Creative Ways To Serve Tea This Halloween

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We are inching closer to Kat’s most favorite holiday. Halloween! She just loves the colors, costumes, and festive fall flavors that are associated with the day. Kat’s having her niece Camille and a few of her little friends over for a Halloween party. This year I thought it would be fun to focus on a few teas and fun vessels to serve them in.

First off, the teas. Here are a few of my favorites for Halloween:

Rooibos- Rooibos has a earthy but slightly sweet flavor with a hint of vanilla. It blends well with other flavors and is caffeine free. You can find it with all sorts of flavorful ingredients blended in, or blend it on your own! Add vanilla, fruit, or berries for a festive drink. Camille loves rooibos and always asks for it when she comes to visit.

HEB Cranberry Blood Orange tea– what better tea to serve than one that has ‘blood’ in the name? Hee hee! This one has caffeine so it should be for the adults. It’s a tea Kat has been drinking for years, especially in the cooler weather. The flavor is sweet with a hint of tart freshness. It’s quite delicious and pairs well with desserts and savories with a hint of sweetness. The citrus flavor is a nice change from all the earthy fall flavors often served during this time of year. And really, isn’t it fun to say you’re drinking a bloody tea for Halloween?

Chai hot chocolate- my last post (will link to recipe here) was a delicious recipe for chai hot chocolate. Who wouldn’t love these flavors all mixed together? You can omit the black pepper and lighten up on the ginger if you don’t want it too spicy for the wee ones. You can also omit the tea altogether, to keep it lower in caffeine. This is also a perfect drink to serve after the kids come inside from trick-or-treating. It’ll warm them right up!

Now, let’s discuss what to serve your drinks in. It’s time to get silly and fun!

Googly Eyes- you can stick googley eyes on to just about any cup or mug and you’ll instantly have a Halloween-ready drink! The kids and adults will both get a giggle.

Gummy worms and eyes- Look for gummy candy such as worms and eyeballs. Drop a few in your drink (just make sure it’s not a hot drink) and fool your guests! No one will be expecting to see an eyeball floating in their cup!

Beakers- You can find different beaker shapes with a quick internet search. They’ll look right out of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory. Put colorful drinks inside (ice that HEB tea I just mentioned!) and you’ll have a nice compliment to your halloween decor.

Don’t forget creepy accessories like skeleton stir sticks, plastic spiders, and bats. There are all sorts of accessories you can add to your cups and glasses, just like my collection of bats and skeleton sticks! Do you like my hat? I think I look perfectly witchy!

Dearies, whatever you do this Halloween, I hope you have a marvelous time!

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How To: Decorate for a Summer Tea Party

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The sweet smell of summer flowers, teacups gently clinking in their saucers and delicious light bites. It’s time for summertime tea parties! Dearies, Kat likes to change up her tea parties based on the season. In the winter and fall, she likes cozy get-togethers. But once summertime hits, she’s all about outdoor tea parties! We like to go a bit crazy with the florals- fresh flowers, floral china cups and teapots, even floral napkins. We like to use mismatched patterns, to give everything a lush, garden vibe. We also like to put edible flowers on our cakes and cupcakes. Gorgeous! If you have lots of teacups like Kat does, stack them and cluster a few stacks together with flowers in the very top. Easy centerpiece!

You could also go for a beachy theme, decorating the table with coral and seashells! Wouldn’t it be fun to do a late-afternoon tea party with a table strewn with lovely shells and gently flickering candles that light up with table as the sun slowly sets? I can practically hear the ocean waves as I think about it! Kat loves being on the beach, so I’m going to suggest this for her next tea party.

Another fun idea is to also put picnic blankets down if you have a grassy area. This way your friends can choose to lounge in the cool grass while they sip their tea. Make sure you have a large space that’s out of the sun, or make sure to have large umbrellas to create shady spots.

