Hosting a Christmas Tea and Secret Santa

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Dearies, it’s almost my favorite time of year! Wreaths, holly, and lots of cheerful music! Gift wrapping, cookie baking, and of course lots of tea pairing! The holidays are upon us and Kat is ready to celebrate. This year one of the events she’s planning is a Christmas tea with a secret Santa gift swap.

Dearies, have you done secret Santa gifts before? Kat and her friends like to get together and draw names from a hat. Then you have to give a gift to the person written on the paper. The idea is that no one knows who their ‘Secret Santa’ is! It’s lots of fun. This year Kat is pairing the Secret Santa giving event with a Christmas afternoon tea for some festive merriment. For the Secret Santa her new rule this year is that part of the gift must be tea-related! It can be tea, teaware, a book about tea, anything at all! I of course am in favor of this new rule.

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For the festive tea, Kat’s going to decorate with lots of pinecones, red ribbon, and many silver and gold accents. Do you have any favorite Christmas decor to suggest?

Kat’s going to start off her tea with scones and two different finger sandwiches. She decided on ham and butter for a French twist, and turkey with a thin layer of cranberry chutney. So perfect for the holidays! She’s going to serve a rich, bold single estate Assam tea with these. For the sweets, Kat is going to serve mini caramel apple tarts, and handmade chocolates. Kat has decided on a tea that’s a little unconventional to serve for her Christmas tea. Something warming, spicy, and cheerful. Masala Chai!

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Since she’ll be busy with baking and cooking, Kat’s chosen an instant chai that’s easy to prepare and always delicious. Chai Moments Masala Chai Tea gives you all the warming flavors of the season. Simply mix it with hot water! This way Kat can focus on enjoying time with friends. I’ve had my share of authentic masala chai, and I must say Dearies that this one is quite good. It has the right blend of creamy, spicy, earthy, and sweet. This tea can be found in local Indian grocery stores and also on Amazon.

It may seem difficult to pair desserts with the complex chai flavors, but rest assured it’s quite easy! Sweet treats with fruit, chocolate, even citrus pair wonderfully with masala chai. If you’re still feeling unsure, the best thing to do is of course try it for yourself! Mix up a batch of masala chai, and sip it with your favorite desserts. I think you’ll be surprised by the delicious results! Now that’s my kind of research.

Dearies, I hope you are having fun planning for the holiday season! Are you going to have a tea gathering? Please let me know I’d just love to hear the details

Teas to Pair With Hanukkah Foods

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The holidays are all about family, fun, and food. Kat is planning all sorts of events, including a big Hanukkah feast She is doing a pot-luck dinner with each friend bringing a different dish. I’ve decided I’m going to be doing the tea pairings. That’s right Dearies, each course is going to have a tea paired with it. Just call me Tippy the tea sommelier! Here’s what I’m planning to pair with each course:

Our appetizer will be freshly fried potato pancakes (latkes). Oh how I love these pancakes that are crispy on the outside and warm and chewy on the inside. Traditional toppings include apple sauce, sugar, and sour cream. It took me awhile to decide on a tea pairing, and I’m going to serve a second flush Darjeeling with the latkes. Darjeeling has natural muscatel grape notes, and this will pair nicely with the toppings. It’s also a tea with a bit of body too it, to cut through the fried latkes. A first flush Darjeeling would be too subtle for this strong flavors, so make sure you get a second flush!

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Our main course is going to be a luscious beef brisket. It’s savory with lots of sweet carrots and earthy potatoes. This is a comforting dish that’s on the heavier side, perfect for chilly nights. I’m going to pair a bright and bold Ceylon tea with the brisket. It’s very strong to hold up to the stewy flavors and will bring out the sweetness in the carrots.

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For dessert, Kat is frying up jelly donuts (sufganiyot)! This is a labor intensive dessert, but one that is worthy of the holiday. For Hanukkah it’s symbolic to serve things fried in oil. This represents the miracle that the Hanukkah lamp oil lasted for 8 nights instead of just one. For the sweet donuts, I am going to pair HyVee Chocolate Mint tea. I think this tea is the perfect thing for just about anything sweet! It has a lovely combination of chocolate and peppermint that your guests are sure to love. Kat finds it refreshing and quite perfect for wintertime. Since we’re just serving the donuts, this dessert-flavored tea will enhance the end to our dinner party. This is an herbal tea so everyone can enjoy it, even the little ones! Kat’s niece Camille just adores this tea for the sweet chocolate flavor. Kat often gives Camille a few bags of her own to take home.

Happy Hanukkah Dearies! I hope all of your festivities are delicious and fun!

Hanukkah Tea Party!

IMG_5633.JPGCrispy potato pancakes, warm fluffy doughnuts, and savory beef brisket.  I just adore the traditional foods served during Hanukkah!  Just thinking about it warms the bottom of my cup. Of course, tea is the perfect addition to any Hanukkah gathering. Here are some ideas I’ve gathered for a Hanukkah-themed tea party that no one will forget:

—Instead of a gift exchange, how about a tea cup exchange? Before the party, have everyone draw a name for the recipient of a teacup, and choose one lovely cup and saucer to bring your to the party. You can exchange cups, and then use them to drink your tea! Everyone gets to go home with a lovely tea cup to remember the fantastic party. It’s a unique way to do holiday gift-giving.

—Bake cookies for your Hanukkah tea! You can use Hanukkah themed cookie cutters, and get pretty blue sanding sugar for decoration. Butter cookies pair perfectly for a tea party, and I love this recipe in particular. They are a comforting homemade treat.

—Use your menorah as a beautiful centerpiece. It’s the star of the show after all! Be sure to light the candles together, and take turns telling your favorite hanukkah memories.

Don’t forget the tea to pair with your savories and sweets! I think a smoky Lapsang Souchong pairs perfectly with the savory flavors of beef brisket. The smoky and malty elements of the tea pair well with the meat, onions, and carrots. I particularly like Lapsang Souchong tea from Harney & Sons. It has a rich smoky flavor and subtle fruity notes that pair perfectly with the beef. The rich tasting tea will bring to mind a fine red wine.

For those earthy potato latkes dipped in tart apple sauce, a sweet and malty Yunnan black tea would be lovely. The roasted yam notes in the tea harmonize with the crisp potato. The malty flavor of the tea will also work well with the rich potato pancakes.

For the sweet desserts such as doughnuts and apple fritters, I love a good complex shou puerh. It’s perfect to cut through the dense sweetness of the fried treats. I love puerh after a meal, it helps to ease that full tummy. The sweet complex brew will enhance your desserts.

Don’t forget to have lots of chocolate coins ready for a game of dreidel! I wish you all a convivial Hanukkah celebration!