Autumn Teas

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Dearies, do you have a favorite time of year? There is something I love in every season, but cool breezes, bright sunshine, and vibrant leaves gently floating to the ground just makes me feel happy, warm, and fuzzy. This time of year Kat takes endless walks in the woods, and sometimes she’ll tote me along with her. I love listening to the leaves swish as she walks while the birds merrily chirp all around us. I’ve been gathering our favorite fall teas to keep on hand in the kitchen. A sip of these in the morning or after a hike is the perfect way to enhance a beautiful fall experience. Here are a few of our favorite fall teas.

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Masala Chai- Newman’s Own Organic Chai. Wake you up and warm you up! Kat has tried many masala chai blends over the years, and she just loves the balance in this one. The organic ingredients of ginger, cinnamon, black pepper cloves, and cardamom are exactly what she looks for in a good chai. These are actually the same ingredients she uses in her homemade version. Often times there is too much cardamom or cinnamon in chai, but the flavors here aren’t too spicy or strong, they all play happily together. Kat likes to steep this tea nice and strong for about 5 minutes, and then adds a few dashes of milk and a tablespoon of honey. Kat loves that she can easily find this tea at her local Stop & Shop, and never worries about running out. She finds this tea comforting and invigorating, and craves it quite often!

Cranberry- of course cranberry flavor is associated with fall! There are many teas that have added cranberry to their blends. It adds a pleasing tartness that is easily balanced with a dash of sweetener. Sips of cranberry tea will bring you to an inviting holiday table with leaves gently falling outside the window. Cranberry teas are bright with a fun combination of sweet and tangy notes.

Cinnamon- cinnamon is always a staple in our house during the cooler months. It’s warming and perfect for all sorts of dishes and drinks. Kat bakes with it, adds it to her morning oatmeal, even swirls a bit in her black tea. You can find it in endless blend combinations, or just add it yourself like Kat does.

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Rooibos- rooibos has an earthy flavor that’s perfect for this time of year. It also has a red hue reminiscent of the falling leaves. Rooibos is perfect any time of day since it doesn’t have caffeine. You can add other flavors to it or drink it straight up! You could get creative and make a cranberry or cinnamon rooibos blend all on your own. There are many rooibos blends out there, so definitely give a few a try this season.

I do hope you’ll let me know what your favorite fall teas are! Do you enjoy any specific flavors or particular types of tea?

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!

How To: Have Tea On The Beach

beachtea2Dearies, we’ve talked a bit about taking your tea on the go. Kat is never without her tea whether it be on an airplane, at a picnic, or even hiking. But in the summer there is another important place that Kat totes her tea- the beach! She actually does both hot and iced teas for beachy afternoons. I thought it would be helpful to do a little ‘how to’ on taking teas to the beach, so you can always have your favorite beverage by your side (and hopefully your favorite teacup too!).

For hot tea, Kat will do it a few different ways. The thing you must have is a trusty thermos. Kat has them in varying sizes, depending on the group. She has a small one for herself and a larger one for tea with friends. Sometimes Kat will steep her tea right in the thermos and take it with her. Other times, she’ll bring along the hot water and tea separately. This way she can steep up individual cups, or even bring along her gaiwan for gongfu steeping on the beach. It may require a little bit more setup, but this is such a lovely way to enjoy tea all afternoon. The gaiwan setup is sure to draw a little bit of attention, and you’re sure to make some new tea-loving friends!

If you are icing your tea, you have a few options as well. You can put the iced tea in your thermos, and it’ll keep cool for hours. You can also put it in a large container specifically made for iced tea just make sure it’s lightweight and easy to pour. Kat has a little cooler that’s the perfect size for her plastic iced tea jug. Another must is plastic ice cubes. These are a must for iced tea! They don’t melt, so they don’t water down your tea. Leave them in the freezer and then grab when you are ready to go!

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For her iced teas, Kat loves to pack a pitcher filled with Southern Breeze Peach Sweet Tea. She makes the tea the night before her outing and cools it in the fridge. When she wakes up, it’s ready to go! The sweet black tea flavor combined with ripe peach flavor is perfect for sunny beach days. The tea is sweet without any added sugar or calories, so it’s a hit with all of her friends. She likes to bring along freshly sliced peaches for anyone that wants a fresh, delicious garnish. This tea is so easy to make: simply boil 2 quarts of water, add 2 teabags to a large pitcher and pour in the hot water. Steep for 3 minutes, and remove the bags. Pop in the fridge and cool! Easy peasy. Chill it overnight and have your tea ready for your day at the beach. As soon as the weather begins to warm up, Kat places an order on Amazon for this tea.

To enhance your tea experience on the beach, be sure to bring a few teacups! Drinking tea from your thermos or even disposable cups is fine, but when you bring along a few pretty cups, you’ll feel like royalty while listening to those crashing waves. What are your beachy tea-time tips? I’d love to know if you have some secrets to share. Happy summer Dearies!

 

Teas for Dad on Father’s Day

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Father’s day is almost here, and I’m sure many of you are in the middle of brainstorming what to get for Dad. I’m going to bet many of you have tea-loving fathers! Even if Dad hasn’t had much experience with tea, a tea-themed Father’s Day gift could be just the thing to start him on his tea adventure. I just happen to have a few suggestions on what teas to select and gift to Dad.

