Tag Archives: Tea

DIY Tea & Honey Gift Set

18 May

I have always hated coffee, and I’ve always loved tea. Of course, growing up in the south meant super sweet, super strong iced tea. (In case you’re wondering, outside of my mom’s house and local, out-of-the-way barbecue joints, the best place to get a good sweet tea is Bojangles, the second best is Chick-Fil-A, and the third is McDonald’s. I have opinions on this.)

As an adult, I still enjoy a good glass of sweet tea, especially when I’m eating barbecue or fried chicken. But I’ve expanded to hot tea, and I really enjoy a classic cup of black tea as well as various herbals. My rising interest in tea began with a search for a healthier alternative to the Coke I’d been having daily, and then really took off as I started watching BBC shows. (When every character has at least one cup of tea per episode, I just start thinking, “Well yes, a cuppa would be quite nice.”) Nowadays, take me to a nice little tea shop, and I’ll be lost for hours.

I wanted to share my love for tea with others, so I put together this adorable little tea set as gifts for my coworkers one Christmas. They would make excellent small gifts anytime of the year — for teacher appreciation, hostess gifts, anything. I think these particular pieces would serve better for occasions needing multiple sets, so you can order in bulk, but do whatever works for you.

Here’s what you need:

Tea supplies

1) Tea – Oliver Pluff & Co’s Signature Earl Grey is my absolute favorite right now – I drink a cup every morning. I’ve also purchased looseleaf tea from The Spice & Tea Exchange and from Teavana, and I’ve ordered tea and herbs (lavender, lemongrass, ginger, fennel) online. The cool part about this project is that you can blend your own flavors!

2) Press ‘N Seal Tea Bags – I found some on Ebay.

3) Sweetener of your choice – For this project, I used these super awesome honey lollipops. They come in delicious flavors like ginger, jasmine, or lemon. I would also recommend mini jars of honey. Savannah Bee Company has my favorite honey.

4) I found both the green chevron gift bags and the gray & white baker’s twine on Pick Your Plum.

Now all you have to do is assemble! Read the notes that came with your tea purchase or just do a little googling to figure out how much tea to put in your tea bags. Each tea is different, and each tea drinker has their own preference. But a good general rule of thumb is a heaping teaspoon per six ounces of water. However, most Americans use coffee mugs rather than traditional tea cups, so they pour considerably more than six ounces, resulting in a pretty weak cup of tea. So for my tea bags, I went with two flat teaspoons per tea bag. Not too much, not too little, IMHO.

Looseleaf Tea

Seal your tea bags with an iron. I actually have a hair straightener that I have dedicated solely to crafting purposes, which is way more easy to handle than a big iron. My bags sealed within 5 seconds.

IMG_3120

I recommend placing your tea bags within a plastic bag to keep the tea airtight before placing in your gift bag. A zip-top bag would be fine. I put 5 tea bags in a 6×3.75″ clear treat bag that I picked up at AC Moore and sealed them shut with cute washi tape I got from Pick Your Plum.

IMG_3122

The bag of tea bags and the honey stick went into the gift bag, tied shut with baker’s twine. I didn’t get a picture of it, but I also wrote the name of the tea (including info about caf/decaf!) and instructions for steeping time on the blank side of a business-card-size piece of pretty scrapbook paper and added that to the gift set.

Tea & Honey Gift Set

Go forth and give! I think anyone would appreciate this lovely little gift set.

Linking Up With:

Let It Shine from Still Being Molly
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately

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Chinese Chai Cookies

12 Dec

In my random internet roamings a couple months ago, I stumbled across the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I was so excited to find it! The concept is very simple and right up my alley: I bake some cookies and mail them to 3 people. 3 different people bake some cookies and mail me a batch. We all have a chance to try delicious homemade treats and spread a little holiday cheer. How nice.

I knew that the shipping deadline was right around the time that I had a huge work event, so I even managed to get my cookies baked and shipped early. AMAZING. Seriously. Doing something before the last minute is a huge accomplishment for me.

I had a free afternoon a few weekends ago, so I started doing a little research. I narrowed it down to four recipe options and invited my BFF Lauren (a.k.a. Betsy Bundt) over to help. I was mostly concerned about durability — making sure the cookie could withstand shipping — and lasting freshness, since it would take a few days for me to bake, package, ship, and arrive across the country.

We found a delicious-sounding recipe for a Chai Spice Cookie. Based on preference and the ingredients I had on hand, we altered the recipe a bit and settled on a “Chinese Chai Cookie.” Chinese because instead of allspice, we included Chinese 5 Spice.

Chinese Chai Cookies

Chai is one of my favorite hot drinks, especially in the fall. As soon as fall season looks like it might be even just beginning, my car starts driving itself to Starbucks for chai lattes. This lasts until Christmas season, when my car knows that I really want peppermint hot chocolate. I make it through winter, and then I’m set. Until the next fall, anyway.

Tea & Cookies

These cookies were really good. They have a great texture and durability like a traditional sugar cookie. But they have an extra little flavor to them. They’re really not intense at all — the chai spice flavor is much more subtle than most chai lattes. But like a chai latte, they start out with a sweet flavor and finish with a warm spicy note on the back of your tongue. Amazing.

After we baked the cookies, I packaged them by rolling up a stack of cookies in clear cellophane wrap and tying the ends with a cute little bow.

Happy Holidays!

Really. I said a cute bow. See?

Tied with a bow

I hope you enjoy these! They make an excellent, sophisticated snack. Perfect for afternoon tea!

Chinese Chai Cookies, adapted from My Baking Addiction

2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups white sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese 5 Spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, Chinese 5 Spice, nutmeg, and black pepper. Reserve 1/4 cup of this mixture; set aside to reserve for rolling cookies.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and remaining sugar-spice mixture on medium for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla; mix until incorporated.

Slowly blend in dry ingredients until just combined.

Using a small scoop, form into balls and then roll in the reserved sugar-spice mixture. Place dough balls on prepared baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Let stand 2 minutes, then remove to cool on wire racks.

Yield: Approx. 3 dozen cookies

Linking up for:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Make Something Monday from Sarahdipities