At first glance, sun teas (also known as solar infusions) may seem out of place along side medicinal infusions and decoctions. Most people associate sun teas with iced beverage teas, peppermint or green, sipped in the shade in the middle of summer. I am going to stretch the meaning of medicinal to envelope good-tasting teas. When it is hot in the summer, what can be more medicinal than cooling, invigorating mint tea, or passion-taming rose petals, or cleansing red clover berries, or thirst-quenching hawthorn?
Solar infusions take advantage of the sun to warm and infuse the tea, rather than heating water. They are typically made outside, in a big pitcher or jar out on a stoop (with a cover to keep out bugs). The time it takes to steep varies. Here are general directions to work off of:
- Place about twice as much dried or fresh herbs as you would use for an infusion in a pitcher and cover with tap water. 6-8 tablespoons dried tea for 4 cups water, for example.
- Let steep outside in the sun for about 4 hours.
- Strain, drink, enjoy! You may serve with ice, or place in the fridge to cool for later.
Sun teas remind me of the sweetness of summer. Gather a few leaves here, some flower petals there, cover with water and let it absorb the sun’s rays. Aromatic or sweet herbs make good solar infusions, hence the classic mint tea. Lemon balm, spearmint, lemon grass, bee balm, catnip, raspberry leaves, choke cherry leaves, yarrow flowers, red clover blossoms, holy basil, roses and linden flowers are some of my favorite local plants to pick fresh and prepare as a sun tea.