Tippy’s Tea of the Month: Turmeric Tea

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This time of year, we’re all trying to avoid those sniffles and coughs. It’s not easy with rapidly dropping temperatures and changes in seasons. I thought it would be interesting to focus on a tea that tastes good, and has a reputation for helping the body. What do you know about turmeric? You can make tea out of the root, or purchase various forms of dried tea.

Kat has read a bit about it lately, and it got me curious. We picked a little bit up, and made a rather earthy tea with it. Here’s what we did

Tippy’s Turmeric Tea

1-inch piece of turmeric peeled and roughly chopped

½ inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (or more if you prefer)

1 tablespoon honey

1 cup water

(makes 1 serving)

First of all, please be careful when handling the turmeric! It can stain, so be sure to use a cutting board that’s easy to clean. Smash the turmeric and ginger a little bit with the back of a spoon, just to get those juices flowing.  Boil the water and add the turmeric and ginger. Let it all bubble gently together for 5-10 minutes. Once you are happy with the flavor, turn off the heat. Add in the lemon and honey (you can always add more of both to taste). Strain into a mug and garnish with lemon slices if desired. Enjoy!

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Turmeric is supposed to help the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties. Dearies I’m teacup not a doctor, so please do not take my word as medical advice! But I do know that my turmeric tea tastes good, and it’s nice to think it’s also good for us! Do you have a favorite recipe for turmeric tea? Please let us know in the comments! I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy tea.

Tippy’s Masala Chai Brownies

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Dearies I was perusing the calendar we keep in the kitchen and December 8th is going to be my new favorite national day. It involves one of my favorite flavors, and can be enjoyed with tea. It’s National Brownie Day! Oh I just love caky, chocolatey brownies. But I suppose I also love the fudgy, dense kind too. They go perfectly with tea, don’t they? I decided that instead of a brownie to pair with tea, I wanted to put tea right in the brownie!

It was tough to choose a tea to add to a brownie. I was close to doing Earl Grey, since I love how it pairs with chocolate. But then I decided to go a completely different route. I’ve recently been playing around with masala chai and chocolate, and realized this would make a fantastic brownie! A little sweet, a little spicy, and that smooth chocolate flavor to round everything out. Here’s my recipe!

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Tippy’s Masala Chai Brownies

½ cup butter (1 stick)

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup flour

¼ teaspoon cardamom

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ginger

¼ teaspoon cloves

Heat your oven to 350°F. Line an 8” square baking pan with tin foil or parchment (make sure it overlaps a little to give you something to hold on to when you lift the brownies out of the pan) and grease the lining. In a small bowl sift the flour and spices together and set aside.

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In a small saucepan combine the butter and chocolate. Heat on low and stir until everything is just melted and combined. Pour this into a bowl (or use the same pot if it’s big enough) and stir in the sugar. Using a whisk beat in the eggs one at a time. Slowly stir in the flour and spices mixture until combined.

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Pour mixture into the lined pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until it’s just soft but not too firm in the middle. Cool in the pan on a wire rack (if possible. We sometimes just leave the pan to cool on the stovetop). Once cool, carefully lift the foil or parchment, and cut into squares. Enjoy!

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There you have it, Dearies! These brownies are on the fudgy side, which I think works very well with the chai spices. I think this would pair well with a nice robust Assam or bright Kenyan black tea.  Happy National Brownie Day!

Tippy’s Tea of the Month: Longjing

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Dearies I know we’ve talked about Green Teas quite a bit, but there is one in particular that is a Chinese staple with an interesting story, Longjing. This tea’s name translates to ‘dragon well’, and is grown only in China’s Zhejiang province. Why is this well-loved tea called Dragon Well? It all goes back to the legend! There are actually a few different versions of the legend, but in my favorite version, a Taoist monk discovered a dragon hiding in an old well. The season had been in drought, and once the villagers learned of the Monk’s discovery they prayed to this dragon to bring the rain and fill the well to capacity. After the prayers, it started to rain! This water flowed from the well and nourished the surrounding tea is grown.

