Behind The Leaf: Scented Teas

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We’ve been enjoying a particular type of tea these days. A tea that melts the snow and warms our hearts. These special teas are scented teas. Have you tried Jasmine tea before? If so, you’ve had a scented tea. These are teas that have flowers added to the pure leaves, and are allowed to absorb the heavenly floral aroma. These steeped teas impart a gorgeous floral aroma to the air while they brew. Scented teas are only flowers and tea- not any other added flavors. It can take a few weeks to scent tea naturally with layers of flowers. It is a delicate process that takes patience. They are a bit harder to find but worth the hunt.

 Scented teas are not all created equal. It’s not easy to find just the right balance of flowers to tea. You don’t want to overpower the tea, just enhance it. Finding that balance takes a tea master. Scented green teas are most common but you can also find scented black and oolong teas. A few of our favorites are:

Jasmine: it’s easy to find Jasmine tea, but finding a tea scented just with jasmine blossoms is a bit more challenging. Make sure you’re not getting a tea scented with added aromas or oils. Jasmine tea was invented in China during the Song dynasty. Quite a long time ago.

 Rose- if you love roses as much as we do, why not try it as a tea? The soft, soothing rose flavor is immensely pleasing. Perfect for a quiet afternoon with a few French macarons on the side. Quite a sophisticated cup!

 Chrysanthemum- this delicately sweet tea is subtle and delicious. The flavor is reminiscent of honey and also has a mild herbaceous note. This tea is supposed to have quite a few medicinal benefits as well, but we like to drink it just for the taste and for how relaxed we feel afterwards. This is a tea you can typically find at Chinese restaurants, along with Jasmine tea.

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I love floral teas all year round and especially love them in the wintertime. That gentle floral flavor brings the hope of spring, even on the coldest, most blustery day.

 Other scented teas will contain flowers such as chamomile, and hibiscus. These can also be found as herbal blends, and not necessarily scented teas. But the possibilities are endless, and finding new and interesting scented teas is such fun!

 You should brew your scented teas just like you would the pure tea it comes with (ex: the temperature for green tea, if your base is green). We love using small glass teapots for scented teas, as you can see the beautiful flower petals dancing along with the leaves. It makes for a much more enjoyable experience. Watching those vibrant petals just brings the warm spring sunshine indoors.

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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.

 

 

Echinacea tea

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Kat has been on an herbal kick lately. She’s been learning about all herbs, and how they can possibly be helpful to a healthy lifestyle. There is so much to learn that she’s taking things slowly. This week she’s been focusing on echinacea. Neither of us knew much about this herb at all, except that we’ve heard it’s supposed to be good when you have a cold. We’re found out a little bit more, and I’m happy to share my knowledge with you!

Echinacea is a plant in the daisy family that has pretty purple flowers. You’ve probably seen it growing wild, or have at least seen pictures of it and didn’t even know it. The petals are long and thin and remind me of purple daisies. In my research I discovered that the name comes from the Greek word ekhinos, which means hedgehog! Isn’t that cute? Actually, if you look closely at the center of the flower, it does look a little bit like a hedgehog. I admit, this makes me giggle a little bit. But it turns out this is an herb with some serious power!

Echinacea is thought to have a bunch of healthy uses. It can help boost the immune system, which is perfect for cold and flu season. It is also supposedly helpful in fighting a cold you already caught, and soothes throat and chest illnesses. It has been known to help with inflammation and fighting bacteria. So many possibilities! Dearies, I also learned that if you are allergic to certain flowers, you should check with your healthcare provider before trying echinacea (as well as other herbal teas such as chamomile). You could be allergic to it so please be careful.

Our favorite way to consume echinacea is through tea, of course. Echinacea tea can be easily found in health food stores and supermarkets. Make sure you read the package carefully as other ingredients can be added as well. You want to make sure you are getting exactly what you are expecting. It’s easy to prepare, you can use boiling water and steep for as long as you like. Herbals are very forgiving, they are hard to oversteep! Feel free to add a sweetener of your choice. Kat likes to put in a drop of honey.

Don’t forget, Dearies- I’m not a medical professional! This post is my humble suggestion and info I’ve learned about echinacea. If you are interested, consider giving it a try! If you learn more important herbal information I’d love to hear about it.

Winter Herbal Iced Teas

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Dearies, I know winter is starting to tighten its icy grip on us and we’ll be covered in snow before we know it! This is usually a time to reach for warming, comforting teas, but I’m a clever little cup and I like to switch things up. Kat gets ever so tired in the chilly, dark months, and I’m always thinking up ways to perk her up. One fun way to chase the winter blues is to mix up a batch of iced tea! I’ve discussed winter iced teas before, but this year I’m putting an herbal spin on things.

