Friday, January 29, 2010

Cold Brewed Tea

Here is another green tea that I’ve tried.  Twinings innovative cold brewed Green Tea With Mint.  Twinings has been selling tea since 1706 and does business in more than 100 countries.


This tea brews in cold water in 3-5 minutes.  What a time saver when you want just one glass of iced tea.

P1291214  My first glass was steeped for 3 minutes with filtered water  straight from the fridge.  I enjoyed the fragrance of the mint and the refreshing taste, although the green tea flavor did not stand out.  I tried steeping for 5 minutes and found that it had a little more flavor.

P1291215   The ingredients list includes green tea, as well as tea extracts, so perhaps this will boost the health benefits.  I plan to go back to my local Publix and purchase the rest of this tea, which is on clearance for half price.  It will be great to have on hand this spring when the temperature is rising.

Check out the other varieties of Twinings cold brewed tea here. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Measuring Spoons and New Tea

There is nothing like a tea theme gift from a friend to brighten your day.  This set of measuring spoons is so cute.


Each measure has a different pattern on the teapot and tea cup.


I like the way the metal is shaped to look like steam is swirling out of the teapot.  Thanks Joyce for such a thoughtful tea gift.

There was a new (to me) kind of tea at Marshalls today and even better, it was on the clearance table.


Vykasa Zanzibar flavor tea is not a familiar brand, but it sounded like a special green tea blend with raspberry, rose hip, black currant and blue mallow with passion fruit.  It comes in a nice tin with an inner lid to keep it airtight.

P1281208 The tea is packed in pyramid shaped silken bags with lots of room for the tea leaves to expand.



It had a lovely fragrance and gentle flavor with no bitterness.  I  first noticed a slight tartness , followed by sweetness – very soothing.  I’m pleased to have found another green tea that I like, since my goal is to drink less black tea and much more of the green.  To see other Vykasa teas and products go here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Green Tea for Osteoporosis

green tea cup

I’ve been a little preoccupied this week doing research on bone health.  Having been told that I now have osteoporosis in my hips and osteopenia in my spine, I’m seriously searching for alternatives  to the harsh drugs that are being pressed upon me by my physician.

One bright spot was coming across many references to the benefits of green tea consumption in maintaining healthy bones.  The flavonoids in green tea provide the benefits, via estrogenic effects known to build bone strength and destroy cells called osteoclasts that damage bone cells.

Everyone has heard about the importance of calcium from various dairy products and taking vitamin D supplements, but I’m learning that there are many sources for calcium in fruits and veggies, fish, etc.

I knew that weight bearing exercise was helpful, but not that bone density is enhanced to a greater degree by weight training, even in the elderly.  I’ll be looking into a gym membership and getting really serious about bone building nutrition.

This is an epidemic disease here in the USA.  This tells me that I’d better insist that my daughters start looking after their bones and building bone density in their youth, to perhaps avoid problems later in life.

What are you doing to maintain strong bones?



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Honey Crystals

I read somewhere, that if you added honey to your tea in Britain, you’d be laughed out of the tea shop.  As for me, I prefer sweetening my tea with honey, rather than sugar.  This is something I do only occasionally as a treat, like indulging in a good piece of chocolate.  Mind you, I did indulge in the chocolates a little too often over the Christmas holidays. 

Many of you have probably tried tea with honey and lemon while combating a head cold.  I’m on my second bout this year.


There are more than 300 types of honey available in the United States.  Each type is from a different floral source and can be nearly colorless to dark brown in color.  I like a mild flavored honey like alfalfa or clover that doesn’t compete with the tea.

Recently I saw a honey product that I’d like to try – natural organic honey crystals.  This seems like it would be an easy to store and mess free type of honey.  No more sticky spoons, counters and jars. 

natural honey crystals

The honey crystals are also good for baking.  They are hygroscopic, meaning it attracts moisture, rather than drying out.  This works well for substituting part or all of the sugar in a recipe, without adjusting the liquids.

I saw this product on Amazon at what seems like a reasonable price.  An 8 ounce bag is $2.40 or the economy size (33 ounce/6 cups) for $10.95. 

If anyone has tried honey crystals, I’d love to hear how you used this product and how you like it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Crème Fraiche

Many times I’ve looked at a recipes for tea sandwiches and passed over those that call for crème fraiche.  I didn’t want to go to a specialty store and pay an exorbitant amount for a little jar of this ingredient.


Recently I discovered how easy it is to prepare crème fraiche.  All you need is a glass jar, heavy whipping cream (not ultra pasteurized) and buttermilk.  Put a cup of whipping cream in the jar with two tablespoons of buttermilk.  Let the jar stand, covered, at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours, or until quite thick.  That’s it.  Stir the crème fraiche and store in the refrigerator for up to ten days.

