How to Make Sun Tea - Safe & Easy
As the days grow longer and hotter, we’re all looking for ways to enjoy the heat without feeling like we’re melting. We know we need to stay hydrated, but it feels boring to drink only water all day. So, we look for alternatives. One such alternative is sun tea.
But is it hard to make? Does it taste good? Is it safe? These are all questions floating around, so we at Tiesta Tea are here to spill the tea on sun tea.
What is Sun Tea?
Sun tea is exactly what it sounds like –– tea brewed in the sun. Rather than boiling water in a kettle and then steeping your tea, sun tea is brewed in the summer sun (or sometimes on a kitchen counter). It’s a no-boil method. Simply add water and tea bags to a glass jar, let it steep, and the tea is ready to drink within a few hours.
Sun Tea Benefits
The allure with sun tea is likely the nostalgia you’ll get when brewing tea this simple, natural way. Yes, it’s super simple. And yes, it’s packed with health benefits. But sun tea’s health benefits are the same as traditional tea –– think antioxidants, flavonoids, and more.
The catch with sun tea, of course, is that it’s not a fool-proof method. In fact, things can go wrong. Read on to find out more.
Is Sun Tea Safe?
Not necessarily. Sun-brewed tea will reach only 130°F –– the temperature of a very hot bath. That is not hot enough to kill bacteria in the tap water or the bacteria that potentially exists in the tea blend itself. The problem with the 130° F temperature is that it’s the perfect temperature to encourage bacteria growth. Yikes.
Will you certainly get sick if you make and drink sun tea? No. In fact, you probably won’t get sick at all. But is it worth it? That’s up to you to decide.
At Tiesta Tea, we offer a better, safer alternative with our cold brew tea packets. The tea in these packets has been specially formulated –– and treated –– to remove the potential bacteria lurking in tea with a heat treatment step. What a relief, right?!
How to Brew Sun Tea Properly
Not to skirt the question, but we would highly recommend using our cold brew packets. You can just plop them in some (64-ounces) room temperature or cold water in a pitcher, place it in the fridge, and within 1.5-2 hours, you’ll be enjoying your safe, delicious tea.
If your heart is set on sun tea, we have a few ideas. While not fool-proof, some steps to consider:
Option One: Boil the Water
If you’re really itching for the ease and nostalgia of sun tea but want to do it safely, one option is to pre-boil the water you’ll use. By boiling the water and waiting for it to come to room temperature before adding it to your sun tea brew, you’ll kill off the potentially harmful bacteria that may be lurking there. Then, use the blend –– we recommend cold brew packets –– of your choosing, and let that sun steep it for 2-3 hours. Pour over ice and enjoy!
Option Two: Only Use Black Tea
The high caffeine content in black tea can help prevent the bacterial growth in sun tea –– but only for a few hours. That’s why you should only ever brew as much sun tea as you’ll drink within that time frame. Avoid herbal teas since their lack of caffeine (or the low content) will not inhibit bacterial growth.
A Word of Caution
No matter which option you choose, some steps you should always take include thoroughly cleaning the pitcher, jar, or other sun tea vessel you’ll be using. We’ve all seen that awful image where the news shows how much bacteria is lurking in our kitchen, right? Yeah, well, let’s avoid introducing that into our drinks with thorough washing! So, warm, soapy water and thorough scrubbing.
Additionally, you should only brew enough sun tea that you’ll drink in a day. Unlike cold brew that can last in the fridge for 3-5 days, sun tea cannot. If the tea looks or smells funny –– toss it. Does it appear to have thickened? Dump it –– that’s bacteria.
Sun Tea vs. Iced Tea
While both delicious, there are many differences between sun tea and iced tea, as you may have guessed. Sun tea is traditionally made without introducing any heat to the water or tea –– just sitting in a warm place, likely your afternoon bathed in the sun, for a few hours. Conversely, iced tea is made by brewing tea traditionally –– that is to say, hot –– and then serving it over ice.