Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer Sun Tea

I grew up on sun tea. If there is one thing that most reflects my childhood summers, its sun tea. We brewed a fresh batch almost daily—putting a gallon jar of water and about ten teabags out on the picnic table to soak up the heat from the sun, until it was a deep caramel color. Amanda always had hers with sugar; I always had mine straight up, on the rocks.


My summer memories are warm and sun-drenched—Mel wearing a blue and white striped tube top, and the three of us (Mel, Amanda, and myself) swatting away the bees while picking tomatoes from the garden, our tall glasses of sun tea nestled safely in the dirt, nothing but the sound of wind chimes and towels on the clothes line, flapping in the breeze.


Summers just aren't the same without sun tea. Or sun, for that matter—which we don’t seem to have a lot of these days. My balcony only gets sun for a few hours in the morning, and it’s not that blazing hot summer sun that I remember from childhood… the sun that could brew a gallon of tea in two hours flat. Since I can’t rely on those few hours of weak, morning, Seattle sun to heat up an entire gallon of tea, I make it in individual mason jars—a glass of water and two bags of plain black tea—just enough for one or two people.

It wouldn't be summer without it. 


PS. Rumor has it that sun tea—steeped at temperatures not quite hot enough to kill bacteria—can make you ill. If you have concerns, there are plenty of safety tips online, like how many hours you can safely brew your tea in the sun, and how quickly your sun tea should be consumed after steeping. You can also try the cold-brewing method, wherein you let the tea steep in the fridge overnight.

PPS. I’ve been drinking sun tea for 26 years, Amanda for 28 years, and Mel and my grandma for at least 29 years (that’s how old my grandma was last time I checked, and I don’t suppose my mom could surpass her in age…), and none of us have fallen ill from it. The only thing we’ve fallen into from drinking sun tea is a hot, sweet, lazy summer nap on the back porch.

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