TEATIME Fun list

One thing I have learned since becoming a tea drinker is the world of tea is vast and much more complex than I ever imagined. It can be overwhelming, and to be honest, more than a little intimidating. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what tea you should drink and how you should make it. I think a lot of tea professionals and “serious” tea drinkers have forgotten tea is a journey of exploration. Tea is supposed to be fun.

Thats why I was so excited to find a card in one of my subscription boxes that listed 20 fun things to explore and learn about tea. The things on the card pointed me in the right direction to learn about things I would have never thought of, like trying pink tea and Puerh teas. I am going to share that list with you along with a few I added to the list I think will be helpful in starting your tea journey. Over the next few months, I will share what I have learned about tea following this list. I hope you will take the journey with me and share your journey in the comments.

Teatime Fun List

  1. Read a tea related book
  2. Start a tea journal
  3. Learn to use a flavor wheel
  4. Buy a tea mug or cup that reflects your personality
  5. Create a dedicated tea nook
  6. Learn to make Matcha
  7. Learn to make Pink Tea
  8. Try a cup of flavored tea
  9. Try a cup of pure green tea
  10. Try a cup of pure white tea
  11. Try a cup of pure black tea
  12. Try a cup of pure oolong
  13. Try a cup of Puerh tea
  14. Try a tea subscription
  15. Learn how to make a tea in a Gaiwan
  16. Try making cold brewed iced tea
  17. Make a tea cocktail or tea mocktail
  18. Learn how to make tea in teapot
  19. Share your tea with a friend
  20. Learn to sit quietly and enjoy your tea

Welcome To A Cuppa and Conversation

Welcome to A Cuppa and Conversation, a blog about tea. Over the last year and a half, I have fallen in love with tea. I love drinking it, cooking with it, baking with it and learning about it. The subject is vaster and more complicated than I ever imagined. If I am being completely honest, it is a little intimidating too, especially when you are new to the world of tea. It seems like everybody has all this fancy equipment you can’t afford and is drinking teas you have never heard of. Even more intimidating, are all the people who think their way is the only way to make tea and the tea they drink is the only tea worth drinking.

It was really hard to find a place that embraced tea in all its forms, from the lowly grocery store tea bag to the expensive, rare Puerhs and the idea that if the way you brew your tea gives you a cup of tea you enjoy then it is the right way to brew your tea. Since I couldn’t find a place like that, I decided to create the tea blog I wanted to find. A Cuppa and Conversation is a place for all tea drinkers, not matter where they are in their tea journey, to come and learn about tea. Everyone is welcome here, whether you drink tea from grocery store tea bags and heat your water in the microwave or have all that fancy equipment to make all those fancy, expensive teas. I hope you will come and learn with me as I progress in my tea journey and, hopefully, have some fun along the way. But first, We need to get some tea.

The first step to becoming a tea drinker, is finding tea you like to drink. That isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are thousands of different flavored and unflavored tea and different types of teas. There are hundreds of different companies to buy your tea from. It can be overwhelming, and more than a little intimidating so where do you start?

First decision, we have to make when we decide to become a tea drinker is, are we going to use tea bags or use loose leaf tea?  While the answer to this question comes down to personal preference, there are some pros and con to each choice.

For many of us, our first and only experience with tea is through tea bags purchased at the grocery store.  I know that is how I first started drinking tea.  Tea from a grocery store tea bag can be yummy and comforting but there are some down sides to grocery store tea bags to be aware of.

  • The tea used in grocery store tea bags is of the leavings of lose leaf tea after it has been processed.  It is called tea dust and tea fannings.  It isn’t the best quality and often has added natural and artificial flavors to get to taste good in a short amount of time.
  • Tea leaves expand a lot, easily 2-3 times the size when steeped.  Traditional tea bags aren’t big enough to allow the full expansion of the tea leaves or allow the hot water to freely move among the leaves to allow for the full extraction of flavors from the tea.
  • The tea dust and tea fannings that are often used in grocery store tea bags often lack the essential oils that provide both flavor and the health benefits of tea.
  • The bags themselves may not be biodegradable.

Does that mean a tea drinker should never buy a tea bag?  Of course not,  there are many reasons to reach for the tea bag over loose leaf tea.

  • It is convenient.  It is much easier to carry and use a premeasured, individually wrapped tea bag then it is to carry loose leaf tea, an infuser and a measuring spoon.
  • Tea bags are easier to dispose of quickly and neatly then loose-leaf tea.
  • It is affordable.  Really good loose-leaf tea can be expensive depending on where you buy it.  Most grocery store is between 3-6 dollars a box. 
  • It is accessible.  The reason most people start learning about tea from tea bags is because tea bags are easy to find in many places like grocery stores and restaurants.  Tea from grocery tea bags is often what leads us to explore loose leaf teas in its many types.

If tea bags are so convienent, why on earth should a tea drinker look into loose leaf tea?

  • Loose leaf tea is just better-quality tea so it just plain tastes better.
  • Loose leaf tea is often more economical than tea bags.  Often the initial cost for loose leaf is more expensive but because loose leaf tea is better quality tea than tea bags you can often resteep your loose tea 1 or 2 times for more cups of tea from each serving of leaves which can bring down the cost per cup.
  • There is infinitely more variety in types and flavors of tea in loose leaf tea compared to tea bags.  I know when you see the tea sitting on grocery store shelves it looks like a lot of varieties of teas, but it barely scratches the surface of what is available for types and flavors of teas.

