Wednesday, March 23, 2011

First Sun Tea this Season

With the warm weather here bordering on hot already I decided it was time to make sun tea. What’s that?  It’s the best ice tea you’ll ever drink! I grew up on sun tea; it’s milder than brewed tea. You can sweeten it or not, or add different flavored teas along with a regular tea to make your own blend just how you like it.  Now I’m not one for a strong tea, and I don’t usually sweeten it.  I like it lightly sweetened, my waist line loves it in fact, and that’s why I don’t sweeten with sugar anymore. But you won’t catch me putting any artificial stuff in my drink either.  I like Stevia, a plant, or is it an herb, native to the western areas of North and South America that you can buy in convenient little packets just like that artificial stuff and you won’t know the difference from sugar. You can find it at heath food stores and now many super markets carry it too.  Sure ‘they’ say the artificial stuff won’t hurt you but I’m still not going to take a chance and put that into my body.
Alright, so how do I make my sun tea the best ice tea you will ever drink? First I get a 2 quart glass jar and lid, one that has gone through the dishwasher to make sure it’s very clean.

Then I take 5 Lipton tea bags and 1 Vanilla Chai tea bag and suspend them in my jar filled with room temperature filtered water.
I put the lid on with the paper ends of the tea bags dangling out.

                    (I had to answer the phone and my tea started brewing with out me!)

I find the sunniest spot I can, one that will receive 3-4 hours of unblocked sun, and place my jar there. The sun heats the water and slowly brews the tea.  Then I fill a glass or pitcher with ice and serve, or if I’m not using it immediately, I put it in the fridge to chill.
If you like a stronger tea or will be serving it immediately over ice, you may want to add another couple of tea bags.  As long as the tea is outside in the sun it will continue to brew but so will bacteria! Some say you should never make sun tea because it can make you sick. I have never become sick from drinking sun tea, nor has anyone else I know.  If you would like to take every precaution before making sun tea, boil your water first, let it cool before putting it in your glass jar with the teabags. Keep it out in the sun for as short of a time as you can and still get a strong enough brew, say an hour or so. Perhaps by adding more tea bags you can get a strong enough brew with out so much time outside.  Also the caffeine in the tea will slow down the bacteria so if you use herbal teas or decaf, beware of the bacteria dangers! DO NOT add sugar or any other sweetener while it is brewing; sweeteners are food for the bacteria and you may have a problem on your hands.  Add sweeteners just before drinking.
I call this the 'green' way to make tea, using heat energy already available from the sun.  Since I didn't use my stove, I didn't add heat to my already warm house  requiring yet more electricity to cool it down again.  Nor did I have to throw out a batch of stove top brewed tea beause I forgot to watch the brewing time, a bad habit of mine. Nothing wasted.

If you'll excuse me….I’m about due for a tall glass of sun tea on the back patio before I start supper. 


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