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If you’re serving iced teas, don’t forget to include flower and herb ice cubes! Check out my previous post on how to do this. Thy will be a surefire hit. A summery tea Kat likes to serve her guests is HEB Serenity Spearmint Lavender tea. In the summertime she loves serving this tea iced. The frosty mint flavor is perfect for the hottest summer days. The soothing lavender is perfect for a relaxing get-together or even a quiet afternoon on your own. This tea is caffeine free, so it’s perfect for the whole family. She loves this tea as-is but for her tea soirees, she’ll add fresh mint and lavender leaves to her brew. It just looks so festive that way! Kat discovered this tea while visiting relatives in Texas. She was looking for a refreshing tea to combat the strong Texas sun and popped into the local HEB store. When she noticed the Serenity tea, she was curious about the combination of lavender and spearmint. She wasn’t sure if they’d work together, but once she tried it, she was amazed at how well the two herbs work together. She likes this combination so much that she grows fresh lavender and mint so she can make her own version when she’s in-between boxes.

For the savories, we like to do easy cucumber, cream cheese and dill tea sandwiches, fruit tarts or little mini pound cakes topped with fruit. Also mini cupcakes with edible flowers. Just go for things that are light, refreshing, and filled with seasonal ingredients.

How are you going to decorate for your summer tea parties? I’d love to hear your ideas. Be sure to check out my summertime tea party pinterest board for more inspiring ideas!

Cooking With Tea: Tea Poached Fruit

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Kat loves to serve fruity desserts. They can be light yet incredibly flavorful. Always the helpful teacup, I’ve been trying to think of ways to incorporate tea with fruit. I started thinking about French preparations, as we had the most memorable desserts when we travelled to Paris a few years ago. The food is just good everywhere you go in Paris! There was one little bistro that had an amazing poached pear dish that Kat often tries to recreate at home. I thought hey, why not poach fruit with tea? So I got experimenting, and came up with a recipe I’m excited to share. You can use whatever type of fruit you like that will keep a bit of shape while you cook it. I’d suggest pears, peaches, cherries or plums. Whatever you decide on, just make sure you use a fruit that has a bit of firmness but should still be ripe. You don’t want your dessert to turn into mush!

For this recipe we chose pears, and True Goodness Organic Black Chai Tea. Kat keeps this tea in her pantry at all times, as it’s a quick and easy way to prepare a tasty chai. It is unsweetened, and she often adds a little honey or sugar and a dash of milk to the brew. This tea brings me back to traveling through India with Char. The aroma of cardamom, clove, and cinnamon is so vibrant! I can still taste the milky, spicy chai from endless street vendors throughout the cities we visited. I hope to take Kat there some day! Anyway dearies, enough reminiscing, here’s my recipe:

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Tippy’s Tea-Poached Fruit

Makes 4 servings

2 cups water

2 tea bags (For this recipe we used True Goodness Organic Black Chai Tea)

1/4 cup of sugar

2 large firm but ripe pears, peaches  (we like to use bosc), peeled, cored, and halved.

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In a medium sized saucepan bring the 2 cups of water to a boil.  Turn off the heat and add the teabags. Let the tea steep for 10-15 minutes. You want it good and strong! Once steeping is done, remove teabags. Turn the heat back on to medium, and add the sugar once the liquid is warmed up again. Stir until it’s dissolved. Add the halves of fruit. Cover and simmer until the fruit is nice and tender, you can pierce with a knife to check, about 25 minutes. Once the fruit is tender, remove it carefully from the mixture, into a bowl. Continue to then boil the sweet, spiced syrup until it has reduced down to about ¾ cup, which should take 10-15 minutes. When reduced, pour the syrup over the fruit. We like to serve ours at room temperature, but you can also refrigerate for a few hours and then serve.

Since it’s summer, we like to place the fruit atop vanilla ice cream and drizzle the extra syrup over the top. However you decide to serve it, it’s delicious and easy to prepare. You’ll feel like you’re in the French countryside with your tea poached fruit!

