DIY: Tea Ice Cubes

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Dearies, I’m sure you’re reading the title of this post thinking we’re crazy. Iced tea in the wintertime? Well, it’s true! If you are a regular reader of the blog you’ll know I’ve recommended iced tea in the colder months before. It actually helps us think about summertime and sunny weather! Since it’s been particularly cold and grey these days, Kat has decided to throw a little iced tea party for her friends. It helps bring a little warm sunshine to our hearts.

A trick I’ve mentioned before is to add herbs and herbal teas to the ice cubes to make deliciously flavored iced teas. But another fun idea is to add steeped tea to the ice cubes too, which will make sure the teas you serve aren’t watered down. You could use the same tea you’re serving, or even use complimentary teas for added flavor!

One of my favorite combinations is to use a nice strong Assam tea as the iced tea base, and then add an ice cube made out of Earl Grey tea. The lovely bergamot flavor slowly melts into the iced tea and creates a lovely sipping sensation.

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To create the Earl Grey tea ice cubes, we like to make sure the tea flavor is good and strong. To do this, we use 2 teabags per 1 cup of water. Boil the water, add your teabags and steep for 10 minutes. Allow the tea to fully cool and then pour into the ice cube trays. Put in the freezer, and allow to fully freeze. Viola! Ice cubes ready for your iced teas whenever you need them!

Our favorite Earl Grey of the moment is Newman’s Own Organic Earl Grey. It is the perfect combination of smooth, slightly earthy black tea and tangy, citrusy bergamot. I’m quite the Earl Grey critic, I’ve had it all over the world, in all sorts of variations. And I must say, this is a very pleasing cup. Easy to prepare and quite delicious. Kat’s father loves a good strong cup of Earl Grey, and she keeps a box of this in the cupboard just for him. Can’t say that I blame him. It’s one of the world’s most popular teas for a good reason!

 

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Tropical Teas For Winter

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As we head in to the chilliest and darkest of the winter days, Kat is trying to keep things warm and cheerful.  I’ve suggested ways to get cozy with tea in previous posts, and we’re always thinking up ways to get creative. Recently I overheard Kat’s friend Stacie talking about her trip to Hawaii, where she had the most delicious tropical fruits. I started dreaming about a tropical beach paradise, and then it hit me- why not bring the tropical flavors to the teacup, and create a warm and cheerful atmosphere?

I started thinking about Kat’s favorite warm-weather fruits such as mango, papaya, and pineapple. These are flavors that can be found in many tea blends to bring a feel of island breezes to a freezing cold day. I started rounding up tea pairings such as a papaya herbal tea to pair with coconut macaroons, and pineapple green tea with toasts spread with mango chutney. So many possibilities! Kat even downloaded a tropical playlist filled with Caribbean and Hawaiian music.

Dried tropical fruits are easy to find, and you can blend them up and steep in boiling water for a delightful treat. We also love adding ginger for a bit of a zing. You can add these flavors to your favorite green or black tea as well, for an extra boost of tea. Right now we’re adding a few pieces of dried papaya to a bag of green tea and a little knob of ginger. Steep for about 8 minutes and add a dash of honey. That sunshine will be beaming on your face in no time at all!

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I’ve been helping Kat brew up some of her own tropical blends, and have also found a few of our old favorites that contain her favorite beachy flavors. Right now a box of HEB Mango Black tea is in our heaviest rotation. Kat picks up a box of this tea every time she visits family in Texas. She always makes a trip to the store to stock up! Kat likes to describe this tea as ‘Juicy mango deliciousness’. It’s a wonderful combination of malty black tea and sweet mango. A few sips of this tea and you’ll imagine the snow melting away. We keep this tea on hand all year long for iced sips in the summer and images of fresh tropical flowers in the winter.

Dearies, what are your tea tricks to keep the nasty winter chills at bay? Do you have your own tropical blends that you whip up? I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

DIY Matcha Hand Cream

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It’s been so cold and dry lately, Kat has been complaining about her skin being dry and itchy. I thought it would be fun to create a lotion that she could easily whip up, something that would soothe her dry skin and contain one of her most favorite teas.

