Indian Flavors In Tea

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When the temperatures dip below freezing, Kat and I always look for teas that are not just warm, but feel cozy and comforting on the inside. Each sip needs to be like wrapping a warm cashmere blanket around your shoulders. Who wouldn’t want to be warm inside and out while the icicles drip and snow falls?

 Kat has found some zesty teas from Tea India that she started drinking for Diwali and hasn’t stopped since. The delicious flavors are part of Indian cuisine and culture. Spices in the masala chai such as cardamom, ginger, pepper, and cinnamon are perfect for this time of year. They warm the body and wake up the palate. Kat likes to add a touch of sugar and a few drops of milk to round out the chai experience. With added milk and sugar, this tea brings me back to my days of traveling through India with Char. We sampled so many cups of masala chai. Sweet, spicy, and delicious. Everyone had their own unique recipe and it was so much fun to try them all! The Tea India version is a hearty cup that Kat has started enjoying in the mornings, to wake her up and get her ready for a chilly day ahead.

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The ginger tea is another Indian staple that Kat likes to keep on hand. The zingy flavor is great alone, or with a touch of honey and milk to calm the spice a bit. Ginger is delicious and also good for helping with digestion. Kat loves it as an early-afternoon break as it’s quite reviving! The spicy flavor also goes perfectly with a sweet snack.

 Cardamom tea is another popular Indian tea flavor. Kat’s friend Sima drinks this tea every day. She says it tastes just like the cardamom chai her mother used to make. Cardamom has a unique flavor that is lovely if you’re looking for an Indian spiced tea but you don’t want anything too spicy. This tea has a pure cardamom flavor without anything but black tea added to it.

 You can use these teas as they are, or add milk and your favorite sweetener. You can even use the ginger or cardamom as a base and add even more delicious flavors to them.

You can find these tasty teas at your local Indian grocery store, or head on over to amazon.com to buy them online.

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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!

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!

 

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.

Black Teas to get you through Black Friday!

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Oh goodness Dearies, I barely see Kat these days! She’s already busy running about getting her holiday prep started. Between Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas coming up, she has endless to-do lists. I see her briefly in the morning and then we sometimes meet for a late-night relaxation sip. Watching her breeze around the house for a few days, I decided to come up with a list of black teas to give her a bit of pep to get through the holiday crazy. Especially that Black Friday shopping! She’s planning on getting up very early (even before this tea cup likes to be awake!) and going all day long. Here are a few of our favorite black teas I’m lining up to keep her awake and ready to go!

 Irish Breakfast- I can’t think of a better way to start the day! This is a super strong blend of black teas, perfect to wake you right up. This tea has a hearty dose of Assam which is malty and bold. It’s a bit stronger in flavor than English Breakfast but they’ll both do the trick. Sometimes they are blended with Kenyan, Ceylon, and Chinese black teas as well. Each blend tastes a bit different so you should try as many brands as you can to see what you like best!

 Keemun- this is a Chinese tea that’s great for the morning or early afternoon. It can be a little earthy, little bit sweet, with a hint of smoke. Very uplifting and energizing!

 Darjeeling- perhaps it’s getting a bit later in the day and you want something to get you through but not give you a big boost. A delicate 1st flush Darjeeling is floral yet earthy, a nice balance of more subtle flavors. It will restore your energy and the flavor will also give you focus and calm.

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Kat has found a new favorite to keep her shopping energy up. I mentioned Tea India teas in our Diwali celebration post, and Kat now keeps the Orange Pekoe tea on hand for moments when she needs a pick-me-up. It’s a bold Assam tea, perfect for mornings or early afternoon. She’s even made it iced a few times, an carries it around in a tumbler. Quite a versatile tea! Earthy, bold and bright, it holds up well both hot and iced.

 These Black Friday teas are of course great for any occasion. I’d stick with them in the morning or early afternoon if you are sensitive to their pep effects. Do you have a favorite black tea to wake you up and keep you going?

Tea For Diwali

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Dearies, I was checking out the kitchen calendar and noticed Diwali is Sunday October 30th. Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights. I remember when Char and I were in Malaysia during the festival. It’s such a joyful time of year! Little twinkling lanterns were everywhere and there were the most beautiful firework displays. The lights create such a magical atmosphere! During Diwali clay lamps are lit to symbolize spiritual inner light. In fact, the word Diwali translates to ‘row of lamps’. The holiday marks the last harvest of the year. There are various cultures that celebrate the holiday, and the central meaning is celebrating good triumphing over evil. When Kat was first learning about Diwali, she noticed that there is a theme of gathering together, and celebrating with friends and family.

I of course have decided Kat and I need to drink as many Indian teas as possible during the 5 day holiday! My motto is, if there is a crowd, tea must be served! Tea is the perfect accompaniment for the various savories and mithai served throughout the Diwali holiday. I’ve rounded up our stock of Darjeeling, Assam, and Nilgiri teas, and will be brewing up a pot of my masala chai. We also have a few new teas to add to our Diwali preparation list!

