Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Life By The Cup, A Book Review

Karen here and my friend Lisa sent me Zhena Muzyka's Insperational book Life By The Cup. Zhena is the founder of the Zhena's Gypsy Tea line.  This book is part memoir, part inspirational and motivational self-help book. I was beyond thrilled with the book. The messages and the struggles that Zhena received and went through made this book a truly fascinating read.  As a tea lover, woman and mother this book truly spoke to me. It was the type of book you could pick up and read a chapter at a time or one you could truly dive into and read cover to cover. I believe that this book should be on every tea lover's shelf and is a great guide to life.
"[Zhena] Muzyka's charisma leaps off the pages of this unconventional, touching, and personal guide to success" ("Publishers Weekly"), featuring seventeen soulful lessons and simple rituals for finding your life's purpose, improving your relationships, and becoming healthier--all in the time it takes to drink a cup of tea. Drawing on lessons she's learned throughout her amazing and sometimes difficult life journey, the social entrepreneur and founder of Zhena's Gypsy Tea shares seventeen soulful lessons to help you overcome obstacles, clarify your purpose, and bring awareness to each moment of your life. An inspiring roadmap for discovering the secrets of happiness and success for yourself at any stage in life, "Life By the Cup"'s message is that, no matter where you are, you can change your circumstances and live your dreams. As a twenty-four-year-old single mom, Zhena had an infant in need of life-saving surgery and only six dollars in her wallet. She also had two other powerful motivators: hope and a passion to share her unique tea blends with the world. Combining her kitchen hobby of blending tea, her knowledge of herbs and aromatherapy, and her gypsy grandmother's wisdom, Zhena started selling custom teas from a cart on California street corners. Now, over a decade later, her son is healthy and Zhena's Gypsy Tea is a multimillion-dollar brand. Zhena's insights and gentle guidance will inspire you to increase your compassion toward others as well as yourself. You'll also gain wisdom on how to hone your intuition, ask for help, and live out your true purpose without drastically changing the way you live. Discover your calling, bolster your courage, develop your own flavor of success, and you'll see your own passion make a meaningful difference in the world.

Last fall I went to camp with one of my sons and the camp mess hall offered guests this wonderful line of teas. I was thrilled to be able to find it here in Canada at Whole Foods, and when I was traveling in the USA I found it at World Market. You can also find it on line by clicking here. My favorite was the Raspberry Earl and one I highly recommend. These are organic and ethically sourced teas. You can learn more about these teas by visiting Zhena's website by clicking here.
If you are in Canada you can order a copy of her book Life By The Cup with free shipping from The Book Depository by clicking here
In the USA you can order it on Amazon by clicking here. 
I would love to have you over for tea daily at 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Cooking with Tea

I first heard about cooking with tea from Chef Ming Tsai. I remember being intrigued by the recipes, although I never made them. Now cooking with tea is all the rage from using matcha in smoothies and ice cream to tea brining your fried chicken!

I guess 7 is a lucky number. The Bon Appetit Test Kitchen offers an article on how to cook with tea in its article 7 Unexpected Ways to Cook With Tea from Pasta to Pudding. Meanwhile Serious Eats offers 7 Ways to Cook With Tea Leaves. Doing some searching I may have found that long ago tea recipe from Ming Tsai: Tea Braised Hanger Steak with Root Vegetables.

Personally I'd like to try the Smoked Tea Duck recipe from Sunset Magazine.

What about you? Have you ever cooked with tea? Feel free to share your recipes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Visit To The Stash Tea Store In Oregon

Karen here. This passed week I have been in the state of Oregon. My husband and I took a week away and indulged in the many amazing and wonderful book stores, record stores and tea offerings in and around the Portland Area. I was thrilled to be able to stop at the Stash Tea retail store and pick up some teas I can not get at home.
Stash has two stores in Oregon, we stopped at the store on Durham, it was on the smaller side of what I expected having been at the Celestial Seasonings Store last year, but this store has so much to offer. I tasted three of the teas they were offering that day and filled my basket with some delightful new to me flavors I can not wait to try when I get home. Some I bought loose leaf while others I bought in the pre packaged sachets.
I am anxious to try each of these teas and share the review with you. I am on a lavender kick right now and found that each of the three boxed teas have lavender in them and I have already had a few bags of each. I feel that the Breakfast in Paris tea is my favorite so far. A very calming yet strong black tea is perfect for morning tea and reads!
The staff at the Stash tea store were helpful and very knowledgeable it was a delight to be in the store in person and you can order on line in loose leaf or boxed teas at very reasonable prices. Click here to learn more about Stash Tea's on line Store and the store fronts here in Oregon. 
If you find yourself in Oregon, this is a store you will want to go out of your way to visit!
I would love to have you join me for tea daily over at 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

What's Matcha?

