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!

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Functional Teas

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Dearies, lately Kat and her friends have been talking about functional teas. Now, being a teacup I’m not always up to date on the latest popular trends. But I try to keep my ears open and listen to what the younger folk are doing. Curious about functional teas, I took to the laptop and did a bit of research. It turns out these are teas with herbs for added benefit to the body. I’ve been learning quite a bit about these teas!

There are functional tea blends for just about anything you need. Feeling under the weather? Try a tea with Echinacea, vitamin C, and lemon. Having trouble with digestion? Try a tea with licorice root and magnolia bark. Ginger is great for many things, particularly for digestion. I’ve actually written about ginger before, I just love it for everything. It’s relaxing, delicious, and good for the tummy. Check out a previous post to get you started!

Kat has been drinking quite a bit of lavender tea lately. This functional tea is great if you need to relax. It smells divine, like sitting in a lush French field dotted with beautiful purple lavender. She originally started drinking lavender because it helped her relax and relieve stress. She has recently learned it’s also good for promoting sleep and helps to uplift your mood! She adds a touch of honey to her lavender tea for an extra dose of soothing goodness. Kat also drinks Chamomile, which is also known for helping with sleep and relaxation. After a particularly stressful day both of these herbs have been super helpful. She’ll even mix both teas together for a delicious way to unwind.

Kat has started using this organic detox green tea from Full Circle Organic. A friend recommended it when Kat said she wanted to take some time to cleanse her body after eating a bit too much around the holidays. It’s hard to get back on track after such indulgent festivities, isn’t it? Being more mindful of her nutrition, exercise, and a little help from this tea, she’s feeling much more like herself. This tea contains organic green tea, dandelion root, and schizandra berries, all things that are supposed to help cleanse the body. Why not get a little extra help in jumpstarting the process? This tea is the perfect way. This tea can be found in various grocery stores such as Tops, Coborns, Price Chopper, HyVee, Big Y and more.

Dearies don’t forget that I’m a teacup, not a doctor. So please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions about these teas. Have you tried any functional teas? I’d love to learn about what you’ve had, and your experience with them.

 

 

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.

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!

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!

Behind The Leaf: Matcha

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We all love matcha, don’t we? It tastes delicious and is quite energizing. It has a natural sweetness and is balanced out by slightly bitter and vegetal notes. You can make it the authentic way or just shake and go. You can even cook and bake with it. It’s quite the versatile tea! No wonder it’s so popular. But do you know really what matcha is, and why it’s powdered? I’m happy to tell you a little bit more about this elusive tea.

As you probably know, matcha is ground green tea. You may also know it’s used in the Japanese tea ceremony called chanoyu. But Japan wasn’t the first to use powdered tea. It was actually brought to Japan in the 12th century by Buddhist monks. Grinding tea to a powder actually began in China and it was consumed this way before it became popular in Japan. Whisking powdered tea in a bowl eventually went out of fashion in China, but Japan has kept this traditional alive.

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Before you purchase that magical ground green tea powder, much needs to happen. Leaves are picked by machine, then withered and steamed. Steaming the leaves is unique to Japanese tea which gives it that vibrant green hue. The teas are then dried and rolled. After this process the leaves are carefully sorted, and the tough veins are removed. The processed (but not yet ground) leaves are called Tencha. The tencha is ground to create the fine matcha powder.

The highest quality matcha can be found in the Uji region, using leaves that have been shaded before plucking. The shading causes an increase in chlorophyll and creates a more intense, sweet vegetal flavor. Higher quality matcha will have a smooth, sweet taste with just a touch of bitterness. Lower quality tea will be more bitter and won’t have that lovely smooth texture. When you’re buying matcha you should look for a bright dark green vibrant powder, not a light green or pale green powder. The shade grown leaves are darker and vivid green, and will have more sweetness and flavor. But if you are on a tight budget please select the matcha that’s best for you! It’s still a lovely tea experience, no matter what grade you choose.

