Lee Tea is an herbalist, writer, and mother of 2 living in Erie, PA. Her herbal boutique Lees Teas specializes in bringing organic teas and aromatherapies to everyday people. Find links to her shop and published articles on her website at deepappreciation.com, dedicated to exploring how to use what we're given for better livin.
Back to basics:
Tea Leaves + Water + Sunlight = Sun Tea
Sun Tea is simple alchemy anyone can do at home. You can make your very own homemade sun tea by placing water in a container, tea leaves into the water, and the container into sunlight. To make a quality pitcher of tea that's both delicious and healthy, let's take a closer look at each of these components in the equation:
Where your water comes from plays a role in both the taste and healthiness of your tea. It stands to reason that the purer the water, the cleaner the taste. But also consider that the sun won't heat your water to boiling, and leaving your water stagnant in the sun for a few hours could facilitate bacterial growth. So also the purer the water, the cleaner the tea. For this reason, distilled water is your best choice for sun tea water, though I have often made it with purified water.
(Side note: Contrary to what the water-filter industry has led us to believe, distilled water is pure H2O. It's pure water! It's ok to drink pure water.)
Your brewing vessel serves as a steeping pot, beverage dispenser and, if you're like me, a functional centerpiece. Whether your container is a delicate beauty or a pickle jar, make sure it's glass. Direct sunlight through the glass helps promote the infusion of the tea leaves, and using glass eliminates the risk of plastic chemicals leaching into your sun tea.
In addition, make sure it's clean. Your container can be another source of bacterial growth, so clean it well with warm, soapy water. A good tip is to choose a container without a spigot, which is another place bacterial growth can occur.
Almost any tea can be used to make sun tea, but I'll tell you from experience not every tea makes a TASTY sun tea. Black teas give a full flavor, some more woodsy and bitter than others, and are generally a good choice for sun tea. Green teas often give a more mellow flavor, though not necessarily less bitter. Herbal and fruit teas can be a delicious twist to your sun tea. However, true teas contain caffeine that can help battle bacteria, herbal teas do not. Your typical bottled, powdered, or restaurant-served iced teas are black teas.
You can make sun tea with tea bags or loose tea. Bagged teas are cheap, convenient and readily available, but can be comprised of no more than the leftover tea shake from teas grown with the help of pesticides. You can enhance the flavor, potency, and health benefits of your sun tea by choosing an organic loose-leaf black tea like Lee's Teas Premium Fair-Trade Ceylon Black Tea, which I think produces a more popular, people-pleasing flavor than some other black teas like Assam. (https://www.etsy.com/listing/114997829/organic-teas-premium-fair-trade-ceylon?ref=shop_home_active)
So now that you've chosen your water, container, and tea, the hard part is over! Make your sun tea a just a few easy steps:
Your thirst-quenching pitcher of sun tea is ready to enjoy! Make sun tea with your kids to peak their interest into choosing tea over sugary and artificially flavored juices and sodas. To further inhibit the chances for bacterial growth, it is recommended you drink the sun tea within 1 day. Follow these simple tips to enjoy a truly refreshing and healthy gift from nature available to all... sun tea!
From Julie: WOW! I can't wait to apply these steps to my sun tea this summer! I LOVE sun tea, but have been making some very basic mistakes! Go ahead and ask Lee any of your tea and/or herbal questions in the comment section.
Tea leaves + Water = Tea.
Seems simple enough. But one taste of store-bought iced tea and you'll usually find a whole lot more. One look at the ingredients label and you'll most likely find added flavor, preservatives, and even high-fructose corn syrup. Why? By itself simple tea is a tasty and truly refreshing drink. So, in most of these cases I really don't know why. Mother nature supplies us everything we need for a quality cup of tea.