Tea Love: Instilling a Love of Tea, One Sip At A Time

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

My Valentine’s Day Tea Box Creation – Revealed!

So, as many of you have seen on Tea Love’s Facebook page, I have been talking about how I used an old tea container for my boyfriend’s Valentine’s Day gift.

A while back, my sister-in-law gave me some chocolate mint tea in this charming wooden box.   She wasn’t a big fan of it, but she thought that I might like the tea.

The tea was rather tasty, but I must admit, my main attraction was to the box:

My box of chocolate mint tea from my sister-in-law.

My box of chocolate mint tea from my sister-in-law.

The top slides back and forth on the top, keeping the tea inside fresh.   While the box is not made of a high-quality wood, nor is it very durable, it is not exactly meant to last forever.   However, for some reason, I just could not bring myself to throw away this cute box.   Something stopped me.   It had way too much potential and, as an avid crafter (after all, I have made earrings and necklaces out of used tea bags!), I knew I would find some use for it.   Thus, I stored it away for safe keeping.

Then I met my boyfriend, Camilo.   Also an avid artist and a tea lover, he thrives on the creative.   You can often find him at my Tea Love talks, helping me unpack, repack, serve tea, and just chatting away with anyone with a listening ear.

Camilo's And My Recent Trip to the Museum of Modern Art

Camilo’s And My Recent Trip to the Museum of Modern Art

Well, I got into the television series Dr. Who, a BBC show with a time-and-relative-dimension-in-space-traveling alien., not too long after he and I met.   We were both quickly hooked on the show, often binging on numerous episodes a night just to see what adventure our Doctor would be going on and see how he would save the universe from imminent destruction.   We constantly talk about the show, read about it (especially my friend’s Dr. Who and Theology blog, Whovian Theology), and generally just act like five-year-old children when anything Dr. Who-related comes up.

Then, for Valentine’s Day, I got an idea – why not make Camilo a TARDIS (the ship that the Doctor uses to travel)?

The Actual TARDIS From The Show

The Actual TARDIS From The Show

So, after a bit of clay molding, painting, gluing, nailing, and frustration, I finally produced a TARDIS worthy of the Doctor.

My Creation!

My Creation!

Since the box was starting to part, I decided to nail the side together to keep it secure.   Then I white-washed it so that I had a clean surface (as much as I love tea, I did not want the tea branding to show up underneath the paint).   Using some clay, I constructed the top of the TARDIS, which was also the hardest (the lantern kept breaking off, so that was slightly annoying).   I sanded the box down for a more secure fit, did some painting (including glow-in-the-dark paint so that the TARDIS would “light up” at night), and filled it up with some candy.   Voila!    A TARDIS made from an old tea container!

Timeline of the TARDIS

Timeline of the TARDIS

Have anything you have made from old tea products?   I have heard some people who have used their containers for candles and others who have “flower tea pots”.

Share your creations here in the comments or go to Tea Love’s Facebook page to share a picture!

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Tea and The “L” Word

During the month of February, l’amour is found wafting in the air. The birds seem to chirp a little bit more merrily, the sun shines a little more brightly and roses and chocolates are flying off the grocery store shelves.

Now is also the month where more people search for the elusive love potion, the elixir that is destined to make men and women fall in love and bind fast to one another for the rest of eternity. People have been searching for that special mixture for ages with parties searching for items that were moist, produced flatulence (per eighteenth century Europe) and were warm. Martin Downs, author of Aphrodisiacs Through the Ages, explains, “Almost everything edible was, at one time or another” considered an aphrodisiac.

Of course, tea is no exception to this rule. In fact, it is a common belief that foods and drinks containing caffeine such as coffee and tea might stimulate the senses and cause excitement, thus setting an ideal mood. However, Paola Sandroni MD, neurologist at the MayoClinic and author of Aphrodisiacs past and present: a historical review, states, “I think the effect is much more general,” she says. Though the caffeine might stimulate the central nervous system, they do not seem to give the body the love bug.

