Winter visit to Harney & Sons, New York

Whenever we visit NYC, Katie and I love to visit Harney & Sons. The experience is something that we both look forward to every time. This year we visited on a chilly winter day. The perfect type of day to find yourself is a bright and beautiful tea shop. Harney & Sons is such an inviting place, its smells divine and everything is pretty. The walls of tea will never cease to impress me. I just love looking at all the tea varieties stacked up next to one another, all the way up the wall.

Our tea guide was amazing. He knew his stuff about tea and had some deep and hilarious quips for us. He found the perfect teas for each of us: an espresso of tea for Katie and left of weird tea for me. I loved them both, Katie loved hers and agreed that mine was, in fact, weird.

You will see some reviews of these two teas pop up soon.

We didn’t have time to sit for tea and snacks this time around so we ordered some tea to go from the cafe in the back and browsed all of the lovely tea-things while we waited for them to be steeped. Then we were off, with our Harney tea in hand, for more NYC adventures: tacos, shopping, Santacon, Bryant Park and the most delicious Italian tapas in Brooklyn.

Until next time, thanks for the experience Harney & Sons!

Easy Cake decorating

I’ve got a party tip for when you want it to be Pinterest-perfect but…ain’t nobody got time for that. Here’s how to be a shortcut DIY cake decorator.

Go to any craft store and buy pre-made fondant. Go to any grocery store bakery and as for a plain white cake or cake with solid color border. Roll fondant out on a cutting board with a little cornstarch (to keep it from sticking). Use cookie cutters to add names, numbers, or shapes. DONE. Every busy lady needs to know how to DIY a cake with a little help.

I have some tea cup cutters and I’m dying to do a cake up cupcakes with a tea party theme. What would you put on yours?

Review: Bigelow French Vanilla Tea

Overall Rating:

Taste: 3.25 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves — this tea is easy to make!

Katie says:

Tea Type: Loose Leaf
Temperature: boiling
Steeped: 5 minutes
Served: With a splash of milk and honey

This tea is a nice departure from a traditional black tea. It has nice flavor and isn’t too strong or bitter. This would be a good tea for any beginning tea drinkers, particularly tea drinkers that enjoy French Vanilla coffee & coffee creamers as this has a similar taste. I like a really strong back tea. So, if you’re like me, use a smaller mug or add a 2nd bag when making this tea.

Note: This tea contains soy lecithin. I’m not thrilled about this. It just seems unnecessary. As to why, Bigelow says: “We do have some teas that contain a non-GMO soy lecithin in trace amounts. Soy lecithin helps disperse the flavoring into the tea while brewing to ensure consistent flavor throughout the whole cup.” Read the full reply here: https://www.bigelowtea.com/Special-Pages/Customer-Service/FAQs/Tea-and-Herbal-Tea-Ingredients/Do-you-any-of-your-teas-contain-soy-lecithin

While I enjoyed this tea it gets a lower rating from me due to the odd soy ingredient.

Taste: 3 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves — this tea is easy to make!

 

Abby says:

Tea Type: Bagged
Temperature: boiling
Steeped: 5 minutes
Served: Touch of honey

It’s a good thing that Katie is looking out! I totally missed the added mystery ingredient: soy lecithin. Don’t love that it is in my tea. Why? Is it REALLY need? There are so many yummy teas out there that don’t have the extra stuff, why does this one need it.

In terms of taste and flavor, I like this tea. It’s like my version of drinking coffee. I’m never going to drink real coffee, but this tea has the tastes that remind me of the yummy smell of coffee. Coffee is one of those things that I love the smell of, but really dislike the taste. The black tea flavor is prominent and hints of vanilla. Adding a touch of honey added some sweetness and also helped to pull out the vanilla flavor more.

Taste: 3.5 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves — this tea is easy to make!

Review: Bigelow Orange & Spice Herbal Tea

Orange spice

Overall rating:

Taste: 3.5 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea.

Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves — this tea is easy to make!

