If you've ever wanted to drink up the summer sunshine, this is your chance. Sun tea is a southern classic, made for days when you have nothing but time. And a patch of sunshine, of course. It takes the summer staple of ice tea, and kicks it up a notch by infusing it with rays of the sun itself (not a shabby ingredient, as far as ingredients go).
Instead of boiling water (who wants to even light the stove in these dog days of August anyway?), use the warmth of the sun and a little extra time to steep the tea for you. Choose any type of tea you like - pictured here is black tea, above, and spicy ginger, below.
Sun Tea How-To:
- Use a glass container with a glass or metal lid (no plastic). Clean it well, as any bacteria present will multiply during steeping. You can sterilize the container first in the dishwasher or boiling water, but I just wash my jar thoroughly in warm soapy water.
- Fill with cool water - I use filtered tap, but you can use distilled for extra sterilization.
- Add tea bags (or loose tea wrapped and tied in cheese cloth) - use about 4 tea bags to each quart of water, adjusting the ratio to your liking. Keep in mind that sun tea is mellower in flavor than boiled tea. Secure the tag of the tea bag in the lid of your container when you close it.
- Let the tea steep in a sunny spot, like a patio or window sill, for 2-4 hours, according to your liking. The longer the time, the darker the brew. I've heard it advised not to leave it longer than 5 or 6 hours, total.
Set your tea in a sunny spot...a lake-side dock, a screened-in porch, or, in my case, overlooking the Brooklyn skyline...and let nature take its course.
Once your tea is brewed, remove the tea bags and transfer it to the refrigerator. Add simple syrup, agave, or honey (or better yet, mint simple syrup!) to sweeten as much as you like, and drink immediately or within a few days. Also try infusing your tea with mint or lemon, adding them as you steep the tea, then removing them when you transfer to the fridge.
Let's drink in summer down to the dregs!
(all photos, Jamie Grill Photography)