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!

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How To: Have Tea On The Beach

beachtea2Dearies, we’ve talked a bit about taking your tea on the go. Kat is never without her tea whether it be on an airplane, at a picnic, or even hiking. But in the summer there is another important place that Kat totes her tea- the beach! She actually does both hot and iced teas for beachy afternoons. I thought it would be helpful to do a little ‘how to’ on taking teas to the beach, so you can always have your favorite beverage by your side (and hopefully your favorite teacup too!).

For hot tea, Kat will do it a few different ways. The thing you must have is a trusty thermos. Kat has them in varying sizes, depending on the group. She has a small one for herself and a larger one for tea with friends. Sometimes Kat will steep her tea right in the thermos and take it with her. Other times, she’ll bring along the hot water and tea separately. This way she can steep up individual cups, or even bring along her gaiwan for gongfu steeping on the beach. It may require a little bit more setup, but this is such a lovely way to enjoy tea all afternoon. The gaiwan setup is sure to draw a little bit of attention, and you’re sure to make some new tea-loving friends!

If you are icing your tea, you have a few options as well. You can put the iced tea in your thermos, and it’ll keep cool for hours. You can also put it in a large container specifically made for iced tea just make sure it’s lightweight and easy to pour. Kat has a little cooler that’s the perfect size for her plastic iced tea jug. Another must is plastic ice cubes. These are a must for iced tea! They don’t melt, so they don’t water down your tea. Leave them in the freezer and then grab when you are ready to go!

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For her iced teas, Kat loves to pack a pitcher filled with Southern Breeze Peach Sweet Tea. She makes the tea the night before her outing and cools it in the fridge. When she wakes up, it’s ready to go! The sweet black tea flavor combined with ripe peach flavor is perfect for sunny beach days. The tea is sweet without any added sugar or calories, so it’s a hit with all of her friends. She likes to bring along freshly sliced peaches for anyone that wants a fresh, delicious garnish. This tea is so easy to make: simply boil 2 quarts of water, add 2 teabags to a large pitcher and pour in the hot water. Steep for 3 minutes, and remove the bags. Pop in the fridge and cool! Easy peasy. Chill it overnight and have your tea ready for your day at the beach. As soon as the weather begins to warm up, Kat places an order on Amazon for this tea.

To enhance your tea experience on the beach, be sure to bring a few teacups! Drinking tea from your thermos or even disposable cups is fine, but when you bring along a few pretty cups, you’ll feel like royalty while listening to those crashing waves. What are your beachy tea-time tips? I’d love to know if you have some secrets to share. Happy summer Dearies!

 

Recipe: Matcha Lemonade

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The other day Kat came home and was telling me how much she enjoyed her lunch. The best part was her beverage- she had a ‘half n’ half, which is a half black iced tea, and half lemonade. It’s one of her favorite iced teas to drink. It got me thinking about how we could adapt this idea to other types of teas. We’d need a tea that could hold up to the strong lemon flavor but also be enhanced by some sweetness. Then it hit me- why not make it with matcha? Perfect!

I gave it a few tries,and learned a few things in the process. First, it’s important to whisk your matcha up with hot water first, don’t just add it to all of your liquids. This way it will be well combined, and not grainy. Also, make sure you incorporate the sugar when the matcha is still hot, to make sure it dissolves fully. This recipe is actually very simple! Do give it a try and let me know what you think.

Tippy’s Sweet & Tangy Matcha Lemonade

Makes about 3 servings

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup hot water

1 ½ tbsp. matcha

2 cups cold water

1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar

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First make the matcha- whisk the matcha in 1 cup of hot (not boiling, about 165 degrees F) water. once it is combined, add to the lemon juice and stir in the sugar. It helps if the tea is warm so the sugar will dissolve more easily.

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Add 1/2 cup sugar, taste and see if it’s enough sweetness for you, you can always add more if necessary. Pour this into a serving pitcher and add the 2 cups cold water.

Mix until everything is combined to a beautiful green hue. Pour over a glass with lots of ice and garnish with lemon slices. You can add freshly sliced strawberries or mint to your lemonade. It’s such a delicious way to beat the summer heat!

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Dearies, I was just thinking you could probably pour this mixture into popsicle molds and have a delicious frozen treat! I’m sure there are more ways to get creative with iced matcha this summer. I’d love to hear your ideas!

Southern Breeze Sweet Tea

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When the temperatures start to climb, Kat’s favorite beverage is iced tea. She brews it up in all sorts of ways, and dozens of flavors. But her most favorite way to enjoy it is strong, sweet southern style tea. On hot sticky days, nothing cools her off more than a glass of sweet tea.