Now you can whip up horseradish cream to have on roast beef sandwiches, or creamed Brie for toast points, or to use as a substitute for that clotted cream you serve with scones and jam.

scones with jam and cream

I should have realized how simple it would be to make this yourself.  It always tastes better too, like homemade mayonnaise or Caesar salad dressing.



Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Primula Tea Maker

This is a glass mug for brewing an individual serving of loose tea.

Primula Tea Maker 

It is borosilicate glass, so it is stovetop, microwave and dishwasher safe.  There is a glass infuser basket and lid, that doubles as a coaster. 


The slits in the bottom of the infuser will let some small bits through if your loose tea is too fine.  I’ve heard some people say that metal filters will affect the taste of your tea. 

My problem with this tea maker was removing the filter basket.  I brewed black tea with freshly boiled water and steeped my tea for three minutes.  Then I did a very foolish thing.  I grabbed the filter to lift it out of the mug and burned my fingers.  Ouch!  That filter gets very hot.  It will be a little awkward having to use a pot holder.

I’m used to my IngenuiTea mug from Adagio where you just set the tea maker on top of your mug to release the tea (no touching the filter involved).  Well, now I know.

Have any of you tried this Primula Tea Maker and what did you think of it?  My mug was a bargain that I picked up on the clearance table at Publix for $5.  I think the retail price is $14.99 and the tea maker comes with a blooming tea.  You can check out Primula Tea here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mincemeat Tarts For Tea

Mincemeat is a mixture of chopped dried fruit, distilled spirits, spices and sometimes beef or venison.  As the sweetness of the recipes increased from added sugars and those produced from fermentation, meat became a less common ingredient.  Most mincemeat available today does not contain meat and is meant to be dessert more than a savory.

My local Publix store has had jars of mincemeat on the clearance shelf for the last couple of weeks, so I’ve been stocking up.  With a shelf life of at least a couple of years, they can even hold till next Christmas (expiry date Sept. 2012).  These brands also come without rum and brandy - both types are delicious.

P1091166There are lots of ways to enjoy mincemeat.  You can use it as a topping on cheesecake or pound cake.  The label lists a suggestion of mincemeat as a topping on baked sweet potato, with cinnamon and roasted walnuts.

I like to make mincemeat tarts.

P1091172 These are so good served warm with a dollop of whipped cream.  I like to enjoy them with a nice cup of strong black tea.

This is a British baking tradition.  My Mom always made mincemeat pies at Christmas.  She also made raisin pies year round, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen here in GA. 

I’ve also made a Bundt cake that uses mincemeat and I’d like to find a good muffin recipe too.  I think this treat can be enjoyed right through fall and winter. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Another New Tea Book

One of my favorite tea book authors is Jane Pettigrew.  I’ve been enjoying several of her books for a while now including, Tea & Infusions, Tea-time Recipes and the classic Tea Companion – A Connoisseur’s Guide.  So I did find it hard to resist purchasing Afternoon Tea.


There is always something new to be learned from Ms. Pettigrew’s writing, but what I love is her use of unusual photographs, advertising memorabilia and images of classic paintings.  Have you ever wondered what Catherine of Braganza (introduced tea to the court of Charles II in 1662) looked like?


This illustrates the chapter called “everything stops for tea”.


Who could forget Anna Maria, 7th Duchess of Bedford.  I can’t thank her enough for establishing the custom of afternoon tea.


There is a chapter on “the tea dance”.  I’ve always enjoyed seeing the tango, but it seems hard to picture this sensuous dance combined with afternoon tea. 


I had to show you this fabulous crinoline-lady tea cozy.  Have you ever seen anything like it?


This book offers information on the history of tea, preparation of tea, teatime recipes, tea ware, tea parties and much more.  There is even a “milk in first?” chapter.  

I’m so glad that I decided to add “Afternoon Tea” to my tea library. 


Monday, January 4, 2010

Connoisseur Of The Finer Things

My Tea 2010 calendar today includes the statement that green tea drinkers are connoisseurs of the finer things in life.

green tea with teapot and tea leaves I don’t know about that, but perhaps green tea drinkers are more health conscious or have a more finely tuned palate.  Do green tea drinkers have different personality traits than black tea drinkers?  Are they more sensitive or refined?  It’s not a question that I’ll ponder for very long while I enjoy my full bodied black tea. 

I was planning to share photos of Golden Assam Rare Exquisite loose tea that I received for Christmas, but unfortunately I’m starting the New Year with computer glitches and can’t retrieve my photos from my memory card.  This full bodied Assam tea has a delicious flavor, with a pleasant aroma and a lovely gold tinged copper color.  It takes the addition of milk very well and I will also try it with a little honey later (although I am trying to cut out sweeteners as damage control from holiday overindulgence).

What Christmas gift teas have you been enjoying?  I’d love to hear about them.

Friday, January 1, 2010

snowman New Year 2010

A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I've played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.
~Edgar Guest

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year.

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