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.

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!

Drinking Harris Teas

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Lately Kat has been thinking about her late aunt Char (who I lived with for a very long time), and how much fun they had together. As a young girl Kat would sit in Char’s kitchen and listen to endless stories from her worldwide travels (I was always with her). As they sat together they’d have sips of various teas. Kat has a special fondness for a few teas in particular that Char always had around the house. They don’t have a fancy pedigree or an expensive price tag. These are simple, basic teas that Char reached for when she needed a good, ‘cuppa’.

 Kat has started buying Harris Teas when she was in New Jersey for a conference, and happened to stop by the local Acme grocery store. She saw the old familiar name brand from her childhood and had a wave of nostalgia wash over her. She bought all three teas that they sell because she had all of them as a child and remembers them fondly.

 The tea Kat drinks on days when she needs a little happy boost of nostalgia is the decaffeinated black tea. Char used to serve this tea in dainty porcelain cups with a bowl of sugar cubes on the table. I remember a young little Kat afraid to handle us dainty cups and focused very hard on each sip. Of course as a young girl Kat mostly enjoyed the sugar cubes, but as she got a little bit older, the tea and conversation was the most important part. This tea brews up nice and dark, and has a rich black tea flavor. Even though it’s decaffeinated it has a lovely bold taste. Kat’s friends are always pleasantly surprised when she tells them it’s a decaf tea. Kat often keeps it on hand for iced tea and adds plenty of juicy lemon slices.

 The Harris green tea is one Kat likes to keep on hand as a good basic green tea. She enjoys it in the early afternoon as a pick-me-up, and keeps a box stashed in her desk drawer at work. The large box lasts a long time, and she loves the mild green tea flavor. She’s given this tea to co-workers that don’t normally care for green tea, and they’ve always come back for more. She enjoys the Harris decaffeinated green tea in the evenings, sometimes with a touch of honey.

Just like the decaf black, it has a pure green tea taste, and no one ever believes that it’s a decaf tea. It’s a perfect mild tea to wind down with in the evening.

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Recently upon examining the box she noticed that Harris Tea donates a portion of the tea proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Association. She was happy to know that not only do the teas remind her of her favorite person, but they also donate to a wonderful cause. Be sure to check out their website http://harristeabrand.com/ for more information on the teas and where to purchase them.

 Dearies, I have a soft spot in my heart for these teas. I think of Char and our adventures every time Kat brews one up. Have you tried Harris teas? I’d love to hear what you think!

Evening Teas

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I love the evening! Once Kat is off to bed, I adventure around the kitchen, chatting with my friends. Sometimes the soup pot will have a new joke to tell, or the kettle will start spouting folksongs. Kitchenware can get quite rowdy past midnight! But dearies, I don’t need to sleep like you all do. After dinner, Kat enjoys a warm, soothing cup of tea but she doesn’t want any caffeine to keep her awake at bedtime.

The days are starting to get a little bit shorter, and nights are a little bit chillier. It’s the perfect time to talk about teas to drink in the evening. Kat is always looking for new ways to create a tranquil nighttime routine and there are many teas that can enhance the setting.

Do you drink rooibos? Rooibos is always a good choice after dinner. It’s not actually a tea, but an herb made from the leaves of the rooibos bush found in South Africa. It’s often referred to as Red Tea or African Red Tea. It’s pronounced ‘roy-boss’, which is not easy to tell just by looking at the name! I’ve had to correct many of Kat’s friends. The flavor of rooibos is quite unique. It is naturally sweet with a honey-like flavor, a bit nutty and spicy. Kat often thinks it has a bit of a vanilla flavor as well. If you are looking for a decaffeinated alternative to tea, you should give it a try. It is a smooth, calming brew.

Kat enjoys this Fresh & Easy organic rooibos herbal tea on many quiet, chilly evenings. She actually discovered it after a yoga class. Her yoga studio often has invigorating herbal teas to enjoy after practice. She will often breeze past them but when she noticed rooibos, she stopped to have a sip. She hadn’t tried it before and had no idea what it was! She was surprised at the flavor. It was unlike any other herbal tea she’d ever tried. It has a strong flavor that is similar to black tea, but also quite different with the honey and spice notes. She also appreciates the individually wrapped teabags as she can take them to work, or on long plane flights when she needs a little extra help to relax.

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There are many herbal teas are perfect in the evening. Chamomile is a classic choice. The sweet, floral flavor is instantly relaxing. It is sweet enough alone, or takes to a bit of sweetener nicely. The flavor is gentle and calm and the aroma will fill your room with the scent of fresh flowers. Peppermint tea is also a popular choice among Kat and her friends after dinner. Kat often serves it at dinner parties in little glass cups along with a few springs of fresh mint. She loves how the glass cups enhance the vibrant color. It’s refreshing after a heavy meal, yet peppy enough in flavor to stimulate a lively after-dinner conversation.

Ginger tea is also lovely after a meal. Kat simply grates a teaspoon or two of fresh ginger into my cup, depending on how spicy she wants her tea. Then she simply pours some boiling water over it. You can let it steep as long as you like. If you don’t like the idea of drinking pieces of floating ginger, simply put the grated ginger in a strainer or paper tea filter. I personally enjoy the little bits as they float and tickle the sides of my cup! Kat agrees, and likes to munch on the little ginger bits. Feel free to add some sweetener as it can be spicy. But it’s the perfect way to take a deep breath, relax, and digest after a meal.

Just thinking about these teas makes me want to grab a blanket, a good book, and sit by a crackly fire. What do you drink when you’re trying to wind-down in the evening?