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.

Camping With Tea

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Here’s the scene: Waking up in the lush green forest listening to birdsong and the smoky comforting smell of a campfire. Summertime is Kat’s favorite time of year to go camping. She loves being out in the forest so close to nature. Hiking, fishing, cooking over a fire, she just loves it all! She even likes sleeping in a tent. There is however one comfort she can’t live without: tea!

Over the years Kat has perfected a way to have tea while camping. It involves a little bit of gear, but can also be done with less. She does have a bit of tea camping gear, she just love collecting tea ware no matter what the occasion! Those enamelware cups are just so cute, Kat has a large vintage collection!

So there are only a few things you really need to enjoy tea while camping: First a heat source (campfire or camping stove), and vessel to boil water (we just use a cooking pot). Then you pick and choose: thermos, enamelware teapot, and enamelware teacups, empty teabags to fill, or just regular teabags. If you are trying to pack light, all you really need is the boiled water and a cup to put your tea in. If you need to pack even lighter, you can put the tea directly in your cup and sip it grandpa style (sipping with the leaves directly in the water). Or you could put the tea in a fillable teabag, steep and remove. Or of course, you can bring along your favorite teabags, and steep those. That’s what Kat often does.

 

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A tea she likes to bring camping is Private Selection Orange Spice black tea. This tea has orange cinnamon and clove flavors that hold up well to that smoky camp fire. Perfect with a hearty breakfast, lunch, or dinner by the campfire. It would also pair nicely with sweet, chocolatey s’mores, which are a must if you are going camping! Kat drinks this tea all year round. It’s soothing in the chilly months and quite refreshing when it’s warmer outside. She even serves it iced! I guess you could say it’s one of her staples. She always has it in the cupboard.

Dearies, will you try my tips for your next camping trip? Do you have any other ideas for taking tea in the great outdoors?

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!

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!

Pairing Tea + Ice Cream!

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Do you know one of my favorite things is about summer? Eating ice cream! Dearies, I know, I’m a teacup and I should really have a one-track mind. But I admit I’ve developed a taste for the creamy, sweet, icy stuff. Last night I had a revelation- I was steeping a lovely Earl grey tea for Kat, and she decided to scoop up a dish of chocolate ice cream while I was steeping. It suddenly occurred to me- why can’t we pair teas with our ice cream? There is something so comforting about luscious ice cream and warm soothing tea. Here are a few irresistible combinations we came up with. It was certainly fun doing all of this tasty research!

Matcha + Vanilla ice cream: If you’ve ever had a matcha latte, you know that matcha and milk are a perfect combination. Add in fragrant vanilla and it’s even more heavenly. The creamy sweet flavor balances out the vegetal slightly bitter matcha. This tea can pack an energy punch, so you may want to try this pairing earlier in the day. It’s never too early for ice cream, right Dearies?

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Ginger peach tea + mango ice cream: For a double dose of fruity goodness, try pairing mango ice cream with another fruity tea. Kat loves to pair the ice cream with HEB My Cup of Comfort Ginger Peach Black Tea. This black tea has a soft, sweet peach flavor. The peach isn’t too overpowering and combines perfectly with the black tea. One of Kat’s closest friends loves this tea, and recently served it with spicy ginger cookies. Kat loved the combination of spicy ginger and sweet mango so much that she started dunking the cookies in the tea! Her friend was so delighted that she insisted on giving her the rest of the box of tea to take home. Kat actually likes to pull this tea out when she wants a bit of soothing relaxation. The warm peach flavor is like a cozy fuzzy blanket. The ginger is tingly on the palate, and compliments the smooth peach. In the summer Kat likes to drink this tea iced. It’s quite juicy and refreshing. She adds a bit of fresh ginger to the iced tea to enhance the spicy flavor. The peach flavor in this tea harmonizes with the decadent mango ice cream pairing.

