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Making Tea: Sun Tea vs Refrigerator Tea vs Hot-Brewed Tea?  RSS feed

 
Nicole Alderman
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Today I thought I'd make some Red Raspberry Leaf tea, but I didn't want to boil water. So, I grabbed my dark purple mason jar, filled it with some fresh raspberry leaves, and stuck it in the sun for about three hours. The tea was clear (because I was lazy and didn't chop the leaves?), but tasted delicious. My husband then asked if it was safe and extracted nutrients.

Come to find out, sun-brewed tea can supposedly be dangerous, as the water doesn't heat up enough to kill pathogens (http://www.snopes.com/food/prepare/suntea.asp), but that supposedly refrigerator tea is safe and tastes the same (http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2012/07/the-food-lab-the-truth-about-sun-tea-forget-the-sun-cold-brew-tea-is-better.html).

As for health benefits, according to https://theteaspot.com/media/pdf/Definitive_Guide_To_Cold_Brew_Tea.pdf (who sell tea specificly for cold brewing), there's higher antioxidnts and less caffine when cold brewing. They also mention not to leave the tea in the sun for "an extended amount of time" and to drink it within 6 hours (because of pathogen growth)?

Another website (http://www.arborteas.com/blog/cold-brewing-tea-why-you-should-and-how-to-do-it/) is more balanced in it's assessment of cold-brewed vs hot brew, saying,

Arbor Teas wrote: Of course, there are pros and cons to brewing tea this way. Cold-brewing will produce a lighter-bodied tea with less astringency and bitterness, as this method draws out a fewer tannic compounds, which is great for a mellow, even sweet, iced tea. Cold-brewing is also more time efficient, since you can make a pitcher of tea and store it in the refrigerator for a few days without having to brew a batch every day.  On the flip-side, it is also suggested that cold-brewing will draw out as little as half of the caffeine and half the beneficial antioxidants derived by hot-brewing, but our "research" can't speak to that. Some suggest that splashing the tea leaves with a little bit of hot water "opens up the leaves", helping release stronger flavor, more caffeine and higher antioxidant levels.


But, they also don't seem to really have any research to back up their conclusions... BUT, another website (http://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/how-to/hot-vs-cold-brew-tea-coffee-which-ones-are-better-for-you-0156116/) talks about how cold-brewed teas have less tannins and acid, and may have the same (or more) amount of antioxidents:

Wonder How To wrote:Meanwhile, a 2012 study by Professor Jeng-Leun Mau of National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan, showed that cold-brewed green tea that was steeped for 12 hours had a high level of polyphenols (the antioxidants that make green tea so incredibly healthy) that were equal to or greater than tea steeped in hot water for 5 minutes.



Sun-brewed tea seems like a really good idea, as it requires no energy, not even the energy to run a refrigerator. But, is there a best way to brew it to maintain nutrients and not breed pathogens? I'm left wondering if a dark jar, vs a clear jar is better, as there is less damage to the leaves from the sunlight. Also, wouldn't a dark jar heat up faster?

Also, I'm drinking the Red Raspberry Leaf tea for help in toning my uterus, so I'm also left wondering if enough nutrients are extracted via cold or sun brewing. And, aren't some nutrients released only by heat?

ANYWAY, what are your thoughts on Sun vs Cold vs Traditional Brewed Tea?
 
Anne Miller
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I have used both the sun tea and boiled versions.  I truly disagree with snopes since the sun can be used to purify water. 

/Solar_water_disinfection

I do agree that all components used should be very clean.  I use well water for my tea.  My jar gets very hot though I have not measured the temperature.  After about 4 hrs, I let it cool then transfer to another bottle and add water. I then put it in the fridge and it last me several days before I make more.

I feel that the problem might be with the tea bag or what you are brewing the tea with but I have been making tea for many years without ever getting sick.

I was always told not to boil the tea, only the water then turn off the heat and add the tea.  If has something to do with the tannins.

"
Alcaligenes viscolactis, a bacteria commonly found in water, consequently turns up in sun tea."  If this is the case then wouldn't that bacteria be in my glass of just plain water?
 
Kirsten Simmons
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Alcaligenes viscolactis, a bacteria commonly found in water, consequently turns up in sun tea."  If this is the case then wouldn't that bacteria be in my glass of just plain water?


