Bird’s Nest Tea Bombs

A few days ago, outside my living room window, I noticed a bird tucking in and out of the crevice between the misaligned wooden fence panels surrounding our house. The bird seemed busy at work–occupied. Amidst its constant activity, it managed to shoot me an occasional glare, so as to say back off lady, or you’ll regret it! It wasn’t until I saw the same bird again two days later that I realized what it was up to. Just in time to mark the beginning of spring, my feathery friend was building a nest.

I get it, birdie. There’s a lot of work that goes into nest-making. As I learned a few days ago making these Bird’s Nest Tea Bombs, making a sturdy nest is a labor of love…an art form, really. My tea nests are made from maple syrup marshmallows covered in tea leaves. Although they look like you’ve just spotted them in a thick woodland forest, they serve an entirely different purpose. They’re designed to be an all-in-one tea brew, sweetener, and treat.
This project for Bird’s Nest Tea Bombs was inspired by 2 things: my sister and some very beautiful tea. On last week’s Tea of the Week post, I featured Bellocq Tea Atelier’s No. 22 National Parks Dept. This nature-inspired blend of Darjeeling and Assam has bright green cedar tips and twiggy kukicha (twig tea) thrown in. It’s so perfectly organic and rustic that I still can’t get over how delicious it is.

As an Easter gift (and because she’s a cool gal with great taste), my sister Melissa sent me some dark chocolate blue robin candy eggs from a fantastically elegant candy shop in Beverly Hills called Sugarfina. These delightful candies and a tin of gorgeous tea married to make this whimsical confectionary DIY. Here, a small blob of marshmallow holds about 2 teaspoons of loose tea together, just the right amount for small teapot brew. Although you can use any marshmallow recipe to make these, I like to use a maple syrup base because it enhances the natural, mild sweetness of my steep. You can even make the marshmallows separately to snack on.

More than anything, these tea marshmallows are ornamental, so don’t expect a lot of sweetness when they dissolve in your brew. Use any twig or flower based tea to make these Bird’s Nest Tea Bombs–a mix with colorful visual interest is ideal. Above all, just remember to enjoy the candy eggs before dropping the nests into the hot water. Happy springtime brewing my friends!Bird’s Nest Tea Bombs

Makes 12 small tea nests. Each nest makes 2 cups of tea.


2 tsp gelatin

2 Tbsp water

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/8 tsp cream of tartar

12 small egg candies

1/2 cup twiggy loose leaf tea (I used Bellocq’s National Parks Dept.)


large mixing bowl

medium pot

wooden spoon

candy thermometer

hand-held mixer with whisk attachment

lightly oiled rubber spatula

large piping bag with 1/2″ round piping tip (or just cut tip)

mini muffin tin


1.)  In a large heat proof mixing bowl, bloom the gelatin in the water. Set aside.

2.)  Place the maple syrup and cream of tartar in a medium pot, mix with the wooden spoon, then place on low-medium heat until the mixture hits 250 degrees F. Use the candy thermometer and be careful to watch the mixture so that the syrup doesn’t boil over.

3.)  Meanwhile, place 1 rounded tsp of loose leaf tea in each of 12 mini muffin pan cavities.

4.)  When the maple syrup comes up to temperature, take it off the heat then gradually pour it into the bloomed gelatin. Use a hand-held mixer to whip the mixture until you get stiff peaks. Use an oiled spatula to transfer the marshmallow fluff to a large piping bag with a 1/2″ open tip for piping.

5.)  Pipe small dollops of marshmallow fluff into each tea-filled mini muffin pan cavity. Attach a candy egg in the middle of each dollop, then top the marshmallows with extra loose leaf tea to create finished nests. Each nest is enough to brew 1 small teapot of tea (2 cup capacity). Simply eat the egg candy, then throw the nest into hot water to brew.

Gingerbread Teacup

Just like that and Christmas is tomorrow! The last week has been so utterly hectic. Last minute trips to the mall, mad gift wrapping, and anxiously waiting for the UPS guy to show up with my deliveries has left me in serious need of a tea break. I’m sure you could use a break too, so here is my offering to you during this eventful holiday season: a Gingerbread Teacup–quaint and cozy–just in time for time for the big day tomorrow.
Last week I made a gingerbread house for my niece Maddy. With the spicy dough, I created heart-shaped windows, a deeply sloped roof, and a slender chimney that you could almost imagine smoke whispering out of. That’s the thing about gingerbread…it’s like playing with molding clay–ideal for those who like creating art out of food. The whole process got me thinking of how to shape gingerbread, especially since I’ve been meaning to finally put my brand new Sports Ball Pan Set to use. Sports ball? We can do better than that!

