DIY: Tub Teas using Summer Herbs

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One of Kat’s favorite ways to end a busy summer day of beachgoing and pool hopping is to take a relaxing bath. Isn’t it lovely to soak sun-kissed skin and weary muscles after a long day of outdoor activities? Kat often uses our green tea soak, and I’ve recently come up with even more tea-themed bath ideas. Dearies, it’s the perfect time of year to create herbal tea bath soaks. You can even use seasonal herbs you grow in your own garden!

The herb choices can vary based on what you have on hand, or what’s lush in your garden. We like to choose lavender, chamomile, peppermint, or lemon verbena. But you can add in whatever aromatic herb you’d like.

You can also add relaxing elements such as Epsom salts, and rose petals for a soothing bath that will transport you to a quiet oasis.

To make your own teabags, you can use my tutorial here. Or, you can simply fill up a tea sac and staple the top. You’ll want to make your teabags larger than a regular one, since the tub is much bigger than a cup of tea! Or if you’re using small teabags, just use a few at a time. If you’re making large teabags, you should add in about ¼ cup of your herbs. You can use one, or a blend of a few different herbs. Mix and match and see what you like best!

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If you are pressed for time or don’t have a garden, you can use any store-bought herbal teabag. Kat has actually been using HEB Catch Your Z’s right in the tub. Kat has tried many different types of bedtime teas, as she enjoys having a warm cup before bed. She finds it helps her wind-down after a hectic day and is a lovely way to find a few minutes just for herself. Her mother actually sent her a box of this tea recently, and she’s  been preparing a cup almost every night. The soothing flavors of peppermint and chamomile instantly start to calm her down. The other night she decided to add 3 of these teabags to her warm bath, and she just loved the experience. The steamy water diffused the herbal aromas all around the bathroom. She felt like she was in a spa, having one of those fancy bath soaks.

Give these tub teas a try, and bring the spa right to your bathroom! Don’t forget to bring a cup of tea with you, too! Hot or iced, you can sip as you relax. Enjoy!

Iced Herbals To Beat The Summer Heat

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Dearies, Kat and I have been experimenting with iced herbal teas lately. They are perfect for any time of day and are super refreshing! She can even let her niece Camille drink as many glasses as she likes. Sometimes Kat will use herbs fresh from the garden, boil them up and leave them in the fridge with the herbs still in the pitcher. I do have a lovely post about growing your own herbs for teas, and what herbs we love best. I suggest you try playing with these herbs, and icing them for delicious refreshing teas. But if you are pressed for time like Kat often is, you can use bagged herbal teas. On the days Kat hasn’t thought ahead, she reaches for herbal tea bags. These are a great way to get a refreshing flavor even if you don’t have fresh herbs in the house.

Another fun thing we like to do is make herbal tea ice cubes! These look beautiful, and can be used to flavor water, or compliment your herbal iced teas. We like to make mint, basil, lemon balm, whatever is growing in the garden. What we do is bring a pot of water to boil, add a large handful of your herbs (or use a 2-3 herbal teabags). Let the water fully cool. Pour cooled tea into ice cube trays, and carefully add a small fresh leaf or two into each ice cube. Freeze until ice cubes are fully frozen, about 4 hours. You can even do this with flowers such as chamomile and lavender. They look so beautiful!

Adding one of the herbed ice cubes to our iced herbal tea gives it an extra special touch. I just love to watch Kat’s friends’ eyes light up when they see the dainty herbal ice cubes! Two of our favorite herbal teas to make are Chamomile and Mint.

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Try pairing an Organic Chamomile with Lemon iced tea with a few mint ice cubes. This tea contains organic chamomile, organic lemon myrtle, with organic lemon oil. Kat found this tea in her local Shop Rite, and was surprised to see organic herbal teas on the shelf. She loves Chamomile so she took this and the Organic Mint Blend tea home with her. The flavors are pure, strong, and she loves that they are organic! She keeps these teas on hand for evening sips and her refreshing herbal iced teas.

