A crisp class of sun-brewed tea, flavored with lemon, is always refreshing on a hot summer day.
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Spring and summer are the seasons for iced tea, but who wants to stand over a
stove to heat up steeping water when
the weather's warm anyway?
Instead, make sun-brewed tea with this super-simple, four-step method
that lets the sun do the work for you!
 Find a half-gallon glass jug and fill be
container up to an inch from its top with cool
water. (Orange or grapefruit juice bottles work fine, but
any vessel will do as long as the bottle's neck is wide
enough to admit tea bags and the glass is clear, rather
than frosted or tinted.)
 Hang five regular-sized tea bags (or an equivalent
amount of leaves in a teaball) in the water. Then cap the
jug tightly, letting the lid hold your bags in place. (if
you prefer weaker "sippin's," use only four of the little
leaf holders. If you want your infusion "too thick to drink and too thin to plow," try six tea
 Place the brewing flask outdoors in direct
sunlight. Take a peek at the beverage every half hour or
so to make sure ol' Sol's diurnal movement hasn't left
your drink in the lurch (i.e., shade).
 Come back in two or three hours (or a bit later if the
day's a tad cloudy or cool), and grab your juice. 'Tain't
no more to it! The finished brew will be ready for drinking
(if you serve it with ice). Or you can refrigerate the
sun's "shine" until the next time a parching thirst scrapes
the sides of your tonsils.
How does this solar brewing process work? Simple! The water
in the glass stops and absorbs the sun's radiant heat. Then
this closed "heat collector" starts the tea flavor to
leaking out of the bags, which in turn makes the water
darker, which—in turn again—makes the whole mix
absorb more sunlight ... and so on and so on until your tea
is deeply steeped.
And, once you've got the hang of this operation (that
should, indeed, take no more than one try), you can do some
experimenting to spice up the flavor a bit. Substitute a
bag of green or herb tea for one of "traditional" orange
pekoe, for instance. You could also throw in some sassafras
bark, mint leaves, dried lemon or orange rind, cinnamon, or create your own savory invention!
Whatever tangy combination you settle on, though, you'll
find—as I do—that the gentle heat of solar brewing
gives your "sunshine tea" a much smoother and less bitter
taste than that ol' 'biled water" residue has
So the next time you're planning to fix up some refreshing
iced tea, don't you do it. Let the sun brew it!
EDITOR'S NOTE: A fine collection of sun brew ideas
and recipes can be found in the article, "Sun Tea: Brewing Tips and Herbal Tea Recipes" (although the herb
pennyroyal mentioned in one of the recipes should, according to more recent
research, be used with caution).