How to Make Sun Tea


As the mercury breaks 100°F on these hot summer days (or 38°C for those of you on a metric system) a great way to make some tea without heating up your kitchen is to use the power of the sun to make sun tea.

How to Make Sun Tea Recipe

  • Prep time: 3 hours


  • 4-8 tea bags


Put 4 to 8 tea bags into a clean 2 quart or gallon glass container (4 teabags for a 2 quart container, 8 tea bags for a gallon container). Fill with water and cap. Place outside where the sunlight can strike the container for about 3 to 5 hours. Move the container if necessary to keep it in the sun. When the tea has reached its desired strength, remove from sun and put it in the refrigerator. You may or may not want to remove the tea bags at this point. I usually don't.

The tea will probably taste more mellow than what you are used to from using boiling water. The slow seeping has a way of bringing out a slightly different flavor from the tea. Also, because you didn't use boiling water, you should refrigerate the tea and drink it up pretty quickly - a day or two. It will not keep as well as iced tea made from boiling water.

I usually make sun tea with various forms of herbal tea. Sometimes you can put in a few sprigs of fresh mint as well.

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Showing 4 of 56 Comments

  • Lorna

    I use 1 gallon jugs made for holding drinking water, etc that I bought from Wal-Mart. I am from the South and therefore have drank sunbrewed tea all my life. If you are not comfortable drinking sun tea, then don’t. Sweetened tea, sun brewed or “regular” brewed will all “turn” (go bad) from sitting out. Sometimes it happens quickly, other times it takes a while. I have often told restaurants their tea has turned. That is why I only take a small sip of a glass of tea for my first sip. It it’s good, then I go ahead and drink it. Otherwise I send it back/dump it. But you can also make refrigerator brewed tea in the relative safety of your refrigerator. During winter I just toss the normal amount of tea bags (12 regular bags or 4 family sized bags) in a 1 gallon container of 3-1/2 quarts of water and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. After it has brewed, I make a simple syrup by adding my 3/4 cup sugar to 2 cups hot water, stirring to dissolve completely. Then I add the simple syrup to the jug of tea. Cap it and shake to mix the tea and simple syrup and put back in refrigerator. For regular black tea, I only use Luzianne.

  • Lihannan

    For anyone in Washington State and surrounding areas looking for a glass jar w/ spigot for making Sun Tea – my girlfriend just brought one home from Fred Meyer for $6.99 and I currently have it out brewing Market Spice Original on my deck. Looks to be working well so far!

  • Tracy

    I will stop making sun tea if I die. Otherwise I don’t listen to all that bs about it being unsafe. Nothing has happened to me or anyone I know. Love tea.

  • jah013

    We go through at least a gallon a day of sun tea, especially in the summer. I use half gallon mason jars, which around here are easier to find than the gallon jars, and cheaper, and the plastic wide mouth caps (dishwasher safe).

    I de-tag 6 regular teabags, tie them together for easy removal and put them in a half gallon jar, add cold water, and put in a sunny window. Depending on the strength of the sun, it will be ready in a few hours. I have even made it in the evening, though it does take a bit longer.

    When ready, I take out the tea (no squeezing, it releases the tannin and makes it bitter). I use 1/2 cup sugar per half gallon, and a couple of tablespoons of lemon/lime juice. Cap it, shake a bit to dissolve the sugar, and chill.

    I usually have two jars steeping at a time, and when one jar is empty, clean it out and get another one (or two) going.

    I get my jars from Ace Hardware. They often have coupons, so I can stock up on them for a variety of uses fairly inexpensively.

    Easy peasy.

  • nichernan

    I simply love Simply Recipes! You have wonderful recipes!
    I have made and enjoyed sun tea for years, both herbal and caffeinated without ever getting sick. In fact, I have a jar outside right now.

    I have always made sure that on the days i make it, the temperature for the day must be 88 or higher, and i don’t put it out before noon. The jar is filled with HOT water and tea bags, then set outside in full and constant sun for 4-6 hours.

    I bring the tea in, take the bags out, and (occasionally) boil it gently for about 5 or 10 minutes, then let cool down a bit. Throw it in the jar and put it in the fridge.

    I never used to boil it, and had never become ill after drinking it in the past. However a friend did tell me once that she had a bad batch of sun tea happen to her, so since then I do occasionally boil the tea after it comes in the from the sun to kill anything bacteria related. And I have still never become sick after years of drinking sun tea.

    Its my drink of choice in summer. When its hot, and thick and syrupy soda just does not sound appealing, and i want something with more flavor than water, I make sun tea.

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