Thursday, July 28, 2016

Gong Fu Cha - The How

So far I've shared a little about gong fu cha, describing some skills involved and the tea set itself, but I haven't explained how to practice. Everything I've tried to write seems so complex and convoluted. So I called upon my friend Niraj for help. He's the man who introduced me to gong fu cha, so who better to help explain the process. What's better, he has a video so that you can watch making it easier to understand than reading my description.

Instead of using a gaiwan, Niraj steeps his tea using a Yixing tea pot in this video. Perhaps one day we'll work on a video showing a gaiwan!

Niraj usually posts here on the fourth Tuesday of the month so be sure to read his posts. He's moving his tea studio, so was unable to post this month, but happily helped me out today.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Review of Primula Tea's Green Tea with Fresh Jasmine Blooming Tea

Karen here and today I am sharing a review of's blooming green tea with fresh Jasmine. I bought myself a clear teapot a few Christmas' ago and love to bring it out for blooming tea when I have tea party guests.

There is something very pretty about a blooming tea and it always gets ooh's and ah's from my guests. It felt very indulgent to make this tea just for myself.

You maybe wondering how blooming tea is made, I know I was!
Google explains blooming tea as " a handmade tea by skilled artisans, usually in the Yunnan or Fujian provinces of China. The edible sweet-tasting flowers, which could also be fuchsias, roses, lilies and many others varieties, are sewn together into a ball"  This particular blooming tea had a lovely fresh and crisp taste that I found both refreshing and quite relaxing. 

To learn more about primula tea's line of blooming teas please click here for their website.
I also found the above youtube video that shows how the blooming teas are assembled I loved watching it as much as I loved watching my tea bloom!
I would love to have you join me for a cup of tea daily at 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Rooibos with Lavender = Red Lavender

I've been enjoying another Rooibos tea from Zhena's: Fire Light Chai, which I reviewed on May 16.  This rooibos blend is much simpler; there are no spices as found in the Fire Light Chai, simply French Lavender blossoms.  The label describes it as a Blossoming Garden tea: "Native to France and the Western Mediterranean, Lavender is well-known for its soothing effect and for its use to calm an unsettled stomach.  We've blended antioxidant rich South African Rooibos with organic garden grown lavender blossoms."

As someone who loves lavender, I could not smell it while brewing and did not discern the flowery flavor I expected.  I added a teaspoon of blue agave as sweetener and enjoyed it hot.  However, it was a disappointment.  I have discovered since tasting teas for this blog, that I generally prefer spices to flowers but thought my love of lavender would win out.  It does have a lovely sienna color, and I intend to make it iced and try again.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Gong Fu Cha Set

The other week I started telling you about gong fu cha; what the term means and some of the skills involved. Today I thought I'd tell you about the different parts of the tea set.

First you start out with your tea tray. Notice the slats. This is important! The tea you spill runs off into the slats and is collected below! I love how they know I'm going to spill and be messy!

The top comes off and you can easily pour out the spilled tea and clean the tray.

This next piece is the gaiwan. The gaiwan is used to steep your tea. You would use it instead of a teapot.

You put your tea leaves in the bottom of the gaiwan, pour in your hot water, cover and let steep.

When the tea is ready, you move the lid of the gaiwan to the side and pour. This step requires skill and lots of practice.

When you pour your tea, you don't pour directly into individual cups. Instead, pour into a justice cup. This ensures a uniformity to the tea, so that each person will enjoy the same tea.

From the justice cup you pour the tea into your aroma cup. You don't drink out of this cup either. The design focuses the scent. You simply smell and appreciate the aroma of the tea. You pour the tea from this cup into your drinking cup.

Here's your drinking cup. Notice how small it is. You are meant to savor each sip.

Finally, we have a tea pet. Tea pets are made from the little bits of clay left over from making traditional tea pots. They are happy little creatures. You share your tea with them by pouring it over the pet.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Make A Refreshing Milk Tea Bath

Karen here, today I want to share my cooling, mint tea milk bath perfect for these hot summer days and nights. You can take a full soak in this natural two ingredient tea bath or make yourself a a refreshing foot bath and soak those swollen summer feet!

To make your own you will need:


- 2 cups of powdered milk
- 6 bags of mint tea

-A bowl
-A spoon
-A measuring cup
-A clean empty jar
- *Small netting bag

In a metal bowl measure out your two cups of powdered milk. Unwrap and empty the bags of  tea and poor them into the bowl. Using your metal spoon to combine.
Once combined add your milk tea mixture to the jar, place the lid on and wrap with fabric and ribbon.
Or you can add some of your milk tea to a reusable netting bag.

