In my opinion, the best way to enjoy a nice summer day is with a chilly glass of refreshing iced tea! When I first made iced tea, I found that it was difficult getting lots of flavor from the tea without burning the leaves, or using a ridiculous amount of tea leaves. My original process went something along the lines of making tea like regular, and simply pouring it over ice and letting it chill in the fridge. This mean that eventually the tea would get pretty watered down from the ice, or take forever to completely chill. Often times too, the leaves would burn from the boiling water in an attempt to get as much flavor as possible, or I would have to use a lot of tea just to make a small amount of delicious tea. This seemed wasteful, and I solved my problem when visiting a friends house!
I saw a jar of tea in the windowsill, and they told me that they were making sun tea! This is a process that involves steeping tea using the heat of the sun! This means that the water never gets hot enough to burn the leaves, but you can steep it for hours until you get your brew as strong as you like! Immediately upon returning home I set out to make some iced tea. It was so flavorful and barely lasted an hour before it was completely gone!
Sun tea by far the best way to brew any iced tea, so let's get started!
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Step 1: Supplies
Sun tea is so easy to make, there are only a few things involved!
- This can really be any type of tea, but I prefer to use teas that are fruity and refreshing. These tend to translate into the best iced teas. Some of my favorites include black tea (In this instructable I used a tea called Montagne Bleu, which is black tea and tastes like blueberries!), green tea, and mint tea. Loose leaf is preferable
- For about 32 fluid oz of tea, this means about 4-5 tablespoons of loose leaf tea. If you only have access to tea bags, go ahead and use about 4 of those.
2. 32 oz Mason Jar
- For the record, this doesn't have to be a mason jar, or even a jar. Just something to hold and steep your tea in. It should be able to let sunlight in, because the basis of sun tea is...well...the sun!
- The water you use should be room temperature - as long as it isn't hot!
4. Tea strainer
- Use something that can separate the tea leaves. I've used anything from my personal tea strainer (actually a very good investment to make if you like to drink loose leaf tea!), to coffee filters, and have heard of people using cheesecloth.
5. The sun!
- You really don't even need the sun for this, but I like to keep my tea in the windowsill so that the warmth of the sun can heat up the water nicely to gently steep the tea. I've made tea using these same methods but put it in the fridge instead. It still turned out great,
Step 2: Choose Your Tea!
The most important part of sun tea is by far the tea you choose. I always use loose leaf tea. Honestly once you start using loose leaf you will never go back to tea bags. Here are two main reasons you should try it:
- In order to be able to release all of their flavor, tea leaves need space to move around. When you use bags they are confined to the space within the bag and cannot expand as fully as they need.
- You can see the tea you get with leaves. More often than not, the tea inside the bag is actually ground up, and can contain undesireable products. They are lower grade and also can sit around in a warehouse or on the store shelves for a while before actually being bought and used. Loose leaf teas may come at a...steeper...price (ha!) but you actually see all of the leaves going into your cup.
So try out loose leaf tea!
For this instructable I chose to use a fruity black tea called Montagne Bleu that I actually got in Nice, France. The only thing you really need to know is that it tastes like blueberries! You don't need to travel across continents to get loose leaf tea, you will be able to find it many places, but if you tell the salesperson that you are making iced tea you will definitely get some great recommendations. Personal favorites for iced tea include:
- fruity black teas
- fruity herbal teas
- green tea
- mint tea (I prefer Moroccan Mint over peppermint)
Honestly anything fruity will end up tasting amazing, trust me!
Step 3: Start Your Steeping!
Now the time comes to make your tea! Here's what you need to do:
- Add 5 teaspoons of your tea (or 4ish tea bags) into your 32 oz mason jar (scale appropriately)
- Fill the rest of your jar with lukewarm water
- It's fine if your water is cold, but it should not be hot! You want the tea to steep slowly so that it doesn't burn from the boiling water it is usually exposed to.
- Put the lid on your jar
- This process can take however long you want. If your tea is in direct sunlight about 3 hours should do the trick. Anything less isn't quite strong enough for me, but I've definitely *not* forgotten about it and left it overnight, or even 24 hours. It was pretty strong, but that's how i like it.
Step 4: Enjoy!
Now that your tea has been steeping, you get to enjoy it!
Get a cup and fill it with ice. Use a tea strainer to strain the leaves as you pour your delicious sun tea into your cup. Enjoy! It's really that easy! If you can plan ahead just a bit this is such a great way to enjoy a nice hot summer day!
No go forth and brew!