Last Updated on July 21, 2020
Not only ABSURDLY easy, making sun tea with herbs you’ve picked fresh from the garden is fun, satisfying and healthy. Here’s how to make sun tea with fragrant herbs from your garden!
How to Make Sun Tea from Homegrown Herbs
Did you know you can be growing your own tea and sipping delicious herbal brews made with nothing more than some leaves, water, sun, and time?
Sure, you could buy lots of bottled drinks to sip through the scorching days of summer, but making your own saves money and slashes the footprint of your cold beverage habit. Zero waste tea that’s super healthy — who could ask for more?
Making fresh teas from the garden is one of my favorite summer activities, letting me stroll through the yard plucking the leaves of beautifully-scented plants and creating unique, delicious, and healing summer teas. Many I brew just for the flavor, but since I’ve learned about all the amazing natural remedies you can grow yourself, I’ve taken to experimenting with lots of different plants.
I often infuse my herbs with boiling water, which extracts more of the flavor and beneficial compounds, but some days it’s fun to make a simple sun tea and put all that sweltering summer heat to good use.
Two important elements make sun tea a winner in my book:
- Sun tea steeps outside in the sun, which not only saves energy it keeps heat out of the house, so helpful on those steamy summer days!
- Sun tea is made with plentiful perennial herbs, which show up in great quantities and involve no work on your part. It’s a terrific way to save big on healthy food.
As you probably know, my go-to is lemon balm, which I’ve allowed to take over huge portions of my small garden because I use it in my favorite sleep-promoting tea that I drink pretty much every night.
But I love to sip other home-brewed herbal teas during the day, and having different flavors to mix up keeps things interesting. Peppermint tea is a tried and true refresher, but I’m especially partial to unusual and lesser-known flavors like borage.
If you have a shadier garden like I do, you’ll be happy to know many of these herbs grow well in shade.
No Garden? No Problem! How to Make Sun Tea From Dried Herbs
–> Don’t worry if you don’t have a garden! There are plenty of inexpensive dried herbs you can buy to make sun tea. You can find dried peppermint, nettle, red raspberry, and lemon balm in many natural food store bulk aisles or buy them online. Here are several herbal tea recipes to try.
The links below take you to 1-pound bags that last a VERY long time. A pound will see you through many gallons of sun tea, and you’ll have plenty left over to share with friends.
Herbs to Consider for this Sun Tea Recipe
You’re probably familiar with common mint and peppermint, but there are some other varieties of mint that are really delicious in sun tea. Try apple, orange, pineapple, or chocolate mint to mix things up.
Chocolate mint makes an especially smooth and light sun tea. I also find it works better as a ground cover in the garden than common mint, less prone to insect damage and a bit less likely to try to take over.
Plus it really does smell like a peppermint patty. It may satisfy your craving for mint chocolate chip ice cream!
If you’re not growing mint yourself, someone in your neighborhood probably has extra to share, but if not, you can buy it dried.
Lemon balm has a lovely lemon flavor and wonderful medicinal properties. It’s generally used to promote relaxation and sleep, but it also just tastes good. (Read more about uses for lemon balm here.)
I find lemon balm sun tea considerably less potent than that brewed in boiled water, but it’s still delicious. If you don’t have lemon balm growing in your yard, you can buy dried lemon balm online.
Pollinators adore borage, and the leaves have a wonderful melon flavor. Borage sun tea might be my favorite of all them, with a mellow flavor of honeydew. Plus it’s fun to float the flowers on top. Here’s more about borage plant and why to consider growing it in your garden. (Here’s where to buy dried if you don’t want to grow it yourself.)
Red Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf tea is prized for its ability to soothe menstrual cramps and digestive issues, as well as benefits during pregnancy. Read more about uses and cautions here. It’s rich in tannins like black tea (but without the caffeine) and can take on a very tannic flavor when brewed with boiling water. Sun tea makes a less tannic brew.
Blackberry leaves can be used in this sun tea recipe as well. If you don’t have raspberries growing, you can buy dried red raspberry leaf online.
Hyssop and Anise Hyssop
Not everyone loves the flavor of licorice, but if you do, hyssop and anise hyssop (unrelated plants, by the way) are great choices. Both hyssops have numerous medicinal uses, including treating coughs and respiratory symptoms, so they’re good herbs to preserve for winter, when you can use a hyssop tea to soothe colds.
I pick more than we need at our CSA, but if you don’t have some you can pick fresh, here’s where to buy dried hyssop.
Hibiscus tea is worth making for its delicious flavor and beautiful color alone, but the health benefits of hibiscus tea make it an even more appealing choice. I can’t grow hibiscus in our northern climate, but the inexpensive pound bag I get lasts for ages and makes a GORGEOUS sun tea, which is a little mellower than when brewed with boiling water. So delicious over ice on a hot day!
For an intensely lemony tea, consider lemon verbena, which in addition to being delicious has a number of medicinal properties, including reducing inflammation. Lemon verbena has been studied for its usefulness in repairing damage to muscles after exercise and may be also help curb appetite, promote digestion, and alleviate insomnia. Here’s where to buy it dried.
Other Herbs to Consider Adding to Your Sun Tea
Some other common plants like yarrow, catnip, wild violet flowers and leaves, and red clover can all be added to your herbal sun tea mix for additional benefits. While I don’t think these plants taste wonderful on their own, they have useful medicinal properties that make them good choices to add to the mix. I often put a little catnip, yarrow, and violet in my evening lemon balm tea for their additional soothing properties.
Elderflower is another delicious and medicinal ingredient to include. You can forage flowers easily during its almost month-long season, and they make a pretty and tasty addition to your sun tea. I’m especially partial to the combination of borage and elderflower. Here’s where to buy it dried.
Your neighborhood may have other edible flowers you can brew into delicious sun teas. Here are more than 150 flowers you can eat that you might find growing near you.
How to Make Sun Tea
This sun tea recipe is easy-peasy! Pick your herbs, put them in a jar with water, and park them in the sun. That’s it! More deets below.
1. Gather your chosen herbs and rinse to remove bugs and dust. 2. Fill a clean mason jar about 1/2 full with fresh herbs and cover with filtered water. (Here's why to filter your water.) If using dry herbs, place in a jar with water and shake to mix. 3. Seal tightly and place in a sunny spot for 6-8 hours, giving the jar a shake a couple times over the course of the day. 4. Strain and enjoy over ice. I always err on the side of making tea too strong because you can dilute it with water or ice. Too weak tea is just bad 🙂 Stronger-flavored herbs like hyssop can be brewed with just 1/4 jar. Add a little sweetener if you like, but many of these herbs don't need it and taste great on their own.
1. Gather your chosen herbs and rinse to remove bugs and dust.
2. Fill a clean mason jar about 1/2 full with fresh herbs and cover with filtered water. (Here's why to filter your water.) If using dry herbs, place in a jar with water and shake to mix.
3. Seal tightly and place in a sunny spot for 6-8 hours, giving the jar a shake a couple times over the course of the day.
4. Strain and enjoy over ice.
I always err on the side of making tea too strong because you can dilute it with water or ice. Too weak tea is just bad 🙂
Stronger-flavored herbs like hyssop can be brewed with just 1/4 jar.
Add a little sweetener if you like, but many of these herbs don't need it and taste great on their own.
How about you? Do you have a favorite herb for sun tea?
Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Her first book, Everything Elderberry, released in September 2020 and has been a #1 new release in holistic medicine, naturopathy, herb gardening, and other categories. Find out more and grab your copy here.