For a quick and tingly mint tea, Kat uses the Organic Mint Blend tea I mentioned above. It contains organic peppermint, organic lemon grass, and organic spearmint. This tea has a pure mint flavor, and the lemongrass gives it a pleasant citrusy flavor. It makes an extremely refreshing iced tea, perfect for any occasion. This is a strong flavored tea, so if you’re pairing an herbal ice cube, try something that can hold up to the flavor, such as basil or lavender.

Your iced herbal tea options are endless! You can build flavors with various herbs and flowers. Don’t forget to add a few special ice cubes, and you’ll have quite the memorable drink.

Tea Scene: Portland

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It seems like all of Kat’s friends are visiting Portland, Oregon these days. It’s a mecca for cool young folk looking for delicious food and artisanal goods. Kat is planning a trip there and has discovered there are quite a few interesting tea destinations in Portland. We discovered an amazingly long list of place to visit. Here are some of the highlights that we found:

Smith Tea You may have seen Smith Teas in specialty shops around the country. They have their home base in Portland, with two beautiful tasting rooms. The shops are sleek and industrial. You can try a flight of teas to really get to know a particular type, or just a relaxing pot of tea. They also get experimental with interesting blends that they create themselves. If they happen to be offering a tea on nitro, go for it! It sounds mysterious, but trust me you won’t be disappointed.

The Jasmine Pearl Tea Company– This is the perfect place to get loose tea, sparkling teas, and tea lattes. They serve sweet and savory food, and have fun pieces of teaware for sale. Teas can be served in the gong-fu style in traditional and modern vessels, and you can taste teas from all around the world.

Behind The Museum Cafe– This place is just what the name says- behind the Portland art museum cafe, there is a beautiful little Japanese tea shop. Beautiful Japanese tea and teaware line the walls, such a pretty sight! They even have a gallery space for Japanese art and culture. The cafe serves homemade Japanese sweets, sandwiches and savory dishes. You can get matcha and beautiful wagashi while relaxing after an afternoon at the museum.

Tea Bar– This is a light and airy place, comfortable and relaxing to enjoy a well-sourced cup of pure tea, tea latte, matcha, iced tea and kombucha. They also make their own bubble teas! Kat had a few friends visiting Portland that went back to Tea Bar a few times to try all of their different iced selections.

Townshend’s Tea House– This mini chain of tea houses is a lovely place to pop in for a reliable cup with 100 different kinds of loose tea, and kombucha on tap. It’s a good place to keep in mind if you are running about the city.

Red Robe Tea House & Cafe– This is a Chinese tea shop in the heart of Portland’s Chinatown. They have a large selection of Chinese teas with a focus on oolongs. The serve the teas in elegant gong-fu vessels such as gaiwans. They also have a lovely menu of delicious food items to pair with your tea.

Dearies these are just a few of the many exciting tea places Portland has to offer. I can’t wait to visit with Kat. This little teacup wants to hang out with the cool kids! If we’ve left out your favorite Portland tea shop, please let me know.

Celebrating Earth Day With Tea

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Earth Day is Friday, April 22nd. What are you all doing to show respect for the earth? Kat and I try to do various things on a daily basis to show our love for mother earth. We actually do a few tea-related things, which got me thinking that it’s time to share our tips with everyone! Here’s what you can do to combine staying green with your love for tea:

Composting- You can compost your loose tea or tea bags. Add your leaves or bags right to your compost bin. if you have paper tea bags or tags with staples, you need to remove those staples first. The paper tags are even fine to throw into the mix. You should let the leaves decompose a little bit before you add any of the compost to your garden- tea could change the acidity in your soil. Kat makes sure not to waste a drop of brewed tea, and uses it for her plants.  She dilutes leftover tea (doesn’t happen very often!) and waters her houseplants. If you have acid-loving plants, you can even sprinkle those leaves right over the base of the plants. You’ll want to mix the leaves with a bit of the dirt to get them closer to the roots.

