The idea to make sun tea is very simple, fill a glass jar with water and loose leaf tea or tea bags under the direct sunlight for couple of hours. This particular method is using much less work than turning on the the stove and waiting for the water to boil. No hassle for you, no electricity needed and it’s also easy on the planet.
Does sun tea work? Does it really produce a better tasting or easier tea than the many alternatives? What about this whole business about never using plastic? Bags or loose leaves? Can I sweeten before I add the tea, or must I using only Luzianne tea bags and adding sugar only after it’s brewed?
Tips for making sun tea:
Use 8 tea bags per gallon of water, or the equivalent in loose-leaf tea. Keep it in a strainer, or stir into the water and strain out when you drink the finished tea.
Let sit 2-3 hours, or until it reaches desired strength.
You can use any tea flavor:
Herbal teas such as mint, chamomile, hibiscus, lemon verbena (add fresh herbs, as well, for an extra jolt of flavor)
Caffeinated teas such as green, Earl Grey, or black (add a pinch of baking soda to neutralize the acidic taste that comes from steeping black tea for prolonged periods of time)
Fruity teas such as orange, lemon, berry, peach (consider adding a dash of cinnamon)
Add finishing touches: lemon slices after steeping and sweetener (sugar, honey, or agave). Serve on ice.
Note: Make sure your container is perfectly clean. There is some discussion about the potential dangers of bacterial growth in sun tea, as it sits in direct sunlight for several hours, and the CDC advises against it. However, if you take care to clean your container thoroughly and not leave it too long, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Is It Safe To Drink Sun Tea?
According to tea expert Jon Stout. chairman of Golden Moon Tea, bacteria present in the water used to make the tea, called alcaligenes viscolactis, can grow during the time the glass vessel sits in the sun.
Interestingly, the sun’s rays are hot enough to make tea, yet not hot enough to kill the bacteria. If tea containing the bacteria is consumed, it has the potential to cause abdominal infections and illness.
Mr. Stout explains that scientists who studied alcaligenes viscolactis bacteria in the tea found that caffeine naturally found in some varieties can help stop bacteria from growing – but only for two hours. Yet, for herbal and decaffeinated blends, the environment is ideal for bacteria to multiply.
How to Help Make Your Tea Safe to Drink
Here are some ways you can make your tea free from most bacteria and safer to drink.
- After you refrigerate your tea, look for particles that may be floating in the brew that have a rope-like appearance. This would indicate that bacteria is present. Discard the tea immediately and thoroughly wash or discard the container that held it.
- Begin preparing your tea by boiling the water you will be using to make the brew for five to eight minutes. This will kill bacteria that may be present.
- Another option Mr. Stout recommends is to use purified water that has been processed through a steam distillation and oxygenation process.