Aaah, Sun Tea   3 comments

…one of the best things about summer.

Although, making sun tea is now apparently discouraged. Since the water temperature never reaches boiling, it won’t kill any bacteria on the tea bags or in the water. Instead, the warm water could actually help bacteria to flourish. Okay, I’ll grant you that, but personally, I am not willing to give up my sun tea habit. I grew up on sun tea and I love it. For me, balancing the risks and rewards leaves me with: enjoy my sun tea. A big part of that is the fact that I’ve never personally known anyone to get sick from sun tea. So I question how serious the risk really is. Yes, in theory a jar of water in the sun is a great environment for bacteria, but a quick look around the kitchen reveals countless other great environments for bacteria. I am inclined to say if my tea was cloudy or had visible biofilm in the jar I would not drink it. Plus, I can’t find anything on the internet that actually tells me what might happen if one consumed the bacteria of concern, Alcaligenes viscolactis. I found nothing when I actually searched the CDC website, either, despite finding numerous references to CDC as the source of the “don’t do sun tea” guideline. So I don’t personally feel that the risk outweighs the rewards. Of course, everyone has their own unique place on the risk-reward spectrum, and therefore a different conclusion.

I do take precautions: I brew my tea in small batches using glass jars that originally held juice. No plastic, no fancy doodads with nozzles or spouts, just a glass jar and a lid. The tea doesn’t sit around for long since one jar makes enough for two glasses of tea, and depending on how hot the weather is that is either one evening or two. I have multiple jars so that I can rotate them every day, with one in the fridge chilling while the other is outside steeping. This allows me to wash the empty jar each evening and leave it to air dry before making another batch of tea the next day. I inspect the lids after every use and make sure they are clean.

What is it about sun tea? I’m not really sure. I don’t remember noticing that sun tea really tastes different than regularly brewed tea (except for the addition of a mint sprig). I guess part of it is the tangible proof of the power of the sun. It kind of feels like a daily science experiment. Plus, it’s easy, impossible to screw up, and almost free (except for the cost of the tea itself and a few cents for the water) since there’s no energy cost. Personally, I feel more connected to the earth drinking sun tea compared to iced tea made in the kitchen.

As for the tea itself, I grew up on the standard of two Lipton bags with a sprig of mint, but I have done some experimentation to find my favorite iced tea. The world of tea is so big! I’ve tried Orange Pekoe, Darjeeling, Earl Gray, Gunpoweder Green, jasmine green, and a green tea blend. Right now my favorite is a blend: 1 bag of Orange Pekoe and 1 bag of Gunpowder Green with a sprig of mint. Surprisingly, I also enjoyed jasmine green tea so I’ll do that every once in a while for variety. Of course, all of my tea is Fair Trade; I won’t buy anything else. I think Fair Trade is a topic for a whole separate post, though.

Posted June 14, 2010 by mayakey in food, simple living

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3 responses to “Aaah, Sun Tea

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  1. Well now that you’ve taken all the fun out of sun tea…

    We cold brew. Bag in jar, jar in fridge.

    • Sorry, not my intention to take the fun out.

      I’ve never brewed tea in the refrigerator before, how long does it take? I suppose cold brewing is another good way to make sure you never get bitter tea.

  2. Pingback: Conscious Kitchen Challenge, Beverages « Love Knowledge Zeal & Fortitude

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