January is Hot Tea Month!

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Dearies, did you know that January is Hot Tea Month? That’s right, we get to celebrate our favorite warm beverage all month long! Of course, we celebrate tea in little ways every day. But Kat is planning tea parties, a tea tasting, and a make-your-own tea bag party in January to show her love for her favorite beverage.

 If you’d like to try and make your own tea bags, you can check out my previous post here. Kat is going to have all kinds of loose teas and herbs out on a table for her friends to blend and make their own tea bags. We’ll have lively music and of course some nibbles as well. Isn’t it a fun idea? Guests get to go home with all of their teabags and can remember the party every time they steep up a cup. If you’re looking for more fun tea party ideas, don’t forget to check out my pinterest page!

 She’s also thinking of hosting a black tea tasting party. She’ll have black teas from all over the world, including China, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and India. This is such a fun way to learn the nuances of tea based on region. You can do it with any type of tea. Just pick a category and find as many different teas as you can, grown in as many places as possible. Set up multiple pots with cups for everyone. You can taste each tea side by side and talk about the similarities and differences. Give everyone a little notebook and pen for writing tasting notes. Kat is thinking of doing a green tea tasting next!

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Another way Kat is celebrating hot tea is by highlighting some of her favorite teas she drinks every day. These are the workhorse teas that don’t get as much recognition as their fancy counterparts. A tea she reaches for every day is a lovely mild green by Harris Tea. This is a dependable, tasty tea that brews up consistently delicious every time. She keeps a box at work, and there are bags of it in her purse. She is never without it! She also keeps their decaffeinated black tea on hand for late day sips. She’ll brew up a cup with a squeeze of lemon and teaspoon of honey for a soothing cup that reminds her of her grandma Char. My Dear Char used to always give her a little decaf tea with honey and lemon when she was visiting. Kat most enjoyed slurping up the tea with the honey spoon. Kat often serves this decaf tea to her niece Camille, and together they are making their own special memories over a warm cup of tea. If you are interested in trying this tea and don’t live near one of the local grocery stores that carries it, you can purchase it online through Amazon.

 My dearest tea friends, how are you celebrating Hot Tea Month? Get creative! Its a great reason to highlight all of your favorite teas! I’m tipping my cup to all of you tea lovers out there. Happy sipping!

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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!

 

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!

 

Functional Teas

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Dearies, lately Kat and her friends have been talking about functional teas. Now, being a teacup I’m not always up to date on the latest popular trends. But I try to keep my ears open and listen to what the younger folk are doing. Curious about functional teas, I took to the laptop and did a bit of research. It turns out these are teas with herbs for added benefit to the body. I’ve been learning quite a bit about these teas!

There are functional tea blends for just about anything you need. Feeling under the weather? Try a tea with Echinacea, vitamin C, and lemon. Having trouble with digestion? Try a tea with licorice root and magnolia bark. Ginger is great for many things, particularly for digestion. I’ve actually written about ginger before, I just love it for everything. It’s relaxing, delicious, and good for the tummy. Check out a previous post to get you started!

Kat has been drinking quite a bit of lavender tea lately. This functional tea is great if you need to relax. It smells divine, like sitting in a lush French field dotted with beautiful purple lavender. She originally started drinking lavender because it helped her relax and relieve stress. She has recently learned it’s also good for promoting sleep and helps to uplift your mood! She adds a touch of honey to her lavender tea for an extra dose of soothing goodness. Kat also drinks Chamomile, which is also known for helping with sleep and relaxation. After a particularly stressful day both of these herbs have been super helpful. She’ll even mix both teas together for a delicious way to unwind.

Kat has started using this organic detox green tea from Full Circle Organic. A friend recommended it when Kat said she wanted to take some time to cleanse her body after eating a bit too much around the holidays. It’s hard to get back on track after such indulgent festivities, isn’t it? Being more mindful of her nutrition, exercise, and a little help from this tea, she’s feeling much more like herself. This tea contains organic green tea, dandelion root, and schizandra berries, all things that are supposed to help cleanse the body. Why not get a little extra help in jumpstarting the process? This tea is the perfect way. This tea can be found in various grocery stores such as Tops, Coborns, Price Chopper, HyVee, Big Y and more.