 The tea itself has a flat needle-like shape with a lovely jade green color. This tea is pan-fired which gives it a nutty taste (it often reminds me of chestnuts) with a fresh vegetal aroma. It also has a cooked veggie flavor which we often associate with green beans. The tea is nutty, vegetal and sweet.

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 The quality of longjing depends on when it was harvested. The earlier in the spring, the more expensive the tea will be. For the highest quality, one leaf and one bud is picked. These young leaves and buds create a very gentle, fresh and tender flavor for the tea.

The highest grade leaves are pan fried in small batches in a wok. They  needed to be heated as soon as possible to prevent oxidation. The pan-firing technique creates the lovely nutty flavor you taste in the tea. The leaves are pressed to the sides of the wok to make sure they are properly dried. This also creates the flat needle-like shape of the finished leaves. If your tea leaves have an even color to them, you know they were dried very well, to make sure the heat was even for the whole batch. Lower grades of longjing are also pan heated but usually in large revolving drums. The teas that are machine roasted are still quite delicious and more affordable.

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As with many coveted teas, longjing can be ‘faked’. You may not be getting spring harvested tea, or tea grown in Zhejiang. The best way to tell is use your eyes and mouth. Does it look like a vibrant green tea? Does it smell and taste like early spring? Veggies and chestnut? It is smooth and gentle or is it bitter? If you taste enough good quality longjing you will know what to look for. As always dearies, it’s about tasting, tasting, tasting!

To brew your longjing you can use a gaiwan, or a small teapot. My favorite way is to just add the leaves right in the water using either a bowl style cup or tall glass. Just keep filling up your vessel with hot water as you finish it, re-steeping those beautiful leaves. This is the way it’s commonly consumed in China.  Dearies no matter how you steep it, it’s a beautiful tea. If you try it you’ll understand why it’s so revered in China. Happy Steeping!

Giving Tuesday

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Holiday season seems to be the time to focus on gifts. Kat’s got her long list of friends and family that you need to get gifts for, and she’s been hunting for the perfect gift for everyone. Now is the time when I start to gently remind her that she needs to consider her charitable donations as well. We’re spending so much time and effort on family and friends, but what about organizations that need our help? I know it’s not easy to switch gears, but Tuesday November 29th is Giving Tuesday. That’s right, a few days after Black Friday and Cyber Monday there is a day that is focused on giving back.

There are of course many ways in giving back through volunteering, charitable donations, and supporting companies that directly donate profits to those in need. There are many tea companies that help support farmers and communities around the world. I was recently steeping up a bold cup of black tea for Kat, and noticed something on the box that I hadn’t seen before. Harris Tea donates $.10 from each box to the Alzheimer’s Association. They have committed a minimum annual donation of $25,000. Isn’t that fabulous? I was thrilled to find out that one of Kat’s favorite brands of black tea is giving back. If you’d like to learn more about Harris Teas you can visit their website, and shop their selection on Amazon.

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Kat loves the Harris black tea because it is straightforward and brisk. It reminds her of afternoons with her grandmother Char. They would often have a formal cup of tea in the afternoons and her gran would let her steal sips of Harris black tea until she was old enough to have a full cup of her own. Kat relished these days with Char, sitting and sharing special stories. Each sip of this tea brings those memories flooding back and gives her a warm satisfied feeling. She has also discovered their mellow, relaxing green tea as well. She keeps a few bags in her purse, and some in her desk at work. It’s the perfect tea to recharge with in the early afternoon.

To learn even more about these teas you can check out my previous post here. Dearies, I do hope you spend some time thinking about what you’ll do for Giving Tuesday! There are so many ways to give back.

Black Teas to get you through Black Friday!

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Oh goodness Dearies, I barely see Kat these days! She’s already busy running about getting her holiday prep started. Between Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas coming up, she has endless to-do lists. I see her briefly in the morning and then we sometimes meet for a late-night relaxation sip. Watching her breeze around the house for a few days, I decided to come up with a list of black teas to give her a bit of pep to get through the holiday crazy. Especially that Black Friday shopping! She’s planning on getting up very early (even before this tea cup likes to be awake!) and going all day long. Here are a few of our favorite black teas I’m lining up to keep her awake and ready to go!

