How to make Sun Tea

August 18th, 2015

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How to make sun tea

While all too many of us are heavily addicted to coffee (and resent its absence), a substantial number of us are equally addicted to the devil-bean’s primary rival – tea.

This classic beverage forms an integral part of culinary traditions around the world, and has a culture surrounding its preparation and consumption that’s every bit as complex and rich as that of coffee or wine.

One interesting tea-preparation technique is is Sun Tea – essentially tea that is brewed using nothing but the light and warmth of the sun.

sun tea source: Randall Chancellor on Flickr

There are a lot of reasons for Sun Tea’s longstanding popularity. For one, it’s very pretty – the rays of the sun glinting through a jar of golden tea, positioned in suitably picturesque surroundings, will look wonderful on your Pinterest page. Also, the tea apparently tastes quite nice too, with a different flavour to boiled tea.

How to make Sun Tea

tulsi sun tea source:

The core concept of Sun Tea is fairly simple, so treat the following instructions as flexible guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules:

  • Wait for a sunny and hot day. While the glass jar will help trap heat inside and raise the temperature thanks to the greenhouse effect, you’ll still need a decent outdoor temperature to effectively steep the tea.
  • Take a glass jar or similar sealed container. Those mason jars you often find being used for serving trendy cocktails in some inner-city bars aren’t bad.
  • Add water and tea, whether tea bags or tea leaves (you could even try other herbs if you’re feeling ambitious). The type of tea and the amounts you include will greatly depend on your personal preferences regarding your tea’s flavour and strength.
  • Sit the full jar out where it will receive consistent direct sunlight, without shadows drifting across the window sill.
  • Leave to steep in the sun for up to 4 hours, until the water’s colour has changed.

sun tea brewed in mason jar source: All Things Michigan on Flickr


Is Sun Tea safe?

Um… strictly speaking, no.

sun tea 2 source: miheco on Flickr

Brewing tea by the gentle warmth of the sun sounds lovely and natural, but you know what other natural products love gentle warmth? Germs and bacteria.

Even though the glass jar should trap the sun’s heat inside and increase it over time thanks to the greenhouse effect, even a 40°C Aussie summer day is not guaranteed to bring your Sun Tea out of the temperature Danger Zone (insert Kenny Loggins reference here).

And because it takes a while for tea to properly steep, there’s plenty of time for any germs in your jar to breed out of control.

Sun tea isn’t guaranteed to make you sick, but if you plan on making it, it’s worth being aware of the bacterial risks and taking steps to minimise those risks:

  • Be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect your Sun Tea jars before and after making your tea.
  • Prepare Sun Tea using filtered, distilled, or purified water – the fewer germs that go in means that fewer germs will likely come out.
  • Enjoy your Sun Tea on the day you make it, leaving no extra time for germs to grow.
  • If your Sun Tea looks or smells off, appears cloudy of has ropey strands running through it, it’s definitely no good. Chuck it, and disinfect everything!

Overall, take care, and enjoy at your own risk!

Sun Tea without the sun

Still like the idea of Sun Tea but aren’t a fan of the germ risk? Looking for a safer alternative to Sun Tea?

What if I told you that you don’t actually need the sun to prepare a type of Sun Tea?

It’s possible to make tea in a similar fashion to cold brew coffee – just place your water and tea in a sealed container and leave in the fridge to steep.

As the fridge’s cool temperature is specifically to prevent germs from breeding out of control, this cold-brew tea will give you a similar result as Sun Tea, but with a much-reduced risk of germs.

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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