That still does not stop stores from cashing in on this idea. Popular tea brand Adagio Tea, which has a warehouse in Garfield, NJ, sells an aphrodisiac tea that claims to be “Like a warm summer’s kiss on the beach, this tea will take your breath away. It’s love at first sip! Need to feel some love? Tangerines and strawberries are natural and tasty aphrodisiacs.” The NY Daily News wrote an article in May 2013 about how Ceylon tea can help rev the libido and improve blood circulation. Going down the aisle of the Asian supermarket, one can often find a box of Horny Goat Weed herbal tea for sale.

Whatever the case may be, what harm would there be to brew up a tasty cup of Masala chai and a box of truffles? Travaasa.com published a recipe that is designed to stir the senses and send the drinkers to Cloud Nine.

Ingredients:

– Bay leaves

– Cinnamon

– Ginger

– Green cardamom

– Fennel

– Anise

– Cloves

– Black pepper

– Darjeeling tea or black tea

— Combine all the ingredients except the tea in a pot of water and bring it to a boil

— Allow the mixture to simmer for five minutes

— Steep the mixture for 15 minutes

— Add two teaspoons of tea. Note, if you want a stronger brew, simply add more tea

— Boil the water for another five minutes

— Serve in your favorite tea cup and enjoy

Serving You Some Meow With Your Tea

I own two cats, Celeste and “Fat Cat” Freedom.   They have been with my family since about 2001 and have been a fun part of my family ever since.   Celeste is a feisty cat, always wanting to play and running around like crazy.   Touch her tail, and she will “attack”.   Freedom, on the other hand, is more docile, cuddling up next to you and demanding that you pet her.

Fat Cat Freedom Being Cuddly

Fat Cat Freedom Being Cuddly

Celeste, Fast Asleep

Celeste, Fast Asleep

Now, would you pay to pet these cats while you sip on a hot chai?   Or how about a nice, relaxing herbal?   Maybe some green tea?

People around the world are picking up on the trend of cat cafes, where patrons come and either pay by the hour or pay for their meal and as they dine, play with cats.

The trend started in Taiwan where the first Cat Cafe opened in Taipei in 1998, where many apartment buildings ban having pets.   As a result, people do not get the joys of having cuddly companionship while they sip their tea.

However, the Cat Cafe changed this, hosting cats and tea for paying patrons.   The idea became a fast hit, including for those visiting from Japan.   Who doesn’t like a cuddly cat with them while they sip their tea?

One of the more popular cat cafes in Japan, the Calico Cafe in Tokyo, soon opened in March 2007.   Their cafe hosts about 20 cats with over 17 different breeds.   Patrons take off their shoes, sanitize their hands, place personal items in a locker, and rub their faces in the soft fur of their purring friends.   Toys are strewn about the cafe so that you can play and try to lure the cats into your laps in order to pet them while you drink your tea.   The cafes advertise themselves as a great place for friends, dates, and just a nice place to swing by.   After all, in an area where you cannot have cats in your apartment, why not take a sweetheart to have a cuppa and a cat?

Cat cafes in Japan are very strict, however.   Of course, there is the concern for health regulations.   Having an animal in a cafe while you eat can be an issue.   Then there is also the safety of the animal.   Often, there is a long list of rules and regulations when entering one of these cafes, ranging from not being able to pet the cat at all unless the cat initiates contact to not bringing in outside food and catnip.

The trend started growing, spreading to Vienna, Paris, St. Petersburg, and Seoul.   In Canada, you can even adopt one of these cuddly creatures at their Small Things cafe.

Many of the cafes will use cats from shelters or cats that were once homeless or abandoned, serving a humanitarian effort as well as a good cuppa with a unique atmosphere.

So, if you are traveling abroad and miss your feline friend, make sure that you Google “cat cafes” and see if you could grab a cup of tea and a cute kitty as well.

Downton Abbey = Tea Time!

So, my mom is absolutely giddy – Downton Abbey, the popular television show on PBS about a British aristocratic family going about their drama-filled lives starting with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, is starting back up tonight.   From what I’ve seen of the show, all I know is that Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter) is in the show,which is enough for me to say it must be excellent.

