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Sun Tea: Safe, Eco-friendly & Inexpensive Way To Make It

Updated on September 14, 2020
Ecolicious LM profile image

Learn as I learn to make a little less waste, save a little more money, and love my family and home a lot more. Join me.

The Dangerous Suprise In Sun Tea

I love Sun Tea. I love the cool refreshing flavor it has on a summer day or with a tasty meal. My kids and I spend most of our summers drinking summer tea or some form of ice tea.

The great thing about making Sun Tea during the summer days is that it is a refreshing, great tasting summer drink. It's also easy and inexpensive to make. A pitcher, tea leaves, water and the sun is really all it takes to make it.

Did you know it is even eco-friendly to make? How? Well, there are no packaged tea bags to throw away in the end, to plastic juice containers and it takes the sun not electricity to make it.

Via Creative Commons liqurious.notcot.org

Be careful

Unfortunately, there could be a problem with it. I discovered while researching Sun Tea recipes that making Sun Tea could be dangerous because harmful bacteria can grow in the tea. Have you heard of Alcaligenes Viscolactics?

Alcaligenes viscolactis

One of the most noted bacterium to grow in Sun tea is Alcaligenes viscolactis. Water must be heated to 195 degrees Fahrenheit for at least three minutes to kill bacteria. Since Sun Tea in direct sunlight will only reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit it will not kill this bacteria. Alcaligenes viscolactis symptoms include stomach cramps, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Is it luck?

Despite the bad news I researched in all the years we've made sun tea we have never been sick from it. Or have we? Does it happen right away? Is it mild?

Sun Tea Danger an Exaggeration

Do you really think Sun Tea is dangerous or is this just an exaggeration?

See results

The Question

Does this mean I can longer drink Sun Tea?

How To Make Safer Sun Tea

Ways To Minimize Your Risk

Use purified water

Only make enough tea for one day. Compost the tea after one day.

Clean your jar with hot soapy water and then and dry your jar well before using it again. Clean the spigot too. If you can clean the spigot well don't use the container. Clean it well.

Leave your tea in the sun for 2-3 hours; be sure to bring it in within 4 hours. The longer the tea stays in the sun the faster bacteria will grow.

If you are using fresh leaves clean them well.

Refrigerate the tea once it is the desired strength, which is based on the darkness of the tea.

Never keep brewed tea for more than eight hours at room temperature.

Opt for a safer tea making alternative: make a cold brew tea by placing the container in the refrigerator overnight instead of in the sun. Since the water never reaches room temperature, the bacterium doesn't have a chance to grow. Fridge tea will give you the same flavor as sun tea, but it will already be cold.

Boil your water for about 5 minutes before you use it to make sun tea. Be careful not to put boiling hot water in a glass container.

Store tea bags in a dark, cool place away from strong odors and moisture. Do not store them in the refrigerator.

If you find things in your tea floating in your tea with a rope-like appearance don't drink it. Throw it out. If the sun tea has a thick or syrupy appearance, it may have grown Alcaligenes viscolactis.

Never Ever Drink Sun Tea Or Any Tea If...

it has turned syrupy or has ropy strands!

Sun Tea on YouTube

My Iced Tea Recipe

For The Sun, The Stove or the Fridge

What you will need:

Cold water

Glass Jar with Lid

Several Dried spearmint leaves loose or in tea bags. Loose will mean straining later.

Cinnamon stick

Lemon Slices

Pot (if going to boil the water)

Directions:

1. After cleaning the glass jar thoroughly with hot soapy water and then drying it well, fill the jar with filtered water to desired amount. Make sure to clean and dry the spout and the lid well too.

2. Add the mint leaves, lemon slices and the cinnamon stick.

3. Let the jar sit in direct sun for up to 2-3 hours. Then bring the tea in and serve over cold ice.

4. To sweeten add sugar, agave or honey after the tea has been made

Note: Spearmint is an herb. It is possible that making Sun Tea with herbs can also create bacteria in tea.

How many stars? have you tried it?

Cast your vote for Tea Infuser

Green and Frugal Tip: Reuse Those Glass jars

Sanitize the glass jars before using them to make Sun Tea or Fridge Tea. Individual jars can be used to make a variety of tea drinks for every person in the family.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Canela Ajena

Sun Tea feedback

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    • Ecolicious LM profile imageAUTHOR

      Canela Ajena 

      8 years ago from Houston

      @Aunt-Mollie: :) me too

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 

      8 years ago

      Great tea info. I never knew that sun tea could be harmful. (I guess I've been at risk all these years and never even knew it!)

    • profile image

      miaponzo 

      9 years ago

      I actually like my tea plain.. so it's highly unlikely to cause bacterial growth!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      10 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      I have often thought about bacteria in sun tea. I have drank a lot of it over the years and never had a problem. This is interesting to know.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      10 years ago from Concord VA

      Your iced tea recipe sounds wonderful!

    • profile image

      aishu19 

      10 years ago

      I dont think we would have thought about this. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 

      10 years ago

      Oh my, I never gave a thought to there being any danger to sun tea...and I think I'm not going to worry about it now:-) Good information to have, though..thanks for including my sun tea lens in the list, I will do the same:-)

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