Sun Tea Flavored with Simple Syurp Infusions
When the temperature starts to swelter, you can’t quite beat the cool lift that comes from a sweat- beaded glass of freshly brewed iced tea. A refreshing way to take advantage of the bright days of summer is to place a pitcher of water and tea bags out in the sunshine. With sun tea, nature is your kettle, brewing slow and lazy as the season itself. Put those beaming solar rays to work early, and in the meantime, prepare your sunglasses and a lounge chair for the upcoming reward.
To sweeten and add flavor to your sun tea, try playing around with simple syrup infusions. By infusing the syrup you allow it to take on the essence of whatever you’d like your iced tea to taste like. A mixture of equal parts sugar and water, simple syrup is perfect for cold drinks because it easily disperses throughout without having to melt. You may add the sweetener to the entire pitcher of sun tea, or serve separately so that everyone can add their desired amount.
Inspired by an August 2009 article of Cooking Light that put several different spins on iced tea using simple syrup, I tried out four of my own flavor combinations. Using both green and black sun-brewed teas I had a lot of fun making all of the infusions. The raspberry basil, and peach, orange, mint teas were my favorite. Sun tea with regular simple syrup is also just as good; add a squeeze of lemon and you’ve got summer in glass.
Below are my recipes for you to try, but I definitely encourage creating your own as well!
- 2 quarts water
- 8 tea bags, green or black
• Tie the eight tea bags together and place into a two quart glass pitcher or jar
• Place pitcher in the direct sun and let tea steep for 45 minutes to an hour
• Remove tea bags and refrigerate
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
• Bring sugar and water to a boil and remove from heat
Cucumber, Ginger, Lime Green Iced Tea:
Using a peeler, remove the rind of one whole lime. Place the rind in a small bowl with ½ cup grated cucumber and 5 slices of peeled fresh ginger root. Cover ingredients with 1 cup of hot simple syrup and let stand for 30-45 minutes. Strain mixture and discard solids. Add to sun-brewed green tea.
Raspberry Basil Iced Tea:
Mash 1 cup of raspberries in a small bowl and add ¼ cup of chopped fresh basil. Cover ingredients with 1 cup of hot simple syrup and let stand for 30-45 minutes. Strain mixture and discard solids. Add to regular/black sun-brewed tea.
Lime and Mint Green Iced Tea:
Using a peeler, remove the rind of one whole lime. Place rind in a small bowl with ¼ cup chopped fresh mint. Cover ingredients with 1 cup of hot simple syrup and let stand for 30-45 minutes. Strain mixture and discard solids. Add to sun-brewed green tea.
Peach, Orange, and Mint Iced Tea:
Peel and dice 1 peach. Mash in a small bowl (if the peach is not completely ripe, place in the microwave for about 30 seconds). Add orange rind strips from half an orange and ¼ cup chopped fresh mint to the bowl. Cover ingredients with 1 cup of hot simple syrup and let stand for 30-45 minutes. Strain mixture and discard solids. Add to regular/black sun-brewed tea.
There don't seem to be many reported cases of foodbourne illness from sun tea (I could only find one that was convincing) and it's been mentioned on another thread that the supposed CDC memo on the issue can't be found on the CDC website. Whether that's because it's old or because the memo is fake, I don't know. The memo seems to follow pretty straightforward logic, and I can't imagine someone forging a memo on tea. I don't tend to be overly cautious about food safety, but, in this case, the fact that sun tea tastes putrid to me along with the possibility of germs (snopes says it's true) is enough to keep me away. Even plain water at that temperature in a closed container tends to get smelly.
In any case, those flavor combinations sound great, and there's always refrigerator tea. You're not getting the potential killing effect of boiling water, but you're also not putting your tea temperature right into the danger zone and leaving it there all day. If there were bacteria, you'd expect them to multiply a lot less in cold water.
In Shanghai, a tea wholesaler demo'ing several teas for me routinely cleansed each dose briefly with a splash of boiling water, swirling then draining off the wash water before pouring in the final brewing water. I took that as being a prudent step, not only to sanitize the dried tea against potential field-acquired pathogens from human cross-contamination but also because Chinese tea is known to harbor pesticide residues. Erring (possibly) on the side of caution, I'd alway brew tea only with boiling water.