Should You Drink Sun Tea?

Brewing and drinking sun tea has been a tradition across generations. Many perceive using the sun’s rays to steep tea and/or herbs creates a unique taste sensation that cannot be replicated through other brewing methods.

Through the years, the recipe for making this sun-brewed tea has included the following steps:

  1. Filling a large (typically gallon-sized) glass jar or pitcher full of water.

  2. Immersing some tea bags or loose leaves in the water.

  3. Placing the vessel in direct sun light for a few hours until the water turns a caramel shade and the tea is brewed to the desired strength.

  4. Removing the tea bags or filtering the loose tea from the water.

  5. Refrigerating the brewed tea and then serving it over ice with lemon, sugar or other sweetener.

Yet, this  method of brewing may carry some health risks, based on research. According to tea expert Jon Stout. chairman of Golden Moon Tea, bacteria present in the water used to make the tea, called alcaligenes viscolactis, can grow during the time the glass vessel sits in the sun.

Interestingly, the sun’s rays are hot enough to make tea, yet not hot enough to kill the bacteria. If tea containing the bacteria is consumed, it has the potential to cause abdominal infections and illness.

Mr. Stout explains that scientists who studied alcaligenes viscolactis bacteria in the tea found that caffeine naturally found in some varieties can help stop bacteria from growing – but only for two hours. Yet, for herbal and decaffeinated blends, the environment is ideal for bacteria to multiply.

How to Help Make Your Tea Safe to Drink

Here are some ways you can  make your tea free from most bacteria and safer to drink. 

  • After you refrigerate your tea, look for particles that may be floating in the brew that have a rope-like appearance. This would indicate that bacteria is present. Discard the tea immediately and thoroughly wash or discard the container that held it.

  • Begin preparing your tea by boiling the water you will be using to make the brew for five to eight minutes. This will kill bacteria that may be present.

  • Another option Mr. Stout recommends is to use purified water that has been processed through a steam distillation and oxygenation process.

Related Information - Sun Tea

Preparing Blueberry Iced Tea
Iced Tea Recipes (without Sun Tea brewing)
Tips on Brewing Great Iced Tea
Ice Tea Maker

› Sun Tea

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