Special Tea-Themed Gifts for Mother’s Day

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Dearies, it’s the special time of year when we get to spend the day honoring the most important women in our lives. What are your plans for Mother’s Day? Last year Kat made a lovely breakfast for her mom, and this year she’s planning to have a little spa getaway for just the two of them. She’s been brainstorming beautiful tea themed gift for her mother, so I started thinking up some creative ideas of my own. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Tea Themed Gift Basket: I love the idea of a basket brimming with tea goodies. Package favorite teas in beautiful tins, add a tea-for-one teapot and cup set, a small jar of local honey, maybe even a few delicious cookies. Don’t forget to add a luxurious DIY Tea soak, matcha face scrub, or one of my other tea beauty product ideas! A basket filled with gifts to pamper that most important woman in your life. I’m sure every mother out there could use a bit of luxurious relaxation!

I recently saw a photo on pinterest of a white teapot that had beautiful words and quotes written on it with an oil-based sharpie. You can personalize your own teapot for mom! I love this idea. You can add poetry, quotes from her favorite authors, or lovely little tea themed phrases. It’s a sweet and sentimental way to show your love. She’ll be reminded of you every time she brews a pot of tea. You can get kids of all ages involved in this project.

A small windowsill tea herb garden would also make a sweet gift. If you’re really feeling crafty you can reuse tea tins for the garden! Or you can make a seed kit with all of your favorite herbs to brew into a relaxing nighttime tea. I love adding herbs such as chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, mint, and basil. But really, you can mix and match seeds for any herbs you think your recipient would love to grow and brew. Include a few pretty plant markers and even a small shovel or nice pair of gardening gloves for the ultimate tea gardening gift!

If your mother is a bookworm, how about a tea book? if your mother is anything like me, she’d love to spend the day reading and learning about tea. You could select an informative book like the classic  Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties. This is practically a tea textbook, with everything a tea lover would want to learn about teas from all over the world. Or go for a fun, exciting read that’s a tea-themed mystery! Author Laura Childs writes a series of tea shop mysteries that take place in Charleston, South Carolina. They are fun and filled with tea tidbits!

If you are including tea in your Mother’s Day gift, don’t forget to create your own tea bags with personalized tags! This is one of Kat’s most favorite gifts to create and give. It gives such a lovely personal touch to the gift, and this way you can include lots of different loose leaf teas in easy to brew packages.

Whatever you choose for your Mother’s Day gifts, you can’t go wrong with lots of tea! I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day. I raise my cup to each and every mother. You have the hardest and most important jobs of all!

DIY: Make Your Own Bubble Tea!

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Dearies, do you like bubble tea? Do you even know what it is? It’s a sweet iced tea drink that has chewy tapioca ‘bubbles’ on the bottom. The brew can often be shaken in order to combine all the ingredients, and can look at bit frothy and bubbly on top.

This sweet drink originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, and has recently become popular stateside. It’s common to see the drink in specialty bubble tea shops. Kat developed a taste for these teas while travelling in Vancouver, where she had many a bubble tea in Chinatown. It’s harder to find in our neck of the woods, so she’s discovered how to make her own. I actually think it’s better to make your own bubble tea, because you can control the amount of milk and sweetener you add to the brew.

The first thing you’ll need is the boba (tapioca pearls). You can find these at most Asian grocery stores and also through a quick online search. They are usually black, but also come in fun rainbow colors. The boba themselves don’t have too much flavor. They’re mostly for texture but you can cook your boba in a little bit of simple syrup to give them a touch of sweetness. You boil the pearls until they are soft (about 5-10 minutes) and then they are ready to add to your tea. The boba don’t stay chewy for very long, so I’d suggest only making enough for a few cups of tea. They start to get hard after a few days.

After you’ve procured the boba, it’s time for the tea! The simplest thing is to just make a very strong cup of your favorite tea. Kat usually uses 2 tea bags. You’ll want it a  bit concentrated since you’ll be adding your milk of choice.