What’s great about the Sports Ball Pan is that it’s divided into 2 hemispheres, the perfect depth for a deep yet shallow teacup. To combat the gingerbread dough’s tendency to want head south while baking (because of the molasses and butter in the dough), I freeze the shaped tea cup dough before baking it. I also use the other empty hemisphere of the mold to compress the dough from the top to help create an even thickness along the lip of the cup. For maximum versatility, it’s also important to use a dough recipe that can tolerate some cutting with a serrated knife after being baked.

After baking off the tea cup piece, you’ll notice that the inside bottom of the teacup is thicker than the sides. This is simply a result of gravity doing its work during baking, so don’t worry! The cup is designed to be filled with lots of small edible goodies, so a thicker base means a sturdier base.

I’ve also tinted my royal icing with cocoa powder and cinnamon so that it looks like the color of the dough itself. This isn’t typical in gingerbread house making, but a good idea here since we want the tea cup pieces to come together to look continuous and smooth. The cocoa colored icing is used to attach the rim of the tea cup, which is simply made from creating a ring of gingerbread dough based on the diameter of the sphere.

My sweet friend Danielle from This PictureBook Life bought me some yummy little Green Tea Kit Kats when she stopped over at Hello Kitty Con in Little Tokyo, so I thought this would be the perfect time to use (and eat!) them. You could certainly make your own tea-infused treats like Homemade Green Tea Pocky or Lemon Matcha Cake Bites, but if you’ve already made the cup, you should probably take a break now.

Truffles, biscuits, or even a pile of individually wrapped tea bags will steal the show in this homey little cup. Gingerbread Tea Cups: drink the tea, eat the cups! I’ll be taking this treat display over to my UK blogger friend Justine’s site for her Special Christmas Tea Time this week–you should come too! And with this post, I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and send out a big thank you for following me along on my tea adventures this year! Happy Holidays everyone!!

Gingerbread Teacups

Makes 2 cups.


{Gingerbread Dough}

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

2 tsp fresh ground ginger

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup molasses

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cloves

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

5 cups all-purpose flour

bench flour

{Royal Icing}

1 1/2 sifted confectioner’s sugar

2 Tbsp sifted cocoa powder

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp powdered egg whites

2 Tbsp water


small piece of red fondant

small heart-shaped cookie cutter

candies or cookies for filling the tea cup (I used green tea Kit Kats)

sugar cubes



stand mixer with paddle attachment

rubber spatula

large mixing bowl

large work surface


sharp knife


7″ plate or other circle to use as template

large baking sheet fitted with parchment

large spatula, for handling hot gingerbread

cooling rack

sports ball baking pansprayed with non-stick spray on the inner surface of one hemisphere, and the outer surface of the other hemisphere

serrated knife

medium mixing bowl

plastic piping bag



1.)  Make the Gingerbread Dough. Cream butter and sugar together in the bowl of stand mixer on low. Meanwhile mix the cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, baking soda, salt, and flour together in a large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, to the creamed butter, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the fresh ground ginger, vanilla, and molasses and continue to mix on low. Gradually add the spiced flour to the creamed butter until the dough is thoroughly mixed together. Place the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap, slightly flatten and seal tightly, then place the dough in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours before rolling.

2.)  Shape the Teacup. After the dough has chilled, divide it in half, then roll one piece of the dough out to 1/8″ thickness with a rolling-pin on a large work surface generously dusted with flour (leave the other half covered in plastic wrap in the fridge). Roughly cut out a 10″ circle, then gently lay this piece of dough into one half of the ball baking pan (the hemisphere with the inner surface greased). Fit the dough into the pan as if you were laying pie crust into a pie plate, making sure the dough fits snugly and evenly against the ball pan. If there are tears, carefully patch them with scraps of dough. Trim off excess dough laying over the edge of the pan with a sharp knife. Place the mold fitted with the dough into the freezer to freeze until solid.

3.)  Create a Handle. Cut out a 1/2″ by 5″ strip of dough from the rolled dough. Shape it into the shape of a half heart, then place it on a large baking sheet.

