Mint Sun Tea
This year I’m bringing back a summer staple that somehow dropped from my repertoire – Sun Tea. A few weeks ago a friend posted a photo of produce from her garden and sitting behind the produce, a batch of tea brewing in the sun. The wheels in my brain started turning….. how long had it been since I’d made a batch? Last year? I don’t think so. The year before? Maybe. I’m not sure how long it’s been but now that I’m thinking about it, it’s time to bring it back.
The basic premise is that you place either tea bags or loose tea in a clear container filled with water. You set the container in the sun to let it “brew”. On a hot day this helps reduce the amount of heat in your house, since you aren’t heating up a stove to boil water. Speaking of boiling water…. I have never had an issue with sun tea but because the water does not reach boiling point it is possible for bacteria to develop. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) wrote a summary about bacteria in tea almost 20 years ago. You can read the report here. (pdf)
I use the 2 quart container you see pictured in the photo and, depending on the type of tea, submerge three to five teabags in the water. Then I let it sit in a sunny location for three or four hours. If you want stronger tea or would like it to brew faster, use more teabags. Remember that when you drink the tea, you’ll likely serve it over ice which will dilute it, so brew the tea stronger than you would for hot tea.
This year, I’ve made a lot of mint tea. I have tons of mint in my garden so I’ll snip three or four 8″ pieces and add those to the container, along with a black tea, like English Breakfast. Once the tea is brewed, remove the bags and the mint, if you added it. Then, to really bring out the mint flavor, I add about 1/4 cup of mint flavored simple syrup (recipe below). If you like a sweet tea, you may want to add more than 1/4 cup.
To finish, store your container in the refrigerator and it will be ready when you’re jonesin’ for a cool drink on a hot day. Just fill a glass with ice and then fill with your tea.
Mint Simple Syrup
Basic simple syrup is 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar combined and then brought to a boil for about 2 minutes. You want to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved.
To make mint simple syrup, stir together the sugar and water and then add as many mint leaves as you can, keeping them submerged in the sugar mixture. Boil for 2 minutes, as with plain simple syrup. Then remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled pour the mixture through a sieve to remove all the mint leaves. Place in a covered container and chill until you need it.