Iced Herbals To Beat The Summer Heat

icedherbal1

Dearies, Kat and I have been experimenting with iced herbal teas lately. They are perfect for any time of day and are super refreshing! She can even let her niece Camille drink as many glasses as she likes. Sometimes Kat will use herbs fresh from the garden, boil them up and leave them in the fridge with the herbs still in the pitcher. I do have a lovely post about growing your own herbs for teas, and what herbs we love best. I suggest you try playing with these herbs, and icing them for delicious refreshing teas. But if you are pressed for time like Kat often is, you can use bagged herbal teas. On the days Kat hasn’t thought ahead, she reaches for herbal tea bags. These are a great way to get a refreshing flavor even if you don’t have fresh herbs in the house.

Another fun thing we like to do is make herbal tea ice cubes! These look beautiful, and can be used to flavor water, or compliment your herbal iced teas. We like to make mint, basil, lemon balm, whatever is growing in the garden. What we do is bring a pot of water to boil, add a large handful of your herbs (or use a 2-3 herbal teabags). Let the water fully cool. Pour cooled tea into ice cube trays, and carefully add a small fresh leaf or two into each ice cube. Freeze until ice cubes are fully frozen, about 4 hours. You can even do this with flowers such as chamomile and lavender. They look so beautiful!

Adding one of the herbed ice cubes to our iced herbal tea gives it an extra special touch. I just love to watch Kat’s friends’ eyes light up when they see the dainty herbal ice cubes! Two of our favorite herbal teas to make are Chamomile and Mint.

shopriteherbal.jpg

Try pairing an Organic Chamomile with Lemon iced tea with a few mint ice cubes. This tea contains organic chamomile, organic lemon myrtle, with organic lemon oil. Kat found this tea in her local Shop Rite, and was surprised to see organic herbal teas on the shelf. She loves Chamomile so she took this and the Organic Mint Blend tea home with her. The flavors are pure, strong, and she loves that they are organic! She keeps these teas on hand for evening sips and her refreshing herbal iced teas.

For a quick and tingly mint tea, Kat uses the Organic Mint Blend tea I mentioned above. It contains organic peppermint, organic lemon grass, and organic spearmint. This tea has a pure mint flavor, and the lemongrass gives it a pleasant citrusy flavor. It makes an extremely refreshing iced tea, perfect for any occasion. This is a strong flavored tea, so if you’re pairing an herbal ice cube, try something that can hold up to the flavor, such as basil or lavender.

Your iced herbal tea options are endless! You can build flavors with various herbs and flowers. Don’t forget to add a few special ice cubes, and you’ll have quite the memorable drink.

Advertisements

Picnic Tea Sparklers

teasparklers1

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

momsday2

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

CincoDeMayo.jpg

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.

Thai Iced Tea!

thaitea2

The weather is warming up nicely, and it’s time to start thinking about iced teas! My tea lovelies, we’ve talked quite a bit about iced tea on this blog, but there are so many delicious ways to enjoy it. Have you ever had Thai iced tea? Oh Dearies, it is so delicious! It’s creamy, sweet, with interesting spice notes. Whenever Kat goes to her favorite Thai restaurant, it’s the first thing she orders. She’s admitted to me that she often suggests eating at Thai restaurants just so she can get the delicious iced tea!

Since Kat loves this drink so much, I decided find recipes to make at home. The tea ingredients will vary based on taste and authenticity. Some have sweetened condensed milk added (Kat’s favorite), some have star anise and other spices. I’ve come across recipes that also use coconut milk or evaporated milk. The tea is usually black tea, often strong a strong Ceylon tea. I do like using Ceylon in this drink, as the strength and brightness of the tea holds up to all the other ingredients. It’s important to use a bold tea, so the flavor shines through the milk and sweetness.