DIY Avocado And Green Tea Face Mask

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Dearies, you know how much Kat and her friends love to create their own natural bath and body products. I’ve talked about soaks, scrubs, and bath bombs! The girls are always looking for interesting combinations of ingredients, and Kat just discovered a fun way to make a nourishing face mask.

The other day Kat came into the kitchen with a green face! I had no idea what was going on! Kat explained that she was trying out a new green tea face mask she created. Turns out it’s a winner, so I thought I should share the recipe with all of my lovely tea friends. It’s quite simple and I must admit, it smells scrumptious.

DIY Avocado & Green Tea Face Mask

1/2 avocado

2 tbsp plain full fat greek yogurt

1/2 tsp matcha powder

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First, sift the matcha so it’s free of clumps. In a small bowl whisk the sifted matcha into the greek yogurt. Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop out half the flesh with a spoon and add to a large bowl. Mash well with a fork. Once it’s nice and smooth add the yogurt mixture and mix until fully combined. It may look a bit strange, but it’s good stuff!

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We like to pop ours in the fridge for 5 minutes or so, just to make sure it’s nice and cold. It is more refreshing that way! When it’s at your desired temperature apply a thin layer to your face, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy looking at your amusing green face in the mirror while you wait! If you’re feeling kooky, show us your green selfie! When you are ready, remove the mask with a warm washcloth.

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Hee hee! Dearies I thought I’d give the mask a try myself. Who doesn’t want glowing skin? It tickles a little bit! Since you have half an avocado left, you can make the mask for a friend, or just enjoy a healthy snack! Avocado toast, and a bowl of matcha, anyone?

Back To School Tea Party Ideas

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It time to put away bathing suits and sand toys and start getting ready to go back to school! Like most children Kat’s niece Camille is reluctant about it, so Kat thought she’d find a way to lift her spirits and get her ready. I of course had the most brilliant idea. A back to school tea party! Imagine a party filled with sweets and treats to start getting the young ones back in the school spirit. With a little planning we can lift their spirits and get them excited about going to class.

For starters, let’s talk about décor. I’ve decide there needs to be a crafty-school theme for the party. A centerpiece incorporating a nice big globe, pencils with flower eraser toppers (and everyone gets to take one home), and by each plate a mini chalkboard personalized with each guest’s name. Kat suggested also placing a little notebook and pen next to each plate so the guests can take tasting notes. This will get them ready for creative writing and critical thinking!

I think apples should be the food theme, don’t you? A nice homage to the season, and all of those hard working teachers. We’re thinking a fennel apple salad to start, cheddar and apple finger sandwiches, Candy apples, and apple tarts to bring a festive feel to the party. We may also have a few small bowls of shiny apples on the table for décor.

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To accompany the delicious bites, we’re going to serve Hy-vee Honey Orange Chamomile tea. This herbal tea blend is caffeine free and perfect for everyone at the party. The honey and citrus flavors will work perfectly with the apple flavored nibbles. Kat knows this tea is a favorite of Camille’s, and she can’t wait to surprise her with it. She’s not sure if she’ll serve it hot or iced yet, it will depend on the weather forecast. This tea is very soothing hot. The sweet honey and tangy citrus make for a smooth and nuanced cup. The honey and chamomile combine to make a sweet and delicate flavor. When iced, the orange proves to be quite refreshing and the floral chamomile rounds everything out quite nicely. You can’t go wrong with this tea!

 Since we want this to be a party that combines school and fun, there needs to be a game or two! We’re going to create a ‘Pin The Spout On The Teapot’ game by easily cutting out a large festive cardboard teapot and making spouts to be pinned on. I think we’ll also do a ‘guess how much’ game, where we’ll fill a large glass teapot with jellybeans and everyone needs to have a guess at how many are inside. A great way to revive those math skills after a fun summer!

 For even more ideas, check out my Pinterest board! Dearies, I’m sure you all have your own clever tea party ideas. I’d love it if you’d share them with us! Best of luck with getting ready for the school year.

Matcha The Authentic Way

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Dearies, I know you all love matcha! It’s the most popular topic that I write about. I recently realized that I’ve shared recipes and matcha on-the-go tips, but we haven’t done a post about how to have an authentically prepared cup of matcha. So, here we go!

