Decadent Hot Chocolate to welcome in December

Each December my babydoll and I like to welcome in the month of festivities by taking out the holiday themed mugs and making a decadent Hot Chocolate. Last year my holiday mug was destroyed in the great crockery smash of 2021 so this year I have a new mug. One side is the Naughty Grinch and the other side is the Nice Grinch. Oddly the smile on the nice Grinch makes me think he’s up to something more than the smile on the Naughty side but that might just be me.

The mug is significantly larger and although I used it to measure my amounts this year, as I always do, it was so rich that I could only drink half of it. However there was no waste as the left over went into the fridge and the next day was sent spinning through the blend jet with some ice to make a cold, yet still decadent treat.

Make no mistake, this is a calorie bomb. It is a good once in a while treat though. Although in the future I will be using a regular sized mug for it and keeping this enormous holiday one for tea or maybe a hot toddy. It is simply too big for this much dairy.

So on to the ingredients…

All of my ingredients are measured based on the size of the mug I am using. Remember that milk and cream expand when heated so leave some space or you will have an overflow.

You will need…

  • equal parts milk and cream (or almond milk and coconut cream, just adjust the sugar level as I find both almond milk and coconut cream to be sweet)
  • white (castor) sugar to taste (I go with 2 T for regular milk and cream, less with the almond and coconut)
  • Cocoa Powder (I like the Mexican Cocoa mix for that because I like the cinnamon mixed in, if not using add pinch of cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg with a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper)
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of vanilla
  • dash cream of Cacao

Heat the milk and cream (or Almond and coconut) on low/med heat in a non reactive pot (Go with a pot that is larger than you think you need as the dairy will rise up as it heats and you don’t want to overflow). Once the dairy mix is warm, mix in the sugar and hot chocolate mix. If not using a Mexican Cocoa Mix add in your spices too. Whisk to combine and add in the pinch of salt and the dash of vanilla. The salt actually makes the coco sweeter. It’s a nifty taste trick actually.

When the mix is hot, pour it into your mug. Then add a dash of the cream de Cacao. It won’t make it taste alcoholic, it will just deepen the chocolate flavor. If you don’t consume alcohol, feel free to leave it out The dash I used for this giant mug probably equaled about one tablespoon. In an eight ounce mug I tend to drop it down to a single tea spoon. It really is there more for the chocolate enhancement rather than the alcohol.

I will say that if I don’t have Mexican Hot Chocolate and don’t add the spices I will also add a drop of peppermint schnapps. The mint will keep the chocolate from being too cloying. which is what the spices do in the Mexican mix. Again if you don’t want to use alcohol, I would recommend taking one of those soft round peppermints and putting one in the bottom of the mug before pouring the hot chocolate into the mug. The heat will melt the mint (use the soft kind) and give you the same peppermint effect.

This is a decadent treat and not something that I would recommend having often. In fact we will have this at the beginning of December and then once again on Christmas eve. I know it looks plain on the surface, without all of the extra visual trimmings, but the taste is really something special. And every now and again, a decadent treat is called for.

Afternoon Tea: English Breakfast from Art of Tea

This my darlings is the last tea from the Sampler pack of teas from The Art of Tea that I will be trying.  Some of you may be doing some quick math in your heads and realizing that this is only the sixth tea I have tried from this selection of eight.

Look at you go with your memory and math.

The reason I won’t be trying the last two remaining teas is bergamot.  

Bergamot and I are not good friends. 

While there are occasional perfumes that incorporate it that I can tolerate, I can not drink it.  First of all it smells like perfume.  Which in my book is reason enough not to consume it.  Second, I have a slight allergy to it so my body doesn’t like it any more than my palette. Both my babydoll and my mother love it so the tea will not go to waste, I simply won’t be the one enjoying it.  

The English Breakfast tea of today is black tea.  That’s it.  That is the entire ingredient’s list.  One of the other remaining teas is black tea with bergamot oil and the other is black tea, bergamot oil and one other thing.  So This English Breakfast tea is similar, it just doesn’t contain any of the things I don’t like.  

I do really like black tea.  One set of my grandparents had it for breakfast every day and throughout the day while the other side consumed buckets of coffee.  Both scents are comforting to me and I enjoy the taste.  Herbal teas were used when there was some sort of ailment.  Peppermint teas settled a stomach ache while other tea blends were used for colds, fevers, headaches and other things.  There was always the collection of jars of dried herbs in the pantry for just such occasions and my family tended to reach for them before any store bought remedies.  

