Giving Tuesday

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Holiday season seems to be the time to focus on gifts. Kat’s got her long list of friends and family that you need to get gifts for, and she’s been hunting for the perfect gift for everyone. Now is the time when I start to gently remind her that she needs to consider her charitable donations as well. We’re spending so much time and effort on family and friends, but what about organizations that need our help? I know it’s not easy to switch gears, but Tuesday November 29th is Giving Tuesday. That’s right, a few days after Black Friday and Cyber Monday there is a day that is focused on giving back.

There are of course many ways in giving back through volunteering, charitable donations, and supporting companies that directly donate profits to those in need. There are many tea companies that help support farmers and communities around the world. I was recently steeping up a bold cup of black tea for Kat, and noticed something on the box that I hadn’t seen before. Harris Tea donates $.10 from each box to the Alzheimer’s Association. They have committed a minimum annual donation of $25,000. Isn’t that fabulous? I was thrilled to find out that one of Kat’s favorite brands of black tea is giving back. If you’d like to learn more about Harris Teas you can visit their website, and shop their selection on Amazon.

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Kat loves the Harris black tea because it is straightforward and brisk. It reminds her of afternoons with her grandmother Char. They would often have a formal cup of tea in the afternoons and her gran would let her steal sips of Harris black tea until she was old enough to have a full cup of her own. Kat relished these days with Char, sitting and sharing special stories. Each sip of this tea brings those memories flooding back and gives her a warm satisfied feeling. She has also discovered their mellow, relaxing green tea as well. She keeps a few bags in her purse, and some in her desk at work. It’s the perfect tea to recharge with in the early afternoon.

To learn even more about these teas you can check out my previous post here. Dearies, I do hope you spend some time thinking about what you’ll do for Giving Tuesday! There are so many ways to give back.

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!

Tea Hostess/Host Gifts

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November will soon be upon us, and with it comes holiday gatherings, dinner parties, and get-togethers. Kat always likes to bring a little thank-you gift to the host or hostess. Who wouldn’t appreciate an unexpected tea-themed gift as a thank-you? There are endless ways to DIY your thank-you gift. Here are a few tea-themed ideas that Kat loves to use:

-A delicious tea in an artistic canister is always sure to please. One of Kat’s favorite tea companies, Joseph Wesley Tea has beautiful canisters perfect for gift-giving. The company is based in Detroit and the owner pays very special attention to the design of the packaging. The artistic canisters match the excellent quality of the tea. To complete this gift, include a decorative teaspoon measure. This way you’re host will get a precise scoop for a perfect cup of tea.

-Kat will often give a black or Darjeeling tea and pair it  with a small box of chocolates or French macarons. This is a chic combination to please anyone with a sweet tooth! Try to look for a local chocolatier or pastry shop for your treats. It will show your host that you put extra attention into the gift. If the treats are tea-flavored, all the better!

-Speaking of sweet treats, another of Kat’s favorite ideas is pairing your tea of choice with artisanal sugars. Kat particularly loves the decorative sugars by Chambre de Sucre and they make a delightful gift. There are endless adorable sugar choices. They are sure to put a smile on your host’s face and get a special place on the tea table.

-A pretty teacup with teabags or loose tea inside makes a lovely presentation. Of course, I’m quite partial to giving tea cups as a gift! They’ll be your lifelong companions. They’ll even keep you company while you sip.

-A very popular choice these days is a gift set for making matcha. You can pair a ceremonial grade matcha with a whisk and/or tea bowl for your host to create their own delicious morning matcha.

-If you have a budding tea connoisseur on your hands, a tea selection along with a journal for writing tasting notes is a good choice. This moleskine notebook is made for tea notes. How clever is that?

Dearies, next time you are invited to a party, don’t leave home without your tea-themed thank-you gift. Be sure to visit my pinterest board for many more tea host/hostess gift ideas!

Connecting With Friends Over Tea

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One of Kat’s most favorite activities is slowing down and chatting with friends. She has frequent impromptu get-togethers with any number of friends where they catch-up and talk about everything from family to pop culture. On these occasions a pot of tea always makes an appearance.