4.)  Create a Tea Cup Rim. Cut out a 6″ round (using the empty hemisphere), then cut out a 5 1/2″ circle inside of the dough cut-out, creating round ring. Carefully transfer this dough ring to the baking sheet.

5.)  Create a Plate. On the rest of the rolled dough (or scraps re-rolled to 1/8″ thickness), place a 7″ plate. Cut around the plate with a sharp knife to create a gingerbread plate. Transfer this 7″ round of dough also to the large baking sheet. Lightly press the bottom of one of the ball molds into the center of the round to create a “ditch” for the teacup to sit in later. Place this plate also on the baking sheet.

6.)  Bake Cup, Handle, Rim, and Plate. Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F. When the oven comes to temperature, Place the dough teacup into the oven, with the other greased half of the mold (the empty hemisphere, greased on the outside) pressed snugly against the top surface of shaped dough. This will help the dough to create stronger “sides” on the teacup. Bake the shaped teacup dough for about 15 minutes, then remove the top pan and bake for an extra 12-15 minutes until the gingerbread is slightly puffed and stiff to the touch. Bake the handle, teacup rim, and plate for about 10 minutes until the handle is slightly puffed and stiff to touch, then remove the handle and continue cooking the teacup rim and plate until they are also finished baking. You may need to take the rim out at a different time than the plate so that the gingerbread doesn’t burn. Place any finished pieces of gingerbread on a cooling rack to cool. For the teacup, let it cool while it is still sitting in the ball pan.

6.)  Trim the Gingerbread Tea Cup and Handle. When the gingerbread tea cup pieces have fully cooled, use a serrated knife to create clean, flat edges. For the tea cup, trim the jagged upper edge so that it lays flush against a flat surface when turned upside down.

Trim the half heart-shaped handle to fit flush against the side of the teacup. It’s best to trim just a bit at a time as you see necessary.

Repeat steps 2-6 to create a second set of teacup pieces.

7.)  Make the Royal Icing. Mix all the icing ingredients together in a medium bowl, then place the icing into the piping bag. Cut a small edge off from the bag’s tip, then use the royal icing to glue the handle to the teacup, and the teacup base to the plate. Also attach the tea cup rim to the top of the teacup, wiping off any excess icing with your finger to create a clean appearance.

8.)  Attach Tea Cup Embellishments. You can make small heart-shaped gingerbread cookies from re-rolled scraps. Also, you can roll out a small piece of red fondant and then cut it using a decorative cookie cutter, attaching it to the teacup with a dab of icing. Fill the teacup with cookies or candies. Sugar cubes and teaspoons also make charming finishes. 

Christmas Tea Trees

In the world of tea, tea bags often get a bad rap. Flavor wise, some teas are worthy of that bad reputation, but in today’s market there are actually many tea bag based brands that do a good job of bringing on the flavor. Even better, tea bags are convenient–no mess, no fuss…almost effortless to use!

A few years ago I remember watching Dylan Lauren from Dylan’s Candy Bar (you know, Ralph Lauren’s daughter) make Candy Topiaries on the Martha Stewart Show. Mesmerized, I made several of these festive topiaries for friends and family and they were an instant hit. My only gripe? They required way too many mini candy bars, making the trees weighty and apt to toppling tea trees 4

Today’s Christmas Tea Tree craft is the tea version of those topiaries, except that they are lighter, prettier, and best of all…healthier! This project requires just a few items, the first of which are individually wrapped tea bags. That being said, the more attractive the wrapping is on the tea bags, the better. And to continue the tree theme I always like to add at least a few green tea bags into the mix.

My best suggestion is to look up the brand of tea bags you plan on buying before you get to the store. Some tea bags aren’t individually wrapped, so you just want to make sure. My favorite brands to use for modern looking trees are Pukka or Tazo tea bags, but for a more traditional look go for Twinings or TWG.

Customize this Christmas Tea Tree for any occasion by switching up the color palettes and tea flavors. A wrap of cellophane and a large bow, and you have unique gift that will be the centerpiece of holiday tea drinking!