To create your DIY bubble tea:

Make simple syrup:

Boil a cup of water and a cup of sugar, until the sugar is dissolved.

Cook the boba:

Follow directions on the package, but it’s usually 2 cups of water for every ¼ cup of boba. Bring the water to a boil and add the tapioca pearls. Cook until they start to float to the top and get nice and chewy. Quick cooking boba takes 5 minutes, the regular kind can take about 10. After cooking submerge boba in the simple syrup for at least 15 minutes.

Make the tea:

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and then steep 2-3 tea bags for at least 5-10 minutes. Allow the tea to cool. Once cool, add your milk of choice. Kat loves to use coconut milk, almond milk, even sweetened condensed milk for a real decadent treat. Add as much or as little milk as you like. Add some of your simple syrup, to taste.

Put the boba in a glass, pour in your sweet, milky tea, and top with ice. Enjoy!

A fun variation is to add a flavored tea bag, and even fruit nectars. Kat likes to use HEB Mango black tea along with a few tablespoons of mango nectar added to the brew. Kat adores mango, and the HEB tea is a perfect combination of sweet, tart, and juicy. She was so excited to find this tea in her local store, and always has a box on hand for iced tea, afternoon tea breaks, and of course bubble tea.

To drink your tea you’ll need wide bubble tea straws (easily found online) since the boba are too big to fit through a regular straw. Or simply slurp without a straw altogether.

See it’s easy to create delicious bubble tea at home. Why not give it a try? If you come up with some exciting flavor combinations, be sure to let me know in the comments or via twitter!

Pairing Tea And Pie

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You know I always look for reasons for celebration, and I’ve noticed that March 14th (3/14) is Pi Day! Yes, there is an entire day dedicated to celebrate the mathematical constant 3.14. Dearies, I’m more interested in tea and treats than mathematics so I’ve decided to celebrate with pie! Pie and tea, to be exact.

Let’s start off with sweet pies and teas. I like pairing a first flush Darjeeling with lighter tasting fruit pies such as peach, lemon, and strawberry. The earthy, grapey sweet muscatel notes in the tea work very nicely with these delicate fruit flavors. A light green tea such as sencha or nuttier dragonwell would also be a good choice. A lightly roasted oolong such as a Lishan would be a lovely choice. It is sweet, floral and a little bit grassy. These teas are light enough to let the delicate fruit flavors shine through, and their sweet and floral notes will complement the fruit.

For stronger fruits like blueberry, and cherry I like heavily roasted oolongs such as Tieguanyin and Da Hong Pao. The strong toasty notes, stone-fruit sweetness, even caramel notes compliment the pies and let the darker flavors come out. The fruit have bold flavors and need a stronger tea to compliment them. You could also try a nice Chinese black tea such as Dian Hong, which will be sweet, malty, with hints of dried fruit. The brightness of the tea will bring out the tart fruit notes.

You could also go for a savory pie! How about a shepherd’s pie with a dark puerh? The puerh will work well in cutting through that savory meaty goodness. It also helps with the digestion! Or I think a second flush Darjeeling would be lovely with a chicken pot-pie. It’s just the right amount of earthy, floral, and a little bit astringent to complement the chicken and veggies.

Instead of pairing teas with your pie, how about putting tea in the pie? I found this scrumptious recipe for Sweet Tea Lemon Chess Pie. This sweet, buttery, lemony tea-filled pie would be the perfect way to celebrate pi day! I’m printing this recipe out right now and leaving it on Kat’s desk. I’m not too subtle when it comes to hints, especially tea-related ones!

So my lovelies, will you be celebrating pi day with some pie and tea? I can’t think of a better reason to indulge. Can you?

Host a St. Patrick’s Day Tea!

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I’ve been perusing the kitchen calendar and noticed that St. Patrick’s Day will soon be here! I love thinking about everything becoming a vibrant green. It reminds me that spring is on the way! It’s hard to truly believe as we are covered in snow right now. But it’ll happen! So many people see St. Patrick’s Day as a reason to drink green beer. But I see it as a reason to have green tea!