Cleaning with tea- go green with your cleaning supplies. Cleaning with tea is safe and easy! It is all natural and tea is actually quite a good cleanser. You can clean windows, floors, even use as a room deodorizer. Check out my previous post on the subject. I think you’ll find it economical and easy.

Planting herbs- A great way to avoid buying herbal tea and wasting lots of packaging is to grown your own herbs and make your own tea! I posted about great herbs for tea awhile back and you can find the post here. It’s just so lovely to walk into your own herb garden, pick your herbs and brew up a fresh pot of tea. Kat doesn’t have a large backyard, and she grows her herbs in small planters. It still works perfectly! She even has a friend that has a windowsill herb garden. I also recently came across a wonderful idea on pinterest- Dearies, you can make your own tea herb garden seed kit! This would make a lovely gift. You can include seeds for herbs such as chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, mint, and basil. The combinations are really up to you! You can include herb markers, even a little gardening shovel. Put it all in a pretty box, and it’s ready for gift giving.

Dear readers, I know you are all very good and staying green. Do you have any tea-themed tips we can use for Earth Day? Please let us know. We can never do enough to help our earth.

Mixing Teas & Flowers

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Dearies, I know I’ve written quite a bit about spring time teas, but I’ve recently thought of one more way to get spring flowers in your cup. To actually put them in your cup! I know, it seems too easy to be true, right?

You’ll want to dry your flowers first, or you can purchase them already dried. The amount of flowers you use depends on how much tea you want to make. For a few servings I’ll blend one cup of tea and a tablespoon of flowers and adjust if necessary, but you’ll need to start experimenting and see what works best for you. You may also want to add a floral extract to your blend, to increase the flavor. But that’s entirely up to you!

To make a garden blend with just flowers, you can use equal parts of each flower. Kat likes to blend chamomile and lavender together for a soothing evening blend. She often likes to play around with the following flowers. You can find these already dried online for easy use: rose, jasmine, lavender, hibiscus, chamomile, and chrysanthemum.

Kat likes to create her own version of Rose Congou. This is a fragrant rose tea from China. She takes 1 cup of her favorite Chinese black tea, and 2 tablespoons of dried rose petals. Sometimes she’ll add in a couple drops of rose extract. Mix everything together and store in an airtight container for 1 week. Open the container and give it a sniff. If it smells like a rose garden, it’s ready!

Adding flowers to your tea blends is delicious and also visually appealing. Fill tea filters with your tea blend and share with friends and family. You could also put it in a pretty glass jar for gift-giving, although I wouldn’t recommend storing your tea in glass long-term unless you’re sure to keep it out of the light (see my previous post on properly storing teas!)

You can add your flowers to any of your favorite tea bases, or I also like to use rooibos as a caffeine-free base. You can also skip the tea base altogether and just blend the flowers together!

Now my lovelies, please note I’m not a master tea blender, I just know what Kat and I enjoy. These are just my recommendations to get your mind thinking about how to get creative with tea and flowers.

Teaching Children About Tea

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Do you love children as much as Kat does? Any time she has the change to babysit her little niece Camille, she gets so excited! She’s always planning on games to play with her. On Camille’s last visit, she was curious about Kat’s tea. She had a sip and decided she liked it. Kat decided it was time to cultivate Camille’s love for tea! I’ve been watching Kat teach Camille, and I took a few notes. Here are a few tips on teaching kids about the joys of tea:

-Offer them sips of your tea when they take an interest: Kat always always offers Camille a taste of her tea. If her niece wants her own cup, she’ll take out a rooibos, herbal, or decaffeinated tea for her. She always puts it in a fancy cup with a saucer to make her feel extra special.

-Talk to them about the growing regions all around the world: After their sip of your tea, tell them where the tea was grown! You can also find books about the regions, or find information online to share. Make sure you have lots of pictures.

-Teach them how tea grows, how it’s picked, processed, and shipped all around the world. Again you can find books, and print out information about the teas they are interested in. This would be a great ‘how to’ project for a child in 2nd or 3rd grade.

