“Sun tea,” as it’s called, is one of the easiest ways to enjoy tea during hot months. Plus, it’s ah-mazing when infused with fresh fruit and home grown herbs. Here's how to make your own infused sun tea to get you through the dog days of summer.
How to Make Infused Sun Tea
Almost all of my summertime memories from childhood have iced tea in them. Odd, I know, but growing up in the hot, humid south, iced tea was a big deal.
My mom didn’t even heat up the water first. She would simply drop a couple bags of black tea in a pitcher of cool tap water. The heat from the sun would work its magic, and several hours later, voila!
Making sun tea is so simple I’m not sure it really deserves a lengthy how-to. Just place a few tea bags in a pitcher of water and set it on the windowsill. The idea is that the energy from the sun will slowly heat the water, giving you perfectly brewed tea in a couple of hours – all without heating up your kitchen. Genius, right?
What kind of tea should I use?
Some types of tea are better brewed the old fashioned way, especially if you want to reap the health benefits. Green tea is one of those that’s sensitive to temperature. In order to extract the polyphenols and antioxidants, you need the heat from almost-boiling water to release them.
But if you’re like me and you sometimes drink tea just for the flavor, go ahead and use the sun tea method. You might be missing out on a few of the antioxidants, but it tastes just as good and is so much easier to make.
Some of our favorite teas:
What can you infuse in sun tea?
I like to add fresh fruit, citrus rinds, herbs and spices to create different flavor combinations. Basically, any of the ingredients that can be used to make infused water. Here are some of our favorites:
—Peach + Thyme
—Strawberry + Mint
—Pear + Rosemary
—Lemon + Lavender
The water will slowly extract the flavors and oils the same way it does with the tea. And with a little bit of patience you’ll be left with delicious iced tea that took less than 5 minutes to throw together.
Is sun tea safe?
One of the questions I see a lot is, is sun tea safe? The answers online are mixed. It’s true that leaving food sitting in the hot sun for hours can create an environment ripe for bacteria. But I’m of the opinion that sun tea is no more dangerous than drinking infused water or cold brew coffee.
Don’t leave your tea sitting out for more than three hours before transferring it to the refrigerator. And if you’re worried about bacteria, don’t place your tea in the sun at all. Let it steep on the kitchen counter or even in the fridge. It will still taste just as great.
Basic Flavored Sun Tea Recipe
—2-quart glass jar with lid
—2 tea bags
—4 cups distilled water
—Fresh fruit and herbs (peach + thyme, strawberry + mint, pear + rosemary)
1. Place tea bags in a clean glass jar and add the filtered water, fresh fruit and herbs.
2. Screw on the lid, place the jar on a bright windowsill and let sit for up to 3 hours.
3. Strain the solids from the tea and refrigerate.
Rooibos Rose Herbal Sun Tea
Rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) is also called African Red Bush Tea. Grown only in South Africa, the tea is made from the needle-like leaves of the shrub, which turn red as the tea oxidizes, or ferments.
Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free and full of antioxidants and minerals such as calcium and zinc. The lovely Red Tea, as it is also called, also has anti-inflammatory properties. Oh, and it also makes a color boosting hair rinse for red hair!
Rooibos Sun Tea Recipe
Step 1 | Make tea pouch
To make the tea, place the herbal tea blend onto several layers of cheesecloth and tie it into a pouch. Leave the string long enough so it's easy to fish out after it's "brewed."
Making a little pouch out of cheesecloth isn't totally necessary, but it eliminates the step of straining the tea before you drink it.
You can also use tea bags. If they have the paper tags, leave those draped over the outside of the jar.
Step 2 | Add tea and water to a pitcher
Then place the tea sachet, tea bags or loose tea in a large jar and fill it with cool or room temperature filtered water. Add any fresh fruit or herbs that you want to infuse. Use infused water ingredients for inspiration!
Step 3 | Put it in the sun
Screw on the lid, place the jar on a bright windowsill and let sit for up to 3 hours.
Step 4 | Strain solids, if needed
Give the tea sachet a good squeeze to make sure you get all the flavor out. It can then be discarded or placed in a compost bin.
If you're using loose tea or any infusion ingredients in the water, strain those out as well.
Step 4 | Transfer to the fridge
Once your tea has steeped, transfer it directly to the refrigerator. Use within 3-4 days.
Step 5 | Sweeten + serve
I love my iced tea with a good squeeze of lemon and little drizzle of honey. So sweeten it however you like (or skip it altogether), then serve it over ice with extra fruit and herbs as garnish.
In just a few hours you'll have a big batch you can put it in the fridge for the whole week. And it's easy and delicious!
How to Make Sun Tea
- 2-quart glass jar with lid
- 2 tea bags green, black, herbal, etc.
- 4 cups distilled water
- Fresh fruit and herbs. My favorite combinations are: peach + thyme strawberry + mint, pear + rosemary
- Honey optional to taste
- Ice Cubes
- Place tea bags in a clean glass jar. If your tea bags have the paper tags, leave those draped over the outside of the jar. Add the filtered water, fresh fruit and herbs.
- Screw on the lid, place the jar on a bright windowsill and let sit for up to 3 hours.
- Strain the solids from the tea. Add honey to taste, then serve over ice with extra fruit and herbs as garnish.