June 06, 2022
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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.
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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 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.
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.
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!
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