Long before I had ever heard of solar cooking, I was making sun tea. Sun tea is a method of slowly brewing the tea by letting it sit out in the full sunshine. Tea brewed this way makes a smoother tea than if the water is boiled. Boiling brings out the bitterness in the tea and also brings out the hard minerals in your water, which will cloud the tea.
I grew up in Texas. We made sun tea almost every day of the year. We drank sun tea with lunch and dinner. We drank sun tea on hot afternoons and on cold afternoons. We drank sun tea sitting out on the front porch and out on the boat. We drank sun tea at picnics and parties and weddings and funerals. Sun tea was definitely the beverage of choice. And some of us liked the traditional Southern sweet tea — and some of us didn’t. Sun tea was easy to make. And it still is.
To make sun tea, start with a clean, clear gallon glass jar. These days, you can buy a glass jar with a spigot and with pretty designs for just a few dollars. Fill the jar with cool water. Add 2 or 3 large tea bags to the jar. Put the cap on and place out in a sunny spot in the yard. Depending on how many tea bags were used and how strong you want the tea, let the jar sit for 3 to 4 hours in the sun while the tea gently steeps into the water, until the tea is strong enough for your taste.
If you like sweetened tea, slowly add 1 cup (or more) sugar to the tea while it is still warm from the sun. Mix thoroughly until all of the sugar is dissolved. When all of the sugar is dissolved, let the tea sit to cool down to room temperature, then put into the refrigerator to completely chill. Serve over ice.
A couple of cautious notes:
1) Be sure to keep your tea jar clean as the tea build up on the inside will cloud your jar and your tea. Also be sure to keep the spigot clean. If you can’t clean the spigot, don’t use the jar.
2) Don’t make more than you can drink in about 2 days time. The tea will grow old and cloudy. Thick cloudy, syrupy tea means that the tea has become contaminated with dangerous bacteria that can make you ill. Throw it out and make another jar full.
Love hot tea? Learn how to make it Hot Tea in a solar oven here.
Thanks for solar cooking with me.