DIY recipe: Tippy’s Banana Earl Grey Tea Bread

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Dearies, you may have noticed that Kat and I have been getting more creative in the kitchen with tea recipes. I realized we haven’t done much baking with tea, and I set out to change all of that! Today I’m so thrilled to share our recipe for Earl grey banana bread. Kat has enjoyed earl grey in baked goods before, and has even had it in chocolate truffles. I thought adding it to moist and springy banana bread would be a surprising and delicious addition to the afternoon tea table. Or for breakfast, or really, any time of day!

Tippy’s Banana Earl-Grey Tea Bread

½ cup Water

3 bags of Earl Grey tea or 1 tbsp loose tea

¼ cup packed Dark Brown Sugar

pinch salt

tsp vanilla

¾ cup Sugar

½ cup Butter

1 cup 2% Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 Eggs, beaten

2-1/4 cups all-purpose Flour

3 very ripe Bananas, mashed with a fork

Preheat the oven to 350*F.

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add the tea. Allow the tea to steep for 5-10 minutes (you want a very strong tea). Add the sugars and butter and return the pan and heat on medium. Cook until the butter and sugars melt and combine. Once you have a thick, combined mixture, allow to cool to room temp.

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In a large bowl combine the yogurt and baking soda. Let stand for about 5 minutes, until the mixture looks a bit puffy. Stir in the cooled tea mixture and the eggs. Sift in flour and combine. Carefully fold in the mashed bananas.

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Pour batter into pan(s). We like to use mini loaf pans, so we fill them 1/3 way full. You’ll need room for the bread to rise. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours if you are making 2 large loaf pans. Less if you are using small pans like we are. Start checking around 30 minutes. Bake until a tester (we use a chopstick or knife) comes out clean. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to fully cool on a rack.

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I do hope you enjoy my Earl Grey Banana bread recipe! We make a few mini loaves at a time and store a few in the freezer. This way Kat always has a sweet treat to serve when company arrives. The combination of the citrusy early grey, rich banana, and lemon makes a delightful cake with an irresistible chewy texture. I noticed Kat sneaking a few slices throughout the day. I think you’ll agree that this cake is the perfect tea time accompaniment!

Tippy’s Tea-Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts

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Dearies, it’s Memorial Day weekend and the grilling season is upon us! I thought I’d share my easy chicken tea marinade that Kat likes to use for an easy weeknight grilled meal. It’s also perfect for a crowd! It’s easy to double or triple the recipe. The tea creates a tender, juicy grilled chicken.

 Tippy’s Tea-Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 cups strong black tea fully cooled (you will need 2 tea bags, we like to use Harris Tea Decaffeinated Black Tea)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon grated ginger

pinch of black pepper

 Boil water for tea. Steep 2 tea bags in 2 cups of water, for 15 minutes and set aside until fully cooled.

 Pound chicken breasts out until they are between 1/4 and 1/2 inches thick. The thinner you pound them out, the faster they will cook.

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 In a medium sized bowl combine cooled tea, soy sauce, ginger, and black pepper. Whisk together well. Pour over chicken and let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but can also be left overnight. Kat will often put the mixture together in the morning, and will let everything marinate while she’s at work.

 Once marinated, we like to grill our chicken, and serve with fresh jasmine rice, and steamed broccoli or green beans for a healthy and light meal. But you can also cut the chicken up into pieces and stir fry with assorted veggies.

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Kat likes to use Harris Tea Decaffeinated Black Tea in this marinade. The tea is simple, brisk, and perfect with the chicken. She always has it in her pantry for the times that she wants a quick, easy, tasty cup of black tea at any time of the day. It also makes a lovely cold brewed iced tea! This would be a refreshing pairing with the chicken breasts. Kat likes to add lots of lemon and a touch of honey to this iced tea. Serve this meal for your family or your next outdoor gathering. It’s super simple and tasty.

Get ready for grilling season with this delicious tea themed recipe! I do hope you enjoy it.