While I no longer just associate the scent of herbal tea with illness and ailments, I still find the scent of a good black tea comforting.  And this is a good black tea.  It is kind of interesting to describe actually.  Black tea smells like black tea.  It is one of those things that other things get compared to, like coffee or the taste of chicken.  It is a standard familiar taste and smell.  It is simply black tea.  It is breakfast with my grandparents and the scent of it makes me long for a soft boiled egg with toast soldiers.  

This tea brewed up black and strong and made a 12 ounce cup of tea.  I found it delightful and somehow more fresh than many of the black teas that I can get where I live. The last time I bought black tea from the grocery store it tasted old.  I don’t think it gets a lot of turn over throughout the year.  So for me, this is a good alternative and something that I will be ordering in the future.  Because having the means for a simply good cup of tea on hand is always a good idea.  Even if I still want the soft boiled egg to go with it.

For those looking to stock up on this or any other of the fabulous teas they offer The Art of Tea has a 25% off sale going on with the code BFCM2022.

Afternoon Tea: Pacific Coast Mint from The Art of Tea

I have been slowly working my way through the Starter Kit Box of teas from The Art of Tea. This Pacific coast Mint is the fifth tea out of this mixed pack of eight tea bags. The first tea I pulled out of the box was one that I had wanted to try for a while. The other three were more or less picked because they interested me.

I intended to pick the teas out of the sampler box at random, but instead I went for the ones I was ninety percent certain that I would like. And all four of the ones I tried prior I loved. This Pacific Coast Mint was one that I wasn’t really sold on.

I love peppermint. I actually adore almost anything peppermint. I stock up on peppermint scented products as soon as they are available each winter. I am pretty sure that my love of plumping lipstick is mostly because they usually smell of peppermint. I also grow peppermint and each year we dry bunches of it and drink it through the winter. It is my favorite thing to drink when my stomach is feeling a little unsettled actually. Not only is it great when you are sick, but it really helps with digestion and settling a belly too full of rich holiday foods.

Do you know what I don’t like?

Spearmint.

I absolutely despise spearmint.

The two ingredients in this Pacific Coast Mint are organic peppermint and organic spearmint.

So you can see why I was a little on the fence. Luckily my babydoll likes both. So I made up the tea when he was home. This blend is listed as sharp and smooth as well as caffeine free. The teabag, when taken out of the pouch was predominantly of spearmint. When brewed according to the suggested time, the scent mellowed out. The peppermint rose and the spearmint faded back a little.

I took a sip of the tea and found it was far to spearmint in flavor for me. So I passed it to my babydoll to drink the rest of the cup. After all what may not be to my taste may be to his and we order things for both of our palettes. I will say that the taste was both sharp and smooth in flavor from my taste.

My babydoll’s take on it was that it was a good blend of the two mints and was a good mint tea. I asked him if he would like me to order a canister of it and he said that if we didn’t grow our own mint it would be a good mint to order. Because we do grow and harvest our own mint (mostly because we planted it in a small bed and it ended up taking over completely so it is harvest the mint or watch it take over the world) this is not something we would order.

If you don’t grow your own mint and like both peppermint and spearmint then this might be a tea for you. we grow peppermint and I don’t like spearmint so this is a tea I will pass along to someone else. My babydoll will drink it if it is here, but we will not be adding a canister to our order.

Holiday Shopping Guide: The Art of Tea

Once again we delve into the gifting possibilities for the season, this time with the Art of Tea. As you are probably aware I have been working my way through the Tea Discovery Kit (pictured above). It comes with eight sachets of varying blends in an adorable wooden box. The Tea Travel bundle is the Discovery kit with a travel tumbler.

Thus far i have tried out four of the eight teas in the package and really enjoyed all of them. My two favorites have been the White Coconut Creme which i think would make a fantastic tea to serve with a desert at the end of a long meal and the Matcha which was just a stunning tea.

For those interested in Matcha and wanting to get either more traditional with it, or provide something just a little bit extra special for the matcha lover on your holiday list, there are several options. You can purchase the matcha teabags, or a canister of the ceremonial style of Matcha tea. There are even at home ceremonial matcha mixing bowls and whisks for those looking for an elevated experience.

there are travel tumblers and on the go Matchasticks as well that look like very interesting gifts, and to be honest as much as I adore the ceremonial bowls (and really any pottery), I am looking at the glass tumbler for day to day use. in addition to the glass tumblers for an elevated travel experience, The Art of Tea also has various tea accoutrements like glassware, tea strainers, mugs and tea sets. All well worth looking into.

