A Lovely Late Autumn Tea Cocktail

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Late Autumn is such a festive time of year, isn’t it? It seems that as temperatures start to lower, everyone starts having cozy get-togethers and hearty dinner parties. Kat and I have a few delicious tea cocktails in our repertoire, and I thought it would be fun to create another one for this festive time of year.

Since I love all things bubbly I came up with a ginger and pear cocktail that has a lovely little bit of fizz. Pear and ginger are flavors that remind me of fall leaves and crisp weather. I decided to use sweetened ginger tea as the base, add in pear juice, a dash of champagne (or prosecco), and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Put it all together and you have my ginger fizzy pear cocktail!

For this cocktail we used Newman’s Own Organic Ginger Green Tea. This tea combines mellow vegetal green tea with warming ginger. The zingy flavor is enhanced by a bit of lemongrass and rounded out with a pop of mint. It makes the cocktail even more unique. The calming yet invigorating flavor of this tea is perfect for morning sips or afternoon relaxation sessions. Kat’s friend Maeve came across this tea on Amazon.com and decided to give it a try. She shared some with Kat and they’ve been obsessed with it ever since!

Tippy’s Ginger Fizzy Pear Cocktail

Makes 2-3 cocktails

1 cup water

1 tablespoon sweetener of choice (we like honey)

1 ginger teabag of choice, or 1 tablespoon diced fresh ginger

¼ cup pear juice

Champagne or prosecco

Put your water in a small saucepan over high heat. Once it boils, turn off the heat and add in your ginger or teabag. If you are using fresh ginger, let steep for 7-10 minutes. If you are using a teabag, 5-7 minutes will do. Once tea is steeped, add in your sweetener and stir until dissolved. Strain and allow to fully cool.

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Once your tea is cool, pour into a champagne flute or coupe glass until about ¼ full. Add in a few tablespoons of pear juice, and top with the bubbly. You can add in a few pieces of chopped pear for a garnish if you’re feeling fancy!

I hope you enjoy all the fun this season has to offer! Cheers my lovely tea friends!

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!

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!

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!

Making A Tea-Infused Meal

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Kat’s been thinking of new creative dinner party ideas. She loves getting together with friends, and wants to change things up a bit. Recently I was helping her find some new tea-infused recipes, and I realized that we had enough diverse recipes in our arsenal to make an entire tea themed meal! From start to finish, we could incorporate tea in every course. Kat loved the idea, and we started planning our menu. This new twist on the traditional dinner party will be a nice change of pace. I’m so pleased with how our menu turned out that I just have to share it with you!

To Start:

When guests arrive Kat is going to serve her latest favorite tea cocktail. This one is an Earl Grey infused gin cocktail. It’s a little sweet, a little tangy and floral. The perfect way to start the tea-infused meal.

She’s also going to have bowls of delicious chai-spiced almonds waiting for her gets to nibble while they sip their cocktails.

When it’s time to sit down for dinner, we’ll start with a delicious tea-infused appetizer.

Kat is going to create a delicate and flavorful tea smoked salmon that we’ll serve on mini toasts topped with Crème fraîche and chives. Smoked salmon is one of Kat’s favorite things, and adding tea to the preparation brings an interesting twist to the dish.

Main Course:

Since everyone will have enjoyed endless heavy and comforting meals over the holidays, Kat wants to keep the main course light but full of flavor. She’s serving tea-steamed cod which will be elegant yet healthful. For the side dish she’s making lemongrass-ginger tea steamed vegetables. I know her guests will love this light and vibrant main course. Perfect with the addition of tea, of course!

Dessert:

Since the meal started with chai, she’s going to end with it as well. Dearies, did you know those spicy masala chai flavors work beautifully in baked goods? These Chai spiced sugar cookies will be divine. Kat can’t stop at just one dessert, and she’s excited to make this green tea panna cotta. Sweet, creamy panna cotta infused with green tea flavor. Warm, and comforting!

 I can’t wait for Kat’s friends to experience this tea-infused meal. It has a variety of flavors yet keeps things light enough for a post-holiday fête.  What do you think, dearies? Would you serve this full tea-infused meal to your guests?

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!

Thanksgiving Tea Cocktails

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It’s almost time for large family gatherings and giving thanks for all that we have. Do you host Thanksgiving dinner? Kat is taking on the challenge this year, hosting quite a sizable group. She’s excited to cook with her favorite fall ingredients like squash and cranberries. I can already smell the stuffing and pumpkin pie!

I was hoping she’d let me be the table centerpiece for the big event. Wouldn’t I look lovely among the flowers and gourds? I’d sit in the middle of the table and watch over the action. Kat said she doesn’t want me to risk a chip, which I suppose I understand. Well, at least I convinced her to incorporate a bit of tea into the meal. She decided to feature tea in a pre-meal cocktail. I think it’s a delicious compromise.

After doing a bit of research Kat has narrowed it down to a few different cocktail choices. Wouldn’t a warm cocktail would be perfect to welcome everyone on Thanksgiving? It would bring everyone together and help the conversation start to flow. This Bourbon Chai looks absolutely delicious. A cozy way to start, with a kick of spice to get everyone’s palate ready for the big meal. Kat is worried that she may be a bit short on time with all the food she needs to prepare, so she’s planning on using Fresh & Easy Chai Black Tea bags instead of the separate tea and spices. As much as Kat loves to make Masala Chai from scratch, she looked in her local grocery store for a good bagged tea to keep in the house for when she’s craving a spicy tea, but doesn’t have time to put the ingredients together. The strong cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom in this brew create the masala chai flavors she’s looking for. It’s perfectly spicy and aromatic.

I’m also partial to this apple-infused cocktail. It’s a drink that sets the right Thanksgiving mood. The apple, cinnamon, and cloves compliment all of the flavors served in the main meal. I think the aroma will bring everyone straight to their most nostalgic Thanksgiving memories. When I first tried it, it reminded me of Char’s first attempt at baking an apple pie for Thanksgiving dinner. I think she managed to get flour in every corner of the kitchen that year! But the resulting pie was delicious, and worth the extra cleanup.

Cranberries are an essential part of the meal, and this Sparkling Cranberry Tea Cocktail is a wonderful idea. It’s a sweet and tart way to begin the evening. It will have her guests craving more Thanksgiving flavors. Also, who doesn’t love a bit of sparkle? The bubbly will lend a festive air to your Thanksgiving get-together. I think it also feels swanky!

For a non-alcoholic cocktail, Kat found this perfect recipe from Serious Eats. It combines sparkling apple cider, tea, and cinnamon. It has the right combination to tempt the palate before the Thanksgiving meal! She is thinking of serving this one for the little ones, and those that prefer not to have alcohol.

Which drink would you choose to serve your guests? This is such a special time of year. What are you thankful for? I feel fortunate to have had so many adventures over the years with two amazing women. I am looking forward to the adventures yet to come!

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!

Taking Tea Outdoors

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I’m a teacup that has been on the go. Char used to carefully stow me in her suitcase on her world-wide adventures, and Kat has taken me jet-setting as well. But sometimes I need to stay at home, especially when rugged outdoor activities are involved. For steep’s sake, I wouldn’t want to risk a chip or crack! There are times like this when Kat has a few other trusty vessels to use.

This time of year, Kat is always on an outdoor excursion. Hiking, apple picking, and leaf peeping. There is so much to do, and she still needs tea to fuel her day. Here are her tips for taking your tea outdoors:

First thing you need to do is get a good tea travel vessel. First, decide on material. Stainless steel is durable, and not too heavy. Double walled glass tumblers are effective and look beautiful, but can be a bit delicate. If you are going to be doing many activities, you may want to stay away from a glass tumbler. Whatever you choose, be sure to get one that has a good seal. You don’t want leaks! Kat’s tumbler is always in her backpack, and any leaks would cause quite a mess. It’s also sad to lose even a drop of tea.

You’ll want a vessel large enough for the amount of tea you’d like to drink. Kat has a few sizes at the ready. A 12 ounce thermos is perfect for a few sips of tea over a short period of time. Kat usually prefers at least 16 or 18 ounces to make sure she has tea for the duration of her outings. There are even larger sizes that are great if you want to bring tea for a small group. If you are purchasing your tumbler online, be sure to read as many reviews as you can and learn the best product for your money. You can also get one that is made to sip right from the top, or there are versions that have a detachable cup.

Once you have your tumbler, you can either brew the tea right in side, or make it in a separate pot and pour in to take with you. Some come with tea infusers or have infuser attachments you can purchase, so you can put loose leaf tea right in there and remove when steeped so the brew doesn’t get bitter.

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Sometimes I will get to participate in her outdoor activities, mostly when it’s a civilized picnic. Kat usually brings her trusty tumbler filled to the brim with hot water, and a few convenient teabags. This way she can make freshly brewed tea for her picnic! You can take enough teabags to brew per cup, or take a small teapot to brew in. If you’re not worried about decorum, you can brew right in the thermos.

These days Kat is carrying orange spice black tea from Private Selection in her tumbler. She’ll either steep it at home and sip it throughout the day, or put a few of the individually wrapped teabags in her backpack to brew up when she’s ready to drink. The warming spices of orange, cinnamon, and clove are perfect paired with an autumn outdoor activity. The sweet and spicy flavors enhance the fall colors and golden sunshine. A co-worker actually gave her a box of this tea as a birthday gift this year. Kat is known as the tea drinker in the office, and she often gets new and interesting teas to try as gifts. As soon as she tasted this tea she knew it would be perfect for fall gatherings and invigorating afternoon walks.

Dearies, now you know there is no need to leave your tea at home! With the right equipment you can take your tea anywhere you want to go. What outdoor activities are you planning for?

Sweeteners For Your tea

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Do you sweeten your tea? Back in the days of my adventures with Char, she always had a bowl of proper sugar cubes close by. I remember when a much younger Kat used to sneak a cube out of the bowl and let it secretly dissolve in her mouth when no one was looking! I’ve noticed these days when Kat does sweeten her tea, she sometimes uses other forms of sweetener. When I asked her about it, she says her friends all use different kinds of sweeteners for their tea, and she likes to have a few different types in the kitchen in case one of them drops by. See, deep down she’s just as proper as her great-grandmother.

Here are some of the sweeteners I’ve spied in the kitchen recently:

Honey- of course honey is a classic pairing with tea. You can get so many different types of honey these days, and they all taste a little bit different. I once travelled to the farm market with Kat where I saw her taste all sorts of different varieties. She was particularly fond of a spring wildflower honey. The floral notes are lovely with oolong tea.

Coconut sugar- This one appears to be a popular sweetener among Kat’s friends. It’s also called coconut palm sugar. It’s made from the sap of coconut trees, and not the actual coconuts. It is similar in flavor to brown sugar.

Agave Nectar- similar to honey but thinner and even sweeter. Made from the agave plant, you only need a few drops of this sweet stuff to sweeten your tea. It has a very clean sweetness, without any noticeable strong flavors to conflict with your tea.

Maple Sugar- syrup or granulated, this sweetener is tasty but also has the added maple flavor. Nice if you are looking to add extra flavor with your sweetness. I like the idea of adding it to a vanilla or pumpkin-pie spiced tea!

Stevia- this sweetener is derived from a plant related to daisy and ragweed. I love the image of a leafy sweetener floating in tea. You can grow it in your garden, but usually it’s seen in powder or liquid form. It is very sweet, with a bit of  licorice flavor, and you only need a small amount compared to regular cane sugar.

Artificial sweeteners- of course, there are lots of these out there and they are very easy to find. They all have slightly different ingredients and flavors. Some are known to have a bit of an aftertaste, so you should find out which one your guest prefers before serving them.

I must admit, my favorite is still the old fashioned sugar cube. It reminds me of younger days when everyone used cups and saucers for their tea. What sweeteners do you use? Do you pair them with a particular type of tea? Do you keep any in the house for your guests?