Tippy’s Sweet Matcha Butter Cookies

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My lovelies, we’ve discussed springtime picnics and afternoon teas, and I thought I should give a recipe that you can use for both, or even just for snacking on your own. Have you ever made green tea cookies? Kat and I have an recipe for a buttery, tender cookie that have pleasing sweetness and a powerful matcha punch.

These cookies are perfect for any gathering, or could be enjoyed on your own with your favorite cup of tea. Dunk them in your favorite green tea for a super delicious experience.

These cookies only require a few ingredients, and are super simple to make!

Tippy’s Sweet Matcha Butter Cookies

For the cookies:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 tsp culinary grade matcha

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)

For the topping:

1/2 tsp matcha

1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, salt and matcha and give it a mix to make sure everything is well combined. Set aside. For the topping, in a small bowl mix together the 1/2 tsp matcha and granulated sugar.

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In an electric mixer cream the butter and powdered sugar until it’s light and fluffy. It will be much lighter than you started, a few minutes on medium/high.

Switch the mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined. Be careful not to have the mixer on a high setting or you’ll have a cloud of matcha flour in your face!

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When everything is combined, you’ll have a deep green dough. Remove this dough and shape into a log that’s about 10 inches long. Wrap in plastic and put in the fridge for 30 minutes. This step is important to make sure you have well-formed cookies!

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. When the dough is ready, slice into cookies about 1/4 inch thick and spread them out on a lightly greased baking sheet (or you can line the cookie sheet with parchment paper if you have it).

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Bake cookies for about 15 minutes (may need a few more minutes depending on how thickly you sliced them) until they just start to get a bit brown and firm. While the cookies are still hot, spring with the sugar/matcha mixture. Transfer to a rack and allow to cool completely, if you can wait that long to taste them!

Enjoy with your favorite green tea! Kat likes to serve these cookies with Citrus Green Tea from Private Selection. This is a beautiful blend of light, vegetal green tea with a delicate orange flavor. The green tea of course blends well with the cookies, and the orange flavor breaks up the green tea sweetness and refreshes the palate. I just love this combination! Kat always has this tea available in the warmer months for a refreshing yet light iced tea. It’s perfect for picnics and BBQs.

I do hope you enjoy my special cookie recipe! Be sure to check back for more recipes coming soon!

DIY Infused Sugars + Tea Pairings

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Dearies, Kat and I have a little secret to making our tea times extra special. We serve infused sugars to give an extra dose of flavor to our teas! Flavor infused sugars are perfect for your next tea party, little gathering, or even for a special moment for yourself.

Our infused sugars are easy to make, and you can package them in a beautiful jar or canister for gift giving. You can use all sorts of flavors, and they take no time at all to create. The only time needed is a little bit of rest for the finished blend, to make sure the flavor fully infuses into the sugar.

 Basically all you need is a ratio of 4:1 of sugar to flavor. We usually do about a cup of sugar, and 1/4 cup of mix-ins. For a strongly scented herb like lavender, you’ll want to use a little less herb. You can always start with a smaller amount and then add as needed!

Some of our favorite sugars to create are:

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Citrus Sugar: take your citrus of choice (Kat likes meyer lemon), wash, dry thoroughly and grate the zest only. Mix in with your sugar. We like to peel a few larger pieces of zest for displaying on top of the sugar bowl for guests.

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Vanilla Sugar: I like to use a fresh vanilla bean for this recipe. Open one vanilla pod, use a knife to scrape the seeds, and add the seeds and the empty pod to your mixture. Mix well, as those tiny seeds like to stick together! This will need to sit for a few days or up to a week for all the flavors to meld before you use it. But once you do, oh my the vanilla flavor is amazing!

Lavender Sugar: Simply take lavender petals and mix in with your sugar.

You can even do matcha sugar! If you’re doing one of these, you only need about 2 tsp of matcha per cup of sugar. Kat likes to sprinkle matcha sugar on morning oatmeal and pancakes. It’s also a delicious finishing sugar for baked goods hot out of the oven.