There are of course holiday bundles as well. Sets that offer a few holiday themed teas not available during the rest of the year and delightful additions to the holiday. White Winter Chai, Butterscotch, pumpkin pie and Dark chocolate peppermint. I picked up a canister of it last year and I would be remiss if i just stuck to the teas. I brought a canister of it home with me last Christmas and it was a big hit. At our house we always used to have hot chocolate spiked with peppermint schnapps for the holidays. while we still do, there are a lot of people who either don’t or can’t drink alcohol. Last Christmas we had three pregnant ladies and one older gentleman who’s prescriptions prohibited consumption. I actually preferred it as it had the peppermint I wanted, but it didn’t have the alcohol tang to it. The tea was also a little bit lighter. I should confess I also added whipped cream for the richness.

This year while I will be picking up a cannister of the dark chocolate peppermint, I will probably also pick up the Apple Pie Blend. I have a fondness for the warming spices of the season. I love that you can buy the cannisters either separately or in bundles. I have several people on my list who love the holiday teas and I am always looking for a good hostess gift that is an alternative to wine. For me one of these holiday canisters with a bow on it is a great alternative hostess gift to that bottle of wine. For the past few years there haven’t been as many gatherings but this year it seems like everyone is making up for it. so having a few ready to go gifts is never a bad thing at this time of year.

Of course for the gift that keeps on giving, you can’t beat The Art of Tea’s Tea Club. It is a a monthly subscription. You can choose the frequency (3, 6 or 12 months) as well as the caffeine level, and style (tea bag, looseleaf). It is a really good subscription and I have purchased it for relatives in the past. It is especially useful if you have the relatives who are either trying not to accumulate more things in their houses or who live far away. The two people I generally get this for live on the other side of the country and don’t really travel any more. This is a gift I can get sent to them with no trouble. In addition it isn’t just a holiday gift as it keeps coming throughout the year. It is a great way to make sure someone knows they aren’t forgotten once the holiday ends. It also increases communication as I generally get a phone call as soon as the package arrives. (My great Aunt Olive insists on calling me as soon as the box comes in, then opening each bag, sniffing it and telling me what time of day the blend would be perfect for. Come to think of it, I do the same thing with the blends i pick up. so I suppose it is either a family trait or some sort of learned family habit. either way, it is a gift I know she will enjoy.

If you have a tea drinker on your list, whether they are a long term tea aficionado or someone just beginning to dabble in the wild world of teas, it is well worth taking a look at the holiday sets and blends of the year when making out your gift list. While I know there are a few I will be getting this year, i also know that i will be picking up several cannisters just to take with me as hostess gifts once the holiday celebrations begin. They are just handy to have around and i know that with as much tea as we drink in this house if any of them don’t get handed out, we will always happily use them ourselves.

Afternoon Tea: Matcha from The Art of Tea

When I was little we had a family friend who made Matcha flavored gelato. At the time Matcha wasn’t something that was very common or well known. It wasn’t something you could get at Starbucks. Of course since this was the early 1980s Starbucks was still something you could only get in Seattle (I think their first location outside Seattle was in 1987).

For me this was an eye opening experience. While I liked the occasional sweet as much as any other kid, there were a lot of things that i always found too sweet for my taste. This Matcha Gelato was delicately flavored. The gelato part was rich and creamy but the mix was only lightly sweetened. The grassy notes came through and I thought it was amazing. She made it only once a year and it was a treat that i always looked forward to when she brought it over. Each portion was a small rounded mound of gelato served in a small blue porcelain bowl that I’m pretty sure spent the rest of the year being used to serve soy sauce.

Time of course passes and not only did Starbucks spread through out the land (and many others) Matcha became much more available and began turning up everywhere. In many places where it is served cold, it is also served far too sweet for me to enjoy and so I switched to the hot version.

After being introduced to Matcha in gelato, it took me a little while to adjust to the flavor in a hot beverage, but now it is one of my favorite teas.

