Never Bitter Homemade Sun Tea Recipe

Homemade Sun Tea Recipe

Do you make homemade sun tea? Have you ever been disappointed by a glass that turned out bitter?

The bitterness in tea comes from steeping it too long. Filling a jar with water and tea, then walking away for hours, will not result in a good glass of tea. There really is a technique to good homemade sun tea.

Water to Tea Ratio

If you are using tea bags, you want to use one bag of tea to one cup of water. This is true of black, green or herbal tea.


Set your container with the water and tea out in direct sun. The idea is to heat the water, and the best way to do that outside is to place it in the sun!

Steeping Times

Never steep your tea longer than 4 hours. Any longer and it will get bitter.

You might be able to get away with a longer steep time IF you are using only herbal teas. For black tea bags, if it is a hot day with lots of sunshine, I like my tea out for only two hours. Your total steeping time really depends on your personal taste and how strong you take your tea.

Secret Ingredient

Did you know that citrus helps your body absorb the antioxidants in tea? However, sun tea is susceptible to bacterial growth. So instead of using whole slices of lemon or oranges, I like to use just the zest. I zest half an orange and half a lemon and add it to the water with the tea bags. Tastes great and is good for you!

Refrigerate Immediately

Again, sun tea is vulnerable to bacterial growth. Bring it straight in, remove the bags and begin to chill it. You’ll have no issues. {at least I never have}

Great Combinations

Looking to try some flavor with your tea? Try these:

  • Add sprigs of mint. Look for exotic flavors like pineapple, strawberry and chocolate.
  • Add cacao nibs for hints of chocolate.
  • Boil 1 cup water, slices of ginger and 1/3 cup agave nectar. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain and add to make sweet ginger tea.
  • Try a combination of black tea and herbal tea such as lemon, raspberry or peach. In my jar I use 10 black tea bags and 2 herbal tea bags for just a hint of flavor.
  • Add sprigs of lemon balm.
  • Fresh basil and cucumber makes an exotic combination in your sun tea. Add after it has been in the sun when it is in your refrigerator.

If you enjoy tea, check out more of my Homemade Tea Recipes and be sure to follow my Pinterest Tea board.

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  1. The risk of bacterial growth is why the CDC recommends not making it

  2. Denise, You do need to be careful of bacterial growth when making sun tea. I’ve never encountered any issues, and I make it every week, but that’s the way I was raised. And certainly, if you enjoy a cold brew or regular brew method, that’s the way to go. Thanks for weighing in, Andrea

  3. I an a botanist, and have extensive education in microbiology. If you make sure your hands, jar, and fruit is cleaned thoroughly, the risk is very slim.

  4. Catherine says:

    My mother made Sun Tea every summer while I was growing up, using this same method you describe here! She even went so far as to pick a few long sprigs of mint from our garden and drop it into the brewed tea (without washing it with a special CDC-approved anti-bacterial wash) as she came in, before she put the pitcher in the fridge. She’d squeeze an orange into it and half a lemon into it, and that was that- no sugar or other flavors than citrus and mint. We drank this all summer long. I know you’re going to find this hard to believe, but NOT ONE PERSON died from it!!! I also make this now for my own family throughout the summer, just like my mom did, and I even drank it through my pregnancies, I am just that kind of rogue risk-taker. There is nothing more refreshing or thirst-quenching than Sun Tea– even cold water doesn’t seem to slake my thirst the way this tea does. Thank you for posting this recipe, and I raise my glass to you, fellow adrenaline junkie!

  5. I remember my mom making this all the time in the summer, I forgot about it until I saw it on pinterest one day. It’s so good.
    She would make it and actually leave it out on the counter……guess what? I’m still alive! Haha

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