The holidays are in full swing, and you probably already started shopping. If you’re stumped on what to buy some very special people, you might want to consider making something by hand.
DIY Holiday Gift: A Cup of Cheer in 5 Easy Steps
This is the perfect gift to say thank you to a teacher or co-worker. It’s also a great way to introduce friends to loose leaf tea. It’s only takes an afternoon to make a bunch, and you can easily customize each one.
What You’ll Need:
- Begin by making your customized tea bags. For each caffeinated tea, like black, green, white, or oolong, place 1 teaspoon of leaves in each tea bag. For herbal infusions, place 1 tablespoon in each tea bag. Fold the bags closed.
- To keep the tea in your tea bags fresh, place them in sandwich bags and gently press the air out of them before sealing. You will want to use separate sandwich bags for each kind of tea for each person’s mug so they don’t mix flavors and scents.
- Place the sealed tea bags in the mug with a card, candy, and other small gifts. You may want to include an explanation of the tea with brewing instructions.
- Wrap each mug with cellophane and tie it with a ribbon.
- Enjoy giving out your cups of cheer!
November 25th, 2014
Still making plans for your grand feast next Thursday? Or does your family celebrate Thanksgiving pot-luck style? Either way, we’ve got some unconventional recipes to add to your traditional meal. Look them over before you finalize your shopping list.
Does your day of feasting start with breakfast? These Whole-Wheat Chai Apple Spice Muffins combine healthy with tasty. Apples, chai tea, whole-wheat, flaxseed, spices and a few other odds and ends make for a nutritious start so you can feel better about taking in a few extra calories later in the day. Brew up a pot of malty Assam tea to go with these muffins.
Turkey is just part of Thanksgiving tradition, right? Add a twist to your turkey this year with a tea rub. This sweet and tart recipe uses hibiscus, cinnamon and brown sugar. Or try a fried turkey recipe with this Apple and Tea Brine, which uses your choice of oolong tea.
Cranberry and Stuffing Sides
Cranberries, another Thanksgiving tradition, can also take on creative twist with tea. Try Spiced-Tea Cranberry Sauce using Earl Grey Special. And what holiday meal would be complete without the stuffing? Green-Tea Infused Veggie Stuffing is perfect for your vegan guests and ohers who are adventurous in their tastes. Try making it with our Moroccan Mint tea or another green tea of your choice.
Time to get really creative when choosing your dessert menu! Cakes, cookies, or pies: what are your traditional favorites? We’ve found a few that combine our beloved ingredient. You can probably guess it. Tea! Thai Tea Cake with Condensed Milk Custard Sauce makes a lovely addition (and goes well with a slice of pumpkin pie, too). Or do you have some chocolate-loving dinner guests? Chocolate is the dessert that needs no season. Check out this simple and delicious Earl Grey Infused Blender Chocolate Mousse recipe.
Don’t forget about everyone’s favorite part of Thanksgiving: the leftovers. Here’s a great recipe for Turkey Tea Sandwiches. Try one or all of these and let us know what you like. Happy Thanksgiving!
November 20th, 2014
If you’re wondering how to get everything done and stay sane, you’re not alone. Here are our favorite tips to enjoy this crazy season:
We don’t go anywhere without tea.
Tip 1: Stay Energized during Shopping Trips
We like to keep a travel cup of hot tea with us in the car at all times. Black tea is great for sustained caffeine without the crash you get from drinking coffee.
Tip 2: Drink your Desserts for Less Calories
Sometimes dinner requires hard decisions – like whether to get a second helping of stuffing or leave room for dessert. That’s why we crafted these sweet treats without the calories: try our Pumpkin Spice Black Tea Blend or Autumn Apple Pie Green Tea Blend.
Tip 3: Ease Indigestion
We told ourselves we wouldn’t overdo it… and then we ate the whole thing. Time for some herbal blends! Ginger and mint have been used for centuries to soothe upset tummies.
Tip 4: Stay Relaxed
The children are nestled all snug in their beds dreaming of sugar plums. Meanwhile, you’re ready to pull your holiday hairdo out. Take a minute for yourself with a hot cup of Chamomile with Lemon.
