Learn how to make sun the easy way, using tea bags, a glass jug, and just a few hours of time. This safe sun tea method creates a lightly flavored tea that isn't bitter and is ready to be enjoyed all summer long!
Sun tea is so simple to make it almost shouldn't be called a recipe. But here we are!
A southern classic, sun tea is a simple, hands-off method for brewing tea. My grandmother often has a jug going in the window. Black tea, green tea, oolong tea, you can choose whatever you want for this method! Like a cross between brewed tea and cold brew tea, sun tea uses the heat of the sun instead of hot water to extract the flavor from the tea leaves.
What is Sun Tea
Also called sunshine tea, the concept behind sun tea is simple. You add tea bags or loose tea to water and allow it to sit in direct sunlight for several hours. The result? Delicious brewed tea without bitterness. It is perfect for serving over ice and can be sweetened or flavored after the initial brewing stage.
Best Jar for Sun Tea
For sun tea you will want to use a glass jar. The reason for this is the fact that the tea will be sitting in sunlight for several hours, and while it won't get hot, it will get warm. Plastic could potentially leach harmful chemicals into your tea or alter the flavor. While the plastic likely won't get hot enough to have anything unsafe happen, glass is still your best bet for smoothest taste.
Glass does a good job of allowing air to circulate, as well.
What You'll Need
- Tea bags (or loose leaf tea)
How to Make Sun Tea
To a very clean glass jar, add 8 cups of cold, filtered water.
Add tea bags. If using loose tea, either wrap in cheesecloth or place in a steeper.
Set jar in a sunny spot for 3-4 hours, until the color and flavor has reached your desired level of strength.
Remove tea bags and enjoy right away over ice, or place into the fridge to chill.
Is sun tea safe?
There is some controversy surrounding the safety of sun tea. The thought is that it is sitting at a temperature for several hours that is warm, but not hot enough to kill off potential bacteria.
As long as you don't add any sweeteners or fruit during the time in the sunshine, you should be fine. Bacteria loves sugar. Most people consider the acidity in tea to be enough to keep bacteria at bay.
If you are still concerned, you can totally brew the tea completely in the fridge, it will just take more time and will no longer be "sun tea."
How to sweeten and add flavorings
After your tea has reached the desired strength you want it at, you can sweeten it or add cut up fruit before refrigerating.
Sun tea can be sweetened with regular sugar, honey, stevia, agave, or whatever you generally use to sweeten your drinks. I like using my homemade demerara simple syrup.
Some fruit you can slice and add are lemons, limes, strawberries, cucumbers, or herbs like mint. Use whatever sounds good to you!
Mix in lemonade to make a classic arnold palmer.
Once your sun tea is done "brewing," store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. You can add fruits or sweeteners to the entire pitcher, or flavor individually when pouring yourself a glass, it's up to you!
How to Make Sun Tea
- 8 cups water
- 4-5 tea bags
- To a very clean glass jar, add 8 cups of cold, filtered water.
- Add tea bags. If using loose tea, either wrap in cheesecloth or place in a steeper.
- Set jar in a sunny spot for 3-4 hours, until the color and flavor has reached your desired level of strength.
- Remove tea bags and enjoy right away over ice, or place into the fridge to chill.