When I began my recent exploration into the world of tea I attended a class on the Japanese Tea Ceremony. I had no idea at the time that my tea would be a bright shade of green! Or that it would be frothy! The tea in question was matcha, and up until that point I had no idea what it was.

Matcha is a form of green tea, real tea, meaning it comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant. There are some growing differences, however. The tea plants intended for matcha are covered for a portion of their growth cycle so that the leaves grow in shade. While you just drink the liquid that has been infused by the leaves with most tea, in matcha the tea leaves are ground into a fine powder so you actually ingest the whole leaf.

You also don't make a cup of matcha in the same manner you would make a regular cup of tea. There is special equipment involved. At the minimum you need a tea bowl (chawan) and bamboo whisk (chasen). You may also want a wooden scoop (chasaku) and a sifter.

If you decide you'd like to try to make your own bowl of matcha, be certain you buy ceremonial grade. The culinary grade, while fine for cooking or using in smoothies, is quite bitter and unpalatable if drunk as a tea. Also realize that the whisking of the powder is a skill which requires some practice. It's not as easy as it looks!

Matcha is a unique tea with many health benefits. It calms the body while sharpening the mind. No wonder it is a staple of Zen monks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A December Release You Wont Want To Miss! Healing Herbal Teas by Sarah Farr

Karen here and I was so excited to get an advanced reading copy of Healing Herbal Teas from Sarah Farr. This book is out this December 27th an a book I can not wait to hit the market!
This book is the perfect blend of text book, cook book and visual delight. I have already ordered a copy to hold in my hand. From the preview I have seen of this book it is going to be a vital part of my tea time journeys. I have for a long time now wanted to learn the art of blending herbal teas and this book is exactly what I have been waiting for. 101 recipes to keep me busy for all of 2017!
There are more then 270 pages of blends and information you will find invaluable. I know that the Peace tea blend and the Sleep Tea blend are recipes I will try for sure. There are tea recipes for each season and inspiring blends to create for just about every occasion. There is also a great section with tips on how to plan, plant and grow your own tea ingredients!  I am very excited to receive this book order in late December early January of 2017. I have ordered mine from The Book Depository because they have free worldwide shipping.

Freshly blended herbal teas offer more healing power than do pre-packaged tea bags. In Healing Herbal Teas, master herbalist and author Sarah Farr serves up 101 original recipes that not only offer health advantages but also taste great. Formulations to benefit each body system and promote well-being include Daily Adrenal Support, Inflammation Reduction, and Digestive Tonic. Additional recipes that address seasonal needs such as allergy relief or immune support will attune you to the cycles of nature, while instruction on the art of tea blending will teach you how to develop your own signature mixtures to give your body exactly what it needs. This book is an enchanting and delectable guide to blending and brewing power-packed herbal teas at home.

To pre order your own copy of Healing Herbal Teas by Sarah Farr from The Book Depository please click here.
To pre order your own copy from Amazon please click here.
I would love to have you over for tea daily at 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Perfect Southern Combination : Chicken and Sweet Tea

Today Patricia shares with us her recipe for the  Perfect Combination Southern Chicken and Sweet Tea.
What could be more southern than sweet tea chicken ?
Almost nothing !
Sweet tea has been called the 'house wine of the South " 
It is the all purpose beverage.
And, chicken is served in some form ( preferably fried) at almost every event and for any occasion.
One of my Facebook friend's said  that her Dad always called chicken  the Gospel bird! "
In the South, everyone knows that ,at  any and every church event,  there will be chicken,
Putting the two together is pure  Southern  genius !
It's Southern to the max....It's Southern to the tenth degree .It's Southern squared 

Looking for southern perfection for your next meal ?

Here is a recipe for Southern Brined Chicken

2 family-size tea bags
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, halved
2 (6-inch) fresh rosemary sprigs
1 tablespoon freshly cracked pepper
2 cups ice cubes
1 (3 1/2-to 4-lb.) cut-up whole chicken

1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 3-qt. heavy saucepan; add tea bags. Remove from heat; cover and steep 10 minutes.

2. Discard tea bags. Stir in sugar and next 6 ingredients, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool completely (about 45 minutes); stir in ice. (Mixture should be cold before adding chicken.)

3. Place tea mixture and chicken in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; seal. Place bag in a shallow baking dish and chill 24 hours. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade; pat chicken dry with paper towels.

