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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Books About Tea

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Dearies it’s been so cold lately, all Kat wants to do is stay home, curl up and read a good book. Can you blame her? I certainly can’t. I always make sure to add a nice warm cup of tea to accompany her reading. The other day I noticed just how many tea books she has on her shelf! It made me wonder, do all of your lovely readers have favorite tea books too? If you are interested in starting a tea book collection, here are a few that Kat and I recommend:

The Art and Craft of Tea by Joseph Wesley Uhl: This is one of Kat’s newest favorites. The book has bold graphics, and gorgeous photos. It gives information on tea from all around the world and even has wonderful tea-centric recipes to make at home. This book has great information on tea growing, processing, and drinking all around the world.

The Ultimate Tea Lover’s Treasury by James Norwood Pratt. Mr. Norwood Pratt is one of the most interesting and important living tea experts. This book combines beautiful prose, tea history, tea facts, and tea drinking culture from around the world. It’s a lovely book to pick up and read something new and interesting each time you open it.

Tea: History, Terroir, Varieties by Kevin Gascoyne, Francois Marchand, Jasmin Desharnais, and Hugo Americi- This has been Kat’s trusty tea handbook for years. This book has detailed explanations about all the tea growing regions. Learn all about how tea is cultivated, and processed. It gets into detail on the importance of terroir- the climate, soil, and unique characteristics of each tea growing region- and how this changes the taste of the tea. This is a perfect book for the tea lover that wants to deepen their knowledge.

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There are also books that specialize in types of tea. For example if you’d like to learn more about Puer, you should try Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic by Jinghong Zhang. Puer is a very different variety of tea, and this book will take you through how it’s processed, where it is grown, and give you lots of interesting historical facts. A must for anyone that wants to learn more about puer!

For something tea related but a fun fiction read, you can try the Tea Shop Mystery series by Laura Childs. This mystery series centers around a charming tea shop in Charleston, South Carolina and the vivacious owner.

Enjoy your book and tea reading, Dearies! It’s the perfect time of year to cozy up

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!

Recipe: Tippy’s Chai Hot Chocolate!

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

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Tippy’s Chai Infused Hot Cocoa

               2 cups whole milk

               ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

               2 tbps (or 2 tea bags) black tea

               8 cardamom pods

               1 cinnamon stick

               5 whole cloves

               5 peppercorns

               1 whole vanilla bean

               1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed

               4 tbsp sugar

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

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

Teas To Pair With Fall Desserts

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One of our favorite things to do during autumn is fire up the oven! Kat is always baking delicious treats. It’s comforting to have a little sweet treat to pair with a warm cup of tea. I thought it would be fun to suggest a few tea and dessert pairings that you can enjoy on your own, or serve at your next gathering.

Who doesn’t love Pumpkin pie? It’s a staple this time of year, and it often graces our table. Pumpkin pie is sweet, creamy, and a little bit earthy. I like to pair it with a heavily roasted oolong tea. The nutty roasted notes help bring out the earthy sweetness of the pie. It also just feel so much like fall!

When Kat has guests staying over, she likes to surprise them in the morning with freshly made cinnamon rolls. They are so sweet, chewy and fluffy! I do think she has a flair for baking them. Since we often serve these at breakfast, I like to pair them with a hearty English Breakfast blend. The strong black tea holds up to the sweet cinnamon deliciousness, and cinnamon pairs very nicely with the tea. Oh, I wish I could have this pairing right now!

Kat’s Grandmother Char was an expert at making gingerbread. I remember resting on the counter right next to the flour dusted pastry board, watching as she mixed and formed her dough. It has such a strong nostalgic pull for Kat and me. It’s sweet and spicy and rich. I was tempted to pair it with a spicy tea, but that would just be too much flavor competition. Better to have something that compliments the spices, I think. A second flush Darjeeling tea would be a perfect match. It’s strong enough to hold its own, but also has lovely floral and muscatel notes that are enhanced by the gingerbread’s sweetness.

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In a recent post, I shared my new recipe for apple tea cake. I’ve been brainstorming what teas to pair with it, as there are so many that work beautifully! I decided to do something a bit unique and fun. Do you ever have iced teas in autumn? It may sound a bit strange, but it really shakes things up a bit. We enjoy iced tea in the fall, as it helps us hold on to that summer feeling just a little bit longer. It’s also quite refreshing, especially after a long hike in the woods. I’m pairing my apple cake with Southern Breeze Raspberry Iced Tea with my warm apple tea cake. The tangy berry flavor is a nice compliment to the sweet warm apples. I also like the play of warm and cold temperatures together. Just like the pleasure of hot tea and ice cream! Kat has been drinking this sweet and tart tea all summer long, and she refuse to stop just because the temperatures are cooling off. And why should she stop? I also love that this tea doesn’t have any calories or sugar. So you can indulge in the cake and not worry about added sugar in your drink! For my warm apple tea cake, click here (note: I will publish the tea cake recipe first, and then link to it here).

