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Sun Tea Science

I’m a big fan of hands-on learning. Both of my kids are visual learners, so I like to combine practical tasks with teaching the science or math behind them. When I go shopping I’ll often hand the kids the list and let them do some of the math involved in couponing. The same goes at home–when I cook or make something, I will often bring the kids into it. LittleMissSunshine loves to cook, so we do a lot of science lessons through cooking!

This past weekend our area went through a serious heat wave, with temperatures regularly over 98 degrees. Two days reached 103 degrees. Because of my thyroid issues, I am very susceptible to heat stroke, so we made sure to stay indoors much of the weekend. But I couldn’t let this glorious sunshine go to waste! Being a southern girl, I’m partial to iced tea on hot summer days. I set out to make a gallon of sun tea, and let the sun do the work. I called LittleMissSunshine upstairs from her hiding place in the cool basement, and we set to work making our tea. As we assembled our quart jars, we discussed how the solar rays would heat the water in the jars, making the tea. We stopped a few times while it was brewing to look out the window and observe the process going on inside the jars. Because she regularly helps me make tea in a tea pot, she was eager to measure how long it took for the solar energy to heat the water to brew the tea. It took less than four hours, and tastes so good!

There are thousands of recipes out there for great sun tea. In mine I vary just a bit from the traditional method to include a few healthy ingredients like green tea and raspberries. They give my tea a very slight fruity taste, and add some really good health benefits to my favorite summer drink! We make ours in quart mason jars, because they’re easier to port around than a gallon pitcher, the sun shines through them well, and they fit into the refrigerator door nicely. You can use whatever you have handy, just make sure it is clear for the sun to shine through! Here’s how we made ours.


  • 2 black tea bags
  • 2 tea bags of Green Tea
  • 1/4 cup of frozen raspberries (any berry or fruit will work)
Makes four quarts of sun tea.
  1. Place one black tea bag and one green tea bag in each quart jar.
  2. Add 3-4 frozen raspberries per jar.
  3. Fill with water. Cover jar with lid.
  4. Set out in the sun for 3-8 hours, depending on the strength of the sun where you live.
  5. When the tea has fully brewed, remove the tea bags and strain out the fruit, if desired. (I don’t)
  6. Place in the fridge to cool down for later. All done!
If you like sweet tea, you can add 1/4 cup of simple syrup to each jar, or a full cup to a gallon pitcher. Simple syrup is one part sugar to three parts water, heat or mix until the sugar is fully dissolved.
As you can see, the sun started working very quickly. It only took 30 minutes for it to be warm enough for the tea to start brewing. LittleMissSunshine loved watching the tea brew, and asked some great questions about how the sun’s rays heat both the earth, and can be used for many different purposes. Plus, who doesn’t love a big glass of iced tea on a hot day?
That’s my favorite recipe. What is your favorite sun tea recipe? I’m always on the lookout for new recipes. Share yours in the comments below!


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