How to Make Iced Sun Tea

Here’s something that we don’t normally make in the UK… Iced Sun Tea! Turns out sun tea is quite the thing over in America, I even heard that Reese Witherspoon loves a glass of sweet southern sun iced tea! Here’s some fun facts about about sun tea, plus how to make the best iced sun tea…

What is Iced Sun Tea?

Iced sun tea is named so as it is brewed by the sun. Tea bags, usually black tea like English breakfast tea, are added to a glass jar with a lid and then placed in the sun or on a windowsill in direct sunlight for around 3-4 hours. Then it is usually poured over ice to enjoy on hot days.

Other ways to brew tea are by adding boiling water and allowing to steep for anywhere between 3-10 minutes. You can also make cold brew iced tea by adding tea to cold water and allowing to steep in the fridge for at least 4 hours to overnight.

How to Make Iced Sun Tea

What is the Difference Between Iced Sun Tea and Regular Iced Tea?

The difference between iced sun tea and regular iced tea will be in the taste. Different brewing methods will create different tastes and textures of the tea. Sun tea is well known to create a far more gentle and sweet tasting tea. The taste will fall somewhere between hot brewed tea and cold brewed tea.

For making the biggest, best and most well known iced tea ever, try this recipe for a Long Island iced tea cocktail. Surprisingly, this classic cocktail is made with cola, however, my variation is made with actual iced tea instead. Warning, it’s super strong and one drink is more than enough to get any party started!

How Much Caffeine Does Iced Sun Tea Have?

The average cup of black tea contains around 40mg of caffeine. By steeping the tea in a cooler temperature, less caffeine is extracted from the tea bag. Therefore, an average cup of black iced sun tea is likely to contain less than 40mg per cup.

Read More: How Much Caffeine is in Tea?

Is There Vitamin D in Sun Tea?

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is an essential vitamin provided by the sun or by certain foods or by supplements. Even though sun tea is made by leaving tea to brew in the sunshine, it will not become fortified with vitamin D and so, unfortunately it isn’t a source of vitamin D. Some foods such as mushrooms, can soak up the sunshine and will provide vitamin D. Hooray for mushrooms! Did you know that you can also use mushrooms in this wonderful mushroom tea.

Can you Make Sun Tea in a Plastic Jar?

When making sun tea, I would recommend using only a glass jar. Plastics can release toxic chemicals when heated or left in the sun. I would also recommend using a jar or jug with a non metallic lid, or cover with a cloth so that no insects can get inside. I would avoid metal lids as they can have a negative effect on the taste of the tea.

What Type of Tea Should you use to Make Iced Sun Tea?

When making sun tea, black tea is traditionally used. Black tea is the most popular tea to use in traditional American iced tea and southern sweet tea too. Also, black tea is often preferred over green, white or oolong because black tea generally contains higher amounts of caffeine. Caffeine can help create better conditions to lessen the chance of bacteria growth, just like when making kombucha with black tea, the conditions have to be just right. When made incorrectly, sun tea can be dangerous as it can harbour not-so-nice bacteria.

Some people make sun tea with herbal tea and fresh herbs, like peppermint. If you would like to try alternative teas or herbs, just be mindful that certain ingredients will produce oils that may increase the chances of bacteria growth in the sun. If your sun tea turns cloudy or looks murky, it’s best to avoid drinking it all together.

How Long Does it Take to Make Iced Sun Tea?

It takes around 3-4 hours of direct sunlight to make sun tea. After removing the tea bags, you can either place in the fridge to cool or pour over ice and enjoy straight away. Once fully brewed in the sun, I would recommend storing your sun tea in the fridge and enjoying it within 24 hours of making it.

What is the Optimum Temperature for Making Sun Tea?

Making sun tea can be tricky business as it can create the perfect conditions for growing bacteria! But if you would like to make a batch of sweet and delicate mellow sun tea, it’s best to aim for a hot, sunny day. The temperature doesn’t have to be exact as the tea will naturally steep in any temperature of water, the cooler the water the longer the steep and vice versa.

If it is winter for you right now, or it’s an overcast day, never fear, you can always make a batch of cold brewed iced tea instead. Use 1 tea bag per 1 cup of water and allow to infuse in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours. Pour over ice with slices of fruit and add simple syrup if you like something a little more sweet.

Tips for Making my Iced Sun Tea

  • To make your iced sun tea you will need a sunny warm day, a garden or windowsill. Your sun tea will need to be placed in direct sunlight for 3-4 hours to fully steep.

  • Use 1 tea bag or 1 teaspoon of loose leaf per 1 cup of cold water when making sun tea.

  • Preferably use a glass jar with a glass lid when making sun tea. Avoid plastic and try to avoid metal lids. You can always use a glass jug/pitcher and cover with a cloth and secure with a rubber band. Ensure that no bugs can get in.

  • Only sweeten and add fruits after you have steeped your sun tea. You can add a variety of fruit when cooling your tea in the fridge after it has fully steeped.

  • At the cooling stage, try adding various fruit combinations such as lime and raspberry, peach and cinnamon sticks or ginger with honey and lemon.

  • If your sun tea has turned cloudy or murky, do not drink it!

How to Make Sun Tea From Scratch


  • 2 cups (16fl oz) of cold water

  • 2 black tea bags

  • Simple syrup - to taste

  • Slices of fruit and/or fresh herbs to serve


  • Using a glass jar/cup/teapot, add your cold water, add your tea bags and secure the lid.

  • Place your tea in direct sunlight for 3-4 hours.

  • Remove your tea bags and place in the fridge to cool. Alternatively, add your simple syrup to the warm tea and pour over a large glass of ice and serve with slices of fresh fruit and fresh herbs.

Read More of my Tea Recipes

How to Make Sun Tea

How to Make Sun Tea

Yield: 2
Author: Cindy Jarvis
Here's how to make sweet mellow sun tea...


  • 2 Cups (16fl oz) of Cold Water
  • 2 Black Tea Bags
  • Simple Syrup - To Taste
  • Slices of Fruit and/or Fresh Herbs to Serve


  1. Using a glass jar/cup/teapot, add your cold water, add your tea bags and secure the lid.
  2. Place your tea in direct sunlight for 3-4 hours.
  3. Remove your tea bags and place in the fridge to cool. Alternatively, add your simple syrup to the warm tea and pour over a large glass of ice and serve with slices of fresh fruit and fresh herbs.

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tea, sweetened tea, sweet tea, southern tea, iced tea, cold brewed iced tea
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