Obviously, being proper Brits, this family MUST have their tea.   Whether it’s the afternoon tea imbibed between  4pm and 6pm or the high tea sipped between 5pm and 7pm, sure as rain, you can find this elite family sitting down and having their tea to discuss the issues of the time and the drama of their lives.

Violet Crawley, played by Maggie Smith, sitting with her silver teaware for an afternoon tea.

Violet Crawley, played by Maggie Smith, sitting with her silver teaware for an afternoon tea.

Tea companies apparently watch the show too, as they are coming out with numerous Downton Abbey merchandise.   Here’s a small sampling:

Downton Abbey Tea, The Republic of Tea:

Two of the three Downton Abbey teas from The Republic of Tea.

Two of the three Downton Abbey teas from The Republic of Tea.

The Republic of Tea was founded not too long ago, 1992, and has strived to spark a tea revolution in order to get people to sip most tea.   For Downton Abbey, The Republic of Tea has come out with a line of teas, including an herbal English Rose filled with raspberries, roses, and hibiscus flowers, an Estate blend consisting of earl grey,  and a spicy Grantham Breakfast blend flavored with ginger root and Assam tea.

So why not buy some tea and sip away while watching the Crawley family fall apart?

Keep Calm And Ring Carson to Bring Tea, Signals.com:

Keep Calm and Ring Carson To Bring Tea Shirt

Keep Calm and Ring Carson To Bring Tea Shirt

Signals.com’s slogan is to offer “Gifts that Inform, Enlighten, and Entertain”.   They specialize in public television that invoke thought and discussion while inspiring continued learning.

Apparently, the thought here is to get a butler to bring you tea.   I don’t know about you, but I think I can get behind that thinking.

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook: From Lady Mary’s Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore’s Christmas Pudding –

More Than 150 Recipes from Upstairs and Downstairs by Emily Ansara Baines, Barnes and Noble:

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook: From Lady Mary's Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore's Christmas Pudding -  More Than 150 Recipes from Upstairs and Downstairs by Emily Ansara Baines

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook: From Lady Mary’s Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore’s Christmas Pudding – More Than 150 Recipes from Upstairs and Downstairs by Emily Ansara Baines

Wouldn’t you love to serve some smoked salmon mousse with your tea?   How about some crunchy fig and bleu cheese tarts?   Wouldn’t some dark chocolate truffles go so well with the Grantham Breakfast blend from The Republic of Tea?   Emily Ansara Baines gathered recipes that your favorite characters supped on and is offering for you to dine like British aristocrats.    Available in both hardcover and for the Nook, you can have your high tea with a little bit of clotted cream and some scones like The Dower.

What are you drinking in order to prepare for the season premier tonight?

A New Year, A New Tea Tradition

Hello everyone, I AM BACK!!!!!

I greatly apologize for all the hustle and bustle that is going on in my life!   October is the month where my friends and I run around like crazy for Halloween, then November was just insane, then December was Christmas (which we hold at my house), then things busy at work, and ACK!   But no more fear!   I am back 🙂

First and foremost, guess what!   We have another Tea Love talk coming up!   This one is on Sunday, January 19th, 1:30 PM at the West Milford Township Library, 1490 Union Valley Road, West Milford, New Jersey 07480.   As always, we will have a sampling of teas after the talk, so make sure you bring your favorite mug!   Registration is required. To register, make sure you email wmtl@wmtl.org, call 973-728-2822, or visit the Adult/Teen Services desk of the library.   Hope to see you there!

Second, 2014 is on the road and is coming up fast (ACK!   Everything seems to be coming up fast lately!).   So, people are breaking out the party poppers, champagne, and noise makers as they anxiously await 2013’s exit and 2014 grand entrance.

But, where can tea play a part in all of this?

Well, why not borrow from the Chinese New Year for ours?

