May has brought on its showers but I’m sure that the summery days will still be back, bringing with it the bright sunshine and the scorchingly hot weather that calls for copious amounts of refreshment. The amount of sunshine streaming through our windows the past couple of weeks had me toying with all sorts of iced tea experiments. One of my favorite ones is brewing tea under the sun. Interesting? You bet it is. Solar-powered tea sounds so hip, doesn’t it?
I can extoll the values of sun-brewed tea, or as a lot of people call it, sun tea. How it’s more economical because you don’t use fuel to heat up the water. How it’s greener since as it uses the sun’s natural energy to brew. How the flavor is nice and subtle because of the slow steeping. But truthfully, the best reason is because it’s so easy! It’s mostly a dump everything in a jar affair, and unlike traditionally brewed iced tea, you don’t have to worry about the tea going bitter from over-steeping because the slow-brew gives you more leeway when it comes to time.
To start, choose what kind of tea you’d like. Black tea works best, but green is pretty okay too. Infused fruit teas are wonderful as well. For this batch, I chose mango-infused tea. If you’re going to use loose leaf tea, sticking it in a tea ball is advisable so you don’t have to strain and transfer your finished tea.
Get a clean, covered glass jar and fill it with a liter of filtered, room temperature water. Add enough tea for to make a liter’s worth. Simply follow package instructions. For this batch, I used four bags to a liter. Some black tea bags that are especially designed for brewed iced tea just need one to a liter. Don’t be afraid to wing it. If it’s too weak, add some more the next time you make it. If it’s too strong, lessen the amount. This is tea we’re talking about. It’s supposed to relax you, not add to your stress.
Cover your jar. I used a spiffy glass jar here, but truth be told, when I’m feeling extra lazy, I just put everything in a liter-sized glass measuring cup then cover with cling wrap. I told you this is lazy Kao-friendly.
Now, step outside your home, look around and find the sunniest corner you can find. Choose one that has adequate sunlight for hours on end, so you don’t have to keep moving your jar. Think of your jar as a sunflower — it has to follow the sun, so just keep it where it’ll be hit directly. You’ll need to steep it in sunlight for three hours or so, that’s why it will be good to know the path the sun follows. I usually try to get my sun tea started a little before noon when the sun is at its zenith. I have a spot atop our gate’s pillar that enjoys adequate direct sunlight until 4pm or so. Plus, it’s out of reach for the neighborhood cats.
Once your tea has done its time and has turned a lovely shade of amber or a deep, dark caramel — depending on your leaves of course — lace it with enough simple syrup to suit your personal tastes. Chill it in the fridge for a few more hours, or serve it atop ice if you can’t wait. Light, refreshing, and lazily-made. There’s no other drink more suitable for summer, is there?