Monday, June 9, 2008

It's Tea Time - Sun Tea Time

I'm a devoted tea drinker. I can't get my morning properly started without it. I know the difference between a teapot and a tea kettle, and I know that hot tea will not brew in a paper cup with kinda hot water. Most of the year, a couple of blisteringly hot cups of tea are welcome in the morning. But right now, I'm waking up to temperatures in the high 70s Fahrenheit (mid 20s Celsius), and the mercury only rises through the day.

So I made my first annual batch of sun tea a few days ago. The process is simple: just put teabags or loose tea in a large glass jar and put the jar somewhere where it'll get a strong blast of sunlight for several hours. The heat of the sun warms the water and brews your tea for you. After that, you put the jar in your refrigerator and enjoy the tea chilled. It keeps for several days and you don't even need to strain it if you don't want to.

Sun tea is one of those tiny tips that I employ to save money. But it's a little unusual in that it saves me tiny amounts of money in several ways. The first and most obvious is that I don't have to pay for any energy to boil water. Not a huge savings, granted. But in the summer months, I also save a little because the heat of that boiling water would make my house warmer too. So if I'm running any fans or air conditioning, I get a tiny savings that way. Thirdly, it seems that I get more tea out of the same amount of loose tea or tea bags when compared to brewing it in a pot. Maybe it's the slow and steady brewing done by the sun, but I can get more than a gallon of sun tea from just three tea bags or a generous tablespoon of loose tea. Ratchet up another savings by making my ingredients stretch farther. Finally, I save (potentially) another tiny amount on cooling by keeping myself cool with a cold drink instead of a hot one.

I have two large glass containers for sun tea. One is specifically a sun tea jug, which I got for 75 cents at a charity thrift store. The other is just a very large (1 1/2 gallon) glass jar with a screw top lid. I picked it up in a bulk foods store for less than $3. I don't need anything else, other than tap water and tea leaves to make the most necessary of morning beverages.


Anonymous said...

I haven't had sun iced tead in years! Been in the back of our mind ever since we moved to sunny Spain. I don't like store bought ice tea too much sugar or chemicals

do you add any sugar?

Kate said...

No, I don't add sugar. I like sugar in my hot tea. But for some reason, I just like my iced tea straight up, no funny business. There's no reason you couldn't dissolve sugar in cold sun tea though. I would just sweeten each serving though. I wouldn't want the sugar sitting around in the jar since I make enough at one time to last me a whole week.

One time my husband did make me a glass of sun tea with ice, milk, and vanilla sugar. It tasted like a milkshake! Then again, I haven't had a real milkshake in years, so it was probably just milky and cold and sweet, so it seemed milkshake-like to me.

Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

just emptied out a pickle jar so I'll give it a try this week. Wife suggested added a bit oh honey.

I'll let you know how it works


Kate said...

Great. Keep me posted. I'm going to be brewing another batch today.