Abby says:

Temperature: About boiling
Steeped: 5 minutes
Served: Nothing added at first, then some honey

Bigelow Orange & Spice is a great tea for the holiday season. It steeps to a deep cranberry red. Although I don’t have any, it bet it would look wonderfully festive served in a glass tea cup. The flavors in this tea are prefect for the holidays as well, zesty orange and clove. There is no caffeine so break this one out on a cold snowy night. The orange gives it a cheery feel and the spices are warming and festive.

At first, without adding anything to the cup, this tea as too tart for my liking so I added a touch of honey. This reduced the tartness without making it too sweet and helped to bring out the fruity notes from the orange peel.

Taste: 3.5 of 5 leaves  – A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves — this tea is easy to make!

Orange & Spice

Katie says:

Temperature: About boiling

Steeped: 5 minutes +

Served: with honey

Bias, alert. I LOVE this tea…when I have a cold. This is probably the only time I drink it. Poor Orange Spice is relegated to times of stuffy noses. For a cold, you can’t beat warm & citrus and therefore this is THE BEST. It’s not a fancy or complicated tea, but like chicken soul it’s a trusted staple. As Abby said, it’s good at the holidays too, with all the right festive flavor options.

Note 1: on a 2nd steep there is no bright red color but you can still get some flavor. Use only 1/2 cup water and add honey to bring out flavors.

Note 2: This tea contains soy lecithin. I’m not thrilled about this. It just seems unnecessary. As to why, Bigelow says: “We do have some teas that contain a non-GMO soy lecithin in trace amounts. Soy lecithin helps disperse the flavoring into the tea while brewing to ensure consistent flavor throughout the whole cup.” Read the full reply here: https://www.bigelowtea.com/Special-Pages/Customer-Service/FAQs/Tea-and-Herbal-Tea-Ingredients/Do-you-any-of-your-teas-contain-soy-lecithin

While I really enjoy this tea it gets a lower rating from me due to the odd soy ingredient.

Taste: 3.5 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea.

Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves — this tea is easy to make!

Hot TEA Toddy


If your looking for a DIY cure for stuffy noses or just a warm winter drink try our twist on the hot toddy by adding tea!

Ingredients:

2 oz (4 tablespoons) bourbon

1 tablespoon mild honey

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup boiling-hot water

1 teabag (use decaf if you’re sensitive)
Mix the lemon juice, honey,  & bourbon. Microwave for 30 seconds to warm. Steap the tea in 1/2 cup water and then pour over the other ingredients. Optional to garnish with a slice of lemon or cinnamon stick.

Review: Republic of Tea Milk Oolong

 

Sorry folks, I was so busy drinking this tea that I forgot a photo!

Abby says:

Tea type: Loose leaf
Temperature: @200 (just below boiling point)
Steeped: 3-4 minutes
Served: Nothing added

This Republic of Tea Milk Oolong is just so interesting to drink! Don’t worry, it is definitely interesting in a good way! It comes in beautiful little rolled balls of green tea leaves that almost bounce when dropped into the tea strainer of my teapot. As the hot water pours over them the leaves slowly start to unroll themselves as they steep. For a tea nerd, that’s fun to watch!

The presentation of it isn’t the only interesting part about this tea either. The taste is quite something too. It is unlike most teas in that it has a fruity essence with a milky, smooth feel. The tea drinks in a very silky, creamy way and the flavor is bright and complex with hints of fruit and earth. It you are looking for something a little different, give this one a try.

Taste: 4.5 of 5 leaves – Outstanding! A MUST try.
Steepability: 4 of 5 leaves — this tea requires very little effort

Mimi’s muffins 

Mimi makes a good muffin! We got her to share the recipe. Try these out, they taste just like the fancy bakery muffins!

Ingredients:

1 1/3 sticks butter
2 2/3 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 c. blueberries
1 1/3 c sugar
3 eggs
3/4 c whole milk
1 T vanilla

Zest of 1 lemon
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. Butter 12 Texas sized muffin cups and dust with flour. In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. Hold a sieve over the bowl and toss blueberries with a few tsp of the flour mixture to coat and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, use paddle attachment and beat butter and sugar on med till light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time scraping bowl between each addition. Mix in vanilla and lemon zest.
Add half the flour on low, add milk and combine, then finish with remaining flour. Do not over beat. Fold in blueberries with spatula and divide batter between muffin cups.
Bake until muffins are golden and cake tester comes out clean. In most ovens about 25-30 minutes. Cool pans on wire rack about 10 minutes, then turn the muffins onto their sides in the cups to cool.
* adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe

Review: The Spice and Tea Exchange Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea

Spice and Tea Exchange

Overall Rating:

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves – Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 3 of 5 leaves — this tea is a bit delicate.

