Like many kids his age, my 20 month old son Conan LOVES juice, likes milk, and doesn’t much care for plain water. When we went in for his 18 month checkup in June, our pediatrician told us that we needed to
a) make sure he stayed hydrated during the summer heat
b) give him less milk (24 oz or so a day – including the bedtime bottle)
c) give him less juice
Even the watered-down, no-sugar-added, 100% pure organic fruit juice which we had been giving him was more sugar than he needed, apparently. So what to do, when he just ignored sippy cups filled with plain water? I certainly didn’t want our little juice junkie to get dehydrated.
Enter sun tea. I made the first batch for myself, on a whim, and then discovered that Conan loved it. Now I brew it frequently. “Juice! Juice! Jooooooooooooouice!” he says, and points enthusiastically when he sees me set out the big gallon jar on the fence to brew.
I usally use a fruity tea, like raspberry zinger or berry blast. These are caffeine free, brew up to a bright, deep red or purple color, and taste delicious. I don’t add any sugar, of course, so it helps to choose teas that are naturally sweet and taste great all on their own. It also costs virtually nothing to make, and Conan happily drinks tons of it. Win!
You probably don’t need instructions, but just in case you’ve never made sun tea before, it’s the easiest thing in the world. You don’t need any special equipment, although there are some lovely tea pitchers available if you want to splurge. The basics are as follows:
1. Get a big clear jar with a lid. Wash it thoroughly.
2. Fill it with cold water.
3. Put in some tea bags. I usually use 8 bags for a gallon batch. They don’t all have to be the same kind, you can mix and match to create new flavor blends. For kids, stick to caffeine-free types.
4. Put the lid on and set the jar out somewhere sunny for a few hours. You’ll know it’s done when the color is richly developed, or it’s night time and you forgot to bring it in earlier in the afternoon. Taste it if you aren’t sure.
5. Remove the tea bags, chill & serve.
6. Store it in the fridge until it’s gone. I keep it in the same jar I brewed it in, but you can also pour it into a pitcher for easier serving.
You can add lemon juice, mint leaves, ice cubes, frozen or fresh berries, fruit slices, and even sugar or honey (for adults) to enhance the flavor. Drink up!