It would, though my guess is that it's not present in water in high enough concentration to be harmful.  Sun tea does provide a nice warm breeding ground for bacterial growth. 

That said, Alcagenes isn't a threat for anyone with a functioning immune system.  The bigger issue would be if your water were contaminated with a highly pathogenic bacteria.  I personally love the taste of sun tea and like it better than cold brew, but I give my tea a quick boil after it's brewed outside.  Just take the tea leaves out, let it boil for 5 min or so and it should be just as safe as hot brewed tea.
 
Anne Miller
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I do appreciate Nicole bringing this to our attention since I had never heard that sun tea was harmful.  After more research it seems snopes got the information from a news article rather than CDC.  Snopes needs to go to CDC for an opinion.

Here is a discussion from straightdope

"Well first of all is the point that there is no cite that the CDC actually ever said such a thing and there are no case reports of illness from sun tea or from that particular organism. This point is simply that Snopes screwed up and believed some newspaper articles that claimed that the CDC said something without checking for a more primary source. After I posted I looked a bit more and found this teageek entry that had dug more and got a response from the CDC stating that there is no CDC guidance on sun tea and tracking how the myth was born. As they concluded:
Quote:
We started with the CDC saying that there are no recorded tea-born illnesses, but that there’s a theoretical risk in cases of poor food handling. We end with a wildfire of articles all claiming that the CDC is warning that it’s dangerous to make iced tea."

Here is the link to "teageek"

http://www.teageek.net/blog/2009/07/sun-tea-winner-plus-a-rant-about-information-drift/

"Chris’ entry won because it actually included a copy of an email from a CDC employee, sent from a CDC.gov address.  This email stated that to his knowledge, there was no “official guidance” on sun tea."

Thanks, Nicole!  Now we have more information on how to brew tea using other methods. I don't cook in the summer so I'll stick to sun tea for now and use the boil method during the cooler season.
 
R Scott
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chip sanft
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FWIW: I did a little poking around, including accessing LexisNexis, and found there was indeed a memo issued by the CDC on tea safety... back in 1996. The thing is, the best article I found, from the April 15 1996 Washington Post, presented the memo in question (the "Memo on Bacterial Contamination of Iced Tea") as being more about bacteria in tea generally, in iced tea at restaurants, and in tea sitting at room temperature in restaurant urns for long periods. The takeaway is that there can be bacteria on tea and other plant matter but that the chances for a healthy person to become ill under ordinary circumstances are "miniscule."

Sun tea didn't get any special attention, apparently, although I can see where someone might extrapolate on it as being conducive to bacteria growth, since it's not sterilized with hot water (boiling isn't necessary to kill the majority of pathogens). But that's not what the CDC said.
 
Dylan Mulder
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As a Southern individual, I feel obligated to comment with this observation,

The tradition of brewing sun tea often involves great quantities of sugar. Hot environment, moisture, sugar...a bit more sugar...the bacterial pyramid is complete! Praise be to Ra!

I've seen plenty of jars of sugary sun tea with visible strands of bacteria in the water after a single day in the refrigerator. When I've brewed herbal sun tea in the past, I never used sugar, and it kept just fine for some days in the fridge. With that said, I've quit sun brewing altogether - it adds a lot of astrigency that I haven't found to improve any cup of tea.
 
Anne Miller
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Dylan Mulder wrote:The tradition of brewing sun tea often involves great quantities of sugar. Hot environment, moisture, sugar...a bit more sugar...the bacterial pyramid is complete! Praise be to Ra!

I've seen plenty of jars of sugary sun tea with visible strands of bacteria in the water after a single day in the refrigerator.


Do you mean that people put sugar in their tea before they brew it?  If that is the case, I can understand a bacterial problem.  I put my tea in a different container than I brewed in and only dilute enough to finish filling the bottle.  Then I add sugar to my glass of tea before adding ice.  Maybe this is why I have never had a problem.  And mine stays in the fridge for several days before I finish it and make a new batch.

I grew up in Alabama where sweet tea is a household word, but never made sun tea there.
 
Dylan Mulder
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Anne Miller wrote:Do you mean that people put sugar in their tea before they brew it?  If that is the case, I can understand a bacterial problem.


