Indian Flavors In Tea

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When the temperatures dip below freezing, Kat and I always look for teas that are not just warm, but feel cozy and comforting on the inside. Each sip needs to be like wrapping a warm cashmere blanket around your shoulders. Who wouldn’t want to be warm inside and out while the icicles drip and snow falls?

 Kat has found some zesty teas from Tea India that she started drinking for Diwali and hasn’t stopped since. The delicious flavors are part of Indian cuisine and culture. Spices in the masala chai such as cardamom, ginger, pepper, and cinnamon are perfect for this time of year. They warm the body and wake up the palate. Kat likes to add a touch of sugar and a few drops of milk to round out the chai experience. With added milk and sugar, this tea brings me back to my days of traveling through India with Char. We sampled so many cups of masala chai. Sweet, spicy, and delicious. Everyone had their own unique recipe and it was so much fun to try them all! The Tea India version is a hearty cup that Kat has started enjoying in the mornings, to wake her up and get her ready for a chilly day ahead.

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The ginger tea is another Indian staple that Kat likes to keep on hand. The zingy flavor is great alone, or with a touch of honey and milk to calm the spice a bit. Ginger is delicious and also good for helping with digestion. Kat loves it as an early-afternoon break as it’s quite reviving! The spicy flavor also goes perfectly with a sweet snack.

 Cardamom tea is another popular Indian tea flavor. Kat’s friend Sima drinks this tea every day. She says it tastes just like the cardamom chai her mother used to make. Cardamom has a unique flavor that is lovely if you’re looking for an Indian spiced tea but you don’t want anything too spicy. This tea has a pure cardamom flavor without anything but black tea added to it.

 You can use these teas as they are, or add milk and your favorite sweetener. You can even use the ginger or cardamom as a base and add even more delicious flavors to them.

You can find these tasty teas at your local Indian grocery store, or head on over to amazon.com to buy them online.

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Hosting a Christmas Tea and Secret Santa

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Dearies, it’s almost my favorite time of year! Wreaths, holly, and lots of cheerful music! Gift wrapping, cookie baking, and of course lots of tea pairing! The holidays are upon us and Kat is ready to celebrate. This year one of the events she’s planning is a Christmas tea with a secret Santa gift swap.

Dearies, have you done secret Santa gifts before? Kat and her friends like to get together and draw names from a hat. Then you have to give a gift to the person written on the paper. The idea is that no one knows who their ‘Secret Santa’ is! It’s lots of fun. This year Kat is pairing the Secret Santa giving event with a Christmas afternoon tea for some festive merriment. For the Secret Santa her new rule this year is that part of the gift must be tea-related! It can be tea, teaware, a book about tea, anything at all! I of course am in favor of this new rule.

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For the festive tea, Kat’s going to decorate with lots of pinecones, red ribbon, and many silver and gold accents. Do you have any favorite Christmas decor to suggest?

Kat’s going to start off her tea with scones and two different finger sandwiches. She decided on ham and butter for a French twist, and turkey with a thin layer of cranberry chutney. So perfect for the holidays! She’s going to serve a rich, bold single estate Assam tea with these. For the sweets, Kat is going to serve mini caramel apple tarts, and handmade chocolates. Kat has decided on a tea that’s a little unconventional to serve for her Christmas tea. Something warming, spicy, and cheerful. Masala Chai!

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Since she’ll be busy with baking and cooking, Kat’s chosen an instant chai that’s easy to prepare and always delicious. Chai Moments Masala Chai Tea gives you all the warming flavors of the season. Simply mix it with hot water! This way Kat can focus on enjoying time with friends. I’ve had my share of authentic masala chai, and I must say Dearies that this one is quite good. It has the right blend of creamy, spicy, earthy, and sweet. This tea can be found in local Indian grocery stores and also on Amazon.

It may seem difficult to pair desserts with the complex chai flavors, but rest assured it’s quite easy! Sweet treats with fruit, chocolate, even citrus pair wonderfully with masala chai. If you’re still feeling unsure, the best thing to do is of course try it for yourself! Mix up a batch of masala chai, and sip it with your favorite desserts. I think you’ll be surprised by the delicious results! Now that’s my kind of research.

Dearies, I hope you are having fun planning for the holiday season! Are you going to have a tea gathering? Please let me know I’d just love to hear the details

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?

Recipe: Tippy’s Chai Hot Chocolate!

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I’m so excited to share my new recipe with you! I’ve been thinking up ways to enjoy warming tea-infused drinks and when I saw Kat eating a chocolate cookie with her masala chai, it hit me! Why not make a chai hot chocolate? Imagine coming out from a chilly late fall or winter evening and curling up with a mug of something sweet, chocolatey and warming. Dearies, I must admit this is one of the most delicious recipes I’ve created. Kat and I had such fun testing it!