Dearies I found many confusing cream recipes online that involved quite a few hard to find ingredients. I’ve created a recipe that’s a little bit easier to handle and creates a very effective cream!

You’ll need a few ingredients for this cream, but they can easily be found online. Here’s what you need:

Tippy’s Soothing Matcha Hand Cream

1 tbps Matcha Powder

½ cup Coconut Oil

½ cup Shea Butter

Essential oil (we like jasmine, mint, lavender, or almond).

Note: Make sure you sift the matcha well-you don’t want clumps in your hand cream!

The first thing you need to do is melt the coconut oil. We do this on the stove, using a double boiler. Don’t have one? Just boil a cup of water in a small pan and then nestle a heat-proof bowl over the pan (make sure it’s the right size to be supported by the sides of the pan). This will gently melt your coconut oil. Once it’s melted, whisk in the matcha powder until it’s completely combined. Then add the shea butter and mix until everything is melted and well combined. Once combined, remove from the heat and add about 10 drops of essential oil. Allow to cool until you can handle the bowl. Put it in the fridge and allow to fully cool. The mixture will become quite solid at this point. Once it’s cool, put it in a stand mixer, and mix until it becomes light and fluffy. Once it’s at a texture you like, you can scoop it into individual airtight containers. We like to use little jars with screw-top lids.

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If you’re feeling productive you can whip up a large batch and put into decorate jars for friends. It’s such a thoughtful wintertime gift. Dearies I hope you enjoy this recipe! It’s the perfect way to keep your skin glowing all winter long!

 

Teas to Pair With Hanukkah Foods

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The holidays are all about family, fun, and food. Kat is planning all sorts of events, including a big Hanukkah feast She is doing a pot-luck dinner with each friend bringing a different dish. I’ve decided I’m going to be doing the tea pairings. That’s right Dearies, each course is going to have a tea paired with it. Just call me Tippy the tea sommelier! Here’s what I’m planning to pair with each course:

Our appetizer will be freshly fried potato pancakes (latkes). Oh how I love these pancakes that are crispy on the outside and warm and chewy on the inside. Traditional toppings include apple sauce, sugar, and sour cream. It took me awhile to decide on a tea pairing, and I’m going to serve a second flush Darjeeling with the latkes. Darjeeling has natural muscatel grape notes, and this will pair nicely with the toppings. It’s also a tea with a bit of body too it, to cut through the fried latkes. A first flush Darjeeling would be too subtle for this strong flavors, so make sure you get a second flush!

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Our main course is going to be a luscious beef brisket. It’s savory with lots of sweet carrots and earthy potatoes. This is a comforting dish that’s on the heavier side, perfect for chilly nights. I’m going to pair a bright and bold Ceylon tea with the brisket. It’s very strong to hold up to the stewy flavors and will bring out the sweetness in the carrots.

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For dessert, Kat is frying up jelly donuts (sufganiyot)! This is a labor intensive dessert, but one that is worthy of the holiday. For Hanukkah it’s symbolic to serve things fried in oil. This represents the miracle that the Hanukkah lamp oil lasted for 8 nights instead of just one. For the sweet donuts, I am going to pair HyVee Chocolate Mint tea. I think this tea is the perfect thing for just about anything sweet! It has a lovely combination of chocolate and peppermint that your guests are sure to love. Kat finds it refreshing and quite perfect for wintertime. Since we’re just serving the donuts, this dessert-flavored tea will enhance the end to our dinner party. This is an herbal tea so everyone can enjoy it, even the little ones! Kat’s niece Camille just adores this tea for the sweet chocolate flavor. Kat often gives Camille a few bags of her own to take home.

Happy Hanukkah Dearies! I hope all of your festivities are delicious and fun!

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.

Tippy’s Apple Cinnamon Tea Bread

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I’m all about autumn flavors these days, and I just came up with this tasty and easy quick bread to pair with your favorite teas. It’s perfect as an afternoon treat or a delicious way to end a dinner party.

