Is my sun tea safe?

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scobles
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Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:20 am

Recently I tried making two small batches of sun tea. I have some glass bottles that seal real well and I dropped a bag of Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha into the bottles, along with about 2oz of whiskey and 6oz of water. They have been sitting on my back porch for a few days now. However, I am not entirely sure if they are safe to drink.

There is a lot of a cloudy white material on the bottom of the bottles that you can see whenever you move one. I was doing a bit of research and I heard that the caffeine and tannins in the tea begin to combine. Is this what happened to me? Or is that bacteria growth? They have also begun to carbonate some which surprised me greatly. I guess it has begun to ferment like kombucha, though I don't see any form of a scoby (unless thats what the cloudy material is). Another worry of mine is that the whiskey isnt purified enough (compared to something cleaner like vodka), and that could cause potential harm/bacteria growth. Oh, and also I did not boil the water before using it.

I am sorry if I have posted this in the wrong place, or if my posting style seems out of place. This is my first time posting here!

I can provide pictures if interested.
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Shine Magical
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Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:29 pm

Maybe not. Cold brewing is assuredly safer.

Also a tincture takes a lot longer to make than a few days if that’s what you were attempting.
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pedant
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Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:38 pm

hey scobles,

welcome to the forum.

every tea is different. some of them naturally make a lot of cloudy/dusty stuff, so it's hard to say if that's just from your tea or from microbial activity.

i would say that you are right to be concerned though. there's no guarantee that it is safe to drink because:
  • since it's sun tea, i'm guessing you didn't start with boiling water. this means that the initial microbial concentration wasn't knocked down.
  • warm, wet environment with nutrients from tea for microbes to feed on
  • a few days of growth could lead to lots of microbes if the initial microbe concentration was high enough
as for the alcohol..
in 8 fl oz, 2 fl oz of that is 40% EtOH.
2 fl oz * 0.4 / 8 fl oz = 10% ethanol or 20 proof overall. that's helpful but not enough to inhibit growth of all potential pathogens.

i personally don't think this preparation method is guaranteed to produce something safe to drink. if there's carbonation, that's further evidence that stuff is growing in it, and you can't say for sure if it's benign.

the combo of sencha + whiskey sounds interesting though. have you tried it before? does it taste good?
t-curious
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Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:42 pm

It sounds like there's microbial growth going on. I wouldn't drink it. It may not be dangerous but why risk it?

Are you following some guide online or a recipe from a book or something? Or is this something you dreamed up? :)

My mother used to make sun tea using black bag tea. I know she never left it out for more than 12 hours, it was probably just a few hours. It seems to me that several days is overkill for sun tea. But then again I have no idea what you're doing :D
scobles
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Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:03 pm

Thank you for the helpful replies! I feel I should not drink it, instead ill dump it and maybe try again making sure I boil the water and take some other precautions.

To the people asking me if I've had this before: no. I have had other whiskeys mixed with canned green tea but never this. And also, I just made it up :P I was curious as to if it would taste good at all, but you know what they say, curiosity killed the cat!
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pedant
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Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:44 pm

It's not the weirdest combo I've heard. Might be good.

Someone was telling me recently about drinking various tea + gin cocktails. Supposedly one made with dongding was kinda good.
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debunix
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Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:15 am

scobles wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:03 pm
I just made it up :P I was curious as to if it would taste good at all
I think you'd get much the same impact by cold-brewing the tea (adding dry sencha, bagged or loose leaf, to a bottle of water and putting it in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight), then strain it and add the whisky and drink chilled, or let sit out at room temp for a bit to warm up. The alcohol may change what flavor elements get extracted from the tea if you add it earlier (might be good or bad, no idea).
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wave_code
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Sat Jul 13, 2019 3:40 pm

I've never made something like this over multiple days, after a few hours its usually strong enough. If you wouldn't drink a cup of tea you left on your kitchen counter 2 days later I wouldn't drink this.

As for whisk(e)y, a lot of it also has things like caramel color additive that could drop out and cause discoloration over time, especially cheaper stuff.
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