Summer Promotion - Enjoy free shipping on your 1st month's subscription!
FREE SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $75 | USE CODE FREESHIPPING | ONE DISCOUNT CODE PER ORDER

Can Sun Tea Actually Make You Sick?

June 06, 2022

iced tea, cupcakes, and flowers

Post may contain Amazon or other affiliate links

Sun tea — tea that is brewed outside in the sun rather than hot water — is a popular summertime favorite. Sun tea preparation is different than the traditional method of making iced tea, which involves brewing tea leaves in hot water and then pouring it over ice. Sun tea is a popular trend because it involves no electricity, and is virtually dummy-proof.

However, there are two potential risks that come with this summertime tradition.

iced tea

Share this on Pinterest

Sun Tea Can Be A Perfect Breeding Ground For Bacteria

Sun tea is prepared by pouring cool water over tea leaves in a gallon jar, then placing outside to infuse in the sunlight. What makes sun tea unsafe is that the water simply doesn’t reach a high enough temperature during the steeping process to kill any bacteria that might be in the water, on the tea leaves, or inside the sun tea jar itself. Even on a bright hot sunny day, the temperature is unlikely to exceed 130°F, not nearly hot enough to kill any nasty bacteria such as E. coli. Even worse is a bacteria called Alcaligenes viscolactis, which can turn your tea thick, syrupy, and stringy, causing severe nausea and digestive distress if you happen to drink it. Yuck!

 

The Problem With Plastic

The other potential health risk comes from the jar itself. If you have been using a plastic sun tea jar, the bright light of the sun will activate the chemicals in the plastic, causing them to leach into your tea, which can cause endocrine disruption and hormone imbalances. Chemicals from plastic can eventually lead to other health problems, including inflammation, obesity, neurological disorders, and even cancer. 

iced tea and reflection

But I Love Sun Tea. Is There A Safe Way To Make It?

If you’re a sun tea lover, the answer is yes, you can lessen the risk of bacterial contamination in your sun tea as long as you follow a few simple (but important!) guidelines.

  1. First, ditch any plastic jars and switch to clear glass with a well-fitting lid, like this style of jar right here.
  2. Before using, thoroughly wash the jar with hot soapy water.
  3. If the jar has a spigot like this one, the spigot must be sanitized between uses. If you can’t do that for some reason, then get rid of the jar and replace it with a glass jar that doesn’t have a spigot. The narrow and hard-to-clean parts of a spigot make an ideal breeding ground for bacteria that you definitely do not want in your tea.
  4. Use only purified or distilled water. Do not use water from the tap, even if you live in a region with good water.
  5. Use high quality loose leaf tea leaves.
  6. Make only what you will consume in one day. You can use a smaller glass jar like this cute square style if a whole gallon is more than you can drink in a day.
  7. Do not leave the tea out in the sun for longer than four hours. Set an alarm, if you need to.
  8. As soon as you bring the tea inside, strain out the tea leaves and immediately store it in the refrigerator.
  9. If you want to add a sweetener or garnish, add after the tea has finished brewing.
  10. Discard any leftover tea at the end of the day. Tea has no natural preservatives, and can grow bacteria even in the refrigerator if stored for too long. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

large jars of iced tea

If all that sounds like too much work, a safe and simple solution is to cold brew your tea in the refrigerator. You can read more about the benefits of cold brewing right here.

Click here for an easy cold brew recipe that you will love

Happy, healthy sipping!

 




Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Loose Leaf Blog

woman drinking tea
You Asked, We Answered: 5 Of Our Most Frequently Asked Questions

July 05, 2022

We've gotten a lot of questions from our customers over the years, so I sat down with the team the other day and we made a list of the questions we hear the most. Here are the top five questions that we get asked on a daily basis.

Continue Reading

iced tea with lemon and cucumber
Iced Tea Roundup - Loose Leaf Team Favorites

June 19, 2022

We're about to enter one of the hottest season of the year, so it's time to cool down with some healthy and delicious iced tea. Iced tea is a wonderful drink; it’s packed with health benefits, and the flavor possibilities are endless. But, with all the different iced tea blends to choose from, choosing the right blend can be a little confusing, so I decided to ask some of our team members to share their summer favorites. 

Continue Reading

latte with lavender flowers, journal, and knitted blanket
Feeling Stressed? It’s Plant Power To The Rescue With This Lavender-Chamomile-Coconut Latte

June 13, 2022

We all feel stressed sometimes. Luckily, there's an easy fix for it. The ingredients in this Lavender-Chamomile-Coconut Latte will help you relax your mind, fight stress and anxiety, and let you rest peacefully. I've combined two of nature's most relaxing ingredients to create a beautiful caffeine-free tea latte recipe that will delight your taste buds while also bringing stress levels down.

 

Continue Reading