 Kat’s grandpa used to brew his own sweet tea using a big old pitcher. Grandpa’s tea always had the perfect flavor- the balance of brisk black tea and sweetener. He would never reveal his recipe, it was his pride and joy. Kat could never get it just right on her own no matter how many times she tried. Recently she was browsing sweet tea products online and came across Southern Breeze Sweet Tea on Amazon. The reviews were excellent, and she was quite intrigued. She ordered a box of the ‘original’ tea, and steeped up a pitcher.

Kat was so impressed with the flavor. It has brisk, earthy black tea with just the right balance of sweetness. Sure, it wasn’t her grandpa’s tea, but it hit the spot more than any other she’s tried to make herself. She loves that this tea is super simple to make, and doesn’t have any cane sugar. The tea is blended with splenda, so it’s sweet and refreshing without any calories or sugar. One sip of this tea and Kat was transported to her Grandpa’s porch; sitting in a rocking chair, sipping sweet tea to keep cool. She could even hear the birds and cicadas in the background.

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Preparing the tea is quite simple. Boil 2 quarts of water, add 2 teabags to a large pitcher, and pour in the hot water, steep for 3 minutes. Remove the teabags and pop in the fridge until nice and cool. Kat adds plenty of ice, and lemon, lime, berries, whatever she’s feeling like. It’s delicious on its own, or as a blank canvas for whatever flavors you want to add.

 Kat’s tried the classic original flavor, and also love the peach tea, which is a nice blend of fruit flavor, sweetness, and tea. She loves the peach flavor for backyard BBQs and lazy picnics in the sun. She also keeps the raspberry flavor in her pantry. It’s a little tangy, a little sweet, and perfect on its own or even in an iced tea cocktail. She’s planning on bringing it in a cooler for a fun day of boating. She also wants to pick up the lemon flavor- sweet lemon tea sounds absolutely refreshing! Perfect for those summer getaways to the beach and the lake.

 Even though I’m a teacup, I still do love helping Kat brew up icy cold sweet tea. I also don’t mind getting a little bit of a rest in the summer months. Teacups need vacations too, dearies! So, are you intrigued to try Southern Breeze? If you do give it a try, I’d love to hear what you think! I hope you like it as much as Kat does!

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.

Thai Iced Tea!

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The weather is warming up nicely, and it’s time to start thinking about iced teas! My tea lovelies, we’ve talked quite a bit about iced tea on this blog, but there are so many delicious ways to enjoy it. Have you ever had Thai iced tea? Oh Dearies, it is so delicious! It’s creamy, sweet, with interesting spice notes. Whenever Kat goes to her favorite Thai restaurant, it’s the first thing she orders. She’s admitted to me that she often suggests eating at Thai restaurants just so she can get the delicious iced tea!

Since Kat loves this drink so much, I decided find recipes to make at home. The tea ingredients will vary based on taste and authenticity. Some have sweetened condensed milk added (Kat’s favorite), some have star anise and other spices. I’ve come across recipes that also use coconut milk or evaporated milk. The tea is usually black tea, often strong a strong Ceylon tea. I do like using Ceylon in this drink, as the strength and brightness of the tea holds up to all the other ingredients. It’s important to use a bold tea, so the flavor shines through the milk and sweetness.

I love the idea of making Thai tea at home, because many of the versions found in restaurants contain food coloring. You can find pre-mixed Thai tea blends in many Asian grocery stores, but most of those also contain dyes. Besides the coloring, it’s just such a fun and easy drink to make at home. Here are a few of my favorite Thai tea recipe finds:

Here is a basic and simple recipe to prepare. It gets the flavors just right. The perfect balance of sweet, milky, and a bit of zingy spices.

I found this delicious vegan version. It uses coconut milk, vanilla extract, and black tea. yum! It has a more tropical flavor that is perfect for sitting outside during those warm spring and summer days. I’m thinking a little dash of rum wouldn’t hurt, either!

I like the use of both star anise and vanilla in this recipe. The spices give it an authentic flavor, yet keeps things well balanced. I like the the recipe also makes a large batch for a crowd. Perfect for those spring BBQ gatherings! This would even make a nice frozen treat- try pouring the mixture into ice pop molds! I think I need to have Kat start experimenting with this…

Thai Iced Tea is perfect for company, or just when you want a creamy, delicious glass to brighten up your day. Dearies do you share Kat’s love of Thai Iced Tea? Do you have your own favorite recipe? You know I want to hear about it!

 

Navigating The World Of Bottled Teas

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I’m a lucky teacup- Kat loves hot tea all year round, even in summer! But dearies, she does enjoy a nice refreshing iced tea now and again. As much as I hate to admit it, since I like to be the one to get all the attention! Kat often tries new bottled iced teas when she sees them in the store. There are so many to choose from and many aren’t to her liking. But she enjoys picking up a new bottled tea now and again. It’s convenient and thirst quenching. Sometimes she’ll even come across one that she loves.