-One of my favorite ideas is to have a party for all the senses- let the children see the leaves of different types of tea, smell the leaves before and after steeping, and have them take a few sips. Have them try and describe what they smell and taste. You’ll be amazed and surprised at what they’ll say! Children of all ages will enjoy tea, treats, and lovely decorations.

To create your party, cupcakes, scones, and tea sandwiches are sure to catch their attention. I also  found this recipe for tea gummies! You could make them in any shape you’d like. I just love the idea!

Serve a tea that’s caffeine free, so they can enjoy as much as they like. Kat reserves some of her Hy-Vee Honey Orange Chamomile for her niece when she visits. Her niece loves the sweet orange flavor. It’s tangy, and the smooth honey is also quite soothing. Don’t tell, but Kat sometimes lets her niece add an extra dollop of honey to make the brew even sweeter. Dearies this also makes a wonderfully refreshing iced tea.
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Teaching children about the wonderful world of tea will open their minds to different flavors, and they’ll learn about places all over the world.

Teas To Welcome Spring

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Dearies, I’m just so tired of this cold weather, aren’t you? Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more of it, I noticed a few green shoots sprouting in the garden! Spring is ready to burst forth, and I can barely wait another minute! I’ve decided to round up a few lovely floral teas to properly welcome springtime. What could be better than looking at the budding flowers while sipping on a lovely floral tea? Bring a bouquet into your cup and the winter weather will feel lightyears away.

Jasmine tea is a perfect choice to melt away the frost. The sweet, delicate jasmine combined with grassy green tea will bring you right to a sunny meadow with the dainty white flowers. Close your eyes, breathe in the intoxicating floral aroma. You’ll feel as good as new!

Rose teas are also a wonderful choice. I adore Kat’s rose garden and the scent always uplifts. Sometimes she’ll set a little table in front of her trellis of roses and we’ll enjoy tea in the sunshine. A sip of rose tea will make you feel like you’re right in the garden.  I enjoy green teas scented with rose, and you can often find teas with the rose petals mixed right in. It’s beautiful to look at and to drink. It would also work well as a potpourri. I’ve also seen rose as a tisane, all on its own.

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Chamomile is a springtime favorite for Kat. She has many different chamomile choices in her cupboard, and her newest favorite is called Cool Chamomile from British company Dorset Tea. Kat’s friend Jocelyn moved to England a few years ago and always sends her teas she can’t find in the states. This chamomile from Dorset is one of Jocelyn’s favorites and now Kat is obsessed with it as well. The soothing sweet chamomile is accented with tangy raspberry and lemongrass for a unique and delicious tea. The lemongrass makes me think of those bright green early spring shoots that are sprouting up all over the garden. This combination is bright, yet relaxing. Kat often has this tea in the evening since it’s herbal and won’t keep her awake. She also has been making it iced, as a refreshing sunny sip to keep those winter blues away. It’s the perfect tea to welcome spring!

 Springtime is also when the new harvests of teas start to arrive at your favorite tea shop. Be sure to ask for the spring green, oolong, white, and first flush Darjeeling teas. They will be fresh and vibrant, and perfect for your cup.

DIY All-Natural Tea-Dyed Easter Eggs

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I know we’ve spoken about dyeing with tea before. But have you thought about dyeing your Easter eggs with tea? It’s actually possible! It’s a natural way to dye your eggs.

This is a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy! You can sip teas, have festive Easter treats, and dye those eggs. The colors may not be quite as neon bright as those store-bought dyes, but they’re natural and beautiful all on their own. And isn’t it fun to incorporate tea into your Easter Egg project? There are endless teas you can use, as long as you use one that has a lovely color you’d like to use.

First, A general recipe for tea-dyeing your eggs:

-hard boiled eggs (at room temperature- use as many as you like!)

– bowls of very strongly concentrated cooled teas (1-3 cups of tea, enough to cover a few eggs). Use 3-4 teabags and steep until the tea is quite dark.