Once you have your infused sugars, be sure to pair them with lots of different teas! Here are a few of our favorite sugar and tea pairings to get you started:

Citrus Sugar + Earl Grey. Since earl grey has the lovely bergamot flavor already infused we like to add the citrus sugar for even more zing. Kat likes to serve Wegmans Earl Grey to her guests. The blend is well balanced, and you will still be able to taste the black tea along with the fresh citrus flavor. Kat picked up a love for earl grey from her great uncle, who always had some in the afternoon. The citrus scent still reminds her of spending the afternoon playing chess with him while he sipped on his tea.

Vanilla Sugar + Black Tea- The vanilla sugar is so delicious, we like a malty, sweet black tea to pair with it. I like a good Ceylon or Assam. Wegmans English Breakfast is the perfect accompaniment. It has a blend of bold and sweet black teas, and that vanilla sugar will complement the brew perfectly.

Lavender Sugar + chamomile tea. I love combining floral flavors in tea. As you know, I wrote an early post about it! The Wegmans Chamomile has a honey sweetness that blends with the lavender. One sip and you’ll feel like you are in a sunny field of French lavender!

I do hope you like my infused sugar ideas! Gift them for Mother’s Day, and serve them at your next tea party. Or just save them for a special moment all your own!

Picnic Tea Sparklers

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Dearies, it’s time to dust off that picnic basket! Since spring is finally here, Kat has been talking endlessly about all of the spring picnics she plans to have. She certainly gets excited about picnics. She wants to have a picnic every weekend! Just the thought of all that planning makes my saucer ache. But, being the good tea cup that I am, I agreed to help Kat find some interesting and unusual tea related recipes for her picnics. I thought I’d focus on one type of recipe in particular today, the tea sparkler.

A fizzy, refreshing, and delicious tea drink is such a fun idea for a picnic! Just make it ahead and put it in a bottle for transportation, or you can even make them right on the spot with just a few ingredients. It’ll definitely add a festive pop to your outdoor gathering!

For something brimming with spring and summer flavor, how about a strawberry and basil iced tea? I came up with this recipe after Kat brought home so many strawberries from the farmer’s market that she could barely fit them all in the fridge:

Tippy’s Strawberry Basil Iced Tea

6 cups brewed black tea such as Assam, Ceylon, or Nilgiri, cooled.

2 cups freshly sliced strawberries

Large handful of basil leaves, torn or roughly chopped, leaving smaller leaves intact

Honey to taste (about a tablespoon)

Small handful of mint leaves

3 cups sparkling water

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large pitcher and refrigerate for 1-3 hours. Add in sparkling water. Pour over ice and top with mint leaves. Dearies, isn’t this a lovely twist on iced tea? Perfect for sitting in the grass under a leafy tree.

For a different flavorful fizz, use sparkling apple juice in your tea sparkler! I love that this recipe uses sparkling apple cider along with black tea, lemon and cinnamon. What a delightful combination!

For a boozy sparkle to your outdoor soiree, Kat likes to use the pomegranate champagne cocktail that I came up with for the holidays. You can find my recipe in my previous post here.  The cocktail uses HEB Pomegranate Green Tea, a deliciously festive flavor combination of vegetal green tea and fruity, crisp pomegranate. This tea also has hibiscus added to the blend, which gives a nice tart bite to the brew. It works nicely with the added champagne for a juicy, bubbly brew worthy of your special picnic.

Well, I’m certainly glad to have found these sparkling tea recipes to keep in our picnic arsenal! I won’t get quite as large of a saucer ache when I hear Kat planning how many picnics she wants to have this summer!

Special Tea-Themed Gifts for Mother’s Day

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Dearies, it’s the special time of year when we get to spend the day honoring the most important women in our lives. What are your plans for Mother’s Day? Last year Kat made a lovely breakfast for her mom, and this year she’s planning to have a little spa getaway for just the two of them. She’s been brainstorming beautiful tea themed gift for her mother, so I started thinking up some creative ideas of my own. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Tea Themed Gift Basket: I love the idea of a basket brimming with tea goodies. Package favorite teas in beautiful tins, add a tea-for-one teapot and cup set, a small jar of local honey, maybe even a few delicious cookies. Don’t forget to add a luxurious DIY Tea soak, matcha face scrub, or one of my other tea beauty product ideas! A basket filled with gifts to pamper that most important woman in your life. I’m sure every mother out there could use a bit of luxurious relaxation!

