Is sun tea worth it?

As summer rolls around, sun tea will inevitably come up. Well, at least in tea circles. Then again, I’m always surprised how little it comes up. So we decided to do a comparison to figure out if there’s a reason why it’s mentioned less than iced tea. Our curiosity (curiosi-tea?) is your gain!

We figured there were 3 main ways to make iced tea: traditional (steep in hot water and refrigerate), sun tea, and cold brew.

We took 3 quart jars, loaded our T-Sacs up with 8g of Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling tea (because I think Darjeeling teas make a really nice iced tea) and set about doing the thing.

The traditional method was steeped for 2m 50s. Then we took the tea bag out and let it cool off before putting it in the fridge.

Sun tea was made by setting it out in the full sun for 2 hours. It was in the high 90s so that turned out to be a little long.

Cold brew tea sat in the fridge for about 18 hours.

The next day, we had a taste test. The traditional and sun tea tasted pretty much the same. The sun tea actually turned out quite a bit more bitter (which was helped by watering it down). Cold brew tea was as you would expect: more mellow with a few different notes coming through.

So, to get the same flavor as a quick brew and overnight refrigeration, you have to figure out how much time based on sun exposure (but it’ll still be at least an hour) and still refrigerate it over night. You also should be aware that it’s prime temps for bacteria growth. Sanitizing would be a good idea. 

Admittedly, this is one sample but I don’t see it being much different for other types of teas.

Our conclusion: it’s not worth it. But we don’t want to boss you around so do whatever you want.