Tip 5: Buy Tea and Nobody Gets Hurt
Maybe we’re a little biased, but it seems like everyone loves tea. From smoky tea for “manly men” to fruity, caffeine-free brews for kids, The Tea Smith has something for everyone on your list. If you can’t decide, a gift card always fits!
What are your holiday survival tips? Let us know in the comments below!
November 14th, 2014
Tea is loaded with tradition. And for every type of tea, there are as many different traditions for enjoying a simple pot. You’ve probably even contributed to this rich tradition as you have discovered your own favorite brew and the best way to prepare and enjoy it. However, take a moment to drink in a different tradition that is almost as old as the the consumption of tea itself.
Tea in Japan is not quite as old as tea in China, but it still dates back to the 9th century when a Buddhist monk returned from a trip to China. Legend says that after the monk shared it with the Emperor in the year 815, tea plantations started developing as early as the year 816. Not long after that, Chinese author, Lu Yu wrote The Classic of Tea, which had a very significant influence on the Japanese tea ceremony.
By the 12th century, the tea ceremony adapted a style of preparation known as “tencha,” which uses matcha, today’s popular powdered green tea called matcha. The powder is placed in a bowl, hot water is added, then the mixture is whisked together. It was either served as thin tea with a light snack for simple hospitality moments, or as thick tea included in a several course meal for serious entertaining.
Transformation and Ritual
Tea in Japan was very closely associated with Zen Buddhism as it was introduced, and quickly developed as a transformative practice for those who partook in the ceremony. Part of drinking tea was focusing on the inner, spiritual life and qualities such as humility, restraint and simplicity. Exterior life and environment was also a part of enjoying the ceremony. Tea began to take on its own aesthetic quality in the way it was prepared and consumed.
A special set of equipment is used to prepare the tea including a tea bowl, whisk, scoop, towel and caddy. At th same time, guests are seated in a particular way – on a tatami-floored mat. The host or hostess is even trained in a special school to prepare and serve the tea. Typically matcha, the powdered form of tea, is served, but some ceremonies may use a Japanese sencha. Delve deeper into this rich history of tea in Japan.
You may be well aware of your favorite type of tea and have a few of your own rituals as you prepare to enjoy it, but are you tempted to try a cup of Japanese green tea? It may just enhance the practices that surround your prized cuppa.
November 13th, 2014
Good hospitality can wrap us up like a warm, welcome-home hug, but it is something we don’t encounter that much anymore. Our busy lives have called for it to be outsourced more often than not. Catering companies and hotels may be better equipped to host a few friends or a large group, but something is lost in that – something that could be as simple as a tea kettle whistling its warm welcome to a friend coming in from the cold. Here are a few suggestions as to how you can redeem good hospitality.
November is a time when many folks travel home to be with family. Maybe a few of your old friends will be in town too. Make a point to get together with them and make your moments together warm. If you are inviting others into your home, it doesn’t have to be stressful. Hosting is not like entertaining.
Annie May Lewis points out in her book Still Living by Faith that “Entertaining says, ‘I want to impress you with my beautiful home, my clever decorating, and my gourmet cooking.’” Hospitality, on the other hand, is simply sharing the gifts you’ve been given with love. Your guests will be able to feel the difference within the first few moments of their visit. Good hospitality makes you feel loved and cared for, making it seem like you are coming home. Cobwebs in the corner will be much easier over-looked if your guests are met with kindness and a hot cup of tea for their cold hands.
Keeping It Simple
As we’ve said, hospitality need be no more than sharing a pot of tea. If you are going to include a dessert, choose a tea that pairs nicely with the flavors. Pumpkin pie, for example, goes very well with Dragon Well or a Darjeeling. For seasonal apple desserts, the same teas will work or try Ti Kuan Yin for another complimentary flavor. If a brunch or dinner is planned, check out these other tea pairings based on your menu.
Most importantly, keep it simple and be authentic. Choose a meal or dessert that gives you time to visit rather than one that takes you away from your company. Let your guests know ahead of time if you want this to remain an informal event. This will let you relax a lot more too. Are you getting inspired yet? Who will you invite over? What will you serve?
November 6th, 2014