Have you noticed that there is someone who will take the fun out of just about everything?

Mexican food. Chinese food. Movie popcorn. Now a cool pitcher of sun tea will make you sick.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Alcaligenes viscolactis, a bacteria commonly found in water, can flourish during the slow steep of sun tea. And it can make you sick.


Who knew something as simple as sun tea could be so dangerous?

I sip tea all day long during the summer. Currently, my favorite concoction is a mixture of green and chai spice teas. And since I’m just a risk-taking, adventurous kind of gal, I have decided that I will continue drinking my sun tea. After all, I’ve made it this far without getting ill. Let’s just see what happens.

For the rest of you, you might want to follow some safety precautions. These include:

-Scrub your sun tea container with hot soapy water. (Frankly, I assume everyone does this anyway.)

-Don’t leave the sun tea to brew for more than three or four hours. (Being the crazy kinda gal that I am, I will continue to brew mine for six to eight hours.)

-Refrigerate and drink as soon as possible. (No problem there.)

-Don’t prepare more than you can drink in a day. Throw out the leftovers. (None left anyway.)

And on one website, they advise you to throw away tea that has turned thick and syrupy or that has ropy strands, which are bacteria. Whaaaaaa? Who would drink that anyway?

So there you have it. Go forth and be safe. As for me, I will continue to live life on the edge with a cold glass of sun tea in my hand.

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  • Nancy Bond says:

    Your sun tea looks delicious! I wonder if it would make a difference if one thoroughly boiled the water beforehand, say for 5 minutes or so? Just a thought. Enjoy!

    I’ve decided to just take my chances. If my number’s up and the sun tea gets me, well then, adios.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • RuthieJ says:

    sounds like the basis for a good mystery novel…..death by sun tea! 😉

    Hah! I’ll need to remember that I have this poison around next time someone makes me angry.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Good grief! Seems someone always finds something “wrong” with everything. LOL! I’m a huge fan of sun tee and sometimes mine sits out for hours. Surprised I’m still here! Have a wonderful weekend and I love your picture.
    Happy Gardening.

    Yes, that a photo of my very own poison tea!

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • it’s a wonder any of us are still living.

    Indeed. As much of this stuff as I have ingested, I should have been a goner long ago.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Christine says:

    No way! I hadn’t heard this one, yet. I simply seep my tea in hot water, in an old gallon jar, left inside. With seven kids, one dog, four cats, and five kittens right now, I simply like my jar too much to set it outside.

  • Mary says:

    Hi Dear Robin,

    I make enough sun tea to last three days :o/ (refrigerated). Been doing this for most of my life! But I will remember this…and look for stringy bacteria. Pour down the drain immediately. I should be dead by now; therefore, I am lucky!

    I’m so far behind in the blogworld. I’ll be back to catch up with you over the weekend. My back has been out of whack and hurts to sit for more than ten minutes but I’m on the mend. From sheer determination.


  • Pretty photo of your death concoction. Kind of like Oleander only different.~~Dee

  • Seems to me Nancy J Bond’s suggestion to boil the water (for 5 minutes!) rather contradicts the purpose of sun tea–to use solar energy to brew tea.

    Maybe it’s because I’m married to a Brit but I’d never boil tea water for 5 minutes. That will make the water flat and tasteless.

    I guess I’ll continue to live on the edge, too. (Must be a theme of former Spitfire drivers.)

  • Patrick says:

    By doing a little Googling, I see this bacteria also occurs in milk, so be sure not to let your milk steep in the sun for more than 3-4 hours either.

    On a more serious note, I think the last thing you said is probably the most important. Be sure not to drink tea that has turned thick and syrupy or that has ropy strands. I think otherwise most people’s sun tea is probably pretty safe.

  • Tipper says:

    I have an Uncle who always made sun tea-and none of us ever got sick-of course we knew better than to drink strands-ugh!

  • Betty Jo says:

    Oh Dear! I hadn’t heard this yet, and I’ve made sun tea for years. Your blog is lovely. I followed a link from Cottage Magpie. xoxo

  • Layanee says:

    Is nothing sacred? Who paid for that study and, better yet, why?

  • eliz says:

    Ha. I have been happily surviving while engaging in all sorts of far riskier behavior than this and plan to continue doing so. Haven’t made sun tea in a while, though. It is good.

    Good luck with examiner.com!

  • Terri says:

    I LOVE your sun tea jar! Can you tell me where you got it? It looks vintage!

    By the way…I make sun tea all the time and leave it on the counter all day. Probably not a great idea. I will keep it in the fridge from now on though. Just to be safe.


    Hi Terri,

    I suppose you just never know about some things. My source for the sun tea jar was Wal-Mart. It is made by Anchor Hocking! Cheap! Cheap!

    Thanks for visiting!

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Stephanie says:

    I am a huge sun tea fan & had no idea about the bacteria. On a good note, I have been buying clear gallon bottles of purifird water & setting this outside for brewing. I would think by using purifird water I should be safe, right?


  • Kathi says:

    Yes,I’m a little late making a comment, but I’ve just found your very informative blog and love it….

    I don’t know about the harmful bacteria silliness….

    The way I make sun tea is without the sun part 😉 I just put the pitcher of water and the tea bags in the fridge and in the morning the cold tea is made! Mmmmm….just add a bit of honey (melted in a bit of warm water) and enjoy.