 Irish Breakfast- I can’t think of a better way to start the day! This is a super strong blend of black teas, perfect to wake you right up. This tea has a hearty dose of Assam which is malty and bold. It’s a bit stronger in flavor than English Breakfast but they’ll both do the trick. Sometimes they are blended with Kenyan, Ceylon, and Chinese black teas as well. Each blend tastes a bit different so you should try as many brands as you can to see what you like best!

 Keemun- this is a Chinese tea that’s great for the morning or early afternoon. It can be a little earthy, little bit sweet, with a hint of smoke. Very uplifting and energizing!

 Darjeeling- perhaps it’s getting a bit later in the day and you want something to get you through but not give you a big boost. A delicate 1st flush Darjeeling is floral yet earthy, a nice balance of more subtle flavors. It will restore your energy and the flavor will also give you focus and calm.

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Kat has found a new favorite to keep her shopping energy up. I mentioned Tea India teas in our Diwali celebration post, and Kat now keeps the Orange Pekoe tea on hand for moments when she needs a pick-me-up. It’s a bold Assam tea, perfect for mornings or early afternoon. She’s even made it iced a few times, an carries it around in a tumbler. Quite a versatile tea! Earthy, bold and bright, it holds up well both hot and iced.

 These Black Friday teas are of course great for any occasion. I’d stick with them in the morning or early afternoon if you are sensitive to their pep effects. Do you have a favorite black tea to wake you up and keep you going?

Tippy’s Tea-Infused Cranberry Sauce

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Thanksgiving is coming up fast, and Kat’s hosting this year! I’m so excited to be a part of the action. Kat has been studying her cookbooks, picking out each dish she wants to make for her friends. I’m going to be creating my favorite Thanksgiving tea cocktails, and I decided I wanted to do a tea-infused dish.

 Dearies, it took me awhile to come up with just the right dish. Did I want to do a vegetable? perhaps a starch side? After mulling it over a bit and discussing with my kitchen friends, I decided on a dish that’s iconic, and stands out on the plate. Something everyone has at Thanksgiving. Cranberry sauce! Kat likes to make her cranberry sauce with citrus, so that got me thinking. What tea would work in cranberry sauce? There are many options, but I wanted something to compliment the citrus. So, of course I chose Earl Grey! That lemony-flavored bergamot is the perfect way to enhance Kat’s cranberry sauce!

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Tippy’s Earl Grey Cranberry Sauce

 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries (can also use frozen)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup boiling water

2 earl grey tea bags

Zest of 1 orange

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Boil the 1/2 cup water in a medium-sized pot and pop in the teabags. Steep for 5 minutes, remove teabags and add in the cranberries, sugar, and orange juice. Cook over high heat until the cranberries start to pop open and the sugar dissolves, about 6-10 minutes. Stir and add in the orange zest. Cook for another few minutes and remove from heat. Allow to cool just enough so you can pour it into a bowl. Cover and leave in fridge for about 2 hours, until it’s fully cool. You can serve it cold or at room temperature.

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For the teabags we like to use Wegman’s Earl Grey. This is a perfectly balanced Earl Grey tea with just the right amount of citrusy bergamot flavor to compliment the earthy black tea. It is bright and refreshing. Kat keeps it around at all times. Perfect for an afternoon cup with a buttery shortbread biscuit, too! The Earl Grey brings a nice extra note of citrus to our homemade cranberry sauce.

Your guests are sure to love my cranberry sauce recipe! I hope it makes an appearance on your Thanksgiving table. Have an incredible Thanksgiving celebration, my lovely tea friends! If you create any tea-infused recipes, please do let me know! I’d love to hear about them.

Matcha Donuts!

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Dearies, as you know matcha is everywhere these days. You can enjoy it straight up, as a latte, or in a myriad of foods. Kat has brought home everything from matcha cream puffs, to matcha green-tea noodles. We’ve been putting it in our bath products, and you may remember I created a matcha face mask that’s perfect for an at-home spa night. It seems that everywhere you turn you’ll find a new use for matcha!

