Creative Ways To Serve Tea This Halloween

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We are inching closer to Kat’s most favorite holiday. Halloween! She just loves the colors, costumes, and festive fall flavors that are associated with the day. Kat’s having her niece Camille and a few of her little friends over for a Halloween party. This year I thought it would be fun to focus on a few teas and fun vessels to serve them in.

First off, the teas. Here are a few of my favorites for Halloween:

Rooibos- Rooibos has a earthy but slightly sweet flavor with a hint of vanilla. It blends well with other flavors and is caffeine free. You can find it with all sorts of flavorful ingredients blended in, or blend it on your own! Add vanilla, fruit, or berries for a festive drink. Camille loves rooibos and always asks for it when she comes to visit.

HEB Cranberry Blood Orange tea– what better tea to serve than one that has ‘blood’ in the name? Hee hee! This one has caffeine so it should be for the adults. It’s a tea Kat has been drinking for years, especially in the cooler weather. The flavor is sweet with a hint of tart freshness. It’s quite delicious and pairs well with desserts and savories with a hint of sweetness. The citrus flavor is a nice change from all the earthy fall flavors often served during this time of year. And really, isn’t it fun to say you’re drinking a bloody tea for Halloween?

Chai hot chocolate- my last post (will link to recipe here) was a delicious recipe for chai hot chocolate. Who wouldn’t love these flavors all mixed together? You can omit the black pepper and lighten up on the ginger if you don’t want it too spicy for the wee ones. You can also omit the tea altogether, to keep it lower in caffeine. This is also a perfect drink to serve after the kids come inside from trick-or-treating. It’ll warm them right up!

Now, let’s discuss what to serve your drinks in. It’s time to get silly and fun!

Googly Eyes- you can stick googley eyes on to just about any cup or mug and you’ll instantly have a Halloween-ready drink! The kids and adults will both get a giggle.

Gummy worms and eyes- Look for gummy candy such as worms and eyeballs. Drop a few in your drink (just make sure it’s not a hot drink) and fool your guests! No one will be expecting to see an eyeball floating in their cup!

Beakers- You can find different beaker shapes with a quick internet search. They’ll look right out of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory. Put colorful drinks inside (ice that HEB tea I just mentioned!) and you’ll have a nice compliment to your halloween decor.

Don’t forget creepy accessories like skeleton stir sticks, plastic spiders, and bats. There are all sorts of accessories you can add to your cups and glasses, just like my collection of bats and skeleton sticks! Do you like my hat? I think I look perfectly witchy!

Dearies, whatever you do this Halloween, I hope you have a marvelous time!

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.

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: Easter Tea Brunch

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It’s time for egg hunts and Easter bunnies! I love the colors and flavors that Easter brings to our house. Kat loves decorating with pretty pastel colors and creating sweet baskets for her nieces and nephews. This year she’s planning an Easter brunch for family and friends. I’m very excited about our menu so far! Here’s what we’ve got:

We’re going to start with eggs, of course! How can you have an Easter brunch without lots of eggs? Kat’s British friend Jocelyn sent her this recipe for Bacon Deviled Eggs. They are the perfect thing to nibble on to start off the tea brunch! The smoky bacon gives the creamy eggs a nice interesting flavor and crunchy texture.

We’ll serve these peppery ham tea sandwiches that are savory with a bit of bite. Kat’s also going to make these little mini spinach quiches. They are just the right amount of food to pair with the sandwiches. She’s going for a brunch that’s light and sunny, with springtime flourishes.

Then it’s time for Kat’s favorite strawberry scones. These delicious, tender scones are a hit with both children and adults! They’re easy to make and quick to disappear! We’ll have lots of Devonshire cream on hand to spread on them.

Dearies, I’m sure you’re wondering ‘But Tippy, what about the tea’? Of course, I was just getting to it! It took Kat awhile to decide on a tea that would pair with all of the tea nibbles. She finally decided on Wegmans Earl Grey Black Tea.  She loves this malty, bold tea with a hint of bergamot. It’s the perfect thing for all the sweet and savories she’s going to serve. The black tea and citrus flavor pairs well with just about everything!  For those that do not want caffeine Kat has created a beautiful floral blend of chamomile and lavender. It’ll be delicate and floral to match the upcoming spring weather. If the idea of a bespoke floral blend tickles your fancy, stay tuned for an upcoming post about blending tea with flowers!

To finish off the meal, Kat found this recipe for vanilla custard served in eggshells which will be a whimsical way to end the meal. She’s planning on serving cut-out butter cookies as well, in festive Easter shapes.

What are your Easter plans? Whatever you do, I’m sure you’ll find creative ways to include tea into your activities! Happy Easter everyone!

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?

Host a St. Patrick’s Day Tea!

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I’ve been perusing the kitchen calendar and noticed that St. Patrick’s Day will soon be here! I love thinking about everything becoming a vibrant green. It reminds me that spring is on the way! It’s hard to truly believe as we are covered in snow right now. But it’ll happen! So many people see St. Patrick’s Day as a reason to drink green beer. But I see it as a reason to have green tea!

