How to Make Sunshine Tea – 4 Easy Steps

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What you serve your guests in life echoes for eternity. Next time you’re entertaining, pour your friends a glass of this citrusy Sunshine Tea and take your rightful place in History. Seriously, this tea is that good.

sunshine tea ingredients
Zesty!

Drinking Sunshine Tea is an excellent way to cool off after a long day spent polishing your shuttlecock collection, scraping the poop out of your chicken coop, or power napping in-between Zoom calls.

But that begs the question…

What on Earth is Sunshine Tea?

Sunshine Tea is sun tea (iced tea) infused with citrus rind, juice, and macerated mint leaves. We add the zest + juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange, along with a few sprigs of mint.

Sugar is optional, of course, and we add just a skosh. The mild sweetness pairs perfectly with the mild citrus and mint flavors.

I found this recipe tucked away in one of my maternal grandma’s TV Guides. So it’s not “mine” per se, but she’s moved on, so we should too.

What You’ll Need

Here are the few easy-to-find ingredients you’ll need for this citrusy sun tea recipe.

mint, tea bags, orange, lemon, and sugar on table
Ingredients for Sunshine Tea

1. Black Tea Bags: I used Lipton black tea bags for this recipe (because I’m a basic bro). IMHO, Lipton makes the best iced teas. You can sub herbal teas if you’d like.

2. Orange Zest & Juice: I like the concentrated flavor that comes from Clementine Mandarin Oranges (Cutiesยฎ). So that’s what I use.

3. Lemon Zest & Juice: Lemon adds a bright yet subtle acidity to this tea.

Pro Tip: When squeezing the lemon over the jar, catch any seeds that sneak in. I recommend using a citrus press to dodge the seed issue completely.

4. Mint Leaves: 2-3 long mint sprigs is all you need for this recipe. If you can’t or refuse to grow mint at home you can find pre-packed mint in the produce section of most grocery stores.

fresh mint leaves in a glass for sunshine tea
I can smell these fresh mint leaves…

Fresh is best though, so I recommend checking out a farmer’s market if it’s spring or summertime. Or, do what I do and steal some from your neighbor’s garden.

5. Sugar: A touch of sugar in this iced tea is what rounds out this recipe. I like to add just a wee amount to complement the citrus of the lemon and orange.


๐ŸŒž How To Make Sunshine Tea ๐ŸŒž

Here are the simple steps and ingredients you’ll need to make this cold brew tea.

Ingredients:

  • 4 black tea bags
  • Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
  • Grated rind of 1/2 orange
  • Juice of 1/2 an orange
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 long stems of mint
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 pitcher cold water

Garnish Ingredients:

  • Thin slices of lemon and orange
  • Mint sprigs

Step 1: Zest your lemon and orange. Toss the zest into your large glass jar or glass pitcher. Juice your lemon and orange directly over the pitcher, making sure to catch any seeds.

Add 2 long stems of mint and a 1/4 cup of granulated white sugar.

Step 2: Add 2 cups of boiling hot water to the pitcher and stir until the sugar’s dissolved. Let everything steep for 5-6 minutes.

The hot water will draw the essence & oils from the mint and citrus.

This is the zester I recommend:

glass pitcher with lemon zest and juice, and orange zest and juice
Letting citrus, mint, and sugar steep in hot water for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Fill the pitcher 3/4’s of the way with cold tap water and add 4 black tea bags. Set the tea to steep in direct sunlight on your windowsill, back porch, etc.

You can cover with plastic wrap to keep out dust and critters. Or dusty critters. No crittery-dust though!

Note: Add more teabags if you like a stronger iced tea. I swap between 4 and 8 teabags when I make this. It all depends on how well I slept the night before.

Step 4: After a few hours the tea will have changed color from light yellow to dark, amber gold. Remove the tea bags and add toss in some ice. Place in refrigerator for an hour to cool fully.

If you can’t wait that long, just pour your room temperature sun tea over ice.

Garnish with thin lemon slices, orange slices, and a few mint leaves.

glass of sunshine tea sitting on table
Liquid gold.

FAQ

Do I leave the mint and Zest in the Tea?

Yes, the lemon and orange zest stay in the tea. You’ve had lemon zest on fish and on pie. It’s time to have it in Tea, wouldn’t you say?

I know what you’re thinking. Gross…floaties. Trust me, you don’t taste, feel, or notice them. Embrace the zest. Because it even imparts more flavor over the coming days.

How long does Sun Tea stay fresh?

Sun tea will stay fresh for about 48 hours. Store it in the fridge in a glass pitcher or one of those large plastic containers.

How Long Do I Let my Tea Bags Steep in the Sun?

