In lew of Memorial Day and the upcoming Herbal Summer School Workshops – two of which I’m teaching (one on making your own tea blends and another on how to make botanical mixed drinks) – I thought it would be fun to share how to make herbal sun tea with you, as this type of preparation is applicable for both of these summer workshops. I’ll also share a recipe for my favorite herbal grief tea, which can be made as an herbal sun tea or traditionally brewed by the cup.
How To Make Sun Tea
Now, I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here in East Tennessee, the days are almost a consistent 70 degrees. We’re nearing the end of the spring rainy season, and I’m feeling the pull towards cool, refreshing herbal iced teas more and more. Because summer is so hot and dry, one of my favorite ways to prepare these kinds of teas is to make them as sun teas.
Sun tea is exactly what it sounds like – tea made from the sun – or rather the heat of the sun.
To make an herbal sun tea, simply combine your herbs together in a large-sized glass canning jar, cover with room temperature water, and put the lid on. Place this tea on a sunny windowsill or outside in direct sunlight for 2-4 hours (or up to 8 hours), and let the heat of the sun warm the water and encourage the herbs to infuse into it. When time is up, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, compost the herbs, and reserve the liquid for a cup or two (or three) of tea.
Yes, it’s that simple!
Herbal Sun Tea Tips & Tricks
Now, I’ve learned some little tips and tricks for making the best sun tea over the years, so let me share those with you now.
- Feel free to use tea (Camellia sinensis) leaves, herbs, or both in your sun tea, but keep in mind that plants that have a tendency to become bitter the longer they sit in water, need a shorter steep time. No one wants to drink bitter tea! Yes, this includes both black and green tea leaves as well as botanicals like chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) flower, hops (Humulus lupulus) strobiles, motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) aerial parts, and other similar plants.
- If you have a recipe that calls for a potentially bitter herb, feel free to do a long-steep of all the herbs, except for the one that may become bitter, as a sun tea and then add the bitter herb in for the last 10-20 minutes of steep time. This will give all of the herbs plenty of time to infuse in the warm water without the chance of the whole tea taking on a bitter flavor.
- Sun teas are one of my favorite ways to prepare tea blends that contain demulcent or mucilaginous herbs such as marshmallow (Althea officinalis) root, plantain (Plantagospp.) leaf, or violet (Viola spp.) aerial parts. Because mucilage (the slippery substance) is best extracted in cooler water temperatures, these types of herbs tend to extract well in sun teas. Not only that but summer is a great time to increase demulcent plants in your teas as they are cooling and moistening to the body, which is something that is often needed during the hot, dry summer months.
- As a safety precaution, if you are immunocompromised or recovering from a serious illness, it may be best to avoid sun teas for a time. Since the water temperature of sun tea does not reach boiling and the tea sits for long periods of time, there is a chance that bacteria can remain in the water or on herbs that can negatively affect a person with a lowered immune function. While this is extremely rare, it is something to be mindful of. To reduce any chance of bacteria in your sun tea, you can use previously boiled or filtered water and dried herbs in sun teas.
Okay, friend! I hope you enjoyed learning how to make this super simple type of herbal tea today.
Before I go, let me share this grief tea recipe I included in a guest post on the Herbal Academy blog years ago. This is one of my favorite tasty tea recipes to soothe my mind and emotions when I’m feeling a bit low.
Herbal Grief Tea
- 6 parts motherwort aerial parts
- 4 parts rose petals
- 2 parts each of hawthorn berry, linden flower, and violet aerial parts
- 1 part each of cardamom pod and cinnamon bark
All herbs are dried and organically sourced from Mountain Rose Herbs.
- To begin, combine all the herbs to make a large batch of this tea blend and mix well. If you want to make a small batch, use teaspoons or tablespoons as your part, and if you want to make a large batch, use cups or scoops as your part. Either way, store your tea blend in a labeled glass jar.
- To make a traditional cup of tea, add 2 teaspoons of herbal grief tea mix to 8 ounces of just-boiled water. Steep 10 minutes before straining and composting herbs.
- To make a sun tea, add 2 teaspoons of herbal grief tea mix for every 8 ounces of room temperature water you use. Because the motherwort can become pretty bitter with long steep times, it’s best to steep in a sunny location for 20 minutes before straining and composting herbs.
- Sweeten as desired, drink, and enjoy 2-3 cups a day!
Love and light,