Hippo Manchester
August 18, 2005

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Summer coolers, just add sunlight

Making sun tea is art mixed with chemistry mixed with many teabags

By John ďjaQĒ Andrews

Summer may be winding down, but itís these endtimes (as I like to call them) when you need to keep cool the most. A tall glass of iced tea always hits the spot, especially if itís homebrewed.

Making sun tea is ridiculously easy, and takes only a touch of patience.

First, you need a glass or clear plastic jar. Sun tea jars are most often sold in the one-gallon variety, so Iíll assume thatís how much tea weíre making here, but the recipe can be halved or quartered or multiplied and divided any which way.

Fill the jar about 4/5 of the way with water ó filtered, if possible. Throw in 12 teabags of your choice, and make sure theyíre all actually submerged. Put the jar in a sunny spot outside, or inside if youíre paranoid about thieves or ants.

Then the waiting game starts. The sunís rays will pierce the jar and get those teabags to release their flavor into the water, brewing over the next few hours. How long you leave your jar in the sun is a matter of taste or convenience. One or two hours is usually enough, but itís fine to leave it out all day while youíre at work. Your tea will then be a little stronger.

Once the water is a rich brown, remove the teabags and add two cups of sugar and one cup of lemon juice. Stir until everythingís dissolved, and serve over ice. Chill in the refrigerator if possible.

For some extra flavor, replace some of the teabags with an equal amount of mint leaves. Youíll get a fresh minty flavor no toothpaste can compete with.

You can also substitute other citrus juices for the lemon juice, like orange or lime.

For a Southern variation, mix the sugar into your water before you set it out to brew. This will infuse the sugar more fully into the beverage, and give you something akin to Southern sweet tea.

Finally, you might want to try twilight tea. For some reason, late afternoon sunlight gives tea a more subtle, deeper flavor that seems to refresh more effectively.

Advanced tea making

When youíre ready to move on from teabags, you can experiment with loose tea in cheesecloth. Substitute about 1 teaspoon of loose tea for one teabag. No, thatís not why itís called a teaspoon. Itís called that because you stir your tea with a teaspoon. Not iced tea, hot tea. Brewed one cup at a time. In a teacup. One guess why itís called a teacup.

In any case, most supermarkets sell loose tea alongside their standard teabags. Or, you can try these smaller markets:

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Saigon Asian Market

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93 Maple St., Manchester

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Siberia Food Market

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100 Willow St., Manchester

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259A Main St., Nashua

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A Market Natural Foods

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125 Loring St., Manchester

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Trader Joeís

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440 Middlesex Rd.

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Tyngsboro, Mass.