I love the idea of making Thai tea at home, because many of the versions found in restaurants contain food coloring. You can find pre-mixed Thai tea blends in many Asian grocery stores, but most of those also contain dyes. Besides the coloring, it’s just such a fun and easy drink to make at home. Here are a few of my favorite Thai tea recipe finds:

Here is a basic and simple recipe to prepare. It gets the flavors just right. The perfect balance of sweet, milky, and a bit of zingy spices.

I found this delicious vegan version. It uses coconut milk, vanilla extract, and black tea. yum! It has a more tropical flavor that is perfect for sitting outside during those warm spring and summer days. I’m thinking a little dash of rum wouldn’t hurt, either!

I like the use of both star anise and vanilla in this recipe. The spices give it an authentic flavor, yet keeps things well balanced. I like the the recipe also makes a large batch for a crowd. Perfect for those spring BBQ gatherings! This would even make a nice frozen treat- try pouring the mixture into ice pop molds! I think I need to have Kat start experimenting with this…

Thai Iced Tea is perfect for company, or just when you want a creamy, delicious glass to brighten up your day. Dearies do you share Kat’s love of Thai Iced Tea? Do you have your own favorite recipe? You know I want to hear about it!

 

Teas For National Orchid Day

orchidtea.jpg

Dearies, April 16th was National Orchid Day. I bet you didn’t know that! I found out while examining the kitchen calendar. I love orchids, aren’t they just so beautiful? They may be challenging to grow, but their unique shape and vibrant colors are absolutely worth the effort! Kat actually has an orchid plant that she’s lovingly taken care of for years. It often blooms toward the end of the winter time, and it just brightens up the whole house. Just when Kat starts complaining that winter will never end, the plant gifts us with a burst of springtime color. Dearies, did you know that many oolong teas have a natural orchid aroma and flavor to them? You can bring the beauty of blooming orchids right to your cup.

In fact, there’s even an oolong tea that’s called ‘honey orchid’. The aroma and flavor comes directly from the leaves, and is not an added flavor. Mi Lan Xiang Dan Cong is literally honey orchid oolong tea. The orchid flavor and aroma is quite prominent. This tea is grown in the Phoenix mountain area which produces beautiful aromatic oolongs. The tea is fruity, honey sweet, and quite floral. A definite must if you haven’t tried it before.

Tieguanyin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) is one of my most favorite oolong teas, and it has a powerful floral aroma. One sip will transport you to a lush, exotic garden. A good quality oolong will leave your palate remembering that floral flavor for quite a long time.

You can also find oolong teas that have been scented with flowers to recreate that orchid scent. These are of course lovely to drink as well, especially if you are looking for a very strongly scented floral tea. One sip and you’ll imagine your house is filled with vases of gorgeous flowers.

Oolongs range in flavor and can be very light, similar to green teas or much more heavily roasted. I love that you can pick an oolong based on how you’re feeling. Do you want something light and floral with heavy orchid notes, or something more toasty and nutty? If you’d like to learn more about oolong teas, the best way is to taste as many as you can. Prepare them, taste, see what you like. I wrote a post all about oolong a little while back you can find it here.

Kat and I have decided that we love these oolong teas so much, we’re not going to just have them around this floral holiday. We’ll be toasting National Orchid Day all spring and summer long.

Mixing Teas & Flowers

floralteas.jpg

Dearies, I know I’ve written quite a bit about spring time teas, but I’ve recently thought of one more way to get spring flowers in your cup. To actually put them in your cup! I know, it seems too easy to be true, right?

You’ll want to dry your flowers first, or you can purchase them already dried. The amount of flowers you use depends on how much tea you want to make. For a few servings I’ll blend one cup of tea and a tablespoon of flowers and adjust if necessary, but you’ll need to start experimenting and see what works best for you. You may also want to add a floral extract to your blend, to increase the flavor. But that’s entirely up to you!

To make a garden blend with just flowers, you can use equal parts of each flower. Kat likes to blend chamomile and lavender together for a soothing evening blend. She often likes to play around with the following flowers. You can find these already dried online for easy use: rose, jasmine, lavender, hibiscus, chamomile, and chrysanthemum.