This is made in a loaf pan to make it super simple. There is a streusel topping of cinnamon and brown sugar that also makes a surprise appearance inside the bread!

This tea bread has spices that remind me of apple picking and pumpkin pie. It’s the perfect autumn snack!

Tippy’s Apple Cinnamon Teatime Quick bread

makes 1 loaf

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 large apple, peeled and finely chopped (any will do, but granny smith are best)

 

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Preheat your oven to 350. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and set aside. In a small bowl mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. This will be the topping and filling, so set it aside for later. In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and ground ginger.

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In a mixer, cream the white sugar and butter until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Add about a third of the flour mixture, then a bit of the milk, and alternate until everything is just combined and smooth. Try not to over mix. If it seems too sticky, add a little bit more milk.

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Add half of the batter to the loaf pan. Then cover with half the apples and half of the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture. Then pour in the rest of the batter and top with the remaining apples and then the cinnamon sugar mixture.

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Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan before transferring to a cooling rack.

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This tea bread is perfect for afternoon tea, dessert, or even breakfast. It compliments many different types of tea and has all of the wonderful warming fall spices. I hope you enjoy!

 

Behind The Leaf: Chamomile

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Dearies, we’ve learned quite a bit about teas from the camellia sinensis plant. Those are all the lovely pure teas we drink such as white, oolong, green, and black. But we shouldn’t ignore all of those tasty herbal teas out there! They deserve to be highlighted too. This week I decided we should focus on Chamomile, one of Kat’s most favorite herbal teas.

Many people love chamomile. It’s floral, soothing, and has a lovely honey-like sweetness. This aromatic herb is easy to find in just about any grocery store, and is easy to brew. It’s a popular tea since it has no caffeine and has a pleasing light flavor. Really, who doesn’t love a good cup of chamomile?

You’ve probably seen the lovely daisy-like plant before, at least in photographs on the tea box. There are many different species of chamomile but the two most common types are the German and Roman varieties and it grows in various other parts of the world.

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Chamomile is a very nostalgic tea for Kat. Whenever she’d visit dear Char, there was always a cup of chamomile waiting for her at the table. Char even let her add in a huge spoonful of honey. I can still remember how Kat would give the honey a quick stir, and then pop the spoon in her mouth to enjoy the sweet remnants. These days Kat has been enjoying a hot cup of chamomile in the evenings and she often has an icy cool glass on warm summer afternoons. Lately she’s been enamored with her chamomile tea from Newman’s Own Organics. She picked it up at her local Stop & Shop while looking at all of the herbal teas in the aisle. It is so soothing, and simply contains Egyptian organic chamomile. It is floral, sweet, with a hint of earthiness. One sip and she is transported to Char’s table, chatting and remembering all the wonderful times they had together.

As far as preparing chamomile, you can’t really brew it incorrectly. You can use boiling water and brew for as long as you like! It’s very difficult to over-steep. You can ice it down or add to cold water for a cold brew. It’ll work any way you prepare it.

What I’d love to know, is what do you do with your chamomile tea? Do you drink it straight up, or add other flavors to it? Do you bake or cook with it? Let me know in the comments!

DIY Avocado And Green Tea Face Mask

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Dearies, you know how much Kat and her friends love to create their own natural bath and body products. I’ve talked about soaks, scrubs, and bath bombs! The girls are always looking for interesting combinations of ingredients, and Kat just discovered a fun way to make a nourishing face mask.

The other day Kat came into the kitchen with a green face! I had no idea what was going on! Kat explained that she was trying out a new green tea face mask she created. Turns out it’s a winner, so I thought I should share the recipe with all of my lovely tea friends. It’s quite simple and I must admit, it smells scrumptious.