Christmas Tea Trees 

What You’ll Need:

styrofoam cones

individually wrapped tea bags, the number depends on how big the cone is

glue gun with glue sticks

small paper mache boxes or some kind of short, round cylinder to use as the “stump”

wooden stars or other star trinkets for embellishment

rice, for weighing down boxes (optional)


1.)  Adhere tea bags starting at the base of the cone. Place a thin line of hot glue along the upper edge of the back of a tea bag, then attach it to the cone. Hold the tea bag in place until the glue sets.

2.)  When you glue the next tea bag, slightly overlap it over the one that was just glued so that you cover up the styrofoam cone underneath. How much you overlap the tea bags depends on the size of your tea bags. Finish the entire base before moving upwards, then repeat the gluing process until you reach the top.

3.)  Attach the top of the paper mache box to the base of the cone using hot glue. 
For more stability, add some rice in the bottom half of the box to serve as a weight, then use glue to seal the top piece of the paper mache box to the bottom piece to create one unified “stump.”

4.)  Attach a wooden star trinket to top of the cone, again using hot glue. When it’s tea time, carefully rip the tea bags off the tea tree and enjoy!

Boba Thai Tea Shooters

A few months back I received an email from my blogger friend Lan over at morestomach. Lan had messaged me to ask about making Thai Iced Tea, that much-loved sweet orange concoction that Thai food lovers can’t seem to get enough of.

In our chats, I shared with Lan a few tips on making Thai tea and some ideas on where she might be able to find some (you can find it at Asian markets, Amazon, or Teavana). We then discussed how the tea gets that strange yet inviting bright orange color. Lan’s food style is pure, clean, and elegantly composed, so I had to break it to her gently…that neon coloring is artificial.

I put this recipe together to use up the last of my Thai tea stash that’s been hanging out in the back of my tea cabinet over the last year. Since it’s Halloween this week, I figure I should put that orange brilliance to good use and make some festive Thai Tea Shooters in test tubes, complete with a few boba balls for an extra spooky effect.

Today I’m using plastic test tube favors to make these shots. I found them on sale at my local craft store (Michaels) over the weekend (part of the Martha Stewart line), and can’t get over how adorable they are. Glass tubes would be so much classier, but hey, it Halloween, so a bit of tackiness is allowed right!?

There’s really nothing to making Thai Tea. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool down so that it doesn’t melt the ice that you serve it with. Luckily, that’s not an issue here because these shots are made with well-chilled tea. This way, there’s no need for ice and the tea keeps its strong flavor and creamy appearance.

Another tip for making good Thai Tea is to boil the tea for a long time. This type of full flavored tea isn’t sensitive to heat like traditional brews are, so it’s fine to boil the tea for up to 15 minutes instead of just steeping it. A darker, more concentrated brew will be tastier than a lighter one, since you can always adjust the strength of the tea with the stronger version.

What character are you planning to be this Halloween? If you’re having a get together and know that your guests are Thai tea fans, be a Mad Scientist and make some ghastly Boba Thai Tea Shooters! These curious little treats will be the delight of any creepy bash!

Boba Thai Tea Shooters

Makes 12-15 test tube shots.


1/2 cup loose leaf Thai tea

1 quart of water

1/2 cup sugar, or to taste

1/2 cup half-and-half

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup boba tapioca balls, prepared according to package instructions


large pot

large heatproof pitcher

a double layered piece of cheesecloth

fine mesh strainer

test tube favors (I used Martha Stewart brand)

tall basket or test tube holder


1.)  Boil the water in a large pot, add the tea, then lower the heat to a rolling boil for 10-15 minutes. After 15 minutes, strain out the leaves by pouring the tea through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer into a large heatproof pitcher.

2.)  Add the sugar to the tea just after boiling. Feel free to play around with the amount of sugar to suit your taste. Let the tea cool to room temperature. Mix in the half-and-half and vanilla extract, then place the tea in the fridge to chill completely.

3.)  Pour the tea into test tubes until they are 3/4 full. Just before serving, add a few boba balls to each tube, then cap with the corks and place the test tubes in a test tube holder. You’re done!

*** Entertaining Tip: It’s a good idea to have some fat boba straws for your guests to use for drinking. If the boba sits around at the bottom of the test tubes for a long time, they may tend to stick there. The straws will allow for easy drinking if you happen to need them, especially if you are wanting to make the shots ahead of time.

Tea Tin Topiaries

There’s something mysterious and elegant about black tea tins. Many times, a black tea tin indicates the classic, traditional, and signature blend of a tea shop–a blend to be savored and cherished.