If Dad is a coffee drinker, a nice strong black tea is a nice choice. You can go with a malty, sweet Assam, slighty smoky Keemun, or perhaps for something with more punch, like an Irish Breakfast blend. Strong black teas are always a nice tea for coffee drinkers to start out with. They get that brisk flavor they crave, but with different nuanced flavors.

If Dad is a scotch drinker, how about something with earthy nuances like a puerh? This tea is aged and produces leathery, and wet earth notes that always reminds Kat of scotch. It also can cost far less than an aged bottle of scotch! Kat is seriously considering a puerh for her father, who likes to end a busy week with a small glass of scotch.

If he’s a fan of camping how about a lapsang souchong? The smoky flavor will bring him right to the campfire. It’s a strong black tea blend that brews up nice and strong. It’s also a good choice if he’s a fan of smoky meats like bacon! Perhaps a breakfast pairing of pancakes, bacon and lapsang to surprise Dad on Father’s Day!

One of my most favorite choices for dad is Chai. The blend of earthy black tea and strong spices are sure to please a father with a refined palate. This is an especially great choice for the foodies! Kat is a big fan of chai, and often makes her own homemade version from black tea and fresh spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. But usually she is pressed for time, and reaches for a packaged blend. Lately she’s been especially fond of an organic chai from True Goodness. Kat’s mom knows she loves a good chai, and found this one in her local Meijer store. Her mom is so sweet, she’s always looking out for new teas for Kat to try! She tries to find adventurous blends that Kat may not have seen before. But it’s hard to stump my Kat- she tries as many new teas as possible. Her mom likes that this tea has no artificial flavors (you’d be surprised at how many tea blends have artificial flavors!) and contains organic ingredients. She decided to send Kat a box, and it’s been our go-to for months now. It has just the right amount of malty, earthy tea, warm cinnamon and ginger, spicy cardamom, clove, and pepper. I just know the Dad on your list is sure to love this tea! Won’t Kat’s mom be surprised when she sees this tea included in her husband’s Father’s Day gift!

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If you have young children, I just adore the idea of a special father/child tea party! Create a special tea time just for dad and his little ones. Wouldn’t this be the perfect way to get some quality time together? You can work with your children to pick out everything from the menu, the teas, and the décor. They’ll enjoy being so involved in the process. I love the idea of creating special time for Dad and his children, it’s so hard to find time to slow down and enjoy family.

Don’t forget the teaware! There are many fun mugs out there, something to match your father’s style. You can even custom make a mug with a loving message, or a lovely picture of his children. Or how about a clear glass mug with infuser, so he can watch his leaves dance and steep. This will let him get more involved in the tea making process. If he’s interested in gadgets, a variable-temperature kettle would be a fun gift. This way he can choose the exact temperature for his tea, depending on tea type. There are even tea-makers on the market, which you could choose if you’re looking for a fancier gift.

What do you think of these ideas, Dearies? Do you have any to add? Feel free to contact me through twitter or Instagram if you need any further suggestions! I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day!

NY Tea Scene

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Dearies, I have traveled all over with Char and Kat, and we’ve experienced tea in many different places. I thought it would be fun to post about different cities that have a vibrant tea scene. Tea is becoming very popular in the states, with tearooms and tea shops opening around the country I’m going to focus on various cities with growing tea scenes in the US. Today I’m going to discuss the New York City tea scene. Kat and I have been to NYC many times, and there is always a new tea place to visit! Here are a few of our favorite places:

Té Company– This is a newer tea shop that Kat has bookmarked to visit on our next trip. Oolong tea is the specialty here. There is a carefully sourced menu of all types of oolongs. Think you know what oolong is? Go to Te, and try as many as you can. They even offer tasting flights so you can try a few at a time. If you are hungry, there is a gorgeous, small menu of seasonal offerings. Teas are served from beautiful small clay teapots.

T-Shop– This place focuses on seasonal Chinese and Taiwanese teas sourced by the owner through personal trips. The little shop is hard to find but worth the effort! Teas are served gong-fu style poured from a gaiwan or small yixing teapot.

Tea Drunk– The focus here is also on Chinese teas, carefully sourced. It’s a great place for a pot of puerh or Chinese green tea. Each table has a tea tray, gaiwan, and tea accoutrements ready for brewing.

Cha-an– This is a Japanese tea house serving delicate Japanese cuisine and lovely teas. The focus is on Japanese green tea.

If you are looking for a matcha fix, you’ll have to visit Chalait, and Matchabar. Both of these cafes focus on the magic of matcha. You can get matcha whisked up in dozens of different ways. Iced, in lattes, even in hot chocolate.

If you’re looking to purchase tea in a shop, you can’t go wrong with Harney & Sons or Palais des Thés.

Don’t forget afternoon tea! There are loads of hotels doing the fancy teas. If you’re looking for something a little more low key, try Bosie Tea Parlor, Tea & Sympathy, or Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon.

Dearies, what favorites have I missed? NYC is so large, you can probably just pick a neighborhood, walk  around, and see what tea places you discover. If you have a favorite place in NY, be sure to mention it. We’ll check it out on our next visit.

Do you have a favorite city that has fabulous places for tea? I’d love to hear about it! Please do leave me a comment below, and it may become our next travel destination.