During the summer, a glass of cold iced tea is so refreshing! An easy way to make some iced tea for your family is to brew sun tea. Now, you could boil some tea bags in water for a quicker experience, but for those of you with a set-it-and-forget-it mindset (like me), this is the way to go!
I start with a clean quart canning jar. If it has been sitting on the shelf for a while, I rinse it out quickly with some soapy water, just to take care of any dust that has accumulated. I use a quart jar so that my husband and I can drink the tea in a timely manner without it spoiling and going to waste. Also, be sure to use a glass container so that no toxins leach into the water from the heat of the sun.
I usually use black tea to brew in the sun, but green tea works as well. I have never tried other herbal or fruit teas, but I would imagine the result is the same. I do not know how chamomile tea would taste cold, however. If you are feeling adventurous, go ahead and try sun brewing various types of teas! I would love to hear about your results!
I use ten tea bags per quart of water. I cut the strings off the top of the tea bags and then place them in the bottom of the jar.
I fill the jar with distilled water, leaving a little space at the top. I use distilled water to limit the possibility of bacteria growth, but I know of people who use regular water from a Brita filter, and that works just fine. Distilled water has plenty of uses around our house, so I always have it handy. I get mine at Wal-Mart for about 88 cents per gallon, which I consider rather inexpensive in the grand scheme of things. Once the jar is filled with water, put the lid on and give it a few shakes. I use plastic storage lids like these, but regular canning lids would work just fine.
Find a sunny, flat spot outside to place your jar. The brewing time may be different, depending on several factors, such as the amount of sunshine that hits the jar, time of day, time of year, and outside temperature. I took pictures every thirty minutes to show the difference in color as it was brewing.
This photo was taken after 30 minutes of brewing.
This was one hour into brewing.
Now the tea has been brewing for 1 1/2 hours.
On this particular day, I left my jar outside for about two hours. If you like your tea stronger, leave it out longer. If you prefer weaker tea, take it inside sooner. This process is so flexible to your taste!
Once I brought it inside, I took all the tea bags out of the jar, carefully squeezing all the excess liquid out of each one using my thumb and a spoon.
Then, I quickly added a quarter cup of sugar so that it dissolved while the tea was still warm. You can either shake it up or stir it with a spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved. You can add sugar to suit your taste. Start with a little, and keep adding sugar slowly until you get the desired level of sweetness.
After the sugar is dissolved, I squeeze the juice of half of a lemon into the jar of tea. If you have a small strainer, I recommend holding the strainer over the jar as you squeeze the lemon into it to catch any seeds that may happen to fall out. I like the flavor the lemon gives the tea. It reminds me a little bit of Lipton or Brisk iced tea, except a bit healthier. Of course, you do not have to add either of these elements (sugar or lemon) if you enjoy drinking straight unsweetened iced tea. Or, you can choose one or the other. The possibilities are so flexible!
Once all of the ingredients are added, stir or shake it up, remove the lid, and allow it to cool on the counter until it reaches room temperature. It should not take very long. Once the tea is cooled, put the lid back on and put it in the fridge. Try to drink it within a few days to prevent spoilage.
My personal preference is to drink my tea with a few ice cubes in it. I think it makes it even more refreshing!
So there you have it! Easy sun brewed iced tea! Go ahead and try it and see what you think! I would love to hear about your results!