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Herbal teas are easy to either cold brew, or steep up and ice. Since they aren’t made from tea leaves, they won’t get bitter if you over-steep them. If you really want to feel like you are on the beach, how about a citrusy iced tea? Mint is another refreshing option. You can get very creative, combining herbs for interesting flavor combinations. I love chamomile and lemon, or adding mint to hibiscus. You can even experiment with wintry rosemary, I love adding honey and lemon after steeping rosemary in hot water for 5 minutes. It smells like the holidays! Basil is another hearty herb that is delicious steeped up with lemon and honey.

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When we are looking for a cup of iced tea quickly, Kat likes to ice down one of her favorite bagged teas, HEB Hibiscus Ginger Orange tea. This tea is perfect to keep around for this time of year! Served warm it is a comforting treat with spicy ginger, and tangy hibiscus and orange. Kat likes to drink it warm on chilly days while she curls up by the fire with a few friends. Iced it is a refreshing drink for any time of day. Kat has used this tea to recharge after a long day of holiday shopping. When iced, the ginger wakes up the palate, and the citrus flavors refresh and revive. This is quite a versatile tea! This tea can be found at your local HEB grocery.

This winter when you’re sick of the cold and grey weather, steep up an herbal iced tea and transport yourself to a warm and sunny climate. Be sure to visit my pinterest page for more herbal iced tea ideas!

Tippy’s Tea of the Month: Turmeric Tea

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This time of year, we’re all trying to avoid those sniffles and coughs. It’s not easy with rapidly dropping temperatures and changes in seasons. I thought it would be interesting to focus on a tea that tastes good, and has a reputation for helping the body. What do you know about turmeric? You can make tea out of the root, or purchase various forms of dried tea.

Kat has read a bit about it lately, and it got me curious. We picked a little bit up, and made a rather earthy tea with it. Here’s what we did

Tippy’s Turmeric Tea

1-inch piece of turmeric peeled and roughly chopped

½ inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (or more if you prefer)

1 tablespoon honey

1 cup water

(makes 1 serving)

First of all, please be careful when handling the turmeric! It can stain, so be sure to use a cutting board that’s easy to clean. Smash the turmeric and ginger a little bit with the back of a spoon, just to get those juices flowing.  Boil the water and add the turmeric and ginger. Let it all bubble gently together for 5-10 minutes. Once you are happy with the flavor, turn off the heat. Add in the lemon and honey (you can always add more of both to taste). Strain into a mug and garnish with lemon slices if desired. Enjoy!

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Turmeric is supposed to help the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties. Dearies I’m teacup not a doctor, so please do not take my word as medical advice! But I do know that my turmeric tea tastes good, and it’s nice to think it’s also good for us! Do you have a favorite recipe for turmeric tea? Please let us know in the comments! I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy tea.

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!

Behind The Leaf: Chamomile

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Dearies, we’ve learned quite a bit about teas from the camellia sinensis plant. Those are all the lovely pure teas we drink such as white, oolong, green, and black. But we shouldn’t ignore all of those tasty herbal teas out there! They deserve to be highlighted too. This week I decided we should focus on Chamomile, one of Kat’s most favorite herbal teas.

Many people love chamomile. It’s floral, soothing, and has a lovely honey-like sweetness. This aromatic herb is easy to find in just about any grocery store, and is easy to brew. It’s a popular tea since it has no caffeine and has a pleasing light flavor. Really, who doesn’t love a good cup of chamomile?

You’ve probably seen the lovely daisy-like plant before, at least in photographs on the tea box. There are many different species of chamomile but the two most common types are the German and Roman varieties and it grows in various other parts of the world.

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Chamomile is a very nostalgic tea for Kat. Whenever she’d visit dear Char, there was always a cup of chamomile waiting for her at the table. Char even let her add in a huge spoonful of honey. I can still remember how Kat would give the honey a quick stir, and then pop the spoon in her mouth to enjoy the sweet remnants. These days Kat has been enjoying a hot cup of chamomile in the evenings and she often has an icy cool glass on warm summer afternoons. Lately she’s been enamored with her chamomile tea from Newman’s Own Organics. She picked it up at her local Stop & Shop while looking at all of the herbal teas in the aisle. It is so soothing, and simply contains Egyptian organic chamomile. It is floral, sweet, with a hint of earthiness. One sip and she is transported to Char’s table, chatting and remembering all the wonderful times they had together.

As far as preparing chamomile, you can’t really brew it incorrectly. You can use boiling water and brew for as long as you like! It’s very difficult to over-steep. You can ice it down or add to cold water for a cold brew. It’ll work any way you prepare it.

What I’d love to know, is what do you do with your chamomile tea? Do you drink it straight up, or add other flavors to it? Do you bake or cook with it? Let me know in the comments!

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.

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!