How to Make Fresh Herbal Sun Tea
The temperatures have skyrocketed, my summer garden is alive and thriving, and I’m starting to melt every time I step outside!
It is time to make some fresh herbal sun tea! How simple it is to make, and so refreshing during the long hot days!
Sun tea is, you guessed it, made in the sun. Why heat up the house with a teapot on the stove when you can let the sun do it for you? A simple solar teapot.
Anything is game here, herbs, fruit, berries, or wild edibles (aka ‘weeds’) from the garden! There are a number of plants that have a cooling property and quite literally, physically cool down your body temperature. Mint, cucumber, and watermelon are great examples of this.
Alternatively, use any dried herbs, berries, or fruit from your kitchen as well.
There are so many different options when it comes to creating your own herbal sun tea. Start with your favorite herbs or fruit and explore new flavors from there!
How to Make Sun Tea
It seems that all my adolescent summertime memories involve a large glass jug of this amber-colored quencher. I remember sipping sun tea while I helped my grandma snap peas in her rocking chair. I remember sipping it at 4th of July pool parties. I remember sipping it at family reunions on the beach.
In fact, I can’t quite remember ever not sipping sun tea in the summer. Which makes me wonder why sun tea has become somewhat of a lost art.
The other day, I dropped a green tea bag in my water bottle before meeting a friend for a workout. She noticed my water bottle sloshing around with a tea bag, and the questions started rolling out.
How do you make sun tea?
Why do you do that? (Because it tastes good and has no calories.)
Was your water hot? (No.)
Does tea really steep in cold water? (Yes.)
How long does it take? (Not that long.)
My workout buddy was so enamored by the idea of putting a tea bag into cold water, it made me realize that maybe this is why people don’t make sun tea anymore!
So today I want to share the basics of learning how to make sun tea.
Sun Tea 101
First of all, tea leaves release their flavor into liquid. Period.
It does not matter if the water is hot, cold, or somewhere in between. When the liquid is hot, we call it steeping. If the liquid is cold, it’s technically a plain old infusion. Either way, it really doesn’t matter what you call it. When tea leaves get wet, flavor comes out.
The reason most people steep tea in hot water (other than just liking hot beverages) is that the tea releases its flavor faster when the water is hot. A fast release in a short amount of time usually results in an intense flavor and deep color.
That’s not to say that the same thing can’t happen in cool or warm water over a longer period of time.
The general idea of making sun tea is to make a large batch of iced tea for summer without having to turn on your stovetop.
How to Make Sun Tea
To make homemade sun tea, simply fill a large glass dispenser with water, and add 8 tea bags per gallon, based on the size of your container.
I poured 1 ½ gallons of water into my dispenser, so I added 12 teabags.
The kind of tea you use is entirely up to you. Traditional Southern iced tea is usually made with some sort of black tea blend, like Lipton or Luzianne. But feel free to explore and be creative here. If there’s anything I’ve learned about tea-making from my mother, it’s that the best iced teas often come from a random blend of whatever kind of tea bags you have lurking in your pantry.
For instance, green tea, hibiscus tea, and peach tea blend together to make a marvelous fruity iced tea with a rich red color.
Once the tea bags are in the water, cover the dispenser and set it out in the sun. The amount of time it will take for the tea to steep in the sun is based on several factors:
How hot is it outside?
What kind of tea are you using?
How large is your jug of tea?
How dark do you like your tea?
A general timeframe is between 2-3 hours of sunshine. I’ve been known to bring mine in after just one hour on a really hot day.
Once the sun tea is the color and flavor you’re going for, sweeten the tea if you so desire.
Instead of stirring in sugar and watching the granules settle at the bottom of the jug, I like to sweeten sun tea with honey or agave. It stirs in nice and smooth.
The amount you use is entirely up to you. Add ¼ cup at a time and taste after stirring before adding more.
Finally, if you like lemon or lime in your tea, go ahead and throw them in the dispenser. They will give the tea a light citrus note, and act as a garnish as well.
- Add 8 tea bags per 1 gallon of water
- Use any combination of tea bags you like
- Sweeten with a liquid sweetener, if so desired
- Garnish with citrus
You can do this! And hopefully you’ll give the “tea bag in the workout water bottle” trick a try as well. It’s a great way to encourage yourself to rehydrate!