Nothing reminds me of summertime quite like my grandfather’s sun tea. Every year, when the days grew longer, and the sun beat down on our patio, he would take an enormous empty pickle jar and fill it with water. To that jar, he would add Lipton Tea Bags and leave it outside for hours to brew in the summer heat. It’s the nostalgia of watching the jar’s contents turn golden as the day dragged on that made sun tea a staple in my home for as long as I can remember. Over the years, I’ve taken some liberties and experimented with tea flavors to create new variations of my grandfather’s recipe, but that’s the beauty of sun tea, anything goes. No two batches will ever be precisely the same, yet the results are delicious every time.
The first step to making your own sun tea is filling a sealable glass container with water; I usually aim for a gallon or larger. Next, put 8-10 tea bags of your choice in the container depending on how strong you want the tea to be. Then, let the container sit in direct sunlight for 3-5 hours. Once brewed, refrigerate until cold, pour over ice, and enjoy
If you’re a fan of sweet iced tea, it’s an easy fix. Either add honey or simple syrup to the tea, depending on your preference. To sweeten the tea with a simple syrup, bring equal parts water and sugar to a boil, 1 cup of water for every 1 cup of sugar. Then stir until the sugar is dissolved and let cool. Once cooled, add the simple syrup to the tea until it reaches the desired sweetness
My grandfather typically used seven bags of Lipton tea, two bags of peach tea, and one bag of mint tea to make his sun tea. I, however, tweak the recipe each time, depending on what tea I need to use up. My go-to is similar to his, but I replace the Lipton tea with Earl Gray and the peach with blueberry or raspberry tea.. As long as you follow the ratio with teas that complement each other, you’ll end with the perfect sun tea each time.
Julia Mathison is an English Undergraduate working towards a specialization in creative writing at the University Massachusetts Amherst. She currently resides in New York where she spends her free time reading, writing, and painting.