The City Magazine Since 1975

Sweet Tea-Brined Turkey

November 2019
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12-15 lb. turkey
Sweet tea brine (recipe follows)
4 cups turkey or chicken stock
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. salted butter, melted

For the sweet tea brine:

2 gal. water
3 cups black tea leaves, such as Lipton’s or Charleston Tea Plantation
1/2 cup whole black peppercorns, toasted
1/4 cup whole coriander seeds, toasted
3 cups light brown sugar
3 cups kosher salt
3 lemons, cut in half
30 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups peeled garlic cloves
8 dried bay leaves
5 star anise pods
10 lbs. ice


To make the sweet tea brine:

Boil the water in a large pot, add tea leaves, remove from heat, and let brew for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300°F. Place the peppercorns and coriander seeds on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for seven to 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.

Strain the tea into a five-gallon pot, discard the leaves, and add the remaining ingredients, except the ice. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pot, and simmer the brine for one hour to steep the aromatics.

Remove the brine from the heat and stir in the ice. Refrigerate it for at least four hours. The temperature of the brine should be below 38°F before it is poured over the turkey.

Remove the thawed turkey from its packaging, rinse thoroughly, pat it dry, and place it in the container you will use to store the turkey during the brining process.

Pour the entire chilled brine mixture over the turkey, making sure to place some of the aromatics into the cavity of the turkey. Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours, turning it over several times to make sure that it is evenly brined.

To roast the turkey:

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Drain the turkey, discard the brine, and place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Season the stock with salt and pepper to taste. Roast the turkey, basting it every 30 minutes with stock and butter, until its internal temperature is 165°F when measured with an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, approximately 15 minutes per pound.

Transfer the turkey to a serving platter, cover lightly with foil, and let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before carving.

Cru Catering
1784 Harmon St.,
Downtown Charleston
(843) 534-2433,