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Tippy’s Chai Infused Hot Cocoa

               2 cups whole milk

               ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

               2 tbps (or 2 tea bags) black tea

               8 cardamom pods

               1 cinnamon stick

               5 whole cloves

               5 peppercorns

               1 whole vanilla bean

               1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed

               4 tbsp sugar

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Gently is the key word for this recipe. Since we’re dealing with milk, we don’t want to overheat and cause it to scald or boil over. Heat water and milk genly until slightly bubbly but not boiling. Reduce heat to low, whisk in the cocoa powder. Once incorporated, split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add seeds and bean, the tea, spices, and ginger. Allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in the sugar. Allow to sit for 5 minutes and strain into two mugs.

This treat is delicious all on its own but you could garnish with fresh whipped cream, or add in a cinnamon stick. Enjoy my loves! If you try this recipe please let me know what you think? I know you’re going to love it.

Tea For Diwali

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Dearies, I was checking out the kitchen calendar and noticed Diwali is Sunday October 30th. Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights. I remember when Char and I were in Malaysia during the festival. It’s such a joyful time of year! Little twinkling lanterns were everywhere and there were the most beautiful firework displays. The lights create such a magical atmosphere! During Diwali clay lamps are lit to symbolize spiritual inner light. In fact, the word Diwali translates to ‘row of lamps’. The holiday marks the last harvest of the year. There are various cultures that celebrate the holiday, and the central meaning is celebrating good triumphing over evil. When Kat was first learning about Diwali, she noticed that there is a theme of gathering together, and celebrating with friends and family.

I of course have decided Kat and I need to drink as many Indian teas as possible during the 5 day holiday! My motto is, if there is a crowd, tea must be served! Tea is the perfect accompaniment for the various savories and mithai served throughout the Diwali holiday. I’ve rounded up our stock of Darjeeling, Assam, and Nilgiri teas, and will be brewing up a pot of my masala chai. We also have a few new teas to add to our Diwali preparation list!

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Just the other day Kat’s friend Sima introduced her to a line of delicious Tea India teas while they were starting to prepare for Diwali. Sima served Kat a few cups while they were applying beautiful henna designs to their hands. I just love how the henna dries into amazing wearable art! The teas they shared combine rich Assam tea with delicious Indian flavors. Kat’s favorite right now is the ginger chai. This time of year she reaches for warming teas and the spicy ginger is the perfect thing. Add a touch of sweeter and this tea is a lovely way to begin your Diwali festivities. The cardamom chai is also in our heavy rotation. The cardamom flavor is perfect alone, or you could add your own spices to personalize the tea even more. Kat has started enjoying the masala chai when she’s craving that sweet and spicy flavor. Brew up a bag, add milk and sweeter of choice for an easy and authentic masala chai. These teas are a great choice for Diwali, and of course any time! They’ve got strong black tea to add a spring to your step, and spicy flavor to enjoy with every sip. You can find these at your local Indian grocer, and head over to amazon.com to purchase them online!

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While I was learning a little bit about Tea India teas, I noticed they are running a fun contest for Diwali! If you go to the Tea India Facebook page every Friday before Diwali, you can find a beautiful picture to color and submit to win a tea prize pack! I’m heading over there today to see what we can color this week! Kat loves coloring! She has a few different coloring books and often says when she adds in a cup of tea, it’s an incredibly relaxing experience.

We are excited to bring on the festivities, food, and sweets of Diwali! Dearies, you know I’ve got the tea ready and waiting. When you gather for your Diwali celebration, what teas will you serve?

Autumn Teas

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Dearies, do you have a favorite time of year? There is something I love in every season, but cool breezes, bright sunshine, and vibrant leaves gently floating to the ground just makes me feel happy, warm, and fuzzy. This time of year Kat takes endless walks in the woods, and sometimes she’ll tote me along with her. I love listening to the leaves swish as she walks while the birds merrily chirp all around us. I’ve been gathering our favorite fall teas to keep on hand in the kitchen. A sip of these in the morning or after a hike is the perfect way to enhance a beautiful fall experience. Here are a few of our favorite fall teas.

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Masala Chai- Newman’s Own Organic Chai. Wake you up and warm you up! Kat has tried many masala chai blends over the years, and she just loves the balance in this one. The organic ingredients of ginger, cinnamon, black pepper cloves, and cardamom are exactly what she looks for in a good chai. These are actually the same ingredients she uses in her homemade version. Often times there is too much cardamom or cinnamon in chai, but the flavors here aren’t too spicy or strong, they all play happily together. Kat likes to steep this tea nice and strong for about 5 minutes, and then adds a few dashes of milk and a tablespoon of honey. Kat loves that she can easily find this tea at her local Stop & Shop, and never worries about running out. She finds this tea comforting and invigorating, and craves it quite often!