As you might imagine, my tea cabinet is literally bursting at the seams with tea tins of all shapes and colors. Many of the tins in my cabinet are actually empty. When opened, these empty tins carry the faintest essence of steeps past, a reminder that it’s either time to stock up again or time to get crafting!

Around Halloween, black and orange tea tins take on new meaning. They make artful, eye-catching decorations that aren’t the least bit tacky. The empty tins that I have the most of are Mariage Frères tins–so very chic and distinctively French. Just a glimpse and they give me the fondest memories of my tea adventures in France last year.

Some other tins that remind me of Halloween include the tins from Disney’s Mad Tea Party Blend and Harney & Sons’ Hot Cinnamon Sunset. These blends are black tea based, but while one is fruity (apricots!), the other is spicy. Both are delicious choices for fall tea-drinking.

To make these topiaries distinctively Halloween-like, I’ve used pumpkin seeds to create natural-looking greenery instead of using loose, dried moss. Pumpkin seeds are the perfect color of leaf green, and lie flat when glued onto styrofoam using a matcha infused buttercream. The lightweight seeds help to accentuate the form of the styrofoam base, which I’ve even used for making macaron towers before. I like to finish these arrangements with sparkly black spider stickers and some Halloween themed ribbon for a faintly “spooky” effect.

Once you find the right color of tea tin and some seasonal embellishments, Tea Tin Topiaries are perfect for any holiday occasion. For Halloween, Thanksgiving, or even Christmas, these structured garden pieces are easy to put together and make whimsical little centerpieces. This year, I’ll be placing these topiaries by large bowls of candy for a festive touch when the trick-or-treaters come knocking. It might be wishful thinking, but I’m hoping the sugar-crazed kiddos keep their hands off of my seed and candy creations…looky no touchy!

Tea Tin Topiary

Makes 1 topiary.

What You’ll Need:

bamboo lollipop stick

2 styrofoam balls ( I used a 3″ diameter ball) or 1 styrofoam cone (3″ x 6″) + 1 styrofoam ball (3″)

serrated knife

glue (hot glue/glue gun works best and fastest)

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

large plate

matcha powder (just enough to give the icing a light green tint)

1/4 cup white icing

icing spreader

decorative ribbon


spider stickers (optional)

tea tin

colorful, small decorative candies for topping off the base of the tins and for helping to adjust the height of topiary (how much depends on size of tin)


1.)  Cut a half-inch slice from one styrofoam ball to create a flat base for the topiary. Stick the lollipop stick into the middle base of another ball or cone, about 1″ in. Stick the other side of the stick into the styrofoam ball base, again about 1″ in. Use glue to attach both ends of the stick to each styrofoam piece. Make sure the topiary is standing perfectly straight before letting the glue dry completely.

2.)  Mix the matcha in with the icing. Use the spreader to spread a thin layer of the green icing onto the top styrofoam topiary piece. Over a large plate, attach the pumpkin seeds by scattering them on the surface of the iced styrofoam. Use your fingers to flatten them to the surface of the icing, and fill in any open icing gaps with more seeds.

3.)  Place some candies into the base of the tin. You may need to place more or less depending on how high you want your topiary to be. Place the topiary’s base into the semi-filled tea tin, adjust it so that it stands straight, and then fill the tin with remaining candies until the base is full with them. The weight of the candy will help to keep the tower in place.

4.)  Tie or adorn the topiaries with ribbon. If you want to wrap the cone like I did, use a dab of hot glue on one end of a long piece of ribbon, then secure it to the bottom edge of the topiary. Wrap the ribbon carefully around the surface of the topiary, then use another dab of glue to secure the other end of the ribbon onto the top edge of the topiary. Snip off any excess ribbon. If using, attach spider stickers on the topiary for a “spooky” effect.

Afternoon Tea Greeting Card

The art of a handwritten card is all but lost in today’s internet age. Coming from a blogger it hardly makes sense to say such a thing, but if you can remember the last time someone put pen to paper to write you a heartfelt note, then I’m sure you’ll agree: a stroke of cursive can speak volumes.

