenience, but if it's Luzianne, I'm sure it's good!!

  3. The only place I can find the Luzianne teabags is Walmart. I've never seen the pouches, and I am hopeless at remembering that I have put the water on to boil. My Mr. Iced Tea maker is a Godsend for me. Three family sized teabags and I have a pitcher of nice, strong tea. When it's hot, I can drink 3 quarts all by myself!! Love it!!

    1. I've been doing better since the move has settled down a bit but I'm with you on that consumption. We go through these gallons in no time flat!

  4. In your recipe for deep fried Broccoli (Frozen) you didn't comment on how long to fry them. My email address is

    1. Hi! It doesn't take long, just a couple of minutes, if you deep fry them - just fry until they are golden brown but you should always test one, open it up and see how it cooked through, go longer on the batch if it's not. Don't crowd the fryer though on the batch! That cools down the oil too quickly & then they'll be slower to cook & will be greasy. Now... that's deep frying which is much quicker than a shallow pan fry. If you do that they will need to go a little bit longer, but there is also more of a chance they will absorb more grease also, which is why I love a good deep fryer!

  5. Hi Mary..Just discovered your wonderful blog and feeling so excited about trying so many of your recipes! I am really curious about "Family Size" teabags..I am in Canada, and drinks tons of tea, but cant recall ever seeing "Family size" tea bags around here..can you tell me what that is equivalent to in regular teabags? Thanks!

    1. Hi Julia & welcome!! I'm excited that you stumbled on us too!!

      On the conversion of regular tea bags to family sized teabags, unfortunately, it depends on who you ask! The answer will usually range between 2 and 4, and probably also depends on the brand, but if you like a robust flavor, I'd say you're safe to assume 3 regular tea bags for each family sized bag. If that's too strong for you on the first batch, go down to 2. Hope that helps!

    2. Finally made this tea this morning , and it is so delicious, and easy! I have to apologize, though..when I finally read the recipe from start to finish, I see you already explained how many individual teabags to use.. oops :)

    3. Thanks Julia! It's been so hot & humid lately that we have consumed massive amounts of this already this spring. I'm so glad y'all enjoyed it too!

  6. I was so excited when I recently saw Milo's at our local Walmart ( I live in St George,Utah). But I will be trying your version. Love your site thanks Mary.

    1. Thank you so much!! Milos is my favorite & it's definitely worth forking over $2.50 for a jug, especially for big cookouts. It tastes homemade! For the rest of the days, this version is a nice filler. I have made so many jugs of it already though I did finally confess my trickery to my husband. He said "you made that? I thought it was Milo's!" Winner!

  7. This is how I make my tea! My Mama always made sweet tea like this, but I make mine without the sugar usually using Stevia in the Raw. I just tried the Monk Fruit in the Raw for my tea. It has taken me a bit to get the amount adjusted to my liking, but I do like it. I enjoy all of your recipes! Browsing your site is like going home to Mississippi and visiting with a dear friend. :) I grew in the central part of the state, and all of these recipes remind me of home.

    1. It does take a bit of adjustment with some sugar replacements. I have that funny taste bud thing that stevia will not work for me, because it doesn't taste sweet at all. Isn't that odd? I like the stevia sugar blends though - that's what I use in my coffee every day. I like the monk fruit too!

      Thank you so much for the kinds words. It really touched my heart and I truly appreciate you taking the time to say this to me. Thanks!!

  8. How long does it take to boil the 8 cups in microwave and how much Splenda Blend as opposed to straight Splenda? Thanks so much! Sue

    1. Hi Sue! I set my microwave for 20 mins on high. For Domino Light, I use about 3/4 cup, just depends on how sweet you want it, but start there.

  9. We just recently started getting Milo's here in St George,Utah at the WalMart. Your right it is the best premade you can buy. I make mine most of the time to save money. Oh by the way ChickFilet has really good sweet tea you can buy. It is alittle pricey though. Thanks

    1. It really is good isn't it? I make my own most of the time too, especially in the summer - it's just more economical as much of it as we go through - but every once in awhile we'll grab a jug of Milo's! I love Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches. Fortunately the closest one is a bit of a road trip for us, so we don't eat there often.

  10. P.S. I clicked on "publish" too soon after typing my comment just now about my sweet mint/green tea recipe. I meant to double-check to see make sure it had my identifying information and to make sure it notified me when the post was published. Oh, well! In any case, I meant for it to show up as either Karen S or HappyNanaMO, both of which I use when posting. :)

  11. OMG are we on the same wavelength!!! My husband is SO addicted to sweet tea. Eight years ago, I was having tremendous sleeping issues and we decided to try decaffeinated tea and because I'm diabetic tried Splenda. I convinced him to try it and he now loves it. We use your same recipe except we find Splenda doesn't foam up as much if you add it to the water and stir before adding the tea. We do love Milo's with Splenda and he treats himself occasionally but until they make a decaff with Splenda, I make my own. My favorite way to drink my tea.....Tervis tumblers, of course!

    1. I've successfully transformed my husband at home but he still orders sweet tea whenever we have occasion to go out - which is usually Chinese or Mexican food at the two places closest to us (we are so adventurous!)

      Wanna hear something funny? I love my Tervis cups too but half the time I reach for one they're all in the dishwasher, so I bought a couple that are frou-frou, all pink and flowery thinking my hubby would leave them alone. I was wrong!! So I'm still sometimes short on finding a clean cup - go figure!

      Thanks so much for your sweet note & Happy Holidays!

  12. I use half generic Splenda and half sugar. Seems the sugar gives it a little more syrupy consistency. I've always loved sweet tea, but also had a Coke addiction--and I'm not talking diet! Tried to go off Coke during the last Lent season, and my consumption remains greatly reduced. Of course, I replaced Coke with tea, but at least it's only half-sugar! Yep, Tervis tumblers or the cheaper Signature brand. Thanks for your blog! Happily Retired SC Girl

    1. I understand that sugar thing! I guess I get my sugar from carbs - that's my downfall - but my hubby has the same issue with Coke and yes, I love my Tervis cups!!


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