Sencha + strawberry ice cream: I just love a good, grassy sencha tea. It’s fresh, light, and quite energizing. The vegetal freshness pairs well with sweet, slightly tart strawberries. Of course, the ice cream is creamy and sweet, which makes a pleasant contrast to the sencha. Dearies, sometimes you want your pairings to compliment but also contrast each other a bit. It brings a more interesting flavor experience.

Masala chai + coconut ice cream: Recently Kat had a coconut chai tea at a local café and was floored by the flavor combinations. This pairing creates a symphony of flavors, sweet, spicy, and fragrant. The coconut will make you feel like you’re on a tropical island, especially combined with those warming chai spices. This is one of my most favorite flavor pairings!

Don’t forget about pairing iced tea with your frozen treats! You can cool down any of these teas if the idea of a warm tea and cold dessert doesn’t appeal to you.

Black iced tea + lemon sorbet: If you do decide to go with iced, our favorite is an earthy, bold black iced tea with sweet and tangy lemon sorbet. It will feel as if you’re drinking a lemon tea slushie! Hmm, that could be a fun summer recipe to work on!

I love the idea of cold teas and ice cream, but Dearies I’d suggest you try the teas warm at least once. Kat just loves the cold ice cream and warm tea! The warmth also changes the flavors a bit, and you’ll find new tasting notes you didn’t detect before.

Next time you find yourself scooping up a bowl of ice cream, think about what tea you’d like to try with it. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the combination. Isn’t it fun to experiment with tea and food pairings?

Soothing Summer Skin With Tea

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Once the weather warms up, you just can’t keep Kat in the house! She’s constantly out and about- hiking, swimming, camping and relaxing on the beach. The only downside to these outdoor activities is her inevitable sunburn. Dearies, I remind her to put on sunscreen every time she gets ready to leave the house! There is sometimes a small spot missed, and it ends up getting sunburned. If you’re suffering from a bit too much sun exposure, I have the perfect remedy for you. Can you guess what it is?

Of course, it’s tea! Black tea works wonders on sun irritation. If it’s a small patch, you can dab a cooled wet teabag right to the area. But it’s a bit easier and more effective to steep the tea, cool completely, and dunk a washcloth (one you won’t mind getting tea-stained) in the solution and apply to the skin. Here’s the full how to:

What you’ll need:  A large pitcher or wide-mouthed jar, 6-8 teabags, pot for boiling, 2 cups water, and a soft washcloth.

Step 1: boil the water and add the teabags in. Turn off the heat and let steep for 5-10 minutes, until you have a nice dark brew. Transfer to a pitcher or jar and allow to cool completely.

Step 2: submerge the washcloth in the tea. If your skin is really on fire, you can even wrap the tea-soaked cloth around a few ice cubes.

Step 3: gently dab the skin with the cloth. Repeat. If the area is extremely irritated, you can keep the cloth on the skin until you start to feel better. Repeat a few times as necessary. Do not rinse the tea off. If you are doing this right before bed, beware that the tea could stain your sheets. So you may want to put a towel under the sunburned area.

That’s it. Give this remedy a try, it’s easy to whip up, and quite effective. No need to immediately reach for expensive creams and lotions!

Don’t forget Dearies, always apply sunscreen if you’re going to be outside. It’s important to remember! If your skin does become unexpectedly irritated, try my tea remedy. Have a fun-filled summer and don’t forget the tea!

How To: Have Fresh Tea on an Airplane

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Dearies I’m a jet-setting teacup! Traveling by plane is such a fun adventure, I love the feeling of excitement and anticipation as we fly towards our destination. But it also has a few annoyances. Kat is always complaining about one thing in particular- Finding a way to have a good cup of tea on the airplane. Both Char and now Kat have gone through countless ideas and different ways to get around a paper cup with lukewarm liquid and a stale teabag handed over by the flight attendant.