-1 tablespoon of vinegar per bowl of steeped tea

To get even more festive, take crayons and make fun designs on the eggs before dyeing them. The tea won’t stick to the crayon, so your designs will pop and the tea will stain the background!

You can wrap rubber bands around the eggs in any formation you like, and then dye the eggs. Just like tie-dyeing, the bands will block the color and make an interesting pattern while the tea stains the exposed egg shell.

You’ll need to leave the eggs in for long enough to get the color you like. We left ours overnight to ensure they had a nice dark color. Be sure to pop the bowls of eggs in the refrigerator if you’ll be soaking them for this long.

Here are a few colorful teas you can use for your dyes:

Turmeric- you can use a teabag, a tablespoon of dried turmeric, or the grate the natural stuff (you may want to wear gloves if you are a bit messy- that stuff will stain your fingers for a while!). Your eggs will have a nice vivid yellow color from the turmeric.

Berry teas- teas with strong red colors like red berries will actually turn your eggs a vibrant blue!

Matcha- place 2-3 tsps of culinary grade matcha in a jar with 2 cups of water, put the lid on and shake away until it’s combined. The eggs will turn out a pale green-remember that the eggs won’t end up a dark as the tea’s color.

Green tea- this will produce a light yellow egg. It’s subtle but lovely for Easter.

Black tea- it may seem a bit simple, but black tea gives a lovely rustic brown shade to the eggs. This also makes a lovely backdrop for decorating with markers or glitter.

Hibiscus tea- Steeping up a strong bowl of hibiscus actually looks quite dark but it’ll give your eggs a grey/blue color. Sounds strange but it’s quite beautiful! In our picture above Kat used a floral tea with lots of hibiscus and the egg turned out very dark blue!

If you aren’t happy with the colors, you can always add some juices to your tea as well. Beet juice or Cherry juice will give you a lovely pink, for example.

When removing your eggs from the dye, be careful. The dye can still come off so use a spoon or tongs to carefully remove. Kat likes to use the egg carton to rest the eggs in, that way there is less possibility of the dye rubbing off onto a plate or a paper towel To create a marbled effect, gently pat the dyed eggs with a damp sponge. You can rub a little bit of vegetable oil onto your eggs if you’d like to give them a shiny finish.

Enjoy yourself and get creative! Do you have a tea that has an interesting color? Try dyeing your eggs and see what you get! If you are tea-dying your own eggs, I’d love to see them! Tweet them and tag me @thelovelyteacup!

DIY Springtime Tea Party

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Since spring is on the way, Kat has decided it’s time to start planning her annual spring tea party! She always gets so cheerful when she’s planning her springtime teas, and who wouldn’t perk right up at the idea of tea amongst beautiful flowers and delicious treats?

She’s planning on having the tea party on her back patio. It’ll be lovely among the newly budding flowers and trees. The dining room will be the back-up plan in case of rain or chilly weather. No matter where the party will be, flowers will be everywhere! She’ll have vintage teacups stationed on the table and throughout the area holding all sorts of bright flowers. Yellow freesia and daffodils are my favorite! I love the sunny yellow hue. But of course, any cheerful flowers will do!

For our savories, we’ll serve delicate tea sandwiches- We like to keep our spring tea fare on the light side, with these lemony cucumber tea sandwiches. Crisp fresh cucumbers, zesty lemon and creamy cheese make a delicious yet light bite. She’s also going to serve a platter of smoked salmon with bagel crisps, capers, and crème fraiche. Everyone can help themselves to take as much or as little as they’d like.

Kat’s planning on making these lemon ginger scones and serving an abundance of fresh fruit- seasonal items such as oranges, kumquats, cantaloupe, and kiwi will be featured. She likes to keep the fruit as seasonal as possible to ensure freshness. Don’t forget the Devonshire cream!