To prepare your matcha the authentic way, you need just a few tools: a matcha bowl (a small cereal bowl could work) called a chawan, a bamboo whisk called a chasen, and a small mesh sifter. An optional tool is the tea scoop, called a chashaku.

Now you just need two ingredients: 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of matcha. I recommend using ceremonial grade matcha, this is the best quality and will whisk up to a delicious, frothy cup. But don’t get discouraged if you don’t have ceremonial grade. Go with what you can find!

So, now that you have your tools and ingredients, you are ready for a perfect bowl of matcha.

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First, measure out a tsp of matcha, which can also be measured with 2 scoops with the chashaku. Place the matcha in the sifter over your bowl. It’s important to sift the matcha first, don’t skip this step! Sifting removes clumps and will help you get a nice frothy bowl of tea.

Your water temperature needs to be 175°, this is very important! Do not use boiling water or your matcha will be bitter. Green teas in general need cooler water than black teas. Once you have the right temperature, pour about 4 tablespoons of water into the bowl and gently mix the matcha until you form a nice, vibrant green paste.

Once you have your paste, it’s time to whisk! Add the remainder of your water, and whisk in a ‘W’ formation. Be gentle with your pressure- you don’t want to crush the tips of the whisk to the bottom of the bowl, they’re delicate and you might bend them. Whisk using your wrist, and not your fingers. Once you have a lovely frothy texture, you can remove the whisk. It shouldn’t take too long, so be mindful not to over-whisk. Whisking takes lots of practice, so get ready to drink lots of matcha! Even if you don’t get a very frothy bowl the first few times, don’t discard that matcha! As long as the powder is mixed in, it will still taste delicious. Sip right from your bowl and enjoy!

If after a few tries you’re still not getting a frothy mixture, make sure you are sifting your powder well. Also be sure you are whisking in a ‘W’ formation, and moving from your wrist.

Be sure to clean your matcha tools very well. The bamboo whisk should be cleaned thoroughly and also air dried. Make sure it’s fully dry before you store it to avoid any mold from growing on the whisk.

The best way to learn is to practice! There are also scores of videos online that you can find with a quick search. Watching someone whisk may also help you understand what to do. Dearies if you have any questions about preparing matcha, please drop me a line and let me know! I’d be happy to help out. Happy whisking!

Tippy’s Minty Matcha & Lime Popsicles

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The weather is still quite warm out there, and Kat and her friends are coming up with new ways to stay cool. Their latest idea is homemade popsicles. I love this idea! Of course, I had to create my own tea-infused twist. After much consideration, I decided that matcha would be the perfect tea to add to an icy popsicle. The sweet vegetal green tea flavor holds up to most ingredients, even those that are tangy and strong. After a little bit of experimentation, I came up with my new recipe! I’m so excited to share it with you. It combines our favorite matcha flavor with tangy lime and cooling mint.

Tippy’s Minty Matcha & Lime Popsicles

2 cups hot water

2 tsp matcha

1 lime- juiced and zested

Handful of fresh mint leaves

Simple syrup

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Prepare your matcha by whisking together the tea and hot water. Allow to cool to room temperature.

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Mix in your lime juice and 2 tsp of lime zest. Add 3 tbsp of simple syrup and taste. If it’s not sweet enough keep adding by the tablespoon until you are satisfied. Roughly chop mint leaves and drop a few into the ice pop molds.

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Pour in the matcha mixture, and pop on your tops. Pop in the freezer until the pops are fully formed. If you are using wooden sticks, freeze the mixture for about 60 minutes, pop in sticks, and return to the freezer. That way the sticks will stand straight up!

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These icy cold treats have a strong matcha flavor with the refreshing blend of lime and mint. Dearies I hope you love my icy matcha popsicles! They’re sure to be a hit at your next outdoor gathering. Or keep them all for yourself! Kat plans on making these as long as the weather stays warm to enjoy a cooling moment any time of day.