Excerpt from Valley 101: A Slightly Skewed Guide to Living in Arizona, a collection of Clay Thompson’s columns for The Arizona Republic. (Originally published June 18, 2000.)
Q: As a refugee from the cloudy Northwest, I have been introduced to pleasures of sun tea. But a co-worker says I am just setting a jar of germs out in the sun to incubate. Is sun tea safe?
A: Thank you for your inquiry. Immediately upon its receipt, we here at the research lab at Valley 101 immediately spit out a mouthful of sun tea, a la Danny Thomas, and went home to lie down with a cool cloth over our chiseled brows to await the onset of food poisoning.
Fortunately, no such malady ensued and, refreshed by the quiet time, we hied ourselves to the telephone and, for a record second straight week, sought the counsel of Susie Lyons of the University of Arizona’s Cooperative Extension office.
To her credit, Ms. Lyons did not sigh deeply and dispatched her usual exceedingly helpful advice.
Brewing sun tea is simplicity itself. You stick some tea bags in a glass jar, put a lid on it and leave it out in the sun to brew. Then you bring it inside and exhaust the household’s entire supply of ice cubes to cool it to the point that it’s drinkable. Que refresente!
Here’s the problem, according to Lyons: If the jar is not truly clean, or if you leave the brew in the sun too long, or if you use too many tea bags, or if you’re just unlucky, your sun tea can become “thick, ropy or slimy.”
If you were to drink thick, ropy or slimy tea, you would be a dope, and you probably would develop flulike symptoms and spend considerable time, as we once heard it described, “talking to Ralph on the big
And don’t, whatever you do, try to pre-sweeten the tea by adding sugar while it brews in the sun. This is inviting trouble of a thick, ropy or slimy nature.