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California Sun Tea & Other Favorites

Updated on January 7, 2013

How to Make Sun Tea!

The best tea in the world is California sun tea. Sun tea is a completely different drink than tea prepared with boiling water. Sun tea is superior to English style tea preparation which means throwing boiling water onto tea leaves. Using that technique, be sure to not steep black or green teas such as Oolong, Kambucha, or Earl Gray too long. Steeping tea in boiling water brings out too much of the tannin. Tannin is the bitter aftertaste that sticks to your teeth and is partly erased with lemon. The slow, low temperature, process of sun tea produces a mellow flavor without the tanniny aftertaste.

Easy directions:

1. Use your favorite tea, Earl Gray, Green tea, Orange Pekoe, whatever you prefer. Black tea is traditional. I have never attempted herbal teas with this method as boiling preparation is just fine for Chamomile and rose hips. It is sure to work with whatever tea you prefer.

2. Place 3 or 4 bags per gallon into a clear glass container. Fill with fresh water.

3. Place in direct sunlight.

4. Remember you have tea placed outside. Bring it in when the liquid achieves the desired color. I have left these out overnight and recovered them in the morning without ill effects (no wild animals where I live.)

You can now add sugar or lemon as you prefer. I refrigerate mine and drink it without additions, over ice.

You will agree with me that the tannin taste is completely absent from this tea. Tannin is the criminal behind the bitter taste in coffee and tea. Normally, tannin breaks down in boiling temperatures after about three minutes.

Important Principle: Never steep black, green or white teas longer than three minutes. Remove the bag when your tea attains the concentration (darkness) you prefer. This can be as soon as one minute with some premium teas. The extra volume of tea in the bag quickly saturates the water. So, one to three minutes is the maximum steep time for tea.

Sun Tea

Place clear glass container with tea bags in safe location where sunlight hits all day.
Place clear glass container with tea bags in safe location where sunlight hits all day.

Herbal Tea Brewing

Herbal teas really belong to two categories: occasional use and Medicinal.

Many popular teas were originally cultivated for medicinal purposes. Before the science of attacking the body with chemicals, drugs and radiation, the philosophy of healing centered on enabling the body to perform its normal functions of repair. These teas really are medicinal and can have a profound impact on the body.

Peppermint tea was originally cultivated for its benefit with digestive problems. Too much peppermint can affect the sphincters of the digestive tract, and cause acids to travel up, creating mild indigestion.

Truth is, any tea, drink or food, taken in excess should be avoided. The body system(s) influenced can become challenged.

Medicinal teas should be used for the appropriate condition, not as a daily beverage.

Herbal teas made from flowers or other plants can be steeped much longer. While just about every plant benefits the body in some capacity, and can be considered "medicine" against some condition, there are many plants which have only a mild effect on the system. I am considering these as "herbal". Such teas may be steeped for longer times. It is possible occasionally to reuse herbal bags, without ill effect other than weak tea.

Ginger Tea

Bonus tip: a tea made with ginger works very well against stomach upset caused by flying, driving on winding roads or traveling in boats. Grind the ginger in circular motions across the side of a grater used for Parmesan or similar cheeses. do this over the boiling pot you will use to make the tea. This will capture any drippings. Place the pulpy mixture into the pot and rinse the grater over the pot to remove more liquid and pulp into the pot. Boil, remove, and let stand. Strain through a cheese cloth or cotton (old t-shirt will do). You can store this for family members who are bothered by motion sickness.


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