Kat thought it would be fun to have a festive St. Patrick’s Day tea for her friends so I did a little searching for a few appropriate recipes for the day.

I thought it would be fun to start with mini matcha fruit smoothies. A display of little teacups or glasses lined up with the frothy vibrant green matcha would be a festive way to start. This vanilla matcha smoothie recipe fits perfectly. A light and delicate flavor with the bright green color we’re looking for.

For the scones, you can’t go wrong with Irish soda bread scones! I adore this recipe, and can’t wait to let Kat’s friends slather them with clotted cream.

For the tea sandwiches a cucumber and cream cheese is always good, and leave the skin on the cucumbers for a pop of color. My favorite sandwich idea is a cross between a NY deli sandwich and a St. Patrick’s Day staple- corned beef tea sandwiches! We’re going to make them double-decker style with savory corned beef, spicy deli mustard and pumpernickel bread. Make sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces!

Don’t forget to serve the teas, dearies! We’re going to serve a fresh grassy Japanese Sencha with the scones, and then an Irish breakfast tea with the sandwiches and dessert. Strong and delicious it pairs with the creamy cucumber sandwiches and the savory corned beef. Kat is going to serve Wegman’s Irish Breakfast Tea. Kat loves a hearty breakfast tea and picked it up at her local Wegmans years ago and always kept a box in her cupboard. She loves the malty, robust tea on mornings that she needs an extra jolt of sunshine.  It is strong but not bitter, and super smooth.

Kat’s going to close out the meal with matcha butter cookies. Delicious sweet, buttery and green, of course!

Spring is almost here! Do you have any fun St. Patrick’s Day plans? I do hope they involve some tea!

Drinking Harris Teas

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Lately Kat has been thinking about her late aunt Char (who I lived with for a very long time), and how much fun they had together. As a young girl Kat would sit in Char’s kitchen and listen to endless stories from her worldwide travels (I was always with her). As they sat together they’d have sips of various teas. Kat has a special fondness for a few teas in particular that Char always had around the house. They don’t have a fancy pedigree or an expensive price tag. These are simple, basic teas that Char reached for when she needed a good, ‘cuppa’.

 Kat has started buying Harris Teas when she was in New Jersey for a conference, and happened to stop by the local Acme grocery store. She saw the old familiar name brand from her childhood and had a wave of nostalgia wash over her. She bought all three teas that they sell because she had all of them as a child and remembers them fondly.

 The tea Kat drinks on days when she needs a little happy boost of nostalgia is the decaffeinated black tea. Char used to serve this tea in dainty porcelain cups with a bowl of sugar cubes on the table. I remember a young little Kat afraid to handle us dainty cups and focused very hard on each sip. Of course as a young girl Kat mostly enjoyed the sugar cubes, but as she got a little bit older, the tea and conversation was the most important part. This tea brews up nice and dark, and has a rich black tea flavor. Even though it’s decaffeinated it has a lovely bold taste. Kat’s friends are always pleasantly surprised when she tells them it’s a decaf tea. Kat often keeps it on hand for iced tea and adds plenty of juicy lemon slices.

 The Harris green tea is one Kat likes to keep on hand as a good basic green tea. She enjoys it in the early afternoon as a pick-me-up, and keeps a box stashed in her desk drawer at work. The large box lasts a long time, and she loves the mild green tea flavor. She’s given this tea to co-workers that don’t normally care for green tea, and they’ve always come back for more. She enjoys the Harris decaffeinated green tea in the evenings, sometimes with a touch of honey.

Just like the decaf black, it has a pure green tea taste, and no one ever believes that it’s a decaf tea. It’s a perfect mild tea to wind down with in the evening.

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Recently upon examining the box she noticed that Harris Tea donates a portion of the tea proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Association. She was happy to know that not only do the teas remind her of her favorite person, but they also donate to a wonderful cause. Be sure to check out their website http://harristeabrand.com/ for more information on the teas and where to purchase them.

 Dearies, I have a soft spot in my heart for these teas. I think of Char and our adventures every time Kat brews one up. Have you tried Harris teas? I’d love to hear what you think!

Tea Themed Holiday Gifts

vsco-photo-2.jpgIt’s starting to look a lot like Christmas in our house! Kat has started pulling out garlands, poinsettia plants, and there is silver and gold everywhere you look. The house looks so festive! She is also starting to create her holiday gift-giving list. Of course she’s adding tea themed items to as many gifts as possible. Here are a few tea themed gift ideas for the various people in your life!

For a significant other: If you have a significant other that enjoys tea, a special oolong tea is a wonderful choice. I love gift sets from Eco-Cha tea.These are high quality oolong teas personally sourced by the founders. The teas are produced by small farmers that ensures a high quality artisanal oolong tea.

For college students: Matcha is a trendy and delicious way to boost energy and concentration, two things that any college student can use! Fuel late night study sessions and early morning classes with the delicious green stuff. A matcha starter kit is a perfect gift to give the matcha newbie all of the essentials to making a great bowl.