An image of a 10th century tea offering, found in a tomb in Hebei, China.   Image from TeaGuardian.com

An image of a 10th century tea offering, found in a tomb in Hebei, China. Image from TeaGuardian.com

According to the Tea Guardian, a website whose mission is to promote fine tea as a gourmet habit, an offering of tea is a gesture of respect and gratitude.   Therefore, on New Years in China, children would offer to the elders of the family a cup of sweetened tea, made sweeter by candied fruits and vegetables placed at the bottom of the cup (keep in mind, different fruits and vegetables symbolize different things!).   This was done with great care, with the handle facing the right of the person receiving the offering and the left of the person offering.   The child holds the saucer with both hands as the elder takes the cup by the handle with one hand and the saucer with the other, and sips the tea while listening to child offer well wishes for the upcoming year.

The person offering does not leave empty-handed, though.   The elder, after hearing the well wishes, gives the child a red packet and offers wishes in return.   At one point, the red packets use to hold the wishes, but now they tend to hold trinkets and monetary gifts.

So, this New Years, after making all the noise, the chatter, the clinks, and the mess, offer your elder a cup of sweetened tea and wish them the best for this sure-to-be-wonderful new year.   Start a new tradition that not only celebrates tea, but also celebrates gratitude and the wisdom of years.

Another Great Talk!

Hello Tea Love readers!   So, as many of you know, I just gave a Tea Love talk this past Wednesday and, my goodness, 63 people showed up to the Randolph Public Library to hear me speak!   That sort of outpouring of love and support was overwhelming!   I hope all the patrons enjoyed the talk as much as I enjoyed giving the talk 🙂   A special thanks to the Randolph Public Library for hosting me and a thank you to all who showed!

I got many questions while there and I figured I would address a few of them below.   Hope this helps you in your tea journey:

What are some different things you can do with used tea?

Compost, compost, compost.   Yes, this was my favorite answer for the talk.   I do enjoy helping the environment whenever I can and what better way than to using your tea to create something new?   Now, I have blogged about different uses for tea, including my oh-so-popular tea bag earrings, but there are many uses for tea.   For example, you can cut grease, hydrate your skin, help relieve those bags under your eyes, control odors, use it for cooking…   The possibilities are endless!   What are some of your favorite methods?

With all the scary news about different foods and everything in the news, how can you trust the tea that you buy?

That’s a tough one.   After all, we all want to ensure that our tea is of high quality and will not harm us in any way.   However, due to the ever-useful nature of tea, the FDA has trouble regulating it under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.   After all, tea can be used for cosmetics, health reasons, and as a delightful beverage.   How does one classify it?   Honestly, the best way to go about it is to just purchase tea from a trusted retailer.   You can find tea vendors who are members of The Tea Association of the U.S.A. or research your vendors before you buy.

What is bubble tea?

Bubble tea is amazingness wrapped in awesome wrapped in fantastic.   Bubble tea is a tea-based drink, invented in the 1980s in Taiwan.   The tea is often mixed with a fruit flavor or a milk with tapioca balls, known as pearls or bobas, added to it.   You are then usually given a large straw that can fit the bobas through in order to imbibe your drink of tastiness.   Bubble tea shops are starting to sprout up more and more.   Frozen yogurt restaurants are starting to sell them as well.   I definitely would recommend finding a bubble tea shop by you so you can sample some.

Can you decaffeinate tea by brewing it longer and dumping out the old tea?

According to “Caffeine and Tea: Myth ad Reality” by Nigel Melican, it’s sort of a yes and no.   It really all depends on how long you want to brew your tea.   A study published in Food Research International breaks it down by the numbers:

30 seconds: 9% caffeine removal
1 minute: 18% caffeine removal
2 minutes: 34% caffeine removal
3 minutes: 48% caffeine removal
4 minutes: 60% caffeine removal
5 minutes: 69% caffeine removal
10 minutes: 92% caffeine removal
15 minutes: 100% caffeine removal

So yes, you can remove the caffeine from a tea by brewing it.   However, it depends on how long.   If you want to remove all of it, you’ll need to go a full 15 minutes, which is possible, but if you are looking for a brew to bring with you to work, it isn’t the most appealing option.   However, it is more holistic than some decaffeination methods, which can include chemicals to remove the caffeine.   So, make sure you pick which option you are more comfortable with.