4. Light one side of grill, heating to 300° to 350° (medium) heat; leave other side unlit. Place chicken, skin side down, over unlit side, and grill, covered with grill lid, 20 minutes. Turn chicken, and grill, covered with grill lid, 20 minutes.
Turn chicken, and grill, covered with grill lid, 40 to 50 minutes or until done.
Transfer chicken, skin side down, to lit side of grill, and grill 2 to 3 minutes or until skin is crispy.
Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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"

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Meet the Chai Guy

I was enjoying a cupcake at a recent meeting and thought, "an iced chai would be perfect right now". That thought is thanks, in part, to the Chai Guy, a local merchant I was lucky enough to meet.

If you are unfamiliar, chai is a wonderful drink that combines black tea, milk, and spices. Like regular tea, chai may be drunk hot or cold. WIth the scorching temperatures we've been having here in Western New York, I've been drinking my chai the majority of my tea.

In Rochester, NY if you love chai you know the Chai Guy and undoubtably visit him at the Public Market to get your chai fix. The Chai Guy is also known as Pat Tharp and he was kind enough to talk to me about chai and how he became the Chai Guy.

Pat stumbled upon chai as he was preparing for a missionary trip to India. Chai was served during the planning meetings leading up to the trip and he found that he really liked the beverage. He began experimenting at home, checking brewing times and ingredient ratios in the search for teh perfect cup of chai. Whenever there was a party or a pass the dish event, Pat would bring his homemade chai. One day a friend referred to him as "the Chai Guy" and the name stuck!

About three years ago Pat found "the sweet spot" and has not changed his formula. It was at that point that he decided to share his brew with the public. The Chai Guy's chai is similar to that of a craft beer. It's homemade and slow brewed, taking 24 hours to make. "There are no powders, no syrups, no concentrates, no fakery. Just a quality drink with a lot of love."

The Chai Guy offers 12 different types of chai, including vegan options, and allows you to experiment as well. I've enjoyed the Classic, but may venture into ginger my next time, and yes, he will be using pieces of fresh ginger. Or I may create my own blend combining ginger and cinnamon perhaps. Whatever flavor you choose, the chai base remains the same. Changes occur with a change of milk (including non dairy options) and the addition of fresh ingredients, even espresso!

But to Pat Tharp, it's more than just the flavor. It's the experience that comes with it. It's what the tea gives you the opportunity to do. "It's good to stop, pause, and reflect on the day." It's also a chance to meet and talk with others.

While chai is quite popular and easy to find in India and England, it's a bit trickier here in the United States. The Chai Guy is Rochester, New York's first chai crafter and he's working on bringing chai to you. You can find the Chai Guy at Rochester's Public Market as well as a farmer's market in Irondequoit. You can also purchase either his Tea Kit or his Quick Sips to make your own chai at home. The Tea Kit contains the tea and spices which you steep and then add milk and other flavors. The Quick Sips are already brewed tea and spices, you just add the milk! These kits can also be purchased at Lori's Whole Foods and the Pittsford Dairy Farm. In order to go whereever there' a need for chai, Pat is also working on a mobile chai cart!

If you're ever in the Rochester, NY area I hope you're able to visit the Chai Guy and enjoy a cup of chai. You can also check out his Website Facebook Page, Instagram, or Snapchat Account, "the chai guys".

As Pat would say, have a Chaitastic Day and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Davids Cotton Candy Tea & A Sweet Silicone Tea Infuser!

Karen here and today I am sharing a fun flavored rooibos tea called Cotton Candy from Davids Tea and a lolly-pop tea infuser I found and bought on Ebay. Together these make a very sweet summer treat!
These little infusers are very inexpensive and would make a wonderful shower or tea party favor! Click here to view the ebay listing for these inexpensive  I paid just under $1 for mine.
The top of the lolly pop easily removes for you to put your 1 tsp of loose leaf tea in, then top with the stick and it is ready to steep in the cup or mug of your choice.

I discovered Cotton Candy tea last summer at Davids Tea. This is really a tisane made up of Rooibos, sprinkles  of cotton candy and hazelnuts.

It is lovely hot but even better cool and very sweet. It is the most favorite tea of a few of my nieces from our tea parties last summer. 

A wonderful treat for an adult and a great tea to serve at a children's tea party!
This is one of Davids Teas summer teas so if you think you might want to try it I would recommend ordering it sooner rather then later to avoid missing out!
Click here for the Davids Tea Website.

Thank you for joining me today, I would love to have you over for tea daily at 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Never mind Coke and popcorn: I’ll have English Breakfast and a crumpet.