Char often just asked for hot water and used her own tea bags, but it can be difficult to get water refills, and the water often tasted quite strange. These days Kat has come up with a foolproof method, after much trial and error. She has one important trick that makes a world of difference! The trick for fresh tea on her flight is to bring an empty thermos in her carry-on. Why does she do this? Well, you can’t bring a full thermos through airport security, and you don’t want to risk having your thermos taken away!

Once through security, it’s time to fill up. But not with tea! Just hot water. Just about any of the airport cafes will be happy to fill you up with hot water while you are waiting for your flight. Kat brings a few tea bags in her purse which are ready to use as soon as she gets a cup from the flight attendant. This way she’ll have tea for the entire flight. The hot water on the airplane doesn’t make great tea, it’s not as hot as it should be, and you’d need to charm a flight attendant to fill up your thermos anyway. You are much better off trying to get hot water before you board.

Kat likes to take a variety of teabags with her on the flight. She takes a couple of caffeinated teas to perk her up when close to her destination. But for the most part she uses decaf and herbal teas throughout the flight. It’s important to stay well hydrated while in the air. The air in those planes is so dehydrating! She simply puts a teabag in her cup, and pours water from her thermos. Problem solved.

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One of her current favorite teas to travel with is Cinnamon Hibiscus Herbal Tea by Private Selection. This tea is naturally sweet, comforting, and quite soothing. Kat first encountered this tea while shopping for a girls’ tea party she was preparing for her little niece Camille. She was looking for herbal teas, and something a little bit sweet. She found this tea in Kroger, and knew it would be a great choice. Camille loves cinnamon, as it reminds her of Christmas. The addition of hibiscus, chamomile, and orange peel sealed the deal. Both Kat and Camille instantly loved this tasty cinnamon blend. It is strong on cinnamon, but the hibiscus, chamomile and citrus flavors tame the spice and give it a mellow finish. Camille requests this tea every time she comes to visit! It’s a warming cup, perfect for relaxing on a long flight. If you can get a bit of honey during your flight, it will further enhance the comfort factor in this tea. Kat always looks forward to relaxing in her seat with this soothing cup.

So my tea-loving friends, what do you think of our little trick? When you are getting ready for your next flight, remember your thermos and tea bags! You’ll be so happy you did. Bon Voyage!

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.

Tippy’s Tea-Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts

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Dearies, it’s Memorial Day weekend and the grilling season is upon us! I thought I’d share my easy chicken tea marinade that Kat likes to use for an easy weeknight grilled meal. It’s also perfect for a crowd! It’s easy to double or triple the recipe. The tea creates a tender, juicy grilled chicken.

 Tippy’s Tea-Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 cups strong black tea fully cooled (you will need 2 tea bags, we like to use Harris Tea Decaffeinated Black Tea)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon grated ginger

pinch of black pepper

 Boil water for tea. Steep 2 tea bags in 2 cups of water, for 15 minutes and set aside until fully cooled.

 Pound chicken breasts out until they are between 1/4 and 1/2 inches thick. The thinner you pound them out, the faster they will cook.

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 In a medium sized bowl combine cooled tea, soy sauce, ginger, and black pepper. Whisk together well. Pour over chicken and let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but can also be left overnight. Kat will often put the mixture together in the morning, and will let everything marinate while she’s at work.

 Once marinated, we like to grill our chicken, and serve with fresh jasmine rice, and steamed broccoli or green beans for a healthy and light meal. But you can also cut the chicken up into pieces and stir fry with assorted veggies.

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Kat likes to use Harris Tea Decaffeinated Black Tea in this marinade. The tea is simple, brisk, and perfect with the chicken. She always has it in her pantry for the times that she wants a quick, easy, tasty cup of black tea at any time of the day. It also makes a lovely cold brewed iced tea! This would be a refreshing pairing with the chicken breasts. Kat likes to add lots of lemon and a touch of honey to this iced tea. Serve this meal for your family or your next outdoor gathering. It’s super simple and tasty.

Get ready for grilling season with this delicious tea themed recipe! I do hope you enjoy it.