To use your milk tea bath,  place the bag  filled with the milk tea on the tap and run your bath.  Or add 3 tablespoons of the milk tea to your foot soak bowl or bath. 

This mixture makes a great gift or you can use it for yourself! 
I hope you enjoyed today's post. I would love to have you over for tea daily at 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Peach and Blackberry Scones With Sweet Tea and Poetry

Sweet tea and poetry. July is one of my most favorite months, it is usually warm, filled with sunshine and happy memories. July is also about hospitality. It is the time when I make sure I always have something yummy baked so that when people stop over, a neighbor, friend and even unexpected visitors I have something to offer them along with the Hot or Sweet tea. Today Patricia and I are teaming up to share her poem and my scone recipe for your next tea party.

I wish I had a wrap around porch and some rocking chairs where I live to entertain my summer time guests. Reading Patricia's Poem Front Porch (Hospitality Headquarters) sums up summer visitors for me. Patricia has given me permission to share that poem with you today.

Front Porch
(Hospitality Headquarters)
Just The spot. 
For talking in a cool breeze
And watching the world go by
Friends and neighbors out
For a leisurely stroll
Stop and sit a spell.
"Iced Tea"?
"Did you hear about...?"
"You Don't Say!"
"My, how the time flies"
'Y'all come back, now"
"You hear?"

Karen's Peach and Blackberry Scones

To make my Peach and Blackberry Scones you will need:
-2 cups of flour
-3/4 cup of sugar
-1/2 cup of butter
-2 tsp baking powder
-3/4 cup of milk
-1 egg
-2 tsp vanilla
-1 cup of blackberries
-1 cup of chopped peaches

Pre heat your oven to 400
In a bowl combine the flour, sugar and baking powder, add the butter and combine until the bread crumb mixture starts to form. Add your milk, egg and vanilla fold the wet into the dry and then add your frozen fruit. If your mixture is to wet add a 1/2 cup more flour, if to dry add more milk until the dough is the right consistency,( hold's its shape when dropped onto a cookie sheet)
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop equal sized and spaced spoonfuls of scone batter on the cookie tray. Bake at 400 until the sides and top are golden brown.

Karen here, some of my most favorite poems are from Patricia Neely-Dorsey and her Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia and her follow up book Magnolia Memories and Musings.  Click here to learn more about her books. 
I would love to have you join me for tea daily at

Monday, July 18, 2016

Tea and Books?

 "Some say life is the thing, but I prefer reading." I am quoting the package but wish I could take credit for that line.
I have jokingly referred to myself as a bag lady due to the multiple bags teachers are frequently found dragging back and forth to school, and low and behold as I read the back of this cute little package, I discovered they are produced by Bag Ladies Tea.

This tea is all about the marketing.  It is a lovely English Breakfast tea, but there are no other flavors; however, in addition to the Novel Teas with quotations from various sources, Bag Ladies have a Bird Watchers tea with "birding quotes," and a Whimsical line with tins wishing Happy Birthday, Get Well Sooner, and celebrating special women (sisters, moms, best friends).
They have two sizes: tins of 25 bags and the small packets of 5 bags.  I received mine as a gift, and if I find these in a retail outlet, they would make nice gifts - especially the packets like I received.

Good basic tea with packaging to make you smile.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Infusing Tea, Color, and Mood into Food

I read an interesting article in the Tea Journey magazine entitled "Palette for Your Palate" by Si Chen. In an interesting concept devised by Tealeaves, a luxury tea blending company, and the Pantone Color Institute, chefs and mixologists were tasked with creating tea cocktails, tea entrees, and tea desserts, inspired by a selection of Tealeaves teas and certain Pantone colors. "Creations expressed a mood such as bold, peaceful or enchanted" says Chen.

What an idea; not only to bring tea into the world of fine dining, but matching specific teas with specific colors and specific moods to achieve an artistic, and hopefully delectable, creation! The photographs are glorious, but I'm afraid to share because of copyrights!

You can check out the exhibit here

I'd love to try The Bold and the Blue-Teaful, The Purple Haze, and The Dreamland. What about you?

Would you ever challenge yourself to create a dish inspired by a tea, color and mood? Of course, you'd have to actually use the tea in the cooking of the dish, or the mixing of the cocktail. I'd love to have you create something and report back!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Summer Sweet Treat Mate Tea From Davids Tea, Chocolate Covered Banana

Karen here and I recently treated myself to a new tea from Davids Tea, a chain of tea shops near where I live. This one is a Mate Tea called Chocolate Covered Banana and it really tastes as good as it sounds and smells. I often buy tea and then get it home brew it and it doesn't taste like it smells but this one does!