 Kat recently brought home a surprising matcha-product. A matcha donut! This donut in particular was quite special. A chocolate cake donut with a luscious matcha glaze. What a way to enjoy our favorite tea!

 It seems like many donut shops are jumping on the matcha bandwagon. Kat said some of her friends around the country have found matcha donuts too! This is definitely a trend that I can happily support. More matcha for everyone. Our local shop keeps this donut feeling special. They only make them on Saturdays! This causes the lines to be a bit long on Saturday mornings, but well worth the wait. If you have a donut shop or two in your town, ask if they make any with matcha! If you can find one, you’ll be glad you did.

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I was thinking that it would be such fun to matcha donuts from scratch, but Kat said she doesn’t have time for something so labor intensive. But what about a quick matcha glaze to add to your store bought donuts? Make a matcha glaze with three simple ingredients: powdered sugar, matcha, and water! A quick search can come up with lots of recipes, but I do like this one best. You can put it on your donuts, cakes, well just about anything!!

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So, what tea to pair with your matcha donut? I’d suggest a refreshing green tea. In fact, we’ve been pairing out donuts with Private Selection Citrus Green. I’ve paired this tea with sweets before as it’s a lovely combination of delicately vegetal green tea and tangy orange. The green tea compliments the matcha, and the orange cuts through the heavy donut and even accentuates the chocolate notes in the confection. Kat keeps this tea on hand to drink all year round. It’s thirst quenching in the summer, and a relaxing warm cup for early afternoon sips in the chillier weather. This tea is definitely one of our staples!

 Dearies, tasting this chocolate matcha donut has given me new found inspiration for matcha and chocolate recipes! Stay tuned as I’m going to start brainstorming and recipe testing! Kat always loves being my official taste tester. If you’ve come across any matcha donut varieties, do feel free to share them with me! Oh, the possibilities!

A Lovely Late Autumn Tea Cocktail

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Late Autumn is such a festive time of year, isn’t it? It seems that as temperatures start to lower, everyone starts having cozy get-togethers and hearty dinner parties. Kat and I have a few delicious tea cocktails in our repertoire, and I thought it would be fun to create another one for this festive time of year.

Since I love all things bubbly I came up with a ginger and pear cocktail that has a lovely little bit of fizz. Pear and ginger are flavors that remind me of fall leaves and crisp weather. I decided to use sweetened ginger tea as the base, add in pear juice, a dash of champagne (or prosecco), and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Put it all together and you have my ginger fizzy pear cocktail!

For this cocktail we used Newman’s Own Organic Ginger Green Tea. This tea combines mellow vegetal green tea with warming ginger. The zingy flavor is enhanced by a bit of lemongrass and rounded out with a pop of mint. It makes the cocktail even more unique. The calming yet invigorating flavor of this tea is perfect for morning sips or afternoon relaxation sessions. Kat’s friend Maeve came across this tea on Amazon.com and decided to give it a try. She shared some with Kat and they’ve been obsessed with it ever since!

Tippy’s Ginger Fizzy Pear Cocktail

Makes 2-3 cocktails

1 cup water

1 tablespoon sweetener of choice (we like honey)

1 ginger teabag of choice, or 1 tablespoon diced fresh ginger

¼ cup pear juice

Champagne or prosecco

Put your water in a small saucepan over high heat. Once it boils, turn off the heat and add in your ginger or teabag. If you are using fresh ginger, let steep for 7-10 minutes. If you are using a teabag, 5-7 minutes will do. Once tea is steeped, add in your sweetener and stir until dissolved. Strain and allow to fully cool.

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Once your tea is cool, pour into a champagne flute or coupe glass until about ¼ full. Add in a few tablespoons of pear juice, and top with the bubbly. You can add in a few pieces of chopped pear for a garnish if you’re feeling fancy!

I hope you enjoy all the fun this season has to offer! Cheers my lovely tea friends!