This Matcha from the Art of Tea came in the Sampler kit i am working my way through and contains just two ingredients: Organic Matcha and Organic Sencha Green Tea. It is listed as having a bright grassy flavor and medium caffeine. For me the medium caffeine is the perfect level for an afternoon treat. It is enough of a pick me up, but not enough to make me feel jittery.

the flavor nots are spot on it has those clean grassy notes that i love so much. With only a one minute brew time it was a quick and easy treat. After a sip of the Matcha tea straight, I added a pinch of sugar and a dash of cream. The additions were enough to take me back to that first Matcha Flavored Gelato, although with far fewer calories.

While I appreciated the flight of memory, the slight additions made me think of the gelato and so the cup of tea felt like so much more substantial and decadent. While I would definitely enjoy this tea as simply as an undoctored cup of tea, I did enjoy the touch of sweetness and creaminess. Although to be honest, a part of me wants to get several packets of this tea and break out my gelato recipe and infuse the cream with the matcha from the Art of Tea, recreating a childhood favorite. As a hot tea or a later gelato infusion, I can honestly say I will be ordering this tea again. I may even order the matcha tumbler or even the ceremonial matcha set they have on offer on the Art of Tea site. While the Ceremonial set plays into my love of glassware, I really do think the double glass walled tumbler with the on the go matcha packets will also be a purchase in my near future.

Tea Time with Green Pomegranate from The Art of Tea

You know, there are several things I like about having an afternoon tea during the work day. First off is that the tea gives me a moment of quiet calm to reflect on how the day is going and to look at my schedule. While the tea steeps I can look over my to do list and see what still needs to be done and prioritize the remainder of my afternoon.

In addition, because I don’t really add much, if anything to my tea, it is a very low cal way to fill me up to keep me from snacking mid afternoon. Some afternoons there are snacks, but on the afternoons when i have tea, I tend to skip them as I am full of tea.

I also like having that something warm when it is cold and blustery outside and as the weather is once again leaning away from summer, I think I am going to enjoy that even more.

Plus I get to use some of the pottery and china I haven’t used in a while. (I couldn’t find my exact teapot for sale, but the English Tea shop does have plenty of sets of tea for one if you are interested. They are on sale and were the place with the most variety that I found when I went looking for a version of mine) Today’s pot and cup combo was actually perfect for The Art of Tea’s Green Pomegranate blend. The pot sits on top of the cup making it nice and neat for desk top use.

This Green Pomegranate Tea Blend is described as…

TASTING NOTES: FRESH, SWEET, TART

Sweeten your senses with a tart and tangy rush to the palate from this pomegranate green tea. Select organic green tea is hand tossed in a large wok, dried to perfection, then carefully blended with organic raspberries and essence of pomegranate.

*Due to global supply chain shortages, we are currently unable to source raspberry bits, and therefore, are not able to include raspberry bits in this blend. Please note that the flavor profile will remain unchanged and that we will return to our original recipe as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding and patience.

The Art of Tea

So alas, my blend did not have raspberry bits in it, however, it did have the distinct taste of raspberry. In fact, the dry tea back smelled very much of raspberry. What was interesting is as the tea steeped, notes of pomegranate began to rise. when I poured out the first cup, the tea smelled of both of the fruits and I thought that it was going to be a little sweet.

It has a tiny bit of fruity sweetness, but the pomegranate has that tart taste to it. The raspberry seemed to provide the greener notes. It was more like the scent you get from raspberry leaves than the actual fruit. While I drank my cup plain today, I could see where a little dab of honey would be a good addition to the cup. We have a local honey in our pantry right now that I think would be a little too strong of a taste to blend with this mix. I think it might over power it. I think a honey from the spring, maybe orange or apple blossom based, would probably work best with this mix. i would again keep the additions light with just a tiny drop of honey though.

I don’t know where you are but here, the spring honey is lighter in taste than the summer honey is. I think yours may depend on what grows in your area (and when). I know the Art of tea sells honey sticks, but I haven’t actually tried them. I love honey sticks and our local producer has honey sticks in the spring and not later in the summer, so I usually stock up then, but I ran out actually. (we also use a lot of honey when we are sick and this summer’s bout of covid sort of knocked out our honey stash as we tried to combat sore throats.)

I didn’t add anything to today’s tea and I really did enjoy the tart, almost dry taste that was left on my tongue. I know that is a strange way to describe it but with really tart fruits, like pomegranate I always seem to have an almost dry sensation on my tongue after consuming. This tea produced that. I know this tea was supposed to have raspberry bits and I think that if they were added it would give this tea blend a sweetness rather than the greenness of the leaves. While I am sure I would like it, I really enjoyed this cup. while the Coconut Crème I can see myself serving for desert, this Green Pomegranate is the sort of fruity but not overly sweet type of tea that I prefer. And at only medium caffeine, it won’t make me jittery as I go back to work this afternoon. All in all a good, well rounded tea blend.

