Want a homemade sun tea recipe, but wondering is making sun tea safe? This is a yummy summer drink recipe and one of those unique outdoor kid activity ideas, but there are important things to know before brewing tea this way.
SUN TEA HOW TO MAKE & SUN TEA SAFETY
How do you make sun tea at home?
Sun Sweet Tea Recipe:
- Filtered water
- Black tea bags*
- White sugar
- Lemon wedges / lemon slices (for garnish, if you want to know how to make sun tea with lemon)
- Honey (optional for sun sweet tea)
- Fresh Mint (optional)
- Ice (optional) for cold brewed ice tea
*See full tea recipe for how many teabags for a gallon of sun tea.
There is no special sun tea mix, but be sure to read the full suntea recipe below so that you can be sure you understand how to make sun tea safely!
What is sun tea?
Sun tea is tea made from steeping the tea (“brewing” the tea) outdoors in the sun instead of brewing the tea on the stove. Many people use this as a way to make iced tea recipes in the summer and swear that it has a better flavor from the sun and others claim that there are many sun tea benefits.
I remember sun tea from my childhood. I would see glass jars of tea or a sun tea pitcher steeping in the summer sun and then the tea recipe would be ready to drink by the end of the day!
What is the difference between sun tea and regular tea?
Sun tea is tea that is placed in a glass jar in the sun to warm and steep. Regular tea is made from boiled water on the stovetop. They both use whatever tea you choose. However, for safety reasons, it is recommended to use black tea for sun tea.
Is sun tea a southern thing?
Sun tea is definitely seen a great deal throughout the south. Sun tea was set out on the porch while people worked on the farm or went off to work on a hot summer day. Then, it was ready at the end of the day. While it’s not exclusively a southern thing, you definitely see sweet tea throughout the south.
Our recipe is for Southern sun tea.
You may have heard about sun tea dangers and wondering if they’re true. Before we get to how to make sweet tea in the sun, let’s cover some important safety issues, answer is sun tea dangerous, and learn how to make sun tea safely…
IS SUN TEA SAFE?
Why sun tea is bad for you?
You may be wondering can sun tea make you sick? The issue with sun tea is that it never gets hot enough to kill bacteria, which breeds in warm conditions between 40 to 140 degrees °F. So, you should proceed with caution in making sun tea. Do not add things like sugar or slices of fruit or citrus while the tea is in the sun. Add the additional things after so they don’t promote bacteria growth.
How warm does it have to be to make sun tea?
Sun tea needs direct sunlight. But, even in direct sunlight, it will never get beyond 130 degrees °F, which puts it in the prime range to breed and grow bacteria. If you are concerned about the safety of sun tea, bring it to a rapid boil after it has been sitting in the sun to help kill any bacteria.
Should you refrigerate sun tea?
Once your sun tea is finished in the sun, bring it in and remove the tea bags. Then, refrigerate immediately until ready to use so that you can help stop any bacteria growth.
Can you make green tea in the sun?
You can technically make any tea flavor, including green tea, in the sun. However, many have recommended that you only brew black tea in a sun tea recipe in order to reduce the bacteria growth that can occur with sun tea recipes. So, the best tea for sun tea is black tea.
OTHER FUN SUMMER DRINK RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE AFTER YOU LEARN HOW TO MAKE SUN SWEET TEA:
Sun Tea Tips: How Do I Make Sun Tea?
How many tea bags in sun tea?
To make sun tea, you will need one tea bag for every cup of water. So, the number of teabags will depend on how big your tea container is for brewing sun tea.
How long do you leave sun tea in the sun?
When making sun tea, leave sun tea in direct sunlight for 3-4 hours. If you leave it longer than that, the tea may have a bitter taste.
Why is my sun tea bitter?
Sun tea generally gets bitter if when left in the sun too long. The longer you leave the tea in the sun, the more bitter it will taste.
Can you make sun tea in a plastic container?
You may be wondering if you can you make sun tea in a plastic pitcher? You don’t need an expensive vintage sun tea jar for the recipe or special sun tea container. Any large glass jar with a lid will do for sun tea jugs. You want to use glass instead of plastic because glass helps the process of oxygenation better than plastic. Also, heating plastic may have negative consequences such as releasing chemicals from the plastic and it could also affect the taste of the tea.
How To Make Sun Tea In The Winter
To make sun tea in the winter, you just need a sunny window sill! Combine tea bags and water in a glass jar and place on near in a window that gets direct sunlight for at least 3-4 hours.
Follow our recipe below, except use a window sill in full sun instead of placing tea outdoors to brew.
OK! Let’s get to how sun tea is made…
How To Brew Sun Tea
Please remember, making sun tea can have some issues with bacteria, so make at your own risk.
IMPORTANT TEA TIP: TO HELP REDUCE BACTERIAL GROWTH, DO NOT ADD SUGAR OR CITRUS TO YOUR SUN TEA WHILE BREWING IN THE SUN.
If you want to know how to make sun tea with honey, add the honey to individual servings to sweeten the tea after brewing in sun. (The same is if you want to know how to make sweet sun tea with sugar–be sure to wait until after the sun brewing process before adding the sugar!)
If you want the same ease of making sun tea without the sun, see the tips after the sun tea recipe.
We’ve included family size tea bags in our recipe, but you can use single tea bags, too.
How many regular tea bags are in a family size tea bag?
If you need to substitute single tea bags for family tea bags, there are 3 single tea bags in every family size tea bag. So, for one gallon, you will want to substitute 12 single tea bags for 4 family size tea bags.
OK! Here’s the sweet sun tea recipe…
- 16 cups of filtered water (fill up a one gallon glass jar with lid)
- 4 family size black tea bags (or, 1 regular tea bag for every cup of water)
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- Lemon wedges for garnish (optional)
- Fill one gallon glass container (with lid).
- Add 4 family size black tea bags.
- Place lid tightly on glass container. Sit in direct sunlight for 3-4 hours.
- Remove from sun and pour tea into a pot. Bring to a rapid boil (to help kill bacteria).*
- Remove from heat and stir in sugar until dissolved.
- Pour over ice and garnish with lemon.
*IMPORTANT: Boiling the water is an optional step that some people skip. However, slowly heating tea in the sun brings about the risk of bacteria. Rapid boiling after being in the sun helps to kill bacteria. Additionally, it is recommended to only use black tea (and not flavored or herbal teas) to help reduce the bacteria growth. Only add sugar, lemon, fruit or other items after the tea was in the sun, right before serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 62Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 10mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 0gSugar: 16gProtein: 0g
Nutrition information is estimated. Changes to the recipe and use of different brands may cause changes to the nutritional information to vary slightly from the ones provided here.
How do you make sun tea without sun?
If the dangers of sun tea make you uneasy, you can cold brew your tea in the refrigerator with the same results as the recipe for sun tea:
- In a large glass jar or pitcher, add cups of water to make the amount you need. (Keep track of how many cups of water you add.)
- For every one cup of water, add one tea bag.
- Place container in refrigerator for 3-5 hours. The longer you leave it, the stronger the tea will become.
- Add sugar, fruit, lemons, mint or whatever you like with your tea before serving.
- Refrigerate when not using.
Cook With Books for Kids
Sun tea is a great learning unit for kids to pair up with some sun books for the summer or any time of year!
Try these children’s books with this recipe: