How Many Tea Bags To Use For The Absolute Best Sun Brewed Tea

One of summer's simple pleasures is the opportunity to make a big batch of home-brewed iced tea, and then sit out on your porch, lawn, or rooftop to enjoy a glass of it. One way to do this is to make sun tea, which was initially popularized in the American South by allowing tea bags to infuse a vessel of cold water. The vessel, usually made of glass, is left outside for several hours, allowing the warmth of the sun to gently warm the water and aid in the infusion.

When making sun tea, you want to use a ratio of eight tea bags per gallon of water. Since there are 128 ounces in a gallon, that breaks down to 16 ounces of water per tea bag. By comparison, a standard cup of hot tea requires between six and twelve ounces of water per tea bag, depending on the brand and the type of tea bag. This means that sun-brewed tea only requires about half as many tea bags to produce the same volume, so it can be a more cost effective way to supply a regular iced tea habit.

How much loose leaf to use for sun tea

Sun tea is to regular tea what cold brew is to coffee, a slow flavor extraction that produces a more nuanced flavor in the final beverage. You can make sun tea with any kind of tea, and use tea bags or loose-leaf tea (though you will have to strain the tea afterward if you use loose leaf). Since a standard cup of hot tea calls for one teaspoon of loose leaf, you will want to use approximately 16 teaspoons per gallon, or a third of a cup, following the same ratio as tea bags. But these amounts can be adjusted based on how strong you prefer your tea.

One of the reasons why sun tea tastes so good is that the heat at which you brew tea has a big impact on flavor. Different types of tea are meant to be heated at different temperatures, and most of them aren't meant to be hit directly with boiling water. Tea that is made with water that is too hot can burn the leaves, which will produce a bitter flavor, so cold brewing tea is a way to avoid this issue.

How to make sun tea

To make sun tea, start by adding your tea bags or loose-leaf tea to a glass container. You might also want to add sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or agave to really give them time to mingle and dissolve. Honey actually serves a dual purpose here, as some worry that sun tea can be contaminated by bacteria (which has been verified by Snopes) since it reaches a lower temperature than tea made with hot water. But the antibacterial properties in honey can help mitigate these concerns. It also helps to start with sterilized equipment, to pre-boil the water used (and allow it to cool), and even to rinse the tea bags briefly in boiling water before adding them to the cleaned glass container.

Cover your container and place it in direct sunlight for three to five hours. Over time, it should reach a temperature of approximately 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike with hot tea, the slow process makes it harder to oversteep your sun tea, so feel free to come out and taste it every once in a while to see if you like the flavor, but don't fret if you forget it for an extra hour or two. Once your tea is done, you can refrigerate it, or serve it over ice for an immediate treat.