Tea time with White Coconut Crème

Good morning my darlings. I am slowly working my way through the At home starter Kit from The Art of Tea. It has eight sachets of tea. While I was planning on choosing them randomly, I will admit that the first tea I pulled from this box this time around heavily featured bergamot.

If you’ve read these posts for any length of time you know I am not a huge bergamot fan. In fact I am fairly certain I have a bit of an allergy to it. I can drink it but the scent of it makes me sneeze – a lot.

my 12 oz teapot

However my babydoll loves bergamot, as does my mother. So the ones featuring bergamot i will brew when he is around, take a sip to see about taste and then pass it off to him for descriptions. which should prove interesting because if he likes something that is different from normal he rates it as Fancy, but nice. If he doesn’t like it he seems to call it old lady fancy. which more or less means that it is something his grandmother would like but he doesn’t. I’ll try to get better descriptors out of him, but for today I chose something not bergamot related.

I will also admit that I really wanted to try this one. It is the White Coconut Crème. On the Art of Tea Website this tea is described as …

Steep a lively cup of our White Coconut Crème on the go with our eco-friendly, biodegradable pyramid sachets. This sweet, creamy fusion is a hand-blended mixture of white tea, organic coconut, and other botanicals for a smooth sip.

This product contains the following allergenic ingredient(s): Coconut

The Art of Tea

One sachet will give you 8-12 ounces and I have a small teapot that holds about 12 ounces of tea. It also has two four ounce cups so it feels like a lot of tea, especially if you are the one drinking it.

the small spoon I dipped into honey

while I do gravitate more towards coffee first thing in the morning I really do like various teas. In addition to being delicious, I find they are a great way to fill me up for few calories. Especially if I know I shouldn’t eat but feel the need to because I’m taking a mid afternoon break, or watching television. Tea is very filling with very few calories. In general I do take my tea plain with few additives. However sometimes I will add a little sweetener.

Today i brewed the tea for three minutes and then poured out. I didn’t think of the dark cup interior until i poured. The tea has almost no color. At first I thought I hadn’t steeped it long enough, but as I poured the scent of creamy coconut reached my nose.

many of you my be thinking of my coconut complaints of yore. We went through a time where it seemed everything was scented with faux coconut and while I don’t mind he scent it got to be a bit much. I actually like to eat coconut and I like actual coconut flavored things. It was just the endless parade of coconut scented products that got to me.

with nothing added to it, this tea had a creamy coconut scent to it. The ingredients are Organic White Tea, Organic Safflower, Organic Cornflower, Organic Coconut, Natural and Artificial Flavors *Contains tree nuts (Coconut). That’s it. the full ingredients list. And to be honest, I tasted creamy coconut and nothing else. It is a light flavor, almost more scent than taste. I added a tiny bit of honey after my first few sips and it was amazing. I didn’t add a lot, basically I took a small tea spoon and dipped it in the honey jar. I didn’t scoop, just drizzled.

this was a blend that responded really well to just a little extra sweetness. while I enjoyed this tea immensely, I could see it becoming a real treat for guests. If making a pot for more than just myself I would use more than one tea bag (although one bag for 12 oz seems about right.) As a gest treat I would serve it with honey and possibly a little dish of coconut cream. I think that would make it feel like an absolutely decadent treat. i would still serve it in smaller glasses but the dip of honey and small bit of coconut cream would make this feel almost like a desert in itself. If served with a slice of banana bread it would be absolutely delicious.

While I would simply get this tea for myself to drink with a touch of honey for a personal treat, I think this would shine as a holiday treat for company exceedingly well. whenever we have company there is always that time when someone wants a little something between meal times. This White Coconut Crème Tea from the Art of Tea would fit nicely into that slot. It is certainly something I will be thinking about adding to my list when I put together my company’s coming list.

Tea Time with Bright Eyed from The Art of Tea

I recently purchased The At Home Starter Kit from The Art of Tea. It contains eight sachets of teas many of them I might not have purchased on my own as I tend to stick to my favorite tried and true blends. But I do love trying out new things and in addition with holiday gifting (along with a boat load of winter birthdays) coming up sampling new teas not only allows me to stretch and try new things but it also lets me potentially find flavor profiles that I think might be suitable for others.

