Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sun Tea Risks, Myths, and Advice

I promised my mom I would look into the risks and benefits of sun tea. When I searched for information on the possible presence of bacteria in sun tea, I found a Snopes article that has done all my work for me. Or had it? The article asserts that the Center for Disease Control has found harmful bacteria (Alcaligenes viscolactis) in sun tea. If you go to the CDC website and search for that bacteria, though, you get no results. "Sun tea" brings one result, a manual for interviewers who are tracking people's food consumption. There is nothing about bacteria in the manual. An article from Colorado State University Extension (published in Winter/Spring 1999) supports these claims, based on a 1996 study... The data are getting less compelling.

Conclusion: Don't drink sun tea if it has been out for more than 24 hours or has gross stuff floating in it. Otherwise, enjoy!
This is not sun tea.
But it is my hot chocolate with a dancing girl on it.

Next I set out to discover if sun tea has the same health benefits as traditionally brewed tea. WebMD details the multiple health benefits of drinking tea and concludes with a recipe for sun tea, which suggests it is just as good (although they caution that it is diluted). There was one article saying that sun tea does not get hot enough to release polyphenols, but it didn't cite any sources.

Conclusion: Sun tea is probably just as good as regular tea, but you have to drink more of it.

Got it? Lots of tea, no gross stuff, and you're all set for this summer. :-)

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