This tea I was warned is classified as a "stimulant" by the tea company for its caffeine content and was recommended to drink in the morning. There is no way I could drink and enjoy this tea first thing in the morning. It is flavored like a dessert tea and one I would have in the early to late afternoon. The flavors are so intense that it actually will satisfy your sweet tooth. This tea reminded me of the perfect banana split and was exactly as I hoped it would be.
Offered on line at Davids Tea is currently priced at $7.98 per 100 grms. Click here for the link to Davids Tea. 
Thank you for joining me for today's tea review. I would love to have you join me for tea daily at

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

That First Cup

It’s the weekend. I don’t have to get up at 6 am. 

In general, that means I sleep until 6:30 or 7. I’m so decadent on the weekends.

It’s also summer and morning temperatures in Buffalo aren’t hovering at the freezing mark (no, really!). 

Plus, we have a pond. It’s some of the best money we ever spent. 

Continuing my decadent weekend activities, I brew a cup of tea. I’m still into Yorkshire Gold via Amazon, even though my grocery store has deigned to stock PG Tips again. I have a lot of Yorkshire Gold to get through before I go back to the wonderful PG Tips.

So, summer weekend morning checklist:

  1. Tea
  2. Get outside
  3. Sit by the koi pond

Somehow tea is the perfect complement to early mornings by the pond. I love strong coffee, but days start better with a clean, strong cup of tea.

Let me share my relaxing morning with you. If you look closely, you’ll see three of our four frogs off to the left: One in the water, one on a rock, and one sitting in the drit by the sedum. The koi were being coy at this hour (see what I did there?).


Monday, July 11, 2016

Jasmine Tea Meant for Me...

Last week I reviewed Rhubarb Ginger Tea from TeaPigs.  On visiting the website I discovered a 4th of July sale plus the regular free shipping for orders of $50 or more.  This made trying several of their teas quite economical compared to the price I paid at a local store, so I decided to try six different varieties.  It has been years since I had a cup of Jasmine tea.  I drank it frequently while in college and have no idea why so many years have passed, but the time was right.

This tea exudes a lovely scent of Jasmine upon opening the package.  While brewing it strengthens and never leaves (unintentional pun).  I enjoyed this tea both hot and iced and surprise myself to be leaning toward preferring it iced.  It seemed a bit smoother.

The description of the process for producing this tea fascinated me.  Green tea leaves are wrapped in jasmine petals creating jasmine pearls.  Pictured below, they are tiny black beads moving loosely around in the bag.  In the photo at right, I have shown the brewed tea bag next to the package.  When the flower petals release during steeping, they fill the bag totally.

I then ripped open the bag because the brewed green tea and flower petals are beautiful and look like small flowers.  (See photo below).

The entire experience was a delight from start to finish.  If you enjoy Jasmine Tea, I highly recommend trying Jasmine Pearls from Teapigs.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Gong Fu Cha

If you've been reading this blog for a while you may have heard me say that I practice gong fu cha. What exactly is it? Gong fu is also known as kung fu, they are the same term, the first being Cantonese and the second Mandarin. No, I am not practicing martial arts with my tea, the term means to do something with great skill and patience. It is an art form. Cha is Chinese for tea. Therefore when I saw I practice gung fu cha I mean that I am making tea with mindfulness and skill.

With that definition in mind, you realize I'm not simply sticking a bag of tea in a mug and pouring boiling water over it. At least not when I'm practicing gong fu cha. And I do mean practice. There is a definite skill involved.

So what are some of these skills?

Patience.You can't rush anything. Quiet your mind and preparing the tea actually becomes a meditation.

Timing. Along with patience you need to time your boil (to get the proper temperature) as well as your steep.

Manual least if you're using a gaiwan! Know that you will burn yourself and you will get leaves in your cup as you attempt to master this tea brewing vessel.

Gong fu cha is an art and a mediation that culminates in a tasty beverage. I hope you'll consider trying gong fu cha and apprise me of your efforts!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Sleepytime Vanilla Tea and Teapot!

Karen here and today I am sharing a review of Sleepytime Vanilla Tea by Celestial Seasonings. I have long loved this line of teas and tisane's. Last August I found myself at the Celestail Seasoning's Tour and Tea Shop and wished I had brought a larger vehicle so I could have filled it with so many amazing tea items. I did treat myself to this Sleepytime Bear tea pot. The details make it one of my most favorite pots. The price of under $35 made it one of my most favorite souvenirs!
I love that the tea bags look like lovely little pillows. The scent of the tisane is very calming and inviting.
Inside each lovely little "Sleepytime Pillow" tea bag you will find, Chamomile, Spearmint, Lemongrass, French Vanilla, Tilia Flowers, Blackberry Leaves, Orange Blossoms, Hawthorn and Rosebuds. This is a naturally caffeine free tea. The creamy and welcoming addition of vanilla makes each sip feel like a warm and cozy hug. I really quite enjoy this calming tea, even in the afternoon! The scent is so inviting you could place the tea pillows in your car, your drawers and even under your pillow cases.
Thank you so much for joining me here today. I would love to have you for tea daily over at 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tea for Two: 5 Herbal Teas That May Enhance Your Romantic Relationship

Today I thought I’d post briefly about the plant energy of herbal teas and how they may enhance your love life. In my new book, The Book of Sacred Baths: 52 Bathing Rituals to Revitalize your Spirit, being published by Llewellyn Worldwide I discuss sacred bath rituals to improve different aspects of your life, both as an individual and as a couple.  Each sacred bath ritual is paired with an herbal tea to match the intention and energy of your bath.  Drinking it is part of the integration phase where you drink the tea and journal about the insights that you received.  But today, we will discuss a few herbal teas that you can drink with your sweetie to enhance different relationship intentions.  There might be more magick in the intention than in the tea itself but nonetheless:

1.       Jasmine Tea or Gingsing tea for sexual attraction- Share some Jasmine tea or Ginseng tea together.  Jasmine is said to be great for seduction and romantic love and Ginseng is an aphrodisiac in Asian cultures.

2.       Apple Blossom Tea-is said to attract love

 3.     Rosehips Tea- It is said that Rosehips herbal tea brings out the energy of unconditional love.  


4.       Lavender Tea- is calming and is said to be good for marital problems.

5.       Dandelion Tea- is said to release anger so it may be a good one to sip when you are feeling irritated at your mate.

Ultimately it takes more than tea drinking to enhance your love relationship but you can add love to anything and I find that relaxing energetic rituals are helpful.  They are break us out of our routine, are enjoyable, they slow us down, stop us from speaking prematurely and can make us more conscious of our joint energy and intention.  They also can facilitate a practice of sharing, sensuality, stillness, presence and respect. 

I hope that you will enjoy the flavor and properties of these herbal teas and of course, I wish you much love!

To find out more about how to pair herbal tea drinking with the amazing practice of sacred bathing, please order my new book here:

Blessings to you and yours,


Bio: Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman is a psychologist and author of, The Book of Sacred Baths: 52 Bathing Rituals to Revitalize your Spirit,’ published by Llewellyn Worldwide.  She is also the author of Dating from the Inside Out, published by Atria Books and 19 others books, translated into 5 languages.  She has a private psychotherapy practice in Manhattan and does life coaching by phone. Learn more at  and .

Monday, July 4, 2016

Rhubarb Ginger Tea

This naturally caffeine free tea is made from 50% rhubarb and 50% ginger; it couldn't be any simpler, could it?  Teapigs is a British company and this particular tea is mixed and packaged in Germany.  As a rhubarb fanatic, I thought it would be fun to try this one.  I was not disappointed.

I appreciate the biodegadble tea temples (or bags) that can go in the composter.  There is no foil or plastic wrapping.  The aroma of ginger naturally over powers the rhubarb, but the taste is a lovely mix of tart rhubarb and ginger.  I added about half a teaspoon of raw organic agave as sweetner.  It is lovely.

My rhubarb is still in season, and this tea would make a nice accompaniment to any rhubarb dessert.

The close up of the dry tea is not as vibrant as it is to the naked eye.  There are bits of rosy rhubarb clearly visible.

I've enjoyed this tea several times now.  In exploring the website, I discovered a sale good through July 4, 2016  I selected several varieties to try, received free shipping, and a $25 bonus.  You may want to check it out!  Until next time...

Friday, July 1, 2016

July is National Picnic Month, National Family Reunion Month and 4th of July Holiday !

Patricia is here today to share her picnic sweet tea recipe perfect for Picnics, Family Reunion's and of course the 4th of July!  Summer is here and  it is time to take your tea outdoors! This calls for picnics galore !

In the South, it is essential that a Summer picnic includes iced tea !

You know how much Southerners  love picnics, sweet tea  ...and mason jars .

Mason jars are a secret weapon for packing an easy picnic.

Here's a quick, fun way to pack and serve your tea 

At home, boil some water

Once the water is hot,  pour it into the mason jar, add  tea bags, pop on the lid.

The tea takes 5-7 minutes to brew.

Have one  large mason jar  filled with ice.

You can pour the ice and tea into  smaller mason jars for drinking

Enjoy !

Thank you Patricia for sharing these wonderful Southern Tea Time Tips with us today. 
Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life in Poems   
" a celebration of the south and things southern"
"Meet Mississippi Through Poetry, Prose and The Written Word"