Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Springtime iced tea

The living is easy in spring! The back door is open and we flow in and out of the house as the mood takes us. Yesterday I managed to get through a lot of housework, cooking and washing up. The weather has been lovely - warm and breezy. I smoked through 5 loads of laundry and I have another two under my belt this today. The first, crisp, line dried bedding of the year will be going on the bed this evening. Bliss.


Spring and summer are months for mooching off of mother nature. No extra energy (money) need be applied to warming the house, drying the laundry...or making tea. The herbs in the back border are springing up with no effort on our part. Yesterday was also Earth Day, time to celebrate its gifts! Our patio is a sun trap that is usually several degrees warmer than the street and yesterday it was warm enough to brew sun tea. I stumbled upon this concept on an American blog a few years back and have since made a few different versions and read lots of different recipes and methods. Always on the lookout for ways to reduce our fuel use and keep our kitchen cool in the summer, neither of these methods require use of the kettle. Also, you get tea!

There are a few hard and fast rules. Consistent direct sun and warm air temperature are required. Alternatively you can brew tea in the fridge if you leave it to steep for long enough - that method is actually considered safer, as lukewarm water left for several hours may be a breeding ground for bacteria. The jar should be cleaned thoroughly to reduce the chances of nasties ending up in your tea. I have made few different versions, but today's is very light. When summer is in full swing I will be making a huge jar that lasts through to the next day. The larger the quantity, the longer it will need in the sun.

* * * * * *
 Springtime Sun Tea - 2 servings

1 pint cold water
1 1/2 tsp loose leaf black tea
2 large sprigs each of fresh mint and lemon balm
Sugar and ice to serve (optional)

Place your tea ingredients into a lidded glass jar and place outside in direct sunlight for at least 4 hours. Alternatively place in the fridge for at least 6 hours, until desired strength is reached. Shaking the jar occasionally speeds up the process.

Place the jar in the fridge until cold. Strain into glasses and serve.  

* * * * * *

This is a very different tea drinking experience to hot tea. Lukewarm and cold brewing draws out different compounds at different rates to boiling water. I hate hate HATE chamomile tea with a passion - or at least I did until I made it in a jar in the fridge. Lovely stuff! I will never ever make iced tea from hot brewed tea again. That method brings out the bitter tannins and roastiness -  this one draws out the delicate summery fruity, floral flavours.

I also happen to know that a tot of whiskey or rum and some soda water doesn't go amiss in this after the kids are tucked up in bed. Ahem. 


  1. I am growing mint, chamomile, and lemon balm in my garden this year all so I can try my hand at brewing my own tea. Thanks for the info on cold brewing- I will give it a try when my plants actually start growing. (We had a 24 degree night last night again. Its a very late spring where I live.)

    1. It is a bit nippy here overnight still, but not quite that cold, thankfully! I am trying bergamot this year for tea too, though I have tiny seedlings at the moment.