Abby says:

Tea Type: Loose leaf tea
Temperature: @ 200 (about boiling)
Steeped: 5 minutes
Served: Nothing added

This tea smells and tastes like my favorite thing about Indian food – complex flavor! The turmeric is savory, earthy, and, of course, reminiscent of curry. The ginger adds a hint of sweet and spice. The spice from the ginger warms the tongue and mouth without being hot. At the end of each sip is an interesting and very sweet after taste. Love this tea for a chilly fall night – it will warm you up and it’s caffeine free!

Give this tea a try if you are looking for something different from what you typically find, especially, if you like the idea of blending savory and sweet.

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves – Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 3 of 5 leaves — this tea is a bit delicate.

Spice and Tea Exchange

Katie says:

Tea Type: Loose leaf tea
Temperature: @ 200 (about boiling)
Steeped: 5 minutes
Served: With a touch of honey.


I like this tea a lot, but I think it could easily seem medicinal to some. It has a strong yellow color and heavy turmeric and ginger flavor. That being said, turmeric is amazing good for you! Check out this link: 

https://medium.com/forever-young/science-confirms-that-turmeric-as-effective-as-14-drugs-9547edc0073b#.2a4d8stbk

Even if it’s only half as good at the link claims it’s certainly worth a try! I had horrible heartburn while pregnant and this tea really helped.

Like Abby said, if you love Indian foods & spices this is a must try. However, be prepared for a strong Spice taste that it quite different for traditional teas. 

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves – Quite a good cuppa!

Steepability: 3 of 5 leaves — this tea is a bit delicate.

Sparkling half & half

It may be fall, with these cool nights, but the summer daytime weather isn’t over! Get out in the sunshine and enjoy a sparking 1/2 & 1/2!

Ingredients:

6oz sparkling water, try a polar flavored water for extra taste and endless flavor combos 

6 oz iced tea, I used a green tea

1 tablespoon country time pink lemonade mix

In this recipe the water and lemon aid mix become the lemonade half and the tea is the other half. Half and half is a classic summer drink and this is a fun twist on the classic. Fancy it up and make it sparking! This is great for parties or any old Tuesday!

Review: Tazo Earl Grey

Tazo Earl Grey

Overall Rating:

Taste: 3.5 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea.

Steepability: 5 of 5 — this tea is easy to make!

Abby says:

Temperature: @212 (about boiling point)
Steeped: 5 minutes, then left in mug for the second steep
Served: Nothing added

The category of Earl Grey tea is so interesting to me because there are some Ealry Grey teas that I just love and could drink all day, everyday, then there are others that I would skip altogether. Tazo Earl Grey falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. It isn’t my favorite, but it still tastes pretty good and right away from the aroma and the taste you can tell right away that it is, in fact, and Earl Grey tea. The black tea flavor in this tea is good, nice and strong and the bergamot adds an herbal and mildly sweet note. This tea is great to grab on the go, but wont make the cut for an Earl grey connoisseur.

Taste: 3 of 5 leaves  – A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 5 of 5 — this tea is easy to make!

Tazo Earl Grey

Katie says:

Temperature: @212 (about boiling point)

Steeped: 5 minutes

Served: As a “tea latte” meaning foamy cappuccino milk and a little sweetener.
A tazo earl grey tea latte is one of my go-to Starbucks drinks. The foam makes me feel fancy yet the caffine content is much lower than coffee. I quite like this earl grey! I find tazo teas to be very dependable (awake is my fav) and whenever I see them offered at a restaurant I’m excited to be getting the good stuff. Note: don’t over steep or the bergamot in this tea will start to make it taste like perfume. 

Want to make a tea latte at home? All you need is one of these for your milk:


Taste: 4 of 5 leaves – Quite a good cuppa.

Steepability: 5 of 5 — this tea is easy to make!