Spiked Sun Tea

Easy to make, sun tea vodka is delicious in a simple cocktail such as a mint julep.

Trying to enjoy ourselves in the age of the novel coronavirus has led many of us back to the simple pleasures in life: using Grandma’s muffin tins to recreate her famous blueberry muffins, tending the tomato plants in our backyard gardens and watching our vegetable scraps regrow in jars of water on our windowsills.

At our house, we’ve been willing the sun to pop out and stream rays through our Mason jars full of tea to create our favorite warm-weather beverage: sun tea. This hobby soon led us to our latest home-bartending experiment: sun tea vodka.

Sun tea vodka is simple, delicious and nostalgic – at least for us – stirring up memories of summers past and promising more memorable moments in the future. To start, choose a flavor of tea. We lean toward darker teas such as oolong and English breakfast, but you can use whatever you have in the cupboard.

For the recipe, steep one tea bag per cup of vodka. Pour vodka in a glass jar over tea bags; close jar with lid and transfer to a windowsill that gets a lot of sunlight. The warmth of the sun will infuse the vodka. If you’re trying to do this on a cloudy day, don’t despair: the process will still work, it’ll just take longer. Wait at least 2 hours and then check the color of the liquid. The goal is to get a deep shade of amber (sometimes with a reddish tint).

Once the color of the liquid is just right, and you can really taste the flavor of the tea in the vodka, remove tea bags and pour vodka back into the bottle. And there you have it: sun tea vodka. The best way we’ve found to use it is in a simple cocktail for easy porch sipping.

Sun Tea Vodka Mint Julep

Sun tea is very little fuss, so to transform our sun tea vodka into a cocktail, we thought it fitting to maintain the same relaxed attitude.

Sun Tea Vodka Mint Julep

Serves | 1 |

  • 2 oz sun tea vodka
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • ¼ oz fresh lemon juice (juice from approximately ¼ lemon)
  • 1 leaf mint, plus more for garnish
  • 1½ oz soda water
  • 1 dash Angostura aromatic bitters
  • lemon slice, for garnish

| Preparation | In a shaker tin, add sun tea vodka and honey; stir until honey has dissolved. (Don’t add ice yet; the mixture needs to be warm for the honey to dissolve properly.) Once honey is well mixed into vodka, add lemon juice, mint leaf and ice; shake. Pour mixture into a rocks glass over ice; top with soda water and bitters. Garnish with mint leaf and lemon slice and enjoy.

Pilsen Photo Co-op is a photo, video, styling and writing collaboration between Caleb Condit and Rebecca Norden. Their work has appeared on websites for Nordstrom, Tasting Table, Refinery29, HuntStand Media and Vice.

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