Sun Tea Recipe
- 1 gallon cold water
- sugar (if you're of the "sweet tea" kind)
- 3 tea bags
Sun tea is quite possibly the most perfect drink for the summer. Lemonade is a classic, but it can be a little too tart for the hot days. Juices are too sugary, so they'll dehydrate you and cause a sugar crash halfway through that softball game. Water? That's just plain boring.
- Pick a container. Gallon-size pickle jars or gallon pitchers work best. Wash the container thoroughly with soapy water. This is important even ifit already appears clean. Leaving dirty dishes in the sun can promote bacterial growth.
- Fill the container with a gallon of cold water. If you prefer sweet tea, remove about 25% of the water from the container, add sugar, make sure it's dissolved, and fill the container again. Kool-Aid sweetness requires 1 cup of sugar per half-gallon of water. However, sugared beverages don't quench your thirst; they make you thirstier. Unsweet tea is an acquired taste, but one that's well worth acquiring.
- Put in the tea bags. You can use any kind of tea. However, we prefer black tea for its caffeine, antibacterial properties and its dozens of otherbenefits. Our method: Tie three Lipton tea bags on a chopstick or wooden spoon, straddle it across the top of the container, and dangle the teabags in the water. Add some sprigs of freshly-washed mint to the mix for a cooler taste.
If you're making tea in a jug of spring water, hold each tea bag sideways, and tap it gently so that the tea mostly ends up in the lower side of the tea bag. Fold the bag, and insert it through the neck of the jug, allowing the string to remain outside the bottle. When you finish - five bags of Red Rose tea will give you tea very similar to what the Five Brothers burger restaurants offer - grasp the tags on the strings, leaving most of the string inside the jug, and close the lid. Cheesecloth keeps flying insects out, but not airborne yeast, bacteria, mold, and other nasties.
You can make sun tea with virtually any tea bags. Jasmine tea (easily found at an oriental grocery) is interesting, but like many specialty teas, it doesn't wear well. Your favorite orange pekoe and pekoe-cut black tea will probably remain your favorite for sun tea as well. An additional tweak to this recipe is to choose fruit teas. Any fruit herbal tea that features rosehips is quite a refreshing drink in the summer. The Celestial Seasonings' Zinger teas, for example.
- In the morning, place the pitcher in a sunny spot like a windowsill. The sun's heat will brew your tea all day long. Put a screen or a piece of cheesecloth over the pitcher to prevent bugs from flying in and drowning.
Don't worry if the sun isn't shining. Five hours in a dark closet is just as effective as 8 hours in the sun. If you don't use enough tea, you'll be tempted to brew the tea too long, which extracts more tannin, making the tea rather bitter. You might as well use hot brewing if you're going to do that.
- When you come home, pour over ice and enjoy.
Pouring room-temperature tea over ice tends to make the tea "brighter" in flavor than tea which has been refrigerated. You'll want to drink the tea right away, however. Whether you refrigerate it or not, tea precipitates a sediment within about 2 days, and will have a "muddy" flavor thereafter.