I have posted in the past about making sun tea. Since today is one of the most perfect days to make sun tea and I have had a few questions concerning sun tea, I thought a post necessary.
Ten Gallons of Sun Tea!
Most people either A. Do not have any clue as to what sun tea is or B. Are deathly afraid of trying it because they heard it wasn’t safe. Then of course there are those, like me, who revere sun tea. So let’s answer some questions…..
What is sun tea?
Sun tea is what is also called the “cold steep” method. You basically take tepid water and steep your leaves for several hours versus the usual method of taking warmed/hot water and pouring over the leaves for 3-5 minutes.
What, if any, is the difference?
I find the difference is in the taste. the hot pour method produces a fast cup of tea that is bolder than what you will get with cold brewed or sun tea. However, the taste of sun tea, though lighter, is fuller in flavor. Because the leaves spend such a long amount of time “brewing” the taste is very rounded and delicious.
Is it safe to drink?
So this is always the number one question asked when it comes to sun tea. The answer is not black and white. If you are a person who orders everything well done, never eats mayonnaise at a picnic, and would die if you had to eat a piece of pizza that has been left to sit in the box on the counter all night then sun tea is not for you. If you do one or all of the above, you should give it a try!
The scientific issue with sun tea is that one cannot be sure what microbes are growing on the tea. Maybe what at the source was rolled into the leaf, what happened on the long journey over the big blue, etc. There is also the question of what happens as the tea sits in the sun all day, warming those microbes, allowing them to multiply. Again, if you are not adventurous with food or have immune system issues, this may not be your “cup of tea”.
I will say, iced tea has been made this way for a LONG time by many people of many generations. Have there been instances where maybe someone didn’t handle the tea well, yes, but there are more people who have enjoyed this culinary delight with no problems. I guess the bottom line is that this is one choice you will have to make for yourself.
Why would I make tea using the sun instead of the stove?
Well the most obvious one is environmental. Using the sun instead of natural resources is just better. Another reason is not to heat up your house when the sun can do the work for you. And then there is the time element. Sun tea is so easy. You put leaves in water, put it in the sun and leave it for 6-8 hours. Lastly, one uses much less loose tea when making sun tea as compared to the hot steep method. So all in all, it saves money and the environment!
I want to try this. How do I do it?
- You will want to start with a glass vessel. Please do not use plastic. It can leech harmful chemicals into your drink. Unfortunately, most commercially made “sun tea” containers are plastic or the like. Beer brewing supply stores carry glass growlers and carboys (for big 5 gallon batches). Recycled jars from pickles bought at places like Sams Club or Costco are also perfect. I have used a glass pitcher in a pinch as well.
- Next you fill the vessel with tepid water, not cold — not hot.
- Add the tea directly into the water. I do about two to three tablespoons per gallon. In a hot brew method, you would do about a half of a cup or so per gallon. You can use tea bags but I find letting the leaves dance and move without restriction gives the best flavor.
- Cover your vessel with a lid and put it in a full sun position. You will want the sun to hit it for at least 6 hours.
- Strain your tea into a pitcher and place into the refrigerator. Sun tea should be consumed within two days, three max. If you see anything floating in your tea, please discard the batch.
Enjoy playing with different teas!
Bee Well. Drink Tupelo Honey Teas.
The Tea Lady