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Sun Tea

Drinking sun tea has been a tradition across generations. Many perceive using the sun’s rays to steep tea and/or herbs creates a unique taste sensation that cannot be replicated through other brewing methods.

Through the years, the recipe for making sun tea has included these steps:

  1. Filling a large (typically gallon-sized) glass jar or pitcher full of water.

  2. Immersing some tea bags or loose leaves in the water.

  3. Placing the vessel in direct sun light for a few hours until the water turns a caramel shade and the tea is brewed to the desired strength.

  4. Removing the tea bags or filtering the loose tea from the water.

  5. Refrigerating the brewed tea and then serving it over ice with lemon, sugar or other sweetener.
     

Yet, this time-honored method of brewing may carry some health risks, based on research. According to tea expert Jon Stout. chairman of Golden Moon Tea Company, bacteria present in the water used to make the tea, called alcaligenes viscolactis, can grow when the glass vessel sits in the sun.

The sun’s rays are hot enough to make tea, yet not hot enough to kill the bacteria. If tea containing the bacteria is consumed, it can cause abdominal infections and illness.

Mr. Stout explains that scientists who studied alcaligenes viscolactis bacteria in the tea found that caffeine naturally found in some varieties can help stop bacteria from growing -- but only for two hours. Yet, for herbal and decaffeinated blends, the environment is ideal for bacteria to multiply.

How to Make Sure Your Tea is Safe

Here are some ways you can help ensure your tea is free from bacteria and safe to drink.

  • After you refrigerate your tea, look for particles that may be floating in the brew that have a rope-like appearance. This would indicate that bacteria is present. Discard the tea immediately and thoroughly wash or discard the container that held it.

  • Begin preparing your sun tea by boiling the water you will be using to make the brew for five to eight minutes. This will kill bacteria that may be present.

  • Another option Mr. Stout recommends is to use purified water that has been processed through a steam distillation and oxygenation process.

For more information about Jon Stout and his tea company, Golden Moon Tea Company, click here.



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