This is for all the movie lovers out there. I never realized how many of my favorite movies involve tea. (One of the many reasons I lurve research.)

So today is Tea Trivia Time: Name four movies involving tea. Ready… GO.

[puts on the kettle while everyone opens a Google window]

[Admit it: you did!]

[plays the Jeopardy “wait” music]

Pencils down, all!

I’ll give you the easy one first: The Mad Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland.

(c) Walt Disney Productions

Next the one I always forget: Tea with Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins. The song “I Love to Laugh” is so much fun.

(c) Walt Disney Productions

Third, Arsenic and Old Lace. About 25 years ago, I played Abby Brewster on stage. Now I wouldn’t need anywhere near as much makeup to play a sweet, murdering old lady. 

Technically, they old ladies put the poison in their homemade wine, but tea gets an honorable mention because they specifically say tea doesn’t hide the taste of the poison. Eek!

(c) Warner Brothers

Last, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The REAL Willy Wonka: Gene Wilder. The wonderful first scene in the candy garden where even the teacups are edible.

(c) Warner Brothers

Bonus points if anyone also remembered Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation ordering “Tea. Earl Grey.Hot.” from the Enterprise’s food conveyer.

(c) Paramount Television

There must be others. Please add the names of other movies or TV shows in the comments!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Alice in Wonderland's Tea

I've always been a fan of Alice in Wonderland and have a fascination for Lewis Carroll, although admittedly I don't know much about him. I have have a small collection of Alice and Wonderland themed goodies, from t-shirts to jewelry and more, and of course I own a Cheshire Cat plushie. One of my favorite bits of the story has to be the tea party!

While a majority of people are probably more familiar with the Disney version, I quite enjoy the original illustrations by John Tenniel.

Are you a fan of Alice? Would you sit down to tea with this group?

For further Alice in Wonderland reading check out this wonderful website:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Visit To Murchie's Tea New Store Front, Classic Canadian Tea Company Since 1894

Karen here and the new Murchie's tea store recently opened in the mall near my home. I have been a customer of Murchie's for years. While I am not a coffee drinker, if I was to start to drink coffee it would be Murchie's. Theirs smells heavenly and is a blend we often by for special occasions and Christmas it is a must. I do however often drink their tea. Murchie's Tea has been in business in Canada since 1894. Their blends are known world wide. The Murchie's afternoon blend is a favorite of mine and used to be the tea of choice at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, it was called Empress Afternoon Blend, that was however before it changed ownership.  I popped in to see the new store and refill some of my favorite blends.
As I write this post I am enjoying the Lavender Black Tea Blend. This is a calming blend of black tea lavender and a hint of bergamot. Truly delightful and pairs nicely with sables, of which I just ate two.
This tea is perfectly balanced despite not having a lot of lavender blooms, it is very well rounded and a lovely afternoon tea.
 While in store I tried the Sugar Maple tea iced. It was really different, it had all the flavors of a black iced tea with a hint of maple sugar, almost as if I was sipping tea and indulging in Maple Fudge. I am kicking myself for not picking some up now that I am home. Next trip in this one I need to grab for sure!
Murchie's caters to every taste. I am so thrilled with the options for both loose leaf and their bagged and boxed teas. These make shipping so much easier and sampling very fun. I picked up a box of Golden Jubilee teas as well, it is such a nice blend of Darjeeling, Keemun and Ceylon tea that was originally blended for her silver Jubilee in 1977!  There was so many to choose from and I love going into this store.
If you find your way here to the West Coast of Canada I encourage you to step into one of the Murchie's Stores on your trip. If you are an armchair traveler I invite you to shop on line at
I would love to have you over for tea daily at 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Hello August! Goodbye to my tea explorations...

Summer is beating us over the head with heat, at least here in the Finger Lakes Region of western New York state, and with August comes the true dog days of summer, and for me, a return to the college classroom.  Back in March when my friend Kathleen Kaminski asked me if I was interested in contributing to this blog, I thought it would be a fun weekly challenge.  It has been...sometimes...but other times it has simply been a challenge.

I have gained quite a bit from the experience.  I have tried several different brands of tea and discovered companies whose teas I enjoy immensely.  I also savor my teas more and think about what I like or dislike about the taste.  But I have also discovered that while I love tea and love writing, I do not love writing about tea.

So thank you for reading my thoughts on and evaluations of tea.  I will continue to read the contributions of others.  If you are interested in books, I invite you to check out my blog To Thine Own Self Be True, on which I intend to focus more of my time and writing.

Enjoy your explorations in the world of tea.