Sun Tea, A Small Sip of Home

000000002As with anything else it seems everyone has their own way they go about making Sun Tea. Surprisingly here in the Philippines I’ve not run into too many people who make their own Sun Tea at home.  (At least not in the barangays I’ve lived in so far.)

Back when I was a kid I had a friend who would make Sun Tea at the bottom of their swimming pool. During my visits to Arizona and Texas, making Sun Tea was a very simple matter. All you needed was a large, preferably glass, container, some tea bags, water and sunshine. It was always so hot in Arizona or Texas that pre-heating the water was not necessary. In California, pre-heating the water and then setting it outside in the sunshine for the afternoon to brew is what we usually did.

Now that I’m here in the Philippines I still enjoy making Sun Tea on a regular basis. The heat here in the Philippines is more humid rather than the dry heat that I knew in the desert. In my kitchen is a nifty device which is essentially a water pitcher.  However it uses electricity and can heat water very, verypitcher electric quickly. I have two containers which I use for making sun tea, this way I always have one brewing and one in the refrigerator staying nice and cold.

When I start a fresh batch I will pour boiling water into a 2.5 liter plastic container and add about 4 tablespoons of brown sugar to dissolve into the hot water. I then place two Lipton tea bags (Yellow label) into the water and place the lid with the tea bags at  the top, inside. Doing it this way I don’t need to add sugar every time I pour myself a glass of cold, iced tea. Every once in awhile instead of brown sugar I will use local honey if I have picked some up from a vendor nearby.

liptonyellowbagtea2Even among expats it is rare that I run into someone brewing up some Sun Tea out on the porch. My buddy, Alan, is so far the only other person I know doing this. And most restaurant’s here in the Philippines when you ask for iced tea almost always what you will get is the powdered Nestea that comes in a package. Even though I don’t mind the Nestea, I do have to say that it is a bit too sweet.

As for what can be added to Sun Tea, here are a few recommendations;  A few slices of lemon dropped in after the brewing is completed is a traditional choice. Others prefer a few leaves of mint. Here in the Philippines the most available citrus juice is a very small fruit known as Calamansi. If using, Calamansi it is best to strain out the seeds (I use a fork) as they are quite bitter. Still others might calamansi-2prefer a few thin slices of cucumber in their tea. And while it is not my preference, I suppose even a pinch of cinnamon or a stick of cinnamon could be added.

I don’t suppose iced tea is something that would remind most Europeans of home, however for an American south-west guy like me, kicking back on a hot day out on the patio with a cold glass of iced sun tea is a refreshing slice of home.


philippines survival guide advice expats

Author: Reekay

About Me.. In 2011 I made the decision to move to the Philippines within a year. Since 2012 I’ve been traveling through various islands of the Philippines as a full-time Expat. (Mactan, Bohol, Panglao, Moalboal, Dumaguete, Bacong, Boracay, Cebu) I recently spent the year living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Share with me here my ongoing adventures of life in the Philippines. Dating, vlogging, cooking, traveling and sharing the information with you needed to make your own plans for living as a full-time expat in Southeast Asia.
— Reekay


  1. Reekay, in the tropics a nice cold glass of slightly sweet tea is a great and simple pleasure. But, if you make it by heating the water in in a water heater, isn’t it just tea? If you use the sun to heat the water, by setting it in the sun, then you have sun tea.

    1. Yes. And that’s a stickler. True ‘sun tea’, if started with cold water will not reach boiling temps at any point, especially in the tropics. And for the flavor to really escape the bags the water should really be as hot as possible when starting to brew.

      I place it in the sun mostly to extend the amount of time the water stays hot. Technically, the Sun isn’t going to make it taste any different. But in a hot, desert climate where temps can get as high as 110*F, placing it in the sun to brew makes things easy. 🙂

  2. Hey Reekay… Nice tip…. Being a Texan, fresh brewed tea is a staple here….Sun tea is great, but I prefer brewing with boiling water…. It is stronger when brewed… I love sweet tea, and it would be a loss in my life, if I could not make it… Thanks….

    1. I’m always glad to hear from Texas, my entire Dad’s side of the family is based in Corpus Christi. (hot and humid) And yes, Sun Tea is a staple and a tradition in the desert. With the high temps outside to keep the water hot after boiling it, it really brings out the flavor.

  3. Reekay,
    Well since i am from So. California I have been used to making Sun Tea every year for decades and it has continued even here in Las Vegas. When i was in the Philippines, whenever i had asked if they make sun tea they said, What’s That? I use an old thick glassed gallon Olive Jar, I have serveral of them, wow they get very hot in the Las Vegas Sun here. I use about 7 bags of whatever flavor tea i have around and some of my fresh home grown mint leaves. I use the cold filtered water that comes out of my refrigerator. After it gets done brewing out in the hot sun, no more than 6 hours, i take the jar inside add one cup of sugar, (yes i love it sweet like sweet sun tea), then transfer the contents into another plastic gallon pitcher and then put it inside the refrigerator to get ice cold. Nothing better than a glass of home made sweet sun tea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.