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Could this popular summer beverage actually be making you ill in Minnesota?

One of the more classic scenes of summer here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes is a big jar of iced tea, steeping in the hot summer sun. My grandma used to brew up a big pitcher of 'sun tea,' as she called it, often when I was a kid. You'd see a large, glass pitcher sitting filled with water and several bags of tea sitting on her picnic table out in the sun, steeping away.

But now there's word that while sun tea might indeed be a sweet part of summer here in the Gopher State and across the country, the results might not be. So what's the problem with sun tea?

Well, according to this story from The Takeout, it's the whole 'sun' part of sun tea. Because despite how hot our Minnesota summers seem to be, the temperature reached when you brew tea out in the sun isn't necessarily hot enough to kill bacteria that could be lurking on the tea leaves.

And another story from Taste of Home explains it like this:

The 130° Fahrenheit temperature that sun-brewed tea typically reaches, while excellent for extracting flavor, is not hot enough to kill bacteria. Foods kept between 40-140°F are in the “danger zone,” a temperature range where bacteria can flourish and make you sick.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that the 'danger zone' for food is something we usually associate with meat, fish, and other items that aren't grilled to a high enough temperature, or with food that has been sitting out too long. However, those same bacteria *could* be lurking in that pitcher of sun tea.

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Of course, Taste of Home notes that instances of people getting violently ill from sun tea are rare. But it still COULD cause you some discomfort. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to lower this risk of getting sick from iced tea brewed in sun:

  • Start with a completely clean and sanitized jar or pitcher
  • Sanitize your bags of tea by pouring some boiling water over them first and let sit for five minutes before setting the jar/pitcher in the sun to finish brewing.

Meanwhile, instead of sun tea, if you're looking for another beverage to enjoy during the summer here in the Bold North, keep scrolling to check out the Minnesota breweries with the highest-rated craft beers!

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