Tea time!

Tea. The magical beverage of wonder–You have it hot, or iced, or sweet, or bitter, with or without milk, with tapioca bubbles, over rice, mixed with alcohol, mixed with lemonade…! Tea is honestly my best friend, and with all the studies relating green tea to weight loss, there’s little reason not to drink tea.

I will admit, green tea is my favorite. It is the one with the most known health benefits, and there are so many varieties, it’s easy to find a kind you like. I have two green teas in my ‘Tea Shelf’ at the moment–one is Lipton’s Orange, Passion Fruit and Jasmine Green Tea, and the other is Bigelow’s Green Constant Comment. I love them both. Constant Comment comes in two varieties, green and black, and both are lovely for a morning tea in the fall and winter, where the warm, spicy tea works best to wake you up and get you ready for the day. The Lipton variety I have is a perfect afternoon cuppa, and it’s delicious iced with a little bit of agave nectar for extra sweetness.

My eighth birthday was a tea party. I invited the girls to get all dressed up, and we decorated lavender sachets, drank tea from my mom’s gorgeous teacup collection, and played board games in our delicate lace gloves. It was loads of fun. Additionally, in the five or six years when my best friends came over every Wednesday after school, my mom would always let us drink tea from the nice teacups before we did our homework.

In all that time, I’ve sort of ‘acquired’ some tea tips:

  • Black, mint, and herb teas are better sweetened with sugar, fruit teas are better sweetened with honey or agave. My favorite tea is Bigelow’s Plantation Mint, which is spearmint and black tea, and I’ve discovered that it just tastes better with real sugar. It brings out the mint better than honey does. Green teas, on the other hand, plus my Chamomile tea, are lovely with honey, which has a softer sweetness to it.
  • When heating water for tea, don’t use a whistling kettle. It completely boils the water before it whistles, and boiling water makes tea taste sort of dull. Maybe it cooks the tea before it steeps it or something, but it’s just not as flavorful. I use an old kettle that I remember using as a kid for years. When wisps of steam start to make their way up the spout, it’s ready. The water is steaming, it’s heated enough. You get–shock!–a steaming cup of tea, without it being boiling hot. How novel.
  • Steep your tea in a teapot, even if you only plan on drinking one cup. The stacking single-serve teapot/cup sets are lovely for this. It makes it easier to get another cup if you decide you want one (and I always want another, even if I don’t want to want another), instead of pouring more hot water in a mug with a mostly spent tea bag.

I could prattle on about tea for ages. I’ve got seven boxes of tea in my room at the moment, about evenly distributed across the spectrum of tea varieties. I might have to list and ‘review’ them one day soon. Fall is coming–it’s almost Tea Season!


Quick, Short-Wait Refrigerator Pickles!

A few days ago, I posted about testing out a pickle recipe I found at Tasty-Yummies.com. I made the pickles three days ago now, and my roommate and I finally cracked open a jar and had at them.

First, let me say that I am thoroughly impressed with myself. Neither of us died of food poisoning, which is what I was afraid of. I’ve never made anything like that before, so I was quite pleased when they turned out perfectly flavorful and sour, with a nice crunch and everything!

My next step is to make a huge batch of pickles, in properly large mason jars, to give away as presents for the fall!

If you have ever wanted to make pickles, I highly recommend this recipe. It took me all of ten minutes to make the brine, and I took more time cutting the cucumbers than I took actually distributing the brine over the four jars I used. Beth over at Tasty-Yummies.com says that this brine goes well with lots of veggies, from carrots to cauliflower. I haven’t tried those yet, but that might have to be next!

Almond Milk, Cookies, and Birdwalks

I come about my ideas in the strangest ways, sometimes.

Two days ago, I was at work, browsing for a good Chai concentrate recipe (don’t freak out, I wasn’t neglecting anything in the process!). I found one on a beautiful website called Tasty-Yummies.com. The Chai recipe had a suggestion to mix the concentrate with Almond Milk, and linked to a recipe elsewhere on the website. I quickly scribbled it down, and then noted that it had another link to a cookie recipe that used the pulp leftover after straining the milk. So I wrote that down as well, and once my shift was over, I hopped on a bus to Whole Foods to pick up Medjool dates and almond flour for the cookies, plus sunflower seeds for my own favorite ramen-cabbage salad (the recipe for which I will post very soon–it’s delicious and quite healthy!). I spent a few hours walking around downtown before my roommate came and picked me up so we could go to Meijer (a chain store similar to Wal-Mart Super-center) for a few extra items.

You see, while sitting in a Starbucks downtown, I got back on Tasty-Yummies to make sure I had everything, and somehow I stumbled across a pickle recipe. Well, I had nothing that I needed for those, so I had to pick up all of the ingredients for the brine, plus cucumbers, and mason jars. I got home exhausted, but I had everything for my culinary escapades for the next few days, which involved making almond milk (an excellent addition to Kashi GoLean Crunch), almond cookies (which turned out no-horrible, but not amazing. I need to work on getting the texture right–vegan cookies aren’t as forgiving as regular ones with eggs and so forth), and pickles!

I haven’t tried the pickles yet. I’m so excited, though. I can’t wait to bite into one and see how it turned out!

The pickles I made

Four jars of my fresh pickles, cooling off on the balcony before I refrigerate them. I can eat them in five days! (I’ll post again when I do!)