Sunday, July 18, 2010

Solar-Powered: Sun Tea

My Grandma was a sun-worshipper. I can still picture her outside in the summer months with her big, dark glasses and chaise lounge chair, freckling herself silly despite all the latest warnings of melanoma. She and my Grandfather kept a meticulously manicured lawn and garden that would just make you cry from the luscious bounty. Summer was her time and she relished every drop of sunshine until the leaves fell and the bleakness of a Pennsylvania winter pushed her indoors. I can't see a hot summer day without thinking of her. I can also still see a glass jar of sun tea sitting out on her deck, stewing away for a later sip.
And so, summer is in full-gear and there's a jar of sun tea on my deck now and I'm missing Gram, but regaling my daughters with stories of tea parties and sleep overs and birthday dinners because it keeps her alive here.

You may have one of those great jars that has the spigot on the bottom-there are everywhere right now. I have an old pickle jar my Mom gave me a while ago and it suits me just fine. It's about a gallon in volume. Once I make the tea, I pour it into two smaller pitchers that fit in my fridge. If you are using a spigot-equiped jar, leave a bit of space at the top.

For this amount, I find 12 tea bags--regular ol' orange and black cut pekoe works fine. You don't need the cold-brew ones either because the sun is going to heat this up. Just dunk them into the top and screw on the lid and leave your jar out in a sunny spot. The longer you leave it, the better the tea. I leave mine out for about 6 hours. Nice and dark.

When the tea is brewed, remove the tea bags. In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of sugar with 1 1/2 cups of water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for one minute; this is called a simple syrup. This is the best way to sweeten your tea because it ensures you won't have sugar sludge on the bottom of your jar in the end. It's also better because it takes twice as much sugar to sweeten a cold liquid as a hot one (* that a bit of science for you, kids).  Stir in your syrup and add 1/4 cup (or more if you'd like) of lemon juice to the tea. Top off with ice and chill.
Miss you, Gram. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I miss her too, just from your story!