So, those are just a smattering of questions that I received at the Tea Love talk the other day.   Want to know the answer to a question?   Feel free to comment here or write it on my Facebook wall and I will do my best to get you an answer 🙂

The Art Of Tea Leaf Reading

Hello Tea Love readers!

So, the past two weeks have been MAD!   Now, back to work 🙂

First, I want to thank all those who came out for the last Tea Love Talk at the Riverdale Public Library!   We had a huge group and I got to share my birthday gift of a glass tea pot 🙂   Wonderful for showing off my blooming tea.   Handy tip – Check out the events coming up in October.   They all look like a lot of fun.

Second, I have another talk planned for all you lovely guys and gals!   This one is at the Randolph Public Library in Randolph, New Jersey!   Come out on Wednesday, October 16th, 7:00 PM, to learn all the tea basics and sample some great tea 🙂   Please note, this event is open for people 18 years old and older.   Randolph Library card members can register at any time but non-members can register only up to a week prior to the event.   Registration is required.

Come Out For My Next Talk!

Come Out For My Next Talk!

Now, since the Halloween season is upon us and my friends and I are obsessed with Halloween, I thought it would be appropriate to talk a little bit about the art of tasseography, or tea leaf reading.

Now, what is tasseography, exactly?   Tasseography is an ancient art used in ancient Greece, Asia, and the Middle East to look at formations made by coffee, candle wax, and, of course, tea leaves and interpret what they mean, including telling the future.

Tea leaf reading is understandable coming from mankind.   After all, it is a journey into the self that can sometimes seem vague and mysterious.   What better drink to use than a cup of green tea?

Reading tea leaves is also a lot of fun and not terribly hard either.   Tasseography.com details the steps one-by-one:

– Make a cup of tea.   Use a light-colored tea mug or a white mug.   Any type of tea should do the trick for this particular… well, trick.   This even includes a tea bag, though you will need to open the tea bag and use the tea dustings for that particular one

– Brew your tea and meditate.   This is my favorite part of drinking tea anyway.   Why not use it to learn my future?   Just quiet your mind.   Free yourself of any distractions.   Allow the magic of the tea begin

– Find your focus while you drink your tea.   Try not to drink the tea leaves (they tend to not be the best tasting thing in the world).   Use your non-dominant hand to drink the tea.   However, if you are ambidextrous, reach for the tea with whichever hand, stop, then use the other hand.   Keep meditating and figure out what is the most stubborn thought in your mind.   As hard as this may be, you’ll need to leave some tea behind in your tea mug

– Swirl your tea leaves three times, then gently dump them out into a saucer.   Wait three breaths, then turn your mug back around

– Look at the different symbols and record them.   Since tea-leaf readings are very personal, it is like reading an ink blot test.   You’ll need to interpret what is there on your own.   Divide the cup into rim, middle, and base, recording what is in each section in a clockwise motion.   Take your time and record everything

– Do your interpreting.   Again, because this is so personal, you might interpret things differently.   For example, seeing a black cat might instill fear for some but might remind others of a family pet.   To each his or her own.   Write down what each symbol means to you.   The first symbol represents you or someone important in your life.   The symbols you see in the rim apply to moments in time.   The middle section of the tea mug is the near future.   The base of the tea mug represents the ultimate conclusion of your tea leaf reading

Some common symbols are:

ACORN—Continued health—improved health.

ANCHOR—Lucky symbol. Success in business or in love. If blurred or indistinct just the reverse.

HEART—A lover. If close to a ring, marriage to the present lover. If indistinct, the lover is fickle.

HEAVENLY BODIES—(Sun, Moon, Star)—Good luck—great happiness and success.

OWL—Indicates sickness or poverty. Warning against starting a new venture.

PALM TREE —Good omen. Success in any undertaking. Single people learn of marriage. MOON (crescent)—Prosperity, fame. If cloudy, difficulties will be solved.

ELEPHANT—Good Luck—good health—happiness.

TRIANGLES—Unexpected good fortune.

BIRDS—Good Luck. If flying, good news from the direction it comes. If at rest a fortunate journey.

Did you do a reading?   What did you see?

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