For most of us, if we want to move beyond ordinary grocery store tea, we are going to have to do it online. If you Google tea, tea shops, or where to buy tea, you are going to get hundreds of results.  How do you choose where to buy tea from?   How do you know it is good tea?

First, I would ask for recommendations from any of your tea loving friends, you know and trust.  If you’re lucky maybe that tea loving friend will invite you to try some tea out of their stash.  If not, almost every tea company has samples of their tea to purchase so you can try tea before you commit to buying full size packages of teas.  Samples range in size from enough tea for one or two cups of tea to enough tea for up to 10 cups of tea.

Remember, a company’s samples aren’t supposed to give enough tea to drink for the entire month. Samples are supposed to help you decide what you like without committing to a full-size bag.  Once you have tried several different samples from several different companies, you can start developing your likes and dislikes in types and flavors of teas and make decisions about teas we want to start including in our tea stash.

Do tea bags have the equivalent of samples? Yes, some tea bags come in sampler boxes where they have several bags of several different flavors of tea in each box. Usually, these samplers are broken down into caffeine and decaffeinated teas samplers. Unfortunately, not all brands of tea bags provide samplers for sale. If you choose to use tea bags over loose-leaf tea you have to be more willing to buy full size boxes of tea without knowing if you are going to like them or not. I tend to save any tea that isn’t to my taste to give to my tea drinking friends or to use when I have friends over for tea so it doesn’t really go to waste.

Now, it is up to you to make the decision about whether you want to use tea bags or loose-leaf tea and where you want to buy your tea from. Start looking into different companies and seeing what appeals to you then place your order or orders and wait for it to arrive so we can start exploring the many different kinds of tea.

Cranberry Mango Green Tea

I am starting 2022 with recipe that combines my longtime love of cranberries with my new found love of tea in all it’s forms for a delicious hot drink. If I am honest, I have been drinking this tea since I found the recipe in late August and will continue drinking it until I run out of cranberries to make it with. Which, honestly, will probably never happen because I always make sure to stock up on cranberries for the off season.

I have used plain Jasmine green tea for this recipe as well a blend called Full Body Reset from a company called Plum Deluxe. You can use loose leaf green tea or green tea bags for this recipe. Serve this recipe hot or cold.

Cranberry Mango Green Tea

4 cups water

1 cup chopped mango, fresh or frozen

1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen

1 (1 inch piece) fresh ginger, sliced

4 tsp loose leaf green tea or 4 green tea bags

sweetener, to taste

in a medium saucepan, combine water, mango, cranberries and ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 5minutes. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Cover and steep for 5minutes.

Remove and discard tea bags. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Discard solids. You can sweeten the tea at this point and float a lemon slice in each cup.

Tea Week #1 — Arnold Palmers

A few months ago,  I absolutely fell in love with drinking loose leaf tea from a company called Plum Deluxe.  I have tried many different types of tea and many different flavors of tea. I have become kind of obsessed about tea in general and learning to incorporate tea into my cooking and baking.  I am also learning how to make as many different tea drinks as I can.  So I have decided to make this week’s theme non alcoholic tea drinks.

Arnold Palmers in the can  have been one of my favorite things long before I ever started drinking tea on a regular basis. As much as I love Arnold Palmers in a can I love homemade Arnold Palmers more.

The best way to make them, in my opinion, is to make a pitcher of homemade lemonade and a pitcher of cold brewed iced tea and mix them whenever you want a drink.  But if you don’t have any lemonade or tea made you can simply brew a  cup of tea, add  lemon juice and sugar to taste and serve over ice. You could also use frozen lemonade concentrate or powdered lemonade drink mix, if you prefer. Any tea you like with a squeeze of lemon can be used to make Arnold Palmers. I use Plum Deluxe’s plain Royale Darjeeling black loose leaf tea or Red Rose Black Tea bags to make iced tea.

In my opinion, there is no actual recipe for an Arnold Palmer. This  is how I make my Arnold Palmers.  It is very, very adaptable to your taste.  I don’t think I make them the same way twice.

3/4  cup cold iced tea

1/4 cup cold lemonade

Pour the iced tea and lemonade into a glass filled with ice and stir gently.  Serve.

Pressure Cooker Teas

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Over the year and a half I have been pressure cooking I have come to believe you can make any thing in a pressure cooker but never once did it occur to me to make drinks, like tea.  Is there anything a pressure cooker can’t do?  These recipes make an incredibly smooth and tasty tea.  Yes, these are recipes could probably be made on the stove in about the same amount of time as the pressure cooker but I like the idea of dumping everything in the pressure cooker, going to do whatever I need to do and coming back whenever and having my tea ready when I want it.

Pressure Cooker Masala Chai

From Two Sleevers

2-3 tea bags

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup coconut or almond milk, use cow’s milk if not Whole 30

2 whole cloves

3-4 cinnamon sticks

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

4 green caramom

4 thin slices ginger

Place all ingredients into the liner.  Bring to high pressure and cook for 4 minutes.  You can quick or natural release.  Strain the spices out and serve.

Pressure Cooker Iced Tea

From Two Sleevers

4 regular tea bags

6 cups water

1/2 cup sugar (omit if  Whole 30)

Place the tea bags and water into the liner.  Bring to high pressure and cook for 4 minutes.  you can quick or natural release.  Add sugar to taste.  Stir to dissolve.  Serve over ice.