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?

Tippy’s Tea-Infused Cranberry Sauce

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Thanksgiving is coming up fast, and Kat’s hosting this year! I’m so excited to be a part of the action. Kat has been studying her cookbooks, picking out each dish she wants to make for her friends. I’m going to be creating my favorite Thanksgiving tea cocktails, and I decided I wanted to do a tea-infused dish.

 Dearies, it took me awhile to come up with just the right dish. Did I want to do a vegetable? perhaps a starch side? After mulling it over a bit and discussing with my kitchen friends, I decided on a dish that’s iconic, and stands out on the plate. Something everyone has at Thanksgiving. Cranberry sauce! Kat likes to make her cranberry sauce with citrus, so that got me thinking. What tea would work in cranberry sauce? There are many options, but I wanted something to compliment the citrus. So, of course I chose Earl Grey! That lemony-flavored bergamot is the perfect way to enhance Kat’s cranberry sauce!

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Tippy’s Earl Grey Cranberry Sauce

 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries (can also use frozen)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup boiling water

2 earl grey tea bags

Zest of 1 orange

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Boil the 1/2 cup water in a medium-sized pot and pop in the teabags. Steep for 5 minutes, remove teabags and add in the cranberries, sugar, and orange juice. Cook over high heat until the cranberries start to pop open and the sugar dissolves, about 6-10 minutes. Stir and add in the orange zest. Cook for another few minutes and remove from heat. Allow to cool just enough so you can pour it into a bowl. Cover and leave in fridge for about 2 hours, until it’s fully cool. You can serve it cold or at room temperature.

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For the teabags we like to use Wegman’s Earl Grey. This is a perfectly balanced Earl Grey tea with just the right amount of citrusy bergamot flavor to compliment the earthy black tea. It is bright and refreshing. Kat keeps it around at all times. Perfect for an afternoon cup with a buttery shortbread biscuit, too! The Earl Grey brings a nice extra note of citrus to our homemade cranberry sauce.

Your guests are sure to love my cranberry sauce recipe! I hope it makes an appearance on your Thanksgiving table. Have an incredible Thanksgiving celebration, my lovely tea friends! If you create any tea-infused recipes, please do let me know! I’d love to hear about them.

Matcha Donuts!

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Dearies, as you know matcha is everywhere these days. You can enjoy it straight up, as a latte, or in a myriad of foods. Kat has brought home everything from matcha cream puffs, to matcha green-tea noodles. We’ve been putting it in our bath products, and you may remember I created a matcha face mask that’s perfect for an at-home spa night. It seems that everywhere you turn you’ll find a new use for matcha!

 Kat recently brought home a surprising matcha-product. A matcha donut! This donut in particular was quite special. A chocolate cake donut with a luscious matcha glaze. What a way to enjoy our favorite tea!

 It seems like many donut shops are jumping on the matcha bandwagon. Kat said some of her friends around the country have found matcha donuts too! This is definitely a trend that I can happily support. More matcha for everyone. Our local shop keeps this donut feeling special. They only make them on Saturdays! This causes the lines to be a bit long on Saturday mornings, but well worth the wait. If you have a donut shop or two in your town, ask if they make any with matcha! If you can find one, you’ll be glad you did.

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I was thinking that it would be such fun to matcha donuts from scratch, but Kat said she doesn’t have time for something so labor intensive. But what about a quick matcha glaze to add to your store bought donuts? Make a matcha glaze with three simple ingredients: powdered sugar, matcha, and water! A quick search can come up with lots of recipes, but I do like this one best. You can put it on your donuts, cakes, well just about anything!!

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So, what tea to pair with your matcha donut? I’d suggest a refreshing green tea. In fact, we’ve been pairing out donuts with Private Selection Citrus Green. I’ve paired this tea with sweets before as it’s a lovely combination of delicately vegetal green tea and tangy orange. The green tea compliments the matcha, and the orange cuts through the heavy donut and even accentuates the chocolate notes in the confection. Kat keeps this tea on hand to drink all year round. It’s thirst quenching in the summer, and a relaxing warm cup for early afternoon sips in the chillier weather. This tea is definitely one of our staples!

 Dearies, tasting this chocolate matcha donut has given me new found inspiration for matcha and chocolate recipes! Stay tuned as I’m going to start brainstorming and recipe testing! Kat always loves being my official taste tester. If you’ve come across any matcha donut varieties, do feel free to share them with me! Oh, the possibilities!

A Lovely Late Autumn Tea Cocktail

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Late Autumn is such a festive time of year, isn’t it? It seems that as temperatures start to lower, everyone starts having cozy get-togethers and hearty dinner parties. Kat and I have a few delicious tea cocktails in our repertoire, and I thought it would be fun to create another one for this festive time of year.