Adding Ginger To Your Tea

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This time of year Kat likes warming flavors to soothe and comfort. I’ve written about warming teas before, but I thought I should focus on one of her most favorite flavors: ginger. Dearies, do you enjoy ginger in your tea? If you’ve never had ginger tea before, it’s a must! It’s a zingy, versatile flavor that goes well with both green and black tea. It’s also lovely with rooibos and tulsi!

You can really take just about any tea and add some ginger flavor either with fresh or dried ginger. Kat loves fresh ginger and always has some in the kitchen. If you have some time, her favorite thing to do is peel and slice a 1-inch piece, and boil it in a saucepan with a cup of water for 5-10 minutes. You can leave the ginger steeping in the water as long as you like, especially if you like it super spicy. She then will add in a teaspoon or two of loose tea, steep, and then strain. Or she’ll strain the ginger water into a mug with a patiently waiting teabag. Add in a dash of honey and/or lemon, and you’re good to go! A deliciously warming cup of tea.

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There are times when we run out of fresh ginger, or just need our ginger tea fix as quickly as possible. On these occasions Kat reaches for HyVee ginger tea. Kat just loves this tea and always has a box in the cupboard. It’s quite convenient and steeps up the most delicious, spicy cup of tea. It is herbal so it has no added tea, just pure ginger goodness! Kat drinks this tea in the evening, uses it as a base for masala chai, and even adds it to baked goods. It gives a ginger zip to anything you add it to.

As I mentioned, ginger is an important component of masala chai. It’s one of our favorite beverages to make this time of year! Check out my previous post for recipes and ideas. Stay tuned, I’ve also got a masala chai hot chocolate recipe coming soon!

So Dearies, while the leaves start to swirl and the temps drop, reach for some ginger tea! It’s just lovely this time of year.

Ask Tippy: How Can I Start a Teacup Collection

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Ask Tippy is a series where you get to take control of the blog, and ask me questions about tea! Do you have a question about tea types? Tea preparation? Teaware? Ask away! I received the following question from twitter friend Carolina:

Q. Tippy, I just love the look of mismatched vintage teacups but I have no idea how to start collecting them. Do you have any advice?

A. Well my dear, you have come to the right place! Being a teacup, I have tea ware friends far and wide that I’ve met in all sorts of places. I think the first thing you should decide is if you’d like to go modern, vintage, or both. If you’re looking for vintage pieces try auctions, garage sales thrift stores, and antique shops. Look for estate sale listings too. Flea markets are also a fun way to shop for teacups. There are usually quite a few vendors with inexpensive tea ware. Online auctions are also a great way to browse, just make sure you look carefully at pictures and read all the descriptions. Used tea ware can often have chips or cracks and if you are unsure based on the pictures given, be sure to ask to see more photos.

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You’ll have to decide what ‘look’ is right for you. Are you interested in fancy china cups, sleek art deco styles, or something else? Do you like minimalist style or something more ornate? There is also an entire range of art pottery out there that you can find on Etsy or even Instagram. Or perhaps you like all of it! We certainly do. Kat’s collection of teacups is always growing. I feel like such a proud mother to our colorful brood!

Another tip is to look for teacups while you travel. Many cultures drink tea and have unique tea ware. For example, you can get tulip shaped glass cups in Turkey, and yixing clay cups in China. Kat likes to pick up pretty bone china cups in London, especially in the antique markets there. Or even just around the US you can find various potters working locally that make beautiful tea ware. Kat was in a little beach town and came across a local potter who makes beautiful tiny teacups. Keep your eyes open while you walk about town! Bigger cities will of course have even more to choose from.

Once you start collecting, you can display your cups anywhere you like. Kat likes to keep hers in a china cabinet, to make sure her little niece Camille doesn’t accidentally break one of her favorites. But she also pulls out her mismatched china cups and saucers for tea parties. She has every day useable art pottery for special tea sessions alone or with friends. And of course she has me! Her trusty friend and tea addict. But I’m one of a kind, of course!

Dearies, do you have a burning tea question you’d like answered? Tag me on twitter @TheLovelyTeaCup!