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Just the other day Kat’s friend Sima introduced her to a line of delicious Tea India teas while they were starting to prepare for Diwali. Sima served Kat a few cups while they were applying beautiful henna designs to their hands. I just love how the henna dries into amazing wearable art! The teas they shared combine rich Assam tea with delicious Indian flavors. Kat’s favorite right now is the ginger chai. This time of year she reaches for warming teas and the spicy ginger is the perfect thing. Add a touch of sweeter and this tea is a lovely way to begin your Diwali festivities. The cardamom chai is also in our heavy rotation. The cardamom flavor is perfect alone, or you could add your own spices to personalize the tea even more. Kat has started enjoying the masala chai when she’s craving that sweet and spicy flavor. Brew up a bag, add milk and sweeter of choice for an easy and authentic masala chai. These teas are a great choice for Diwali, and of course any time! They’ve got strong black tea to add a spring to your step, and spicy flavor to enjoy with every sip. You can find these at your local Indian grocer, and head over to amazon.com to purchase them online!

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While I was learning a little bit about Tea India teas, I noticed they are running a fun contest for Diwali! If you go to the Tea India Facebook page every Friday before Diwali, you can find a beautiful picture to color and submit to win a tea prize pack! I’m heading over there today to see what we can color this week! Kat loves coloring! She has a few different coloring books and often says when she adds in a cup of tea, it’s an incredibly relaxing experience.

We are excited to bring on the festivities, food, and sweets of Diwali! Dearies, you know I’ve got the tea ready and waiting. When you gather for your Diwali celebration, what teas will you serve?

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!

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!

Camping With Tea

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Here’s the scene: Waking up in the lush green forest listening to birdsong and the smoky comforting smell of a campfire. Summertime is Kat’s favorite time of year to go camping. She loves being out in the forest so close to nature. Hiking, fishing, cooking over a fire, she just loves it all! She even likes sleeping in a tent. There is however one comfort she can’t live without: tea!

Over the years Kat has perfected a way to have tea while camping. It involves a little bit of gear, but can also be done with less. She does have a bit of tea camping gear, she just love collecting tea ware no matter what the occasion! Those enamelware cups are just so cute, Kat has a large vintage collection!

So there are only a few things you really need to enjoy tea while camping: First a heat source (campfire or camping stove), and vessel to boil water (we just use a cooking pot). Then you pick and choose: thermos, enamelware teapot, and enamelware teacups, empty teabags to fill, or just regular teabags. If you are trying to pack light, all you really need is the boiled water and a cup to put your tea in. If you need to pack even lighter, you can put the tea directly in your cup and sip it grandpa style (sipping with the leaves directly in the water). Or you could put the tea in a fillable teabag, steep and remove. Or of course, you can bring along your favorite teabags, and steep those. That’s what Kat often does.

 

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A tea she likes to bring camping is Private Selection Orange Spice black tea. This tea has orange cinnamon and clove flavors that hold up well to that smoky camp fire. Perfect with a hearty breakfast, lunch, or dinner by the campfire. It would also pair nicely with sweet, chocolatey s’mores, which are a must if you are going camping! Kat drinks this tea all year round. It’s soothing in the chilly months and quite refreshing when it’s warmer outside. She even serves it iced! I guess you could say it’s one of her staples. She always has it in the cupboard.

Dearies, will you try my tips for your next camping trip? Do you have any other ideas for taking tea in the great outdoors?

DIY: Tub Teas using Summer Herbs

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One of Kat’s favorite ways to end a busy summer day of beachgoing and pool hopping is to take a relaxing bath. Isn’t it lovely to soak sun-kissed skin and weary muscles after a long day of outdoor activities? Kat often uses our green tea soak, and I’ve recently come up with even more tea-themed bath ideas. Dearies, it’s the perfect time of year to create herbal tea bath soaks. You can even use seasonal herbs you grow in your own garden!

The herb choices can vary based on what you have on hand, or what’s lush in your garden. We like to choose lavender, chamomile, peppermint, or lemon verbena. But you can add in whatever aromatic herb you’d like.

You can also add relaxing elements such as Epsom salts, and rose petals for a soothing bath that will transport you to a quiet oasis.

To make your own teabags, you can use my tutorial here. Or, you can simply fill up a tea sac and staple the top. You’ll want to make your teabags larger than a regular one, since the tub is much bigger than a cup of tea! Or if you’re using small teabags, just use a few at a time. If you’re making large teabags, you should add in about ¼ cup of your herbs. You can use one, or a blend of a few different herbs. Mix and match and see what you like best!

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If you are pressed for time or don’t have a garden, you can use any store-bought herbal teabag. Kat has actually been using HEB Catch Your Z’s right in the tub. Kat has tried many different types of bedtime teas, as she enjoys having a warm cup before bed. She finds it helps her wind-down after a hectic day and is a lovely way to find a few minutes just for herself. Her mother actually sent her a box of this tea recently, and she’s  been preparing a cup almost every night. The soothing flavors of peppermint and chamomile instantly start to calm her down. The other night she decided to add 3 of these teabags to her warm bath, and she just loved the experience. The steamy water diffused the herbal aromas all around the bathroom. She felt like she was in a spa, having one of those fancy bath soaks.

Give these tub teas a try, and bring the spa right to your bathroom! Don’t forget to bring a cup of tea with you, too! Hot or iced, you can sip as you relax. Enjoy!