For as long as I can remember it has always been a Tradition not only in my own family, but in the South as well, to make Sun Tea. In fact, Sun Tea has always been one of my favorite things- and it’s something that truly marks the beginning of Summer for me; I have such great memories of my Mother teaching me how to make it growing up.
My favorite part about it, though, is that each Pitcher is completely unique to the family or person making it; though they usually have common elements (like the classic use of Lipton or Luzianne Tea), each family or individual has their own specific recipe, method, and additives (if any). For me, that’s usually Peach and Honey- or fresh Mint from the Garden… But this year I thought I’d try something different.
Black Lavender Sun Tea
- 1 Cup Lavender Flowers
- 4 to 6 Black Tea Bags
- 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
Of course you need something to put it in, so you’ll also need a clear / transparent 1 Gallon pitcher with a lid. Glass is not only preferable, and traditional, it’s also safer- and they sell ones that are particularly great for Sun Tea. Just make sure they’re heat safe when you purchase them; not all glass Pitchers are safe for use with heated water, and they’ll generally have a warning on them somewhere that tells you as much.
Additionally, Lipton or Luzianne Tea is a must if you really want to do it right. Personally I prefer Lipton, but that’s an argument almost as old as Sweet Tea itself… As for the infusion itself? Dried Lavender Flowers are best- and you’ll also need a Fine Mesh Strainer (like those used to sift flour or those used for Loose Leaf Tea) in order to infuse it.
Directions: To make the tea, bring roughly 5 cups of water to a boil. It’s easier to do this with a Kettle, but a pot will work just as well. While that’s going, place your sugar in the bottom of your Pitcher. When the water has come to a boil, remove it from the heat. Place the Lavender in the fine mesh strainer and slowly poor the water over the Lavender and into your Pitcher- being careful not to burn yourself or slosh water everywhere (especially if you’re using a pot instead of a Kettle). Afterwards, stir the Lavender Water and Sugar mixture well to dissolve the sugar fully.
Next, fill the rest of it your Pitcher up the rest of the way with water; if you’re using Sun Tea or Cold Brew specific Tea Bags this can be with cold water, but if you’re not then it should be at least luke warm in temperature. When it is full place the bags into the water, making sure to leave at least one inch of the string tail (complete with paper tag) hanging over the edge so that they fall outside of the Pitcher. Now put on the lid and make sure that it holds the Tea Bag tails securely in place. This’ll prevent them from falling into the water.
Set the Pitcher outside in a safe location with full sun for at least 1 hour. Traditionally, however, it should generally be left outside for 3 to 5 hours- though my family tends to leave it out in the Sun all day. Once it’s finished, it should be a nice dark color. Bring it in, scoop out the Tea Bags (or just leave them in like I do), and it’s ready!
Still need help, ask a relative. Southerners love to tell you how they make sweet tea, like a proud family recipe most will happily pass it on. Just be sure to make it personal, that way folks will recognize you by your Sweet Tea.