It’s not always easy to know just how long you should steep your tea bags when making cold-brew tea. For this recipe though, I steep my tea bags in the sun for at least 2 to 3 hours.

Lipton black tea bags on table for sunshine tea
I’m a basic boy with my Lipton black tea bags.

Can I Use Green Tea Instead of Black Tea?

Though this recipe is traditionally made from black tea, you can substitute any kind of tea your heart desires!

Keep in mind that if you use herbal teas, the final drink might not be that classic gold iced-tea color. I’ve heard you can use loose-leaf tea, though I haven’t tried this myself.

Black tea substitutions:

Can Sun Tea Be Made in Winter?

Drinking Sunshine tea is a great way to relax and refresh, especially on a hot summer day. But what do you do in the winter? What if you don’t want hot tea?

What other type of tea comes to mind? Hmm? The only answer is…make Sun Tea anyway!

Just place your tea on a windowsill in direct sunlight for a few hours. The heat of the sun will do all the work.

Will Black Tea Help Me Lose Weight?

Yes. Black tea has been scientifically proven to help you lose weight!

Caffeine and antioxidants boost your metabolism and energy levels. And as a result, you feel more alert and focused. And you’ll also burn more calories throughout the day.

Is Sun Tea Good For You?

Sun tea has numerous health benefits. For starters, it has fewer chemicals and preservatives than regular iced tea. It also has more antioxidants than hot brewed tea.

When you use hot water as a brewing method, most of these antioxidants stay in the leaves. So you donโ€™t get all of them from your tea.

glass of sunshine tea on table next to pitcher in sunlight

A recent Oxford study proved that people who consume tea regularly live longer.

The process of making Sun Tea allows the polyphenols to seep out of the tea leaves, which helps prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals. Polyphenols also reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

More Health Benefits of Sun Tea:

  • Reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes, & cancer
  • Packed with Vitamin C
  • Prevents cellular damage
  • Anti-aging properties
  • Antioxidant-rich polyphenols
  • No added chemicals or preservatives

Is Sun Tea Safe To Drink?

Homemade Sun tea is perfectly safe to drink. It’s made with all-natural ingredients and fresh herbs.

Water, citrus, mint, tea, and sunlight. What could be safer than that?

A study on the active compound in black tea suggests that it is more effective than green tea at preventing cancer! Also, the antioxidant content of sunlight might actually increase the potency even further.

And if you’re worried about bacterial growth, don’t be. Just be sure to refrigerate your batch of sun tea once it’s done steeping.

Where Did Sun Tea Originate?

While we now tend to associate sun tea with Southern cuisine, the practice of brewing sun tea is actually quite global. So, where did sun tea originate?

There’s no clear evidence where sun tea originated. It is thought that the tradition began in China around 5000 years ago, and was brought over to the US during the 1920s.


Recipe Card

how to make sunshine tea 1

Easy Sunshine Tea Recipe

Sun Tea, also known asย Sunshine Tea, is a refreshingly bright summertime favorite. Iโ€™ll even make this during the winter by setting the pitcher on the window sill and letting the sunshine do its job!
5 from 3 votes
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Prep: 5 mins
Total: 2 hrs 5 mins
Yield: 12 people

Ingredients

  • 4 black tea bags
  • grated rind of 1/2 a lemon
  • grated rind of 1/2 an orange
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 2 long stems of mint
  • 2 cups boiling hot water
  • 10 cups cold water
  • โ…“ cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  • Zest your lemon and orange. Toss the zest into your glass pitcher. Juice your lemon and orange directly over the pitcher, making sure to catch any seeds.
    Add 2 long stems of mint and a 1/4 cup of granulated white sugar.
  • Add 2 cups of boiling hot water to the pitcher and stir until the sugarโ€™s dissolved. Let everything steep for 5-6 minutes.
    The hot water will draw the essence & oils from the mint and citrus.
  • Fill the pitcher 3/4โ€™s of the way with cold tap water and add 4 black tea bags. Set the tea to steep in direct sunlight on your windowsill, back patio, etc.
  • After a few hours the tea will have changed color from light yellow to dark, amber gold. Remove the tea bags and add toss in some ice. Place in refrigerator for an hour to cool fully.

Your Own Notes

Video

Notes

Sunshine tea will stay fresh for about 48 hours.
Add more teabags if you like a stronger iced tea. I swap between 4 and 8 teabags when I make this. It all depends on how well I slept the night before.

Nutritional Information

Serving: 1glass, Calories: 22.4kcal, Carbohydrates: 0.4g, Sodium: 7mg, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 11IU, Vitamin C: 21mg

The Golden Lamb provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician.

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I hope it was an easy recipe for you to follow! Please leave me feedback and let me know if you think this is the best recipe for sun tea!

-Kelsey

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