Dearies, I’d love to hear about your tea and treat pairings. Do you like to layer flavors, or have them complement each other? However you pair them, I hope you enjoy making special fall moments that last all season long.

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!

 

Tippy’s Autumn Mulled Tea Recipe

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There may still be a warm breeze in the air, but very soon things are going to start getting crisp and chilly. The leaves will start to turn, everything will start to smell wonderfully earthy, and Kat will start cooking warm, comforting dishes. It’s my job to get the beverages ready for the cooler weather, and I have the perfect recipe to share with you today. Something comforting, and spicy, like a warm fuzzy sweater in a mug. Have you ever tried mulled cider? It’s warm apple cider with delicious warming spices heated through it. I was thinking about how Char used to make the most wonderful mulled cider, and realized it’s easy to add these flavors to tea. Very similar to masala chai. Who doesn’t love a good chai?

I started with chai and traditional mulled wine in mind, and made a few tweaks. Here’s the delicious recipe I came up with:

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Tippy’s Mulled Tea

3 cups hot water

4 slices of orange peel

4 whole cloves

3 cardamom pods

2 1-inch pieces of cinnamon

1 tsp sliced fresh ginger

3 bags orange spice tea

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Use a peeler to carefully create your orange peel slices. Try to just get the orange part, and not the white bit, as that is a bit bitter Bring the water to a boil, and add the orange peel and spices.

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Lower to a simmer, and let it cheerfully bubble together for 10 minutes. Dearies it’s going to smell amazing in your kitchen! Enjoy that aroma, turn off the heat and add the teabags. Let everything sit for another 5 minutes. Taste, and you can let it sit even longer if you’d like. Strain the mixture. We like to serve the tea in mugs and let our guests add honey to their liking. Or you could add a few tablespoons of honey after you strain the spices.

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I decided to try using Private Selection Orange Spice tea in this mulled brew. One of Kat’s favorite teas, it is a lovely black tea blend that is infused with orange, cinnamon, and cloves. She brings it out as soon as the first few leaves start to lazily float to the ground. A perfect autumn and winter tea, It’s comforting and will enhance all of the wonderful mulling spices.

This is the perfect drink to whip up when you’re feeling chilled and in need of some comfort. It’s also well suited for a gathering- your friends will smell the warm spicy aroma as soon as they enter the front door. Happy mulling!

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 Green Tea Granita

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If you’re looking for a new way to refresh yourself in the late summer weather, look no further than an icy cool granita! This cooling treat is similar to a slushy, but with more crunchy texture. It’s super easy to make, and will instantly cool you down. It’s also very easy to customize using your favorite flavors. I’ve been experimenting, and decided that green tea, ginger, and lemon is my favorite combination so far. The only equipment you need is a sheet pan or shallow glass pan, and room to stash it in your freezer.

1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger

3 cups water

3 green tea bags

Simple syrup

1 lemon zested and juiced

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First, make a ginger-tea infusion. Bring the 3 cups of water to a boil, add the ginger. Boil the ginger for about 3 minutes and turn off the heat and let sit for 30 seconds. After this step, add in the teabags (this is because you should never use boiling water for green tea, it’s too hot and can make the brew bitter). Steep the ginger and tea together for 10-15 minutes.

Add in half the lemon juice and three tablespoons of simple syrup. Give it a taste, and add more of both as desired. You can make it as sweet or tangy as you like!

Once the flavor is to your liking, pour the mixture into your pan of choice. We like to use a small shallow glass pan, since it’s all we can fit in our freezer. It works just perfectly! Freeze the mixture for about 30 minutes or until it’s just starting to become solid. Then, fluff it with a fork.

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For the next 2 hours, check on the mixture every 30 minutes (it may need much more than that but keep checking since every freezer is a little bit different, fluffing and stirring to create broken ice crystals. It should be slushy with lots of crunchy ice crystals. That’s when it is perfect to serve and enjoy. If your mixture gets too hard, you can leave it in the fridge for a while, or even blitz it in the food processor for a few seconds. This recipe needs a little attention, but it’s super simple, and in no time you’ll have a perfect summer dessert. Kat recently made this recipe for friends with great success. They loved the crunchy green tea flavor! The zing of ginger and tart lemon makes this light and refreshing.

For this granita Kat used Harris green tea. It has a mild vegetal green tea flavor and is perfect to add to any recipe. Kat loves this tea because the green tea flavor is balanced and not overpowering. It’s not too vegetal and is super smooth. For a different spin on this dessert, Kat is actually thinking of making the granita with an herbal tea for her niece Camille. She’s visiting next week and it’ll be the perfect refreshing treat! One bite of this crunchy, frozen treat will instantly cool you down and you’ll imagine you’re in the crisp autumn weather. Dearies I hope you enjoy my favorite new icy treat!

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!