Kat likes to create her own version of Rose Congou. This is a fragrant rose tea from China. She takes 1 cup of her favorite Chinese black tea, and 2 tablespoons of dried rose petals. Sometimes she’ll add in a couple drops of rose extract. Mix everything together and store in an airtight container for 1 week. Open the container and give it a sniff. If it smells like a rose garden, it’s ready!

Adding flowers to your tea blends is delicious and also visually appealing. Fill tea filters with your tea blend and share with friends and family. You could also put it in a pretty glass jar for gift-giving, although I wouldn’t recommend storing your tea in glass long-term unless you’re sure to keep it out of the light (see my previous post on properly storing teas!)

You can add your flowers to any of your favorite tea bases, or I also like to use rooibos as a caffeine-free base. You can also skip the tea base altogether and just blend the flowers together!

Now my lovelies, please note I’m not a master tea blender, I just know what Kat and I enjoy. These are just my recommendations to get your mind thinking about how to get creative with tea and flowers.

DIY: Easter Tea Brunch

eastertea1

It’s time for egg hunts and Easter bunnies! I love the colors and flavors that Easter brings to our house. Kat loves decorating with pretty pastel colors and creating sweet baskets for her nieces and nephews. This year she’s planning an Easter brunch for family and friends. I’m very excited about our menu so far! Here’s what we’ve got:

We’re going to start with eggs, of course! How can you have an Easter brunch without lots of eggs? Kat’s British friend Jocelyn sent her this recipe for Bacon Deviled Eggs. They are the perfect thing to nibble on to start off the tea brunch! The smoky bacon gives the creamy eggs a nice interesting flavor and crunchy texture.

We’ll serve these peppery ham tea sandwiches that are savory with a bit of bite. Kat’s also going to make these little mini spinach quiches. They are just the right amount of food to pair with the sandwiches. She’s going for a brunch that’s light and sunny, with springtime flourishes.

Then it’s time for Kat’s favorite strawberry scones. These delicious, tender scones are a hit with both children and adults! They’re easy to make and quick to disappear! We’ll have lots of Devonshire cream on hand to spread on them.

Dearies, I’m sure you’re wondering ‘But Tippy, what about the tea’? Of course, I was just getting to it! It took Kat awhile to decide on a tea that would pair with all of the tea nibbles. She finally decided on Wegmans Earl Grey Black Tea.  She loves this malty, bold tea with a hint of bergamot. It’s the perfect thing for all the sweet and savories she’s going to serve. The black tea and citrus flavor pairs well with just about everything!  For those that do not want caffeine Kat has created a beautiful floral blend of chamomile and lavender. It’ll be delicate and floral to match the upcoming spring weather. If the idea of a bespoke floral blend tickles your fancy, stay tuned for an upcoming post about blending tea with flowers!

To finish off the meal, Kat found this recipe for vanilla custard served in eggshells which will be a whimsical way to end the meal. She’s planning on serving cut-out butter cookies as well, in festive Easter shapes.

What are your Easter plans? Whatever you do, I’m sure you’ll find creative ways to include tea into your activities! Happy Easter everyone!

Teas To Welcome Spring

SpringTeas

Dearies, I’m just so tired of this cold weather, aren’t you? Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more of it, I noticed a few green shoots sprouting in the garden! Spring is ready to burst forth, and I can barely wait another minute! I’ve decided to round up a few lovely floral teas to properly welcome springtime. What could be better than looking at the budding flowers while sipping on a lovely floral tea? Bring a bouquet into your cup and the winter weather will feel lightyears away.

Jasmine tea is a perfect choice to melt away the frost. The sweet, delicate jasmine combined with grassy green tea will bring you right to a sunny meadow with the dainty white flowers. Close your eyes, breathe in the intoxicating floral aroma. You’ll feel as good as new!