DIY Avocado & Green Tea Face Mask

1/2 avocado

2 tbsp plain full fat greek yogurt

1/2 tsp matcha powder

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First, sift the matcha so it’s free of clumps. In a small bowl whisk the sifted matcha into the greek yogurt. Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop out half the flesh with a spoon and add to a large bowl. Mash well with a fork. Once it’s nice and smooth add the yogurt mixture and mix until fully combined. It may look a bit strange, but it’s good stuff!

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We like to pop ours in the fridge for 5 minutes or so, just to make sure it’s nice and cold. It is more refreshing that way! When it’s at your desired temperature apply a thin layer to your face, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy looking at your amusing green face in the mirror while you wait! If you’re feeling kooky, show us your green selfie! When you are ready, remove the mask with a warm washcloth.

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Hee hee! Dearies I thought I’d give the mask a try myself. Who doesn’t want glowing skin? It tickles a little bit! Since you have half an avocado left, you can make the mask for a friend, or just enjoy a healthy snack! Avocado toast, and a bowl of matcha, anyone?

Tippy’s Minty Matcha & Lime Popsicles

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The weather is still quite warm out there, and Kat and her friends are coming up with new ways to stay cool. Their latest idea is homemade popsicles. I love this idea! Of course, I had to create my own tea-infused twist. After much consideration, I decided that matcha would be the perfect tea to add to an icy popsicle. The sweet vegetal green tea flavor holds up to most ingredients, even those that are tangy and strong. After a little bit of experimentation, I came up with my new recipe! I’m so excited to share it with you. It combines our favorite matcha flavor with tangy lime and cooling mint.

Tippy’s Minty Matcha & Lime Popsicles

2 cups hot water

2 tsp matcha

1 lime- juiced and zested

Handful of fresh mint leaves

Simple syrup

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Prepare your matcha by whisking together the tea and hot water. Allow to cool to room temperature.

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Mix in your lime juice and 2 tsp of lime zest. Add 3 tbsp of simple syrup and taste. If it’s not sweet enough keep adding by the tablespoon until you are satisfied. Roughly chop mint leaves and drop a few into the ice pop molds.

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Pour in the matcha mixture, and pop on your tops. Pop in the freezer until the pops are fully formed. If you are using wooden sticks, freeze the mixture for about 60 minutes, pop in sticks, and return to the freezer. That way the sticks will stand straight up!

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These icy cold treats have a strong matcha flavor with the refreshing blend of lime and mint. Dearies I hope you love my icy matcha popsicles! They’re sure to be a hit at your next outdoor gathering. Or keep them all for yourself! Kat plans on making these as long as the weather stays warm to enjoy a cooling moment any time of day.

DIY: Cucumber Green Tea Body Spray

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Dearies this sweaty weather seems endless, doesn’t it? Kat has taken her afternoons on the shady porch, with a glass of iced tea in hand, and a good book. It’s been so hot that even a shady spot isn’t the oasis it once was. I decided it was time to do something about it. I noticed that my kitchen friends that live near the sink always seem to be the most comfortable in the heat. I realized it’s because they’re always getting sprayed by the faucet. Then it dawned on me- a body spray! That’s what Kat needs. So off I went, trying to find just the right combination of ingredients.

Kat loves cucumber in the summer, she says it’s quite refreshing. So I decided to put that idea in the spray. I think green tea pairs well with the cucumber. Both flavors are quite aromatic, and refreshing. With just a little bit of prep, you can have a refreshing body spray to beat that summer heat.

Tippy’s refreshing green tea + cucumber body spray

2 cups water

2 teabags of green tea of choice

Half a large cucumber

2 tsp witch hazel

Spray bottle

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Steep the teabags in just-boiled water for 20 minutes or more. Allow to fully cool in the fridge.

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Peel the cucumber and cut into large chunks. Puree in a food processor

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Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, coffee filter, or cheesecloth until you get as much liquid out as possible. You can chuck the solids, or use it in a delicious cucumber yogurt sauce!

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Add the cucumber to the tea mixture and mix in the witch hazel. Fill a spray bottle and keep it in the fridge at all times. When you’re feeling hot, just give yourself a spritz!