Yes, but also no - it really depends on how the grandparent made it, since that's how this idea is passed along! Some added the sugar before, some added it after. Mine added it before.

I'm willing to bet that this 'sugar before' practice is responsible for just about every sun tea induced visit to the doctor's office for the last five decades, with the rest being the fault of feces contamination in dry tea leaves.

The Southern penchant for iced tea is in direct proportion to the amount of sugar used.
 
Doug Kalmer
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I have been making sun tea for decades- but I make it in a solar oven- https://www.sunoven.com/ which-with enuf sun-brings the temp over 165*F which will kill the bacteria. We use our spring water filtered thru a silver impregnated ceramic filter. It makes the best flavored tea, as we let it steep most of the day. We then add liquid stevia for a little sweetening. Sundug
 
christie pont
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This is the most confusing forum site I have ever logged into.

My 2 cents plain.

Sun tea, as I was taught is just put water and leaves in water sit in sun.... no sugar, noting else, sugar and lemon come later.

If you water is good it should be fine, can you say Kombucha, I personally toss the stuff as it makes me want to toss my cookies and milk.

That said, with all the hype year back when the WWW was new I read on a site dedicated to solar energy, that the WHO tells us that 155 degrees for 10 minutes sterilized about 95 % of pathogens. I know tric dies at 162 and salmonella dies faster then that so, steep 10 minutes pull the leaves and allow to sit for a while, to kill all others.

If anyone would like to look up the actual accepted kill temps I would be grateful. The reason , (I read on the solar cooking site) that people are told "a full rolling boil" is because they can see it. 182-5 degrees , (simmer) is when tiny bubble form and start to stream. If you hit that and hold for 10 everything is dead. People who have never used a thermometer and have not practiced simply do not do it right.  As far as caffeine killing some bacteria, I believe, but don't know. They did say solar pasturizing is fine and it only is looking at 155%F, and the WHO issued wax plug water sterilizers testor were set to 155!

Need caffeine free tea, boil water and put some in a cup, let sit, dump it then add more rapidly boiling water and a tea bag, DO NOT TOUCH, SWISH, SQUEEZE, after 1 minute remove the bag and dump water, use fresh water . The first minute releases almost all the caffiene. , not perfect, but better then the DT's some people will get.


My daughter had a chart for teas and water temperatures. If you keep it to simmer (i 85) you do not get a bitter tea (or at least less bitter). Not all teas steep for same amount of time.


The best tea I ever had was done as follows, big faberware SS pot 11 tea bags cold good water (as in from the tap). Allowed to sit overnight, bags pulled NOT squeezed, then 1 whole orange sliced thin, added with any juice, plus lemon juice, plus real cane sugar. Being old fat and creaky, (or is that cranky)I do 185-90 degrees steep tyme oh 6 minutes, light squeeze, but no squeeze is better, I then add the volume of iced tea mix that my "water" is calling for. My iced tea is dark and distinct. I use 8-10 bags to about 1/12 qts water. ( I should measure it to be sure).  If I were not going to add the mix and do my own lemon and sweet, I would double the tea bags.

Oh and do not use crappy yea, as 1 reference article says is done by the tea importers. (Lipton Etc). Crappy tea bags make crappy tea. Just like cooking with wine. If you can not drink it because it is off/odd/not your style, you usually find you just ruined the dish.
My thoughts on herbal tea, I would rinse them and use a hot water method, I think they would extract more flavor, plus kill off some bad guys. All tea is green when picked, it is then crushed between the finger and allowed to darken, think of a bruised Basil leaf, what would one look like after you rolled it in your hand, but did not tear it. In fact, it would blacken. Teas does exactly that and the amount of "fermentation " varies by type/area/style. This oxidizes the tea, kinda like opening a bottle of good red wine and letting it sit.  Fresh gound coffe is also like that. I prefer mine ground the day/night before.

hope I did not offend anyone

feel free to look for the kill  temps for bad things, and where AI used to get my info was, "THE SOLAR COOKING ARCHIVES" I believe it is now a "wikie" site.

ciao
 
Just put the cards in their christmas stocking and PRESTO! They get it now! It's like you're the harry potter of permaculture. richsoil.com/cards
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