For the little ones: Any child would be excited to get a little tea set and tea of their very own to put in it. Kat loves to comb the antique stores for vintage tea sets for her nieces and nephews. She also found the most wonderful tea to add to the gift, so they have everything they need for a tea party! Her local Sprouts market is selling a Candy Cane flavored herbal tea, that is perfect for this time of year! This tea is Christmas in a cup!  Kat went to the store to do some grocery shopping and noticed the festive candy canes on the box. She couldn’t resist such a fun Christmasy tea! When she brewed a cup at home, she was instantly hit with the peppermint aroma. It was as if she was sitting next to a tree decked out with candy canes. This festive tea is minty, with a kick of licorice root and cinnamon. Perfect flavors for gathering around the fireplace after a big holiday dinner. This is an herbal tea, so it can be enjoyed any time of day!

For friends: A lovely teacup of their very own, and a flight of teas would make an elegant holiday gift. You can choose different types of tea (Green, black, white, oolong) or pick different varieties of one type of tea (different flushes of Darjeeling tea, different types of green teas, various oolong teas, etc). For the teacup, Kat likes the visit antique stores and flea markets. A hand selected vintage cup has an extra special feel to it. Plus, us vintage cups have a great deal of wisdom and lots of stories to tell!

For co-workers: A DIY kit to enjoy tea in the office. A small teapot that fits about 16-18 ounces is the perfect size to enjoy at a desk. Various teabags in a beautiful box, a small jar of honey, and a teaspoon would round out the perfect gift for an officemate. I also like to include a small tin of loose leaf tea.

For parents and grandparents: A useful but beautiful teapot and cups. You can do a delicate vintage set, or a sturdier modern stoneware set. Kat is eyeing a beautiful glass teapot and cup set for her parents. They enjoy tea every afternoon, and a glass set would let them observe the colors of their tea while sipping and relaxing.

For teachers: Kat likes to select tumblers for iced and hot tea. These are easily portable items that can be taken to and from the classroom. An insulated tumbler keeps tea hot for an entire school day and is perfect to keep on a desk for a much needed reinvigorating sip. Or a tumbler for iced tea is the right choice for teachers that prefer sips of cool, refreshing tea.

Get creative and be sure to include tea with your holiday gifts! Be sure to visit my pinterest page for many other holiday 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!

Teas for Halloween!

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Boo! Dearies, Halloween is fast approaching. It’s time to get out the creepy decorations and stock up on candy. Are you going have a Halloween party? Kat adores Halloween and this year she’s planning on throwing a Halloween tea party for all of her friends. She already has most of the decorations, and even found a skeletal companion to sit on my saucer. I don’t mind the company, but he’s not much of a conversationalist.

We’ve been discussing the party over our tea, and here are some of the fun tea-infused ideas Kat is going to use:

She’s going to make a ‘Witches Brew’ tea by serving cups of rooibos steeped with vanilla and cinnamon with apple pieces floating on top. She’ll add a few gummy worms for a slithering surprise! It will help set the mood at her party.

Kat is getting creepy-creative with another party drink, this one iced with a bit of fizz. Mix 3 parts tea with 1 part cranberry juice and 2 parts club soda for a bloody, bubbly beverage. Kat will be using one of her favorite teas for this potion, this HEB My Cup of Bliss Hibiscus Ginger Orange. She’s been drinking this tea ever since her next door neighbor served it to her when she first moved in. Kat enjoyed getting to know her, and delighted in soothing sips of this herbal tea. The tart hibiscus and orange flavors danced on her palate. But it was the surprising zing of ginger that had her sit up and take notice. She was also drawn to the deep red color of the brew. Her neighbor sent her home with a few teabags and she’s bought many boxes home from the grocery store since then. The deep red color of the brew is perfect as a bloody base for many Halloween drinks. Kat is glad it is herbal, so even the children at the party can enjoy it.

Kat brought home dozens of little gummy spiders to add to her ice cubes for a skin-crawling surprise. Simply pour water into an ice cube tray and add a gummy spider to each compartment. Freeze for at least 4 hours and you have a creepy addition to your iced tea potion! I can’t wait to see everyone’s reaction when they see these floating in their drink!

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Kat came up with one other fun, creative drink for the party. She just couldn’t stop at two! For a slimy, limey punch, add a 2-liter bottle of ginger ale, four cups of chilled green tea, and ½ a gallon container of lime sherbet to a punchbowl. Add in some peeled grapes for a slippery eyeball effect! For an icy addition- fill a washed, disposable latex glove with water, tie or seal and freeze for at least 4 hours. You’ll get an amazingly macabre hand to float in the punch bowl!

For a tea-infused addition to her Halloween treats, Kat is adding matcha to vanilla cookie frosting. It gives a ghastly green look to her witch and monster cookies! Just add a few teaspoons to your icing recipe until you get the desired color. It’s easy and creepy!

Kat loves to get lost in her daydreams and was thinking of giving out teabags to the trick-or-treaters. I had to convince her that as delicious as tea is, the children will be expecting candy! Even this old teacup knows that! Happy Halloween dearies, and I hope you have a fun tea-filled time!