Summertime Sun Tea

What’s a girl to do when it’s a hundred degrees outside and moving to Antarctica sounds like a good idea?  Make sun tea, of course!  With July 4th celebrations coming up, everyone is in need of some cool refreshment.  To put it simply, Summertime Sun Tea is the drink of sunshine and rainbows…colorful, nourishing, and just plain delicious!

Sun tea is a method of slow cold water brewing.  This technique produces a gentler tea infusion that’s crisper and clearer than teas brewed the traditional way.  Cold water brewed teas also have less caffeine and are less bitter since the process of steeping isn’t as harsh.

Today I’m using Elmwood Inn’s best-selling Kentucky Black Tea to make my Summertime Sun Tea.  The Kentucky Blend is a Chinese black tea made from tea leaves that originate from Yunnan (Southwestern China) and Anhui (Eastern China).  This blend is my favorite standard black tea because it’s robust without being overwhelming.  It has a rich flavor with sweet grassy notes, and complements fresh fruit flavor extremely well.

I gave up sodas just last summer and haven’t looked back since.  Being obsessed with teas and herbals like I am, this wasn’t as hard to do as I thought it would be.  Summertime is the best time to get over a soda addiction.  It’s the time when fruits and veggies are most plentiful, and this way you’ll never get bored.

Here are some of my favorite iced tea, fruit, and herb steeps.  Some flavor pairings are more adventurous than others, but all of them are delicious in their own unique way.  As always, it’s a very good idea to buy organic fruits if you can.  And as a side note, starchy fruits won’t work well in tea-fruit steeps.

My Favorite Iced Tea & Fruit Combos:

1.  Peaches & Blueberries (with black tea)

2.  Oranges & Mint (with oolong)

3.  Pineapple & Strawberries (with rooibos)

4.  Cucumber & Mint (with green tea)

5.  Strawberry & Basil (with green tea)

6.  Peach & Rosemary (with black tea)

7.  Mango & Ginger (with oolong)

8.  Apple & Spearmint (with green tea)

9.  Grapefruit & Strawberries (with green tea)

10.  Pitted Cherries & Lemon (with black tea)

At any gathering, it’s important to consider those who are going caffeine-free.  Fruit water is the ideal treat for this crowd.  Again, use any fruit that you prefer in these waters, just try to make sure that the fruits aren’t overly ripe so that the water doesn’t get too cloudy.  There’s no need to “sun” these fruit waters.  Simply mix them up and place them in the fridge or in ice a few hours before serving.

I like to call the fruit water steep in the photo above my “Fourth of July Water” because it looks so festive and patriotic.  Generally, the strawberries like to float and blueberries like to sink.  There it is…red, white, and blue!

Say goodbye to sodas this year with some wholesome Summertime Sun Tea.  Salads, burgers, ribs…these yummy, portable drinks are a perfect match for any hot weather-themed meal.  Just a few sips and your picnics and barbeques will never be the same!

Summertime Sun Tea

What You’ll Need:

mason jars with lids

scissors

tea bags, regular or decaf, one for each jar

distilled or spring water (cold or at room temperature)

fruit (not overly ripe, cut into slices or small pieces, & preferably organic)

mint, basil, or other fruit-friendly herbs

timer

tongs

a place in the sun…

a large tub with lots of ice (or a fridge)

Directions:

1.)  Sterilize the jars/lids or wash the mason jars and lids thoroughly with very hot water and soap.  Rinse well.  This step is essential to prevent bacterial growth.  We aren’t canning here but we still want to take proper precautions.

2.)  Place 1 tea bag in each mason jar, cutting off the string part of the tea bag if necessary. Pour cold distilled water into the jar leaving a 1 1/2″ clearance under the rim  (you want room to fill the fruit in later).  Screw lid on mason jars tightly.

3.)  In hot weather under direct sunlight, place the jars of lid-covered tea to brew.  In weather above 90 degrees F you can easily do this in one hour.  Set a timer to keep track of time.  (If it’s not hot where you are or you simply don’t like this sunning method, just park the tea in the fridge to steep for 6-8 hours.  You’ll get the same end result.)

4.)  After 1 hour, take the jars of tea out of the sun.  Open jars and use tongs to place fruit slices/pieces or herbs into each jar.  Screw lids on tightly.  Plunge the mason jar teas into a tub of ice or place them in the fridge for easy drinking later.

***Entertaining Tip:   If you are serving these at a party put a small tub or container next to the tub of sun teas.  Guests can drop the jar lids in when they start sipping. 

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