Rose teas are also a wonderful choice. I adore Kat’s rose garden and the scent always uplifts. Sometimes she’ll set a little table in front of her trellis of roses and we’ll enjoy tea in the sunshine. A sip of rose tea will make you feel like you’re right in the garden.  I enjoy green teas scented with rose, and you can often find teas with the rose petals mixed right in. It’s beautiful to look at and to drink. It would also work well as a potpourri. I’ve also seen rose as a tisane, all on its own.

SpringTeaDorset

Chamomile is a springtime favorite for Kat. She has many different chamomile choices in her cupboard, and her newest favorite is called Cool Chamomile from British company Dorset Tea. Kat’s friend Jocelyn moved to England a few years ago and always sends her teas she can’t find in the states. This chamomile from Dorset is one of Jocelyn’s favorites and now Kat is obsessed with it as well. The soothing sweet chamomile is accented with tangy raspberry and lemongrass for a unique and delicious tea. The lemongrass makes me think of those bright green early spring shoots that are sprouting up all over the garden. This combination is bright, yet relaxing. Kat often has this tea in the evening since it’s herbal and won’t keep her awake. She also has been making it iced, as a refreshing sunny sip to keep those winter blues away. It’s the perfect tea to welcome spring!

 Springtime is also when the new harvests of teas start to arrive at your favorite tea shop. Be sure to ask for the spring green, oolong, white, and first flush Darjeeling teas. They will be fresh and vibrant, and perfect for your cup.

DIY Springtime Tea Party

SpringTeaParty1

Since spring is on the way, Kat has decided it’s time to start planning her annual spring tea party! She always gets so cheerful when she’s planning her springtime teas, and who wouldn’t perk right up at the idea of tea amongst beautiful flowers and delicious treats?

She’s planning on having the tea party on her back patio. It’ll be lovely among the newly budding flowers and trees. The dining room will be the back-up plan in case of rain or chilly weather. No matter where the party will be, flowers will be everywhere! She’ll have vintage teacups stationed on the table and throughout the area holding all sorts of bright flowers. Yellow freesia and daffodils are my favorite! I love the sunny yellow hue. But of course, any cheerful flowers will do!

For our savories, we’ll serve delicate tea sandwiches- We like to keep our spring tea fare on the light side, with these lemony cucumber tea sandwiches. Crisp fresh cucumbers, zesty lemon and creamy cheese make a delicious yet light bite. She’s also going to serve a platter of smoked salmon with bagel crisps, capers, and crème fraiche. Everyone can help themselves to take as much or as little as they’d like.

Kat’s planning on making these lemon ginger scones and serving an abundance of fresh fruit- seasonal items such as oranges, kumquats, cantaloupe, and kiwi will be featured. She likes to keep the fruit as seasonal as possible to ensure freshness. Don’t forget the Devonshire cream!

We will have a bright lemony tea to bring sunny sips to the party. HEB Lemon Herbal Tea will be the perfect accompaniment to our fresh springtime fare. This tea has hibiscus, rosehips, orange and lemon peel with a little bite of chicory root and tang of lemongrass. It’s tart, tangy, and sweet. The lemon flavor is so juicy, it’s as if you squeezed a fresh lemon wedge in your cup right before drinking! Kat’s mom sent her this tea recently when she was starting to feel the effects of our cold, stormy winter. The zingy brew perked her right up. A dash of honey adds a nice comforting sweetness. She’s kept this tea in mind for her springtime tea ever since she tried it.

SpringTeaParty2

After the scones, Kat’s going to serve a little cups of tea sorbet. She has these sweet little demitasse cups that will work perfectly! I love the mismatched vintage teaware Kat uses for tea parties. She’ll be pulling out all the floral cups she can find for her spring soiree! I better get those cups in order, they need a proper dusting and we need to review how to behave during a tea party! Us vintage teacups can get a bit forgetful, but we’re quick to learn!

Dearies, I promise that spring is almost here! Do you have any special spring events you are looking forward to?