Since I love all things bubbly I came up with a ginger and pear cocktail that has a lovely little bit of fizz. Pear and ginger are flavors that remind me of fall leaves and crisp weather. I decided to use sweetened ginger tea as the base, add in pear juice, a dash of champagne (or prosecco), and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Put it all together and you have my ginger fizzy pear cocktail!

For this cocktail we used Newman’s Own Organic Ginger Green Tea. This tea combines mellow vegetal green tea with warming ginger. The zingy flavor is enhanced by a bit of lemongrass and rounded out with a pop of mint. It makes the cocktail even more unique. The calming yet invigorating flavor of this tea is perfect for morning sips or afternoon relaxation sessions. Kat’s friend Maeve came across this tea on Amazon.com and decided to give it a try. She shared some with Kat and they’ve been obsessed with it ever since!

Tippy’s Ginger Fizzy Pear Cocktail

Makes 2-3 cocktails

1 cup water

1 tablespoon sweetener of choice (we like honey)

1 ginger teabag of choice, or 1 tablespoon diced fresh ginger

¼ cup pear juice

Champagne or prosecco

Put your water in a small saucepan over high heat. Once it boils, turn off the heat and add in your ginger or teabag. If you are using fresh ginger, let steep for 7-10 minutes. If you are using a teabag, 5-7 minutes will do. Once tea is steeped, add in your sweetener and stir until dissolved. Strain and allow to fully cool.

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Once your tea is cool, pour into a champagne flute or coupe glass until about ¼ full. Add in a few tablespoons of pear juice, and top with the bubbly. You can add in a few pieces of chopped pear for a garnish if you’re feeling fancy!

I hope you enjoy all the fun this season has to offer! Cheers my lovely tea friends!

Adding Ginger To Your Tea

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This time of year Kat likes warming flavors to soothe and comfort. I’ve written about warming teas before, but I thought I should focus on one of her most favorite flavors: ginger. Dearies, do you enjoy ginger in your tea? If you’ve never had ginger tea before, it’s a must! It’s a zingy, versatile flavor that goes well with both green and black tea. It’s also lovely with rooibos and tulsi!

You can really take just about any tea and add some ginger flavor either with fresh or dried ginger. Kat loves fresh ginger and always has some in the kitchen. If you have some time, her favorite thing to do is peel and slice a 1-inch piece, and boil it in a saucepan with a cup of water for 5-10 minutes. You can leave the ginger steeping in the water as long as you like, especially if you like it super spicy. She then will add in a teaspoon or two of loose tea, steep, and then strain. Or she’ll strain the ginger water into a mug with a patiently waiting teabag. Add in a dash of honey and/or lemon, and you’re good to go! A deliciously warming cup of tea.

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There are times when we run out of fresh ginger, or just need our ginger tea fix as quickly as possible. On these occasions Kat reaches for HyVee ginger tea. Kat just loves this tea and always has a box in the cupboard. It’s quite convenient and steeps up the most delicious, spicy cup of tea. It is herbal so it has no added tea, just pure ginger goodness! Kat drinks this tea in the evening, uses it as a base for masala chai, and even adds it to baked goods. It gives a ginger zip to anything you add it to.

As I mentioned, ginger is an important component of masala chai. It’s one of our favorite beverages to make this time of year! Check out my previous post for recipes and ideas. Stay tuned, I’ve also got a masala chai hot chocolate recipe coming soon!

So Dearies, while the leaves start to swirl and the temps drop, reach for some ginger tea! It’s just lovely this time of year.

Ask Tippy: How Can I Start a Teacup Collection

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Ask Tippy is a series where you get to take control of the blog, and ask me questions about tea! Do you have a question about tea types? Tea preparation? Teaware? Ask away! I received the following question from twitter friend Carolina:

Q. Tippy, I just love the look of mismatched vintage teacups but I have no idea how to start collecting them. Do you have any advice?

A. Well my dear, you have come to the right place! Being a teacup, I have tea ware friends far and wide that I’ve met in all sorts of places. I think the first thing you should decide is if you’d like to go modern, vintage, or both. If you’re looking for vintage pieces try auctions, garage sales thrift stores, and antique shops. Look for estate sale listings too. Flea markets are also a fun way to shop for teacups. There are usually quite a few vendors with inexpensive tea ware. Online auctions are also a great way to browse, just make sure you look carefully at pictures and read all the descriptions. Used tea ware can often have chips or cracks and if you are unsure based on the pictures given, be sure to ask to see more photos.

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You’ll have to decide what ‘look’ is right for you. Are you interested in fancy china cups, sleek art deco styles, or something else? Do you like minimalist style or something more ornate? There is also an entire range of art pottery out there that you can find on Etsy or even Instagram. Or perhaps you like all of it! We certainly do. Kat’s collection of teacups is always growing. I feel like such a proud mother to our colorful brood!

