As symbolic of summer as lemonade is to kids, iced tea is a thirst-quenching-lounge-chair-chillaxing-savor-the-moments must for the rest of us (not just because we're old!). But those powdery mixes from the supermarket? They're about as close to real tea as a heat lamp is to the warm summer sun. The bottled stuff isn't much better either—they're made from tea concentrates (yep, even the 'all-natural' ones that say they're brewed from real tea); and the fossil fuels eaten up shipping heavy liquid-filled glass around the country could fill quite a few Olympic-sized swimming pools. Your best bet: beat the summer heat with an eco-organic lo-fi homemade summer sun tea.
Sun tea is literally tea brewed by the sun. It's easy to make and tastes just like summer should. The type of tea you use totally depends on your preference. Traditional iced teas are made with black tea (typically orange pekoe), but you can use any type of the many varieties of tea—green, white, oolong or even the caffeine-free herbal teasans like the super-fruity rose hip hibiscus, berry flavors, mint or ginger.
What you need:
- A large sun tea jar or clear glass container with a secure tight-fitting lid
- 8 teabags or 6 teaspoons of loose leaf tea
- 8-12 cups of pure spring or distilled water
- Plenty of sunlight!
What you do:
- In a clean sun tea or large glass jar, add water and tea bags or loose leaf tea (you can strain the tea leaves later)
- Stir well, and cover tightly
- Place in a sunny area for 3 to 5 hours—outside is best, especially a surface area that will heat up as well
- Check your tea after hour 3—if you like it stronger, let it steep longer
- When ready, strain leaves and teabags out
- Refrigerate and serve over ice
- Sweeten to taste
While there's always a risk of bacteria in food or beverages exposed to long periods in the sun, it is generally low for sun teas. To avoid the risk, make sure your jar is well cleaned before using. Never add any sweeteners before brewing, as this contributes to bacterial growth. Do not leave in the sun for more than 6 hours.
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