Cranberry- of course cranberry flavor is associated with fall! There are many teas that have added cranberry to their blends. It adds a pleasing tartness that is easily balanced with a dash of sweetener. Sips of cranberry tea will bring you to an inviting holiday table with leaves gently falling outside the window. Cranberry teas are bright with a fun combination of sweet and tangy notes.

Cinnamon- cinnamon is always a staple in our house during the cooler months. It’s warming and perfect for all sorts of dishes and drinks. Kat bakes with it, adds it to her morning oatmeal, even swirls a bit in her black tea. You can find it in endless blend combinations, or just add it yourself like Kat does.

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Rooibos- rooibos has an earthy flavor that’s perfect for this time of year. It also has a red hue reminiscent of the falling leaves. Rooibos is perfect any time of day since it doesn’t have caffeine. You can add other flavors to it or drink it straight up! You could get creative and make a cranberry or cinnamon rooibos blend all on your own. There are many rooibos blends out there, so definitely give a few a try this season.

I do hope you’ll let me know what your favorite fall teas are! Do you enjoy any specific flavors or particular types of tea?

Pairing Tea + Ice Cream!

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Do you know one of my favorite things is about summer? Eating ice cream! Dearies, I know, I’m a teacup and I should really have a one-track mind. But I admit I’ve developed a taste for the creamy, sweet, icy stuff. Last night I had a revelation- I was steeping a lovely Earl grey tea for Kat, and she decided to scoop up a dish of chocolate ice cream while I was steeping. It suddenly occurred to me- why can’t we pair teas with our ice cream? There is something so comforting about luscious ice cream and warm soothing tea. Here are a few irresistible combinations we came up with. It was certainly fun doing all of this tasty research!

Matcha + Vanilla ice cream: If you’ve ever had a matcha latte, you know that matcha and milk are a perfect combination. Add in fragrant vanilla and it’s even more heavenly. The creamy sweet flavor balances out the vegetal slightly bitter matcha. This tea can pack an energy punch, so you may want to try this pairing earlier in the day. It’s never too early for ice cream, right Dearies?

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Ginger peach tea + mango ice cream: For a double dose of fruity goodness, try pairing mango ice cream with another fruity tea. Kat loves to pair the ice cream with HEB My Cup of Comfort Ginger Peach Black Tea. This black tea has a soft, sweet peach flavor. The peach isn’t too overpowering and combines perfectly with the black tea. One of Kat’s closest friends loves this tea, and recently served it with spicy ginger cookies. Kat loved the combination of spicy ginger and sweet mango so much that she started dunking the cookies in the tea! Her friend was so delighted that she insisted on giving her the rest of the box of tea to take home. Kat actually likes to pull this tea out when she wants a bit of soothing relaxation. The warm peach flavor is like a cozy fuzzy blanket. The ginger is tingly on the palate, and compliments the smooth peach. In the summer Kat likes to drink this tea iced. It’s quite juicy and refreshing. She adds a bit of fresh ginger to the iced tea to enhance the spicy flavor. The peach flavor in this tea harmonizes with the decadent mango ice cream pairing.

Sencha + strawberry ice cream: I just love a good, grassy sencha tea. It’s fresh, light, and quite energizing. The vegetal freshness pairs well with sweet, slightly tart strawberries. Of course, the ice cream is creamy and sweet, which makes a pleasant contrast to the sencha. Dearies, sometimes you want your pairings to compliment but also contrast each other a bit. It brings a more interesting flavor experience.

Masala chai + coconut ice cream: Recently Kat had a coconut chai tea at a local café and was floored by the flavor combinations. This pairing creates a symphony of flavors, sweet, spicy, and fragrant. The coconut will make you feel like you’re on a tropical island, especially combined with those warming chai spices. This is one of my most favorite flavor pairings!

Don’t forget about pairing iced tea with your frozen treats! You can cool down any of these teas if the idea of a warm tea and cold dessert doesn’t appeal to you.

Black iced tea + lemon sorbet: If you do decide to go with iced, our favorite is an earthy, bold black iced tea with sweet and tangy lemon sorbet. It will feel as if you’re drinking a lemon tea slushie! Hmm, that could be a fun summer recipe to work on!

I love the idea of cold teas and ice cream, but Dearies I’d suggest you try the teas warm at least once. Kat just loves the cold ice cream and warm tea! The warmth also changes the flavors a bit, and you’ll find new tasting notes you didn’t detect before.

Next time you find yourself scooping up a bowl of ice cream, think about what tea you’d like to try with it. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the combination. Isn’t it fun to experiment with tea and food pairings?

Teas for Dad on Father’s Day

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Father’s day is almost here, and I’m sure many of you are in the middle of brainstorming what to get for Dad. I’m going to bet many of you have tea-loving fathers! Even if Dad hasn’t had much experience with tea, a tea-themed Father’s Day gift could be just the thing to start him on his tea adventure. I just happen to have a few suggestions on what teas to select and gift to Dad.