Dearies don’t forget that I’m a teacup, not a doctor. So please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions about these teas. Have you tried any functional teas? I’d love to learn about what you’ve had, and your experience with them.

 

 

Celebratory Teas!

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During this festive time of year, I’m sure you have your go-to festive party drinks. Kat certainly does, and she even has a few tea cocktails she likes to serve for her friends.

But what about teas? Tea can be as festive as your favorite cocktail. There are teas of all sorts of flavors and colors that are perfect for this time of year. Not convinced? Here are a few of my recommendations. Try them and see for yourself!

Peppermint- I do love a good peppermint tea for the holidays. It reminds me of brisk weather, snow, and candy canes! Pair a nice peppermint tea with a chocolate dessert and I assure you everyone will be happy! Who can resist the combination of chocolate and peppermint? It’s an instant party. This combination will feel like you’ve come in from skiing with tingly cheeks and a warming brew.

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Cranberry- there are many blends that include dried cranberries. This gives the tea a sweet and tart flavor. Everyone loves cranberry sauce, and a cup of cranberry tea before or after a meal will bring you right to the holiday table. In fact, Kat has found a bagged cranberry tea she loves to serve this time of year, HEB Cranberry Blood Orange tea. There are so many festive flavors going on in this tea! tart cranberries and hibiscus, a little zing of ginger and refreshing citrus. A hint of sweetness rounds it out. It’s truly a perfect wintertime tea. The flavors are so festive! The pyramid shaped teabags are nice and large, allowing for the tea leaves to unfurl and infuse your brew with flavor.

Rooibos- this caffeine free tisane has an earthy and subtly sweet flavor that’s perfect to pair with sweets. It’s also a great base for flavors such as cinnamon, vanilla, and ginger. You can even create your own rooibos blends and give them as gifts. Children and adults can all enjoy rooibos, any time of day.

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Cinnamon- one of my favorite flavors for the holidays is cinnamon. It’s just so warming and comforting. You’ll find it in everything from pumpkin pie to eggnog. I like to add cinnamon to my black tea. There are lots of cinnamon blends out there, so try as many as you can.

So my lovely tea friends, when you are planning your celebratory beverages, don’t forget about tea! Everyone loves a warming cup, and with these festive flavors you just can’t go wrong. Happy Holidays!

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

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!

Winter Herbal Iced Teas

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Dearies, I know winter is starting to tighten its icy grip on us and we’ll be covered in snow before we know it! This is usually a time to reach for warming, comforting teas, but I’m a clever little cup and I like to switch things up. Kat gets ever so tired in the chilly, dark months, and I’m always thinking up ways to perk her up. One fun way to chase the winter blues is to mix up a batch of iced tea! I’ve discussed winter iced teas before, but this year I’m putting an herbal spin on things.

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Herbal teas are easy to either cold brew, or steep up and ice. Since they aren’t made from tea leaves, they won’t get bitter if you over-steep them. If you really want to feel like you are on the beach, how about a citrusy iced tea? Mint is another refreshing option. You can get very creative, combining herbs for interesting flavor combinations. I love chamomile and lemon, or adding mint to hibiscus. You can even experiment with wintry rosemary, I love adding honey and lemon after steeping rosemary in hot water for 5 minutes. It smells like the holidays! Basil is another hearty herb that is delicious steeped up with lemon and honey.

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When we are looking for a cup of iced tea quickly, Kat likes to ice down one of her favorite bagged teas, HEB Hibiscus Ginger Orange tea. This tea is perfect to keep around for this time of year! Served warm it is a comforting treat with spicy ginger, and tangy hibiscus and orange. Kat likes to drink it warm on chilly days while she curls up by the fire with a few friends. Iced it is a refreshing drink for any time of day. Kat has used this tea to recharge after a long day of holiday shopping. When iced, the ginger wakes up the palate, and the citrus flavors refresh and revive. This is quite a versatile tea! This tea can be found at your local HEB grocery.

This winter when you’re sick of the cold and grey weather, steep up an herbal iced tea and transport yourself to a warm and sunny climate. Be sure to visit my pinterest page for more herbal iced tea ideas!

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.

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.