And you know I love a good sampler. Whether it is lipstick, perfume, beef jerky or tea samplers will always get me to try something new. I think it is simply because it is there. I might not have ordered the item on it’s own but because it is already there because it is in the sample kit, i will try it. I have found several favorite new things this way. Of course I have also found several things I need never try again this way, but thus far the good has managed to outweigh the bad.

And so we start with the sampling of the first tea in the box. I’ll be honest, i reached in and pulled one out randomly rather than selecting deliberately. The sachet i pulled is for a blend called Bright Eyed. While the name is on one side, all of the pertinent are on the other.

This is a caffeine free tisane blend that requires 8 oz of water and a five to seven minute steeping time. So I put it in a tea cup rather than a small teapot. The flavor notes are Earthy, Savory and Spice. I deliberately did not read the ingredients list until after I brewed the tea and took a sip.

The tea bag is a pyramid teabag that is eco friendly and contains no plastic whatsoever. And actually I tend to put the tea bags from The Art of Tea in my compost when I am finished with them. The bag takes a little while to degrade but by the time the compost is ready to be used the bag is degraded enough to mix in with no problems as we add it to the garden. And I am always happy to remove an item from the trash, no matter how small.

It all adds up.

When dry, the tea smells of cinnamon and ginger. Once the bag is wet the cinnamon and ginger die back a bit scent wise and there is a sharp note that rises. It is a little earthy and I could easily see why the descriptors Earthy, savory and spice were used as the scents seem to confirm that.

I let the tea steep seven minutes and then I drank it plain. Seven minutes seemed like the right brew strength for me. when drinking it, my tongue began to prickle with spice. It was very much a black pepper feel even though there was no black pepper taste to the blend. It tasted of warm slices like cinnamon and ginger but there was that prickle that you only really get with black pepper.

After that first sip I looked at the ingredients and saw that there are five ingredients total in the blend. Cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, sarsaparilla and black peppercorn. All are organic. And none were surprising. I missed the turmeric but there was a slightly sweet taste to the blend that I think might have been the sarsaparilla. It is a very mind sweetness. All in all I did rather enjoy the blend although i think that if I do have this tisane blend again, I would add a little drizzle of honey to the cup. Not a lot, just a tiny dab to counter act some of the prickling of the pepper on the tongue. I found it pleasant, but a little too intense for my liking. I think the honey would tame that a little and make this a brew I would certainly look forward to drinking again.

Which is a little surprising to me as I don’t think I would pick this out on my own. But as I said before, that is the beauty of of a sampler pack While i would probably not have bought this on it’s own, now I know I enjoy it enough to purchase.


The Fall and Holiday Tea Blends are now available at the Art of Tea. Personally I love the Apple Pie blend. It is delicious and so many fewer calories than a full slice of apple pie. It is a warm and delicious holiday treat.

Shop your favorite Fall & Holiday tea blends online at Art of Tea today!

A sampling of Tea from The Art of Tea

It is that time of year again. The weather is turning and I start thinking out my gift giving list. While I was a summer baby and born in June, most of my family was born in the winter. From November to February we will have most of the familial birthdays to cover a well as the major gift giving holidays.

And so the planning begins.

One of the things I like to do around this time of year is to get sampler packs and discovery kits. At this point in my life I kind of know the taste profiles of most of the family and in my family, tea is always a good option. Items like the At Home Tea Starter Kit are perfect for trying out a variety of teas.

While I have ordered tea from The Art of Tea before, and in fact gave a subscription to their Tea Club as a gift to an older family member who informed all of us that she had accumulated more than enough knickknacks and if we felt it necessary to give her any sort of gift at all we should make sure it was one that wouldn’t collect dust. She has since passed on but she adored the subscription for several years.

My purchases tend to be the seasonal ones. In the spring I always purchase their limited run of cherry tea when it becomes available. but because I only purchase canisters of things I know I like, there are wide selections of their teas that I have never tried. And so I picked up the At home Tea Starter Kit. The Kit costs $24.99 and contains eight sachets in a nifty wooden box. To be honest i will be reusing the box to continue to store tea bags in it once I have worked my way through this selection of teas. It is quite a handy container.

I will be working my way through these teas and posting an afternoon tea post for them as I do. However this post is about the kit rather than the individual teas. The eight teas in the box are a wide selection of offered teas from The Art of Tea.