Dearies, it may sound a bit hokey, but when you enjoy the aroma and flavor of the tea with a few friends, your mind becomes more open for conversation. You start off with a pot of tea- feeling the warmth of the cup in your hands and the scent tickling your nose. Then perhaps you comment on how it tastes, and what the flavors remind you of. Conversation then slowly switches to the personal. Sharing tea with a friend or two leads to instant connection and conversation.

Kat likes to have regular tea-sharing events. These aren’t formal tea parties, but an afternoon for a few friends to sit together, sip and catch up. Maybe nibble on a cookie or two. For these little gatherings she tailors the teas to the time of year. Spring is for early first flush Darjeeling teas, and vibrant greens to complement the verdant foliage outside. In the summer she’ll serve cold-brewed iced teas of all kinds to cool off. Now that the weather is getting chillier she chooses warming teas with cinnamon and ginger to take her gatherings through fall and winter. She keeps her friends’ tea preferences in mind, but also tries to bring out a few unexpected teas for everyone to try. Kat is always looking to introduce her friends to new teas!

At her last get-together, Kat made it a ‘bring your favorite tea’ event. One of her friends brought Organic Soothing Ginger Green Tea from Simply Balanced, a lovely tea she picked up from Target. As soon as the hot water hit the leaves, the zing of ginger filled the room. Kat and her friends delighted in the gentle, vegetal green tea flavor that was complimented by the tingly ginger. They were surprised by the addition of tangy lemongrass and peppy spearmint. As they sipped the leaves I could see smiles spread across their faces. One of her friends called it a meditative brew, because there are so many flavors to consider. Another friend said it was perfect for their gathering because the ginger and green tea are calming, but the lemongrass and peppermint perk you up and stimulate the conversation. It is a tea Kat now keeps on hand for cool-weather tea moments.

Some of my most favorite afternoons are spent listening to Kat and her friends while they enjoy a pot of tea together. It’s an intimate moment to relax and chat. Pour that tea and time seems to slow. The air shifts and everything becomes warmer and more confidential. Kat often starts these visits carrying the stress from her day, but by the time her friends leave she is peaceful and uplifted. Do you have special tea experiences with friends or family? I’d love to hear about how they make you feel!

I Can Do What With a Tea Bag?

It’s something that I think has crossed everyone’s mind as they go to toss their used tea bag: shouldn’t I be reducing – reusing – recycling? But how?

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The tea bag is not only a micro package of pure convenience and practicality, it is quite the jack-of-all-trades, if you know its secrets. It a beverage of choice for millions of lovely people around the world, but it also has some handy uses around the house.

Something smelling less than lovely in your home?

  • Leave some previously brewed tea bags in your fridge to absorb odors
  • Throw a handful of used tea bags in the bottom of your trash can to keep it smelling fresh
  • Scrub your hands with them after working with pungent ingredients like garlic, onions or fish.

Need a new cleaning agent?

  • Brew a batch of tea with previously used tea bags, let cool, and spray it on wood or glass surfaces. Wipe with a soft, dry cloth for a streak-free finish.
  • Soak greasy pots and pans in a bath of hot water and tea bags to loosen the grime.
  • Got cast iron? Wipe with damp, brewed tea bags to prevent, and even remove, rust.

Growing a garden?

  • Pour weak tea solution from previously used tea bags over your compost pile. It’s said to be attractive to acid-producing bacteria, which can lead to compost that’s rich in acid (roses love that!).
  • Use brewed tea bags as the drainage layer in flower pots. It will reduce soil loss through the drainage holes and also provide added nutrient to the soil.
  • Mix dried, used tea leaves into your garden soil, which is said to repel rodents, who are not fond of the smell of tea.

It warms my saucer to know that the humble tea bag, which is already such an economical (and tasty) choice in beverage, can also be so terribly handy in other areas of life!

Found a new use for your used tea bags? Do share! We’ve got more ideas here on our Pinterest Board: Other Clever Uses for Tea Bags.