We will have a bright lemony tea to bring sunny sips to the party. HEB Lemon Herbal Tea will be the perfect accompaniment to our fresh springtime fare. This tea has hibiscus, rosehips, orange and lemon peel with a little bite of chicory root and tang of lemongrass. It’s tart, tangy, and sweet. The lemon flavor is so juicy, it’s as if you squeezed a fresh lemon wedge in your cup right before drinking! Kat’s mom sent her this tea recently when she was starting to feel the effects of our cold, stormy winter. The zingy brew perked her right up. A dash of honey adds a nice comforting sweetness. She’s kept this tea in mind for her springtime tea ever since she tried it.

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After the scones, Kat’s going to serve a little cups of tea sorbet. She has these sweet little demitasse cups that will work perfectly! I love the mismatched vintage teaware Kat uses for tea parties. She’ll be pulling out all the floral cups she can find for her spring soiree! I better get those cups in order, they need a proper dusting and we need to review how to behave during a tea party! Us vintage teacups can get a bit forgetful, but we’re quick to learn!

Dearies, I promise that spring is almost here! Do you have any special spring events you are looking forward to?

Tea-themed Valentine’s Day Gifts

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It’s almost February, which means one of my favorite holidays is fast approaching! Valentine’s day is a day where you shouldn’t be afraid to show affection for the people you love! Friends, family, partners, just about everyone. I admit I have a true soft spot for romance. Getting mysterious love notes from a secret crush, it just sends tingles up my handle! I also absolutely adore vintage valentines. Did you know there are many that are tea-themed? Dearies, I’ve been around quite a while and I remember when these valentines were new. A quick search on online will bring up a myriad of vintage tea-themed valentines. Kat has decided to incorporate these vintage beauties into her tea-themed valentines’ day gifts.

Beautiful heart-shaped sugars are a lovely gift, and perfect for the holiday. Kat is planning on giving pretty sugars to friends, and serving a few for a V-day themed tea. It’s sure to create a ‘sweet’ Valentine’s day. Hee hee!

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To pair with those sugars, you need to add a tea, of course! Kat is going to select a few special teas that are meaningful for each person. For her very special valentine, she’s going to include a tea she knows this valentine will love, and one that they can easily find in the grocery store. This way once the tea has been sipped down, they can replenish it, and hopefully think of Kat every time they sip! She’s incuding this HEB My Cup of Comfort ginger peach black tea. Her valentine loves fruit and spicy flavors, so this combination of sweet peaches and punchy ginger is the perfect thing. Kat first had this tea iced in the summertime, at a lakeside picnic. The sweet peach flavor and refreshing hum of ginger was perfect for a warm summer’s day. Kat recently steeped this tea hot and decided it was also perfect for the winter. The juicy peach brought visions of those summer days, warming her right up. It’s a lovely tea to fight those wintertime blues.

The types of tea you can give are endless. Check my previous post for ‘red tea’ ideas that evoke flavors of the holiday. Kat is planning on making little tea sachets filled with her favorite teas, tied with a handmade heart-shaped tag. A perfect handmade valentine!

Or pair your teas with a beautiful box of chocolates. Here are some of my suggestions of teas to pair with sweets. Or make your own tea-infused chocolates! Who wouldn’t love biting into a chocolate with the flavors of their favorite teas? Earl grey and chocolate pair beautifully together. The citrusy bergamot enhances the sweet chocolate. This recipe for the tea incorporated into chocolate truffles would make a lovely Valentine’s Day gift. Here is a simple recipe for green tea white chocolate truffles. The combination of green tea and sweet creamy white chocolate reminds me of an expertly crafted matcha latte.

Give the gift of a romantic afternoon tea for two! Set the table with a teapot just large enough for two people, and two dainty cups. Candles, cookies, and scones would be a lovely accompaniment. A few chocolate covered cherries or strawberries would be a decadent addition. Kat is thinking of making scones cut out with a heart shaped cookie cutter. She’s done it before and it works quite well. They also make a pretty presentation for breakfast in bed.

Or what about A beautiful teacup wrapped with sugars, your favorite teas, a little book of love poems… there are endless gift ideas that are romantic and tea-focused.  Dearies, what are you doing for Valentine’s Day? I hope you will take time to enjoy tea with your favorite people.