I really love the details on the individual pouches. On one side the name of the tea is clearly given so that if you like it and want to re order it is easy to find. On the flip side there are the details of the tea itself. For example the White Coconut Crème. If you flip the packet of tea over, the package will tell you it is a white tea blend. Creamy, smooth and Sweet with Medium Caffeine levels. It then tells you the recommended amount of water for the sachet, the temperature of the water and the recommended steeping time. Then all of the ingredients are listed.

the information displayed and easy to find

I love that the levels of caffeine are listed. For me tea is an afternoon treat. While the mornings are for coffee, in the afternoons sometimes I want a little pick me up with caffeine and sometimes I just want a warm beverage to sip. The wanting a warm beverage to sip in the afternoon increases as the weather turns colder and being able to choose easily a tea blend without caffeine when I don'[t need any extra boost is really handy.

The teas in this Starter kit range from zero caffeine to medium caffeine and each is clearly marked. The teas included in my kit are: White Coconut Crème, Pacific Coast Mint, Matcha, Bright Eyed, Earl Gray Crème, Green Pomegranate, English Breakfast, And Earl Gray. Some of the flavor profiles are familiar to me, others will be entirely new experiences.

While this is a very practical side to the packets, I absolutely adore the flavor notes for each blend. It is a bit like wine or even perfume. I can imagine the flavor profiles as I look through the packets and decide what suits my taste buds for the moment. I do like taking a little extra time with my afternoon tea. I walk past the mugs that I use for both coffee and regular black tea and take out a cup and a saucer. I take my time with the selection and then enjoy the process of brewing steeping and then drinking the tea. It is a way to create a special moment in my day.

I am eagerly looking forward to trying out each and every one of these teas. I know I will derive pleasure from the trial, but it will also help me to determine what sets of teas I will be slipping into stockings this Christmas or giving as gifts for my list of upcoming winter birthdays. So for me it is a two in one sort of deal. I get to try out something new, possibly finding a new favorite for myself and I can purchase gifts with confidence knowing that the profile of the tea will fit the person. Admittedly I already know two people who are just going to get one of these At Home Starter Tea Kit as like me, they like to experiment. My seasonal gift planning is off to a great start.

Let’s talk tea…

As you know from previous posts this week, I have felt a bit under the weather this week. While I am feeling better, when I feel badly I gravitate towards tea. Now it isn’t my normal tea. When I am feeling well I tend to go for flavored blends, usually from the Art of Tea. They have so many mixes that I absolutely love. However those are the relax and savor sorts of teas.

And that is not what today’s post is about. Not that these two teas aren’t absolutely delicious and nice to drink on a cold winter’s day when you are curled up with a book. But they are the teas I reach for when I am feeling under the weather and need something comforting while I fill my body with fluids.

You will notice that one is caffeinated and one is not. I am used to a certain amount of coffee in my day, but when I don’t feel well coffee can be a little bit acidic. Still sometimes, a little boost of caffeine isn’t a bad thing.

The first tea I reach for though is the Twinings Lemon and Ginger Herbal tea. With just a drop of honey it is the perfect beverage for when you feel under the weather. The lemon is bright and the ginger is just a bit sharp which means that I can actually taste it even when my nose is clogged. Adding the honey makes it feel both comforting and slightly medicinal. (My grandmother used to but a lemon slice with honey in hot water for me to drink when I was sick as a kid).

Now the Blackberry Tea from Impra is a new addition to my pantry. I came across it in a store and thought, I like blackberry. I decided to take a chance on it. Usually I find blackberry teas very disappointing. Most of them are herbal blends and they feel more like a generic herbal tea that might have once seen a blackberry. The Impra is a little different. It is good quality black tea that tastes very strongly of blackberry. Not only is the flavor really nice, but because the black berry has a slight sweetness to it, less sugar or honey needs to be added to the cup. In fact I just steep the bag in water and don’t bother adding anything else. In addition, it is really great as Iced tea. When serving it cold though the natural sweetness dims so you need to add it back in a bit before you chill it.

The blackberry tea from Impra is also good for making sun tea. With that, I do add sugar and a few slices of lemon. It makes a fantastic summer treat. Right now, these are my top two teas for when I feel bad. The Twinings does see a lot of winter use, and I am sure the Impra will this winter as well, but it is also a fantastic summer blend. If you are a fan of blackberry, I highly recommend it. Good black tea and a fantastic blackberry flavor, it is hard to beat.