 Dearies, the other day Kat came home with a bottled green tea, and I started having fond memories of our trip to Japan. In Japan you can find walls of bottled teas in convenience stores and even vending machines. Wouldn’t it be great to see bottled unsweetened teas instead of sodas in our vending machines? In Japan green bottled teas such as sencha, genmaicha, and houjicha and very popular. They also enjoy iced barley tea, mugicha. This nutty, toasty tea is caffeine free and delicious.

 Years ago there were only a few bottled tea choices in our stores, and they were all heavily sweetened and flavored. These days there are a number of flavored teas, but also unsweetened choices. There is a wider variety of teas including oolong, and white teas. In case you find yourself in the grocery store in need of a quick thirst quenching sip, here is what you’ll find in the refrigerated case:

 Sweetened teas: There are many bottled teas that have a varying levels of sweetness. Some like Honest Tea are lightly sweet, and some can be almost as sweet as sugar. When Kat is in the mood for a sweet tea, her favorite is ‘half and half’ which is half tea, half lemonade. The tea is lemony and a little sweet, but still has bold black tea flavor. She enjoys the Harney & Sons bottled version of this tea. It’s the perfect balance of tea, lemon, and light sweetness.

 Flavored teas: Most of the sweetened teas are also flavored. You can find everything from fruity flavors like peach and raspberry to more tea-like flavors such as honey and jasmine. There are also a few unsweetened flavored teas on the market. Kat likes flavored teas from Ito En’s brand Teas’ Tea, in flavors such as rose, jasmine and lemongrass green.

 Kombucha: Kat’s absolute favorite bottled tea is kombucha. She loves this fizzy, tangy drink. You can find it in a variety of flavors, and some even have chia seeds added. Kat loves the little seeds, they give the drink an interesting texture. If you’re curious to learn more about kombucha, check out my previous post.

 Unsweetened teas: When Kat picks up bottled teas, she always looks for the unsweetened teas first. Ito En is a brand that has a nice selection of unsweetened teas. She also enjoys Wegmans unsweetened bottled teas. Kat remembers looking everywhere for unsweetened bottled tea and was amazed to find it in Wegmans. Her favorite is the green tea. It is pure grassy green tea flavor, and nothing else added.

Dearies, what bottled teas do you enjoy? If you see a new and exciting bottled tea at the store, I’d love to hear about it!

Enjoying Late Summer Iced Teas

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Dearies, it’s the time of year where we have to savor every last beautiful warm day. Feel the radiance of the sun, find comfort in a gentle breeze, and enjoy happy sips of iced tea. Kat has been looking for special iced tea recipes to help cherish our last days of summer. By combining seasonal ingredients and delicious teas you can extend your summer vacation well into the cool days of fall.

Kat’s favorite technique these days is to muddle her ingredients. You may be familiar with muddled mint in cocktails such as a mojito. I honestly just enjoy saying the word muddle out loud! This technique will bring vibrant flavor to your late summer iced teas. You can take fruit, herbs, and sweetener, and gently mash them all together to release the beautiful flavors. Kat likes to use mint, basil, and late summer fruits. You can use a specifically designed muddler, or Kat just uses a large pestle or a wooden spoon. It’s quite simple and fun!

Sipping on an iced tea infused with summer fruits will bring you right to the beach. You can practically smell the ocean and hear the seagulls with each taste. Kat loves raspberries and has muddled a few with sweetener and this mint green tea by Fresh and Easy many times. Kat first discovered this tea at a friend’s house, where they sipped it as an afternoon refresher. She was taken with the delicious minty flavor. It’s especially easy to use in your muddled iced tea if you don’t have fresh herbs on hand.

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Don’t forget those citrus fruits! They are refreshing on any warm summer day. Muddling a bit of lemon or orange into iced tea reminds Kat of sipping in a sunny green meadow. But dearies, the combinations are endless! Use any type of tea, any summer fruit (I’m particularly fond of peaches myself), herbs and sweetener. Want something with a bit more zing? Muddle some ginger! What about something mellow and relaxing? Try adding rose or lavender to your tea. You can become an iced tea wizard conjuring up images of summery fun without leaving the kitchen.

Instead of adding granulated sugar to your iced teas, try simple syrup. It works beautifully and completely dissolves in cold water. Even better, keep the simple syrup in a bottle and offer it to your guests. This way they can sweeten their tea to taste. To make the syrup, combine equal parts water and sugar in a sauce pan (we like to do 3 cups of each to make sure we have a large amount for a party). Heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Once it’s dissolved bring the mixture to a quick boil and then simmer for a minute or two. Make sure the mixture cools completely, and store in the fridge until you need it.

Create, sit back, and relish those last summer sips. What are your favorite iced tea recipes to enjoy the last of the summer’s bounty?

Iced Teani – Shaken, Not Stirred

“The name’s Bond. James Bond.”