I recently saw a photo on pinterest of a white teapot that had beautiful words and quotes written on it with an oil-based sharpie. You can personalize your own teapot for mom! I love this idea. You can add poetry, quotes from her favorite authors, or lovely little tea themed phrases. It’s a sweet and sentimental way to show your love. She’ll be reminded of you every time she brews a pot of tea. You can get kids of all ages involved in this project.

A small windowsill tea herb garden would also make a sweet gift. If you’re really feeling crafty you can reuse tea tins for the garden! Or you can make a seed kit with all of your favorite herbs to brew into a relaxing nighttime tea. I love adding herbs such as chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, mint, and basil. But really, you can mix and match seeds for any herbs you think your recipient would love to grow and brew. Include a few pretty plant markers and even a small shovel or nice pair of gardening gloves for the ultimate tea gardening gift!

If your mother is a bookworm, how about a tea book? if your mother is anything like me, she’d love to spend the day reading and learning about tea. You could select an informative book like the classic  Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties. This is practically a tea textbook, with everything a tea lover would want to learn about teas from all over the world. Or go for a fun, exciting read that’s a tea-themed mystery! Author Laura Childs writes a series of tea shop mysteries that take place in Charleston, South Carolina. They are fun and filled with tea tidbits!

If you are including tea in your Mother’s Day gift, don’t forget to create your own tea bags with personalized tags! This is one of Kat’s most favorite gifts to create and give. It gives such a lovely personal touch to the gift, and this way you can include lots of different loose leaf teas in easy to brew packages.

Whatever you choose for your Mother’s Day gifts, you can’t go wrong with lots of tea! I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day. I raise my cup to each and every mother. You have the hardest and most important jobs of all!

Cinco De Mayo Tea Cocktails

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I see that Cinco de Mayo is coming up, and Kat’s already researching some fun cocktails to toast the day. I’ve decided she needs to make a few tea-infused cocktails! I mean, let’s face it Dearies, I’m the one that makes the beverage decisions around here! I’ve been thinking about the traditional cocktails you may drink on Cinco de Mayo, and have hunted down some tea-infused versions.

Sangria is one of Kat’s favorite drinks. It brings back memories of relaxing in Barcelona on one of their warm, sunny evenings. This fruity drink gets upgraded with a dose of black tea. Kat likes to make this recipe, and add in one of her favorite flavored black teas- HEB Cranberry Blood Orange Black tea.The sweet and tangy blood orange and hibiscus flavors bring to mind a sunny afternoon dining by the beach in Ibiza. You can practically feel the warm ocean breezes with each sip. Kat sometimes pulls this tea out in the middle of winter, to melt away all the chilly thoughts.

Also, who doesn’t love a good margarita! I’ve been looking for a good tea infused margarita recipe and haven’t found one that’s just right. So Dearies, I made one using the same delicious HEB tea! Here’s what you’ll need:

Tippy’s Marga-TEA-rita

Makes 1 drink

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) tequila
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, plus more for coating rim of glass
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup water off the boil
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 1 bag HEB Cranberry Blood Orange Black tea

Rub the lime wedge along the rim of a glass, and dip in the extra sugar. Steep the tea and allow it to cool. Combine the tea, alcohol, sugar, juice and ice in a blender, and whirl until combined. Enjoy!

For a non-alcoholic drink, how about a chai-spiced horchata? Horchata is a cinnamon flavored, milky drink made from ground rice or nuts. It’s a cooling yet flavorful sip perfect for both children and adults! I think the spices make it quite festive!

Whatever you do this Cinco de Mayo, have fun! Enjoy beautiful weather, tasty drinks, and most importantly wonderful friends.