How to Make Sun Tea – My Favorite Summer Drink

Making sweet tea is one of those nostalgic things for me. It’s my favorite drink of choice when the weather is warm and it just says summer to me. In this post, I’m sharing how to make sun tea so you can make the best sweet tea all summer long.

I grew up spending summers with my grandparents in California. Some of my favorite summer memories are sipping on sun tea and watching I Love Lucy in my grandparents’ living room. It’s the place I grew to love the summer nectar that is sweet tea. To me, sweet tea is the only way to drink tea. I remember the first time I ordered an iced tea at a restaurant and it arrived unsweetened and I realized that sweet tea wasn’t the universal ice tea – such disappointment I felt.

Making sun tea - how to make it and why you should

We just got back from two weeks at my Gramma’s and I drank all the sweet tea while reading my book and visiting with family. To this day, whenever I visit my Gramma’s I can expect a pitcher of sweet tea to be in the fridge and I love that. We came home to the beginning of desert summer and it was time to bring out the sun tea pitcher. A couple of years ago my gramma gave me the pitcher she used to make sun tea and I love making sun tea with it now. If you’ve never had sun tea I’m going to share how to make sun tea so that you can enjoy the summer’s best drink too.

How to Make Sun Tea

Sun tea is really nostalgic for me so it’s been really fun to make it with my girls. They get so excited to bring the pitcher out to the porch and Millie monitors it throughout the day to make sure it’s in the sun and that the shade didn’t move over it. It’s really sweet. Sun tea is really easy to make and I prefer making it over regular sweet tea. No boiling water required you simply fill your pitcher with water, add as many tea bags as you’d like, then set it in the sun until you’re ready for tea.

How to make sweet tea

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My biggest tip for making good sun tea is having a really good pitcher. It needs to be glass. You don’t want your tea baking in a plastic jar all day. The one I have is a vintage sun tea pitcher. You can find similar ones on Etsy but any ol’ glass pitcher will do.

Sweet sun tea - how to make it all summer long

To make the tea, you’ll fill the glass jar to the top with water and tea bags (I use 10-12 regular-sized tea bags) then seal it, and set it in the sun. Next, you’ll let the tea steep for a few hours. I go by the color of the tea but I usually leave it in the sun for about six hours. I’m pretty loose with the timing. I usually set my tea out around 10 am and then bring it in before dinner time sometimes it’s out a little longer. I think about six hours is the minimum unless it’s a really warm day.

How to make sweet tea sun tea

The most important part about making sweet tea is adding sugar. We like strong and sweet tea in our family. I remove the tea bags, squeezing out the bags before tossing, then move the tea from the sun tea pitcher to a regular pitcher like this one. To make it sweet you need a lot of sugar. Don’t think about it – just add it. For a 1 gal pitcher of tea, I add a cup of sugar and then stir until the sugar is all dissolved. Sweet tea is always served in a large glass over ice and never do we drink it with lemon (I know that’s a thing for some people, just not for us).

How to make sun tea - tips for making the best sweet tea this summer

This sun tea is what will be in my fridge all summer long. Do you have a certain drink that you go to on those hot summer days?

Sun Tea

How to make sun tea
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time6 hours
Total Time6 hours 5 minutes
Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 gal


  • 1 gal water
  • 10-12 piece tea bags
  • 1 cup sugar


  • Fill 1 gal glass jar with a lid with filitered water
    Add 10-12 tea bags to the water and seal jar
    Set jar in the sun for 4-6 hours
    Pour tea into a new pitcher squeeze out tea bags and remove them
    Add 1 cup of sugar (or 1 and 1/3 if you like it sweeter) to pitcher and stir until sugar is dissolved
    Refrigerate and then serve over ice

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  1. Boy did you bring back great memories, Chelsea! I remember the sweet tea at my Grandmother’s farm and sitting out in a lawn chair under a tree, all of us trying to keep cool in the late afternoon.

    What a great memory you’re making with your daughters! I think I’m going to have to make some, too!


  2. We had a sun tea jar when I was a kid. I loved making it, even though I’m not a huge iced tea fan.