Sweet Tea Poultry Brine

Judging from the multitudes of people at the grocery store this afternoon, the holiday cooking season has officially begun! But before I get drowned in my list of to-do’s, I wanted to take a moment to give you a glimpse into the Thanksgiving prep going on at my house as Turkey Day approaches. Every year, I celebrate Thanksgiving twice. I like to create a small-scale Thanksgiving for just me and my husband to enjoy, minus the in-laws and need for good manners.
For my mini Thanksgiving feast this year, I’m keeping things fuss-free with the use of turkey legs instead of a whole turkey. This marinade is a throw back to the days when my hubby and I lived in South Carolina and came across sweet tea at every turn. Sweet tea isn’t my favorite for drinking straight-up, but for a brine it’s fabulous stuff.

Curious to see how these turn out? Check back in a few days for the update!

Sweet Tea Poultry Brine

Enough for 6 turkey legs or 1 large chicken.


8 cups of water (4 hot, 4 cold)

8 black tea bags, like Lipton or Luzianne

1 lemon, sliced

1 orange, sliced

1 cup white sugar

1 Tbsp black peppercorns

1/4 cup salt

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

8 sage leaves, or the equivalent of rosemary or thyme

1/2 brown onion, sliced (optional)


large bowl or heatproof pitcher

large airtight container or extra-large ziplock bags


1. In a large bowl or heatproof pitcher, steep the tea in 4 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, then add the rest of the ingredients and remaining 4 cups of cool water into the bowl/pitcher. Mix and let the mixture cool to room temperature.

2. Place the poultry in a large airtight container or ziplock bags (double-up), then add the cooled tea brine mixture. Let the poultry brine in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours before cooking.