Kat and I agree that few icons are better than 007. In fact, Kat and her friends have been having a James Bond view-a-thon over the past several weeks. Each week, one friend hosts a viewing party of a James Bond film complete with food and beverage. One thing we’ve all noticed is that over the decades, the martini gets a lot of press from the Bond series. After all, when one asks for a martini, who can resist saying, “Shaken, not stirred.”

As we prep to host this week’s Bond night, Kat and I have come up with a fun twist on the martini. We’ve developed a couple of Iced Teani recipes that are sure to be crowd pleasers!

Mint Tea-Ni

Boiling water – enough to fill large tea pot
3 mint tea bags (Kat used Private Selection Peppermint Herbal Tea)
3 black tea bags (Private Selection English Breakfast Tea)
16 mint leaves
1⁄4 cup water
1⁄2 cup sugar
3 shots vodka, very cold (We used Belvedere)

Mint Teani with Vodka

  1. Brew a 6-cup pot of tea, with boiling water and the tea bags. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, then pull out the tea bags. Allow to cool for several minutes and then refrigerate until very cold.
  2. Make the mint syrup by putting 16 mint leaves, lightly chopped, into a sauce pan with 1⁄4 cup water and 1⁄2 cup sugar. Heat on medium-high until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is translucent. Set aside to cool, and then strain.
  3. Add the cooled, strained mint syrup and the vodka to the chilled tea pot. Give it all a good stir and pour into martini glass, garnished with fresh mint leaves. If not quite cold enough, shake in martini shaker with ice until chilled.

Mint Teani Final

Very Berry-Tea-Ni

Boiling water – enough to fill large tea pot
5 berry blend tea bags (Kat loves the Private Selection Acai, Pomegranate & Blueberry Green Tea)
1/3 cup blueberries, plus handful for garnish
1⁄4 cup water
1⁄2 cup sugar
3 shots vodka, very cold

Very Berry Teani Vodka

  1. Brew a 6-cup pot of tea, with boiling water and the 5 tea bags. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, then remove tea bags. Allow to cool for several minutes and then refrigerate until very cold.
  2. Make the blueberry syrup by putting 1/3 cup blueberries into a sauce pot with 1⁄4 cup water and 1⁄2 cup sugar. Heat on medium-high, crush berries and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is a deep purple Set aside to cool, and then strain.
  3. Add the cooled, strained syrup and the vodka to the chilled tea pot. Give it all a good stir and pour into martini glass, garnished with several blueberries skewered on a toothpick. If not quite cold enough, shake in martini shaker with ice until chilled.

Very Berry Teani

Just as each actor gives James Bond his own distinct flair, our twist on the martini will be sure to make our viewing party the most memorable!

The Wondrous and Varied World of Iced Tea

There’s nothing like a glass of iced tea on a Summer’s Day. Or in Char and Kat’s case, a Lovely Cup of iced tea! I find it interesting that in general, the standard iced tea is made from black tea or a black tea blend. But dearies! There is such a wider spectrum of iced teas to be enjoyed!

World of Iced Tea

Iced Green Tea

The brightness of green teas can make a delightful iced beverage. In particular green tea blends can be a very refreshing alternative to black tea. Try Fresh and Easy Mint Green Tea. Brew as directed for a pot of tea, cool, then pour the light, yellow-green tea into a pitcher and chill in the refrigerator. Once cold, pour over ice and top with a sprig of mint. What Kat loves about this green tea blend as an iced tea is that the flavor is smooth and summery with the mint feeling like an ocean breeze to her taste buds. It looks and tastes divine!

Iced White Tea

White tea is often described as “delicate,” but a good white tea blend with fruit notes can be a luxurious iced tea that makes you feel like you’re relaxing at the spa! Kat likes Fresh and Easy Pomegranate White Tea with a twist of lime. Don’t let the light color of the steeped tea fool you. This iced tea literally dances on your tongue! The tang of the lime contrasts beautifully with the light tartness of the pomegranate. The refreshing delicacy of the white tea is highlighted with the And if you are looking for a little extra sweetness, stir in a little sugar to take it to a whole new level! If you enjoy fruit influenced beverages, this is one you won’t want to miss.

Herbal on Ice

Herbal teas make a lovely caffeine-free iced option. Kat prefers some of the bolder herbal flavors such as peppermint or hibiscus. Her current go-to is Fresh and Easy Hibiscus Herbal Tea. The deep, ruby color of this brew is as festive as it is delicious! The tartness of the hibiscus is balanced with a sweetness of cinnamon and orange. This is no run-of-the-mill iced tea. This is an iced jewel!  Once it is chilled, Kat adds a slice of orange to enhance its sunny, citrus flair.

Don’t fall into an Iced Tea rut. Open your taste buds to a brave new world of iced tea options. Experiment, add herbs or fruit or even a cinnamon stick. I just know you’ll love what you discover!