If Dad is a coffee drinker, a nice strong black tea is a nice choice. You can go with a malty, sweet Assam, slighty smoky Keemun, or perhaps for something with more punch, like an Irish Breakfast blend. Strong black teas are always a nice tea for coffee drinkers to start out with. They get that brisk flavor they crave, but with different nuanced flavors.

If Dad is a scotch drinker, how about something with earthy nuances like a puerh? This tea is aged and produces leathery, and wet earth notes that always reminds Kat of scotch. It also can cost far less than an aged bottle of scotch! Kat is seriously considering a puerh for her father, who likes to end a busy week with a small glass of scotch.

If he’s a fan of camping how about a lapsang souchong? The smoky flavor will bring him right to the campfire. It’s a strong black tea blend that brews up nice and strong. It’s also a good choice if he’s a fan of smoky meats like bacon! Perhaps a breakfast pairing of pancakes, bacon and lapsang to surprise Dad on Father’s Day!

One of my most favorite choices for dad is Chai. The blend of earthy black tea and strong spices are sure to please a father with a refined palate. This is an especially great choice for the foodies! Kat is a big fan of chai, and often makes her own homemade version from black tea and fresh spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. But usually she is pressed for time, and reaches for a packaged blend. Lately she’s been especially fond of an organic chai from True Goodness. Kat’s mom knows she loves a good chai, and found this one in her local Meijer store. Her mom is so sweet, she’s always looking out for new teas for Kat to try! She tries to find adventurous blends that Kat may not have seen before. But it’s hard to stump my Kat- she tries as many new teas as possible. Her mom likes that this tea has no artificial flavors (you’d be surprised at how many tea blends have artificial flavors!) and contains organic ingredients. She decided to send Kat a box, and it’s been our go-to for months now. It has just the right amount of malty, earthy tea, warm cinnamon and ginger, spicy cardamom, clove, and pepper. I just know the Dad on your list is sure to love this tea! Won’t Kat’s mom be surprised when she sees this tea included in her husband’s Father’s Day gift!

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If you have young children, I just adore the idea of a special father/child tea party! Create a special tea time just for dad and his little ones. Wouldn’t this be the perfect way to get some quality time together? You can work with your children to pick out everything from the menu, the teas, and the décor. They’ll enjoy being so involved in the process. I love the idea of creating special time for Dad and his children, it’s so hard to find time to slow down and enjoy family.

Don’t forget the teaware! There are many fun mugs out there, something to match your father’s style. You can even custom make a mug with a loving message, or a lovely picture of his children. Or how about a clear glass mug with infuser, so he can watch his leaves dance and steep. This will let him get more involved in the tea making process. If he’s interested in gadgets, a variable-temperature kettle would be a fun gift. This way he can choose the exact temperature for his tea, depending on tea type. There are even tea-makers on the market, which you could choose if you’re looking for a fancier gift.

What do you think of these ideas, Dearies? Do you have any to add? Feel free to contact me through twitter or Instagram if you need any further suggestions! I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day!

DIY Spring Tea Smoothies

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Dearies, Kat told me that when she was little Char used to assure her that March ‘comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb’. So even though it feels like winter will never loosen its grip, that milder weather is just around the corner. Once the temps begin to rise, Kat likes to switch from warm breakfasts to refreshing smoothies after her early morning yoga classes.

What better to celebrate spring than with a vibrant green smoothie? Kat combines green tea, mint, and greens?

-1 cup steeped green tea

-1 small, ripe pear

-3 large kale leaves (ribs removed)

-3-4 mint leaves

-1 cup crushed ice

– At least 1 tbs honey

– A few squeezes of lemon, to taste

Brew the green tea and allow to cool (you can do this the night before). You then simply place everything in a blender except for the honey and lemon, blend until smooth. Add honey and lemon to taste.

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One of Kat’s newest smoothie creations she calls her ‘Ginger Chai Energizer’. She uses Tea India Ginger Chai Tea Latte mix to easily get a flavorful smoothie. Here’s her recipe:

-1 cup brewed Tea India Ginger Chai Tea Latte mix

-1/4 cup coconut milk (or almond milk)

-1/2 of a banana

-1 cup frozen cubed mango (optional, but so delicious!)

Brew the tea in a cup of water, and allow to cool (again, you can do this the night before). Combine with the other ingredients in a blender until thick and smooth.

It’s also easy to make your own smoothies with matcha! In a blender you can combine ½ cup yogurt of choice (lately Kat has been using coconut yogurt which is great for vegans), 2 tbsp honey, 1 tsp of matcha and ½ cup ice. You can also add any fruit or greens of your choice.

These smoothies are sure to get you up and out on a gorgeous spring morning! Do you have any go-to tea smoothie recipes? I’d love to swap!