Another tip is to look for teacups while you travel. Many cultures drink tea and have unique tea ware. For example, you can get tulip shaped glass cups in Turkey, and yixing clay cups in China. Kat likes to pick up pretty bone china cups in London, especially in the antique markets there. Or even just around the US you can find various potters working locally that make beautiful tea ware. Kat was in a little beach town and came across a local potter who makes beautiful tiny teacups. Keep your eyes open while you walk about town! Bigger cities will of course have even more to choose from.

Once you start collecting, you can display your cups anywhere you like. Kat likes to keep hers in a china cabinet, to make sure her little niece Camille doesn’t accidentally break one of her favorites. But she also pulls out her mismatched china cups and saucers for tea parties. She has every day useable art pottery for special tea sessions alone or with friends. And of course she has me! Her trusty friend and tea addict. But I’m one of a kind, of course!

Dearies, do you have a burning tea question you’d like answered? Tag me on twitter @TheLovelyTeaCup!

Tippy’s Tea of The Month: Rooibos

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Dearies, I’m a teacup that has been around the world and I’ve experienced all types of teas and tea culture. One type of tea that seems to stump many folks is actually not a tea at all, but from the Aspalathus Linearis plant, which is a South African evergreen shrub. The tea is often referred to as ‘red bush’ tea. It is only grown in South Africa, but is exported all around the world.

The needle like green leaves are plucked and then oxidized and dried which causes it to turn a lovely reddish brown color. It reminds me of the color of fall leaves.  The flavor of rooibos can be everything from woodsy and nutty, to slightly sweet, with notes of vanilla and honey. It’s most common to find the red rooibos leaves, but the green, non-oxidized rooibos can sometimes be found as well. The green variety is steamed and then dried. Since it isn’t oxidized, it retains a grassier flavor. Rooibos is commonly blended with other flavors as well.

This herbal tea doesn’t have any caffeine, so it’s great for any time of day. Kat likes to add a dash of honey or maple syrup to her rooibos for a satisfying nighttime sip. She keeps a box of Wegman’s rooibos on hand for chilly nights by the fire, or a convivial sip with friends. The earthy sweetness is perfect for any occasion. She’s made many of her friends into rooibos drinkers, and often gives them a few bags to take home with them. In fact, they expect a steamy cup in hand whenever they stop over to visit!

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Rooibos is a very forgiving tea- you can steep it for quite a long time and it won’t get bitter or astringent. Use boiling water, and about 1 tbsp per cup. Steep from 2-4 minutes, or as long as you like. You can prepare this tea in a traditional teapot, or even use a small tea strainer since the leaves are bits that don’t expand much (unlike tea leaves that need more room to breathe).

Dearies if there is a tea that I haven’t featured that you are curious about please drop me a line and let me know!

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.

Ask Tippy: What is Genmaicha?

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Dearies, it’s time for our next installment of ‘Ask Tippy’! This is where you the readers get to ask me anything you like about tea! Our latest question comes from a reader named Betty.

Q. Tippy, what is genmaicha? I was in a Japanese restaurant over the weekend, and it was on the menu. Is it a green tea?

A. Very good question, Betty! Genmaicha is in fact a Japanese tea blend that includes green tea. The tea is usually bancha or sencha, with roasted and popped brown rice added in. This is a common tea to find in Japanese restaurants, as it’s a mellow, every day drinking tea.

The quality of the genmaicha depends on the green tea used. As I mentioned it is commonly found with bancha or Sencha. Sencha is the most popular Japanese green tea and varies in quality based on the season it is picked. The tea is steamed rather than pan fired, and produces a lovely green hue and deeply vegetal flavor when steeped. Bancha is quite similar but produced from both leaves and stems of the tea plant so the quality is a little lower than Sencha. But both are lovely when blended with the roasted rice. To create the rice for the tea, the rice is soaked, steamed, and then dried and roasted. The rice used can be white or brown, but usually white rice is used. It looks brown from the roasting process.

In Japanese, genmai means roasted rice. Cha means tea. When you first open a bag of genmaicha you may be surprised by the nutty aroma. The roasted rice gives the blend a deliciously earthy, nutty scent that pairs very nicely with the vegetal green tea. The other thing that you may notice is something a bit unique for tea- popcorn? It’s actually popped rice! On occasion the rice will pop while it’s roasted, which makes it look like popcorn!

In some cases it can also have some matcha mixed in. This blend will usually be a bit more expensive than typical genmaicha. If you’re not sure if there is matcha in your genmaicha, you’ll be able to easily tell once you open the bag. The roasted rice will have a greenish hue from the matcha, just like in my above picture.

If this tea sounds interesting to you, definitely seek it out! It’s widely available and is often offered in Japanese restaurants. Enjoy!

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?