What Is Sun Tea?

For many people, learning how to make sun tea was an essential part of growing upbut is this nostalgic method safe?

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Old-school recipes like sun tea let us journey into the past, to a time when modern conveniences werent readily available. This method of making iced tea doesnt use a kettle. Instead, it uses the strength of the sun to brew the drink. However, theres a catch if youre looking to brew sun tea today. Like a handful of Grandmas recipes, there is a food-safety risk to this nostalgic drink.

What Is Sun Tea?

Sun tea is brewed in a warm place, such as in the summer sun or on a kitchen counter. You dont have to boil water like other iced tea methods require to make sun teasimply add water and tea bags to a glass jar, let steep and the tea is ready to drink within hours. While the steps to make sun tea are fairly straightforward, some sun tea enthusiasts say the results are better tasting than when using cold brew tea bags.

Is Sun Tea Safe?

In some cases, no. The 130 Fahrenheit temperature that sun-brewed tea typically reaches is not hot enough to kill bacteria; in fact, its the ideal temperature for encouraging growth. Foods like

The safestand easiestway to make iced tea is to make cold brew tea. Combine the water and tea bags and let steep in the refrigerator overnight instead of in the sun; this eliminates the threat of contamination.

What Tea Is Best for Sun Tea?

If you do decide to make sun tea, its best to use black tea, never herbal tea, because its caffeine may help inhibit the spreading of bacteria in your drink.

You can use black tea thats loose-leaf or in tea bags. Keep in mind that loose-leaf tea will require the extra step of straining after the tea is brewed; bags simply require you to take them out. Here are a handful of tea brands I recommend:

How Do You Make Sun Tea?

Fill a 1-gallon glass jar with hot water and add six individual tea bags. You can follow the nostalgic method of doing it outside on the porch in the summer or steep the tea indoors any time of year.

How long should you step sun tea? Let the sun tea sit on the counter for 3-4 hours. Then remove the tea bags and refrigerate the tea.

How Do You Sweeten Sun Tea?

You can sweeten sun tea any way you like. I recommend making simple syrup at home or using a natural store-bought sweetener, whether thats traditional sugar, honey or stevia.

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Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is an experienced copywriter and food blogger with a master's degree in Writing. She likes tested recipes, organized refrigerators and the pleasure of a good bite.