Kat thought it would be fun to have a festive St. Patrick’s Day tea for her friends so I did a little searching for a few appropriate recipes for the day.

I thought it would be fun to start with mini matcha fruit smoothies. A display of little teacups or glasses lined up with the frothy vibrant green matcha would be a festive way to start. This vanilla matcha smoothie recipe fits perfectly. A light and delicate flavor with the bright green color we’re looking for.

For the scones, you can’t go wrong with Irish soda bread scones! I adore this recipe, and can’t wait to let Kat’s friends slather them with clotted cream.

For the tea sandwiches a cucumber and cream cheese is always good, and leave the skin on the cucumbers for a pop of color. My favorite sandwich idea is a cross between a NY deli sandwich and a St. Patrick’s Day staple- corned beef tea sandwiches! We’re going to make them double-decker style with savory corned beef, spicy deli mustard and pumpernickel bread. Make sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces!

Don’t forget to serve the teas, dearies! We’re going to serve a fresh grassy Japanese Sencha with the scones, and then an Irish breakfast tea with the sandwiches and dessert. Strong and delicious it pairs with the creamy cucumber sandwiches and the savory corned beef. Kat is going to serve Wegman’s Irish Breakfast Tea. Kat loves a hearty breakfast tea and picked it up at her local Wegmans years ago and always kept a box in her cupboard. She loves the malty, robust tea on mornings that she needs an extra jolt of sunshine.  It is strong but not bitter, and super smooth.

Kat’s going to close out the meal with matcha butter cookies. Delicious sweet, buttery and green, of course!

Spring is almost here! Do you have any fun St. Patrick’s Day plans? I do hope they involve some tea!

Maple Flavors In Tea

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As the weather gets a bit chillier, the flavors in Kat’s food and drink slowly start to change. She adds warming spices, citrus, and maple syrup! I remember a very long time ago when Char took me on a maple sugaring adventure. We learned how to tap the trees to slowly collect the sap (I was very impatient!) and we visited the sugaring shack to learn how to process that liquid gold. The smell of boiling maple syrup was heavenly. The day was so chilly, and it was almost impossible to sit on my saucer since it was so cold! But we warmed up with a little tea picnic. Char was brewing a lovely cinnamon tea, and decided to add a bit of the maple syrup she had just purchased to sweeten it up. What an inspired idea! Char loved it so much that she shared this sweet wintertime secret with Kat.

Kat decided she could take the maple flavor a step further, and create an even more satisfying sweet drink. For a delicious tea infused with maple syrup, Kat makes this lovely sweet treat:

1 Cup brewed black tea

1 tbsp maple syrup

Whipped cream to taste

½ tsp vanilla

Dash of cinnamon (powdered or freshly ground)

Brew the tea and mix in the maple syrup and vanilla. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle on a bit of cinnamon. If you are unable to sit and gaze at the fall leaves, this drink will take you to a mountain vista bursting with fall colors.

You can add a touch of maple syrup to just about any tea for that hint of autumn sweetness. Kat is particularly fond of adding it to rooibos when she’s craving something sweet after dinner.

If you are looking for a tea that already has the maple flavor added in, Kat likes to indulge in “Oh Canada” from DAVIDsTEA. I love the adorable maple leaves! The scent and flavor is completely of maple- sweet, and earthy. It brings to mind a walk in the woods. You can imagine the smoky smell from campfires, and hear the swish of wind rustling the leaves. A friend of Kat’s brought this tea over as a hostess gift, and she was taken with the appearance right away. The scent and flavor of the tea sealed the deal. She brings this out any time she’s craving that maple flavor.

Kat craves maple flavors as soon as the temperature starts to drop. It just makes everything feel cozier. When I smell maple, I imagine thick wool sweaters and warm fuzzy socks. Also, pancakes! Putting a drop of the sweet stuff in your tea is sure to keep you warm all season long.