One of my favorite stores has to be Papyrus, the mecca for eye-catching, one-of-a-kind cards. Sometimes I look at their cards and think: “Wow, this is so cute!” Other times, I think: “Hey, I could totally make this…”

This Afternoon Tea Greeting Card is inspired by all those delightful treasures I’ve come across at Papyrus. For the longest time, I had this adorable wrapping paper print called Tea Time lying unused in my craft drawer, and I figured that this was the perfect opportunity to use it.

You might already know from my previous posts how much I love Mod Podge Dimensional Magic. In this project, this craft glue adds a thick layer of glaze to the paper teacup and teapot designs so that they give off a shiny, porcelain-like lustre.

Some of the teacups will be hung, some will be shelved, and the teapots will be set up right up along side a fresh pile of green tea. In my opinion, this little card is an artful gift in itself. Although it’s perfect for Mother’s Day or as a birthday card, I think it’s most special when given was a thinking of you card for someone who simply loves tea.

Afternoon Tea Greeting Card

What You’ll Need:

teacup and teapot images (I used Caspari’s Tea Time gift wrapping paper)

1 blank greeting card with envelope (I used a 5 1/2″ card)

small piece of card stock (I just used another blank greeting card)

3 wooden skewers (the culinary kind you use for kabobs, cut to 5″ to fit my size card)

6 small silver brads

2′ decorative twine, cut into 5 equal pieces

1 1/2″ piece decorative string or twine

1 teabag or 1/2 tsp loose tea

Mod Podge Dimensional Magic

paper glue

strong gel adhesive or hot glue w/ glue gun (that dries clear)

4 adhesive foam dots (I used 7/16″size)

sharp scissors

1/16″ hole punch

regular hole punch (optional)


1.)  Prep the Images. If using Caspari’s Tea Time wrapping paper, cut around teacup and teapot images, leaving a 1/8″ border around the pictures. You will need 8 teacups and 2 teapots to make 1 card.

2.)  Apply an even, thin layer of paper glue on the back side of all the cut images, then stick them onto the small piece of card stock. It’s ok to glue one image right next to the next one.

3.)  After you’ve glued the images to the card stock, use the Mod Podge Dimensional Magic to trace and fill the images so that they will appear shiny (and dimensional) later. You will need 5 teacup images outlined without a dish, 3 teacup images with a dish, and 2 teapots.

4.)  Let the Dimensional Magic dry for about 2 hours, until it is completely dry and clear. Use a pair of scissors to precisely cut the images out–5 teacups, 3 teacup with dishes, and 2 teapots–without any remaining border. Set the images aside.

5.)  Make a Row of Hanging Teacups. Use 1/16″ hole punch to punch a small hole in the handle section of each teacup (without dish) image. With each of the 5 pieces of twine, thread one teacup (without dish) through, then tie a knot to create a loop that is 2″ around (1″ when thread is doubled up). Repeat this process 5 times to create 5 “teacup charms.”

6.)  Open up a brad, loop one teacup charm into the center of the brad, then wrap the brad tightly around the wooden skewer so that it doesn’t slide around easily. Cut off any excess twine that goes past the knot. Repeat this process 5 times so that all 5 “teacup charms” hang off of the skewer using the 5 brads.

7.)  Attach the Teacups, Teapots, and Skewer Shelving. Stick two adhesive foam dots on the back side of each of the 2 teapots.

8.)  Place all the images on the card in the exact locations where they will be glued down…just eyeball it until it looks good. I like to place the hanging teacups as the top row, the sitting teacups (with dishes) as the second row, and the teapots on the bottom row. For the bottom row, make space to glue the 1 1/2″ piece of decorative string later (this will become the plate with the tea on it).

9.)  Use the gel adhesive or hot glue to attach the 3 skewers to the card. Use the gel adhesive to glue the teacups (with dishes) onto the card (to sit on the middle skewer/”shelf”). For the bottom shelf, peel the protective cover off from the adhesive foam dots (on the back of the teapots), then affix them to sit on both ends the bottom skewer.

10.)  Add a Large Pile of Tea! Create a smile-like shape with the 1 1/2″ piece of string so that it looks bowl-like from the side. Glue this string piece in the middle of the bottom row/skewer. Finally, use the Dimensional Magic to create a triangular, pile-like formation of glue atop the “bowl.” Rip open the tea bag and use your fingers to carefully sprinkle the tea leaves on top of the Dimensional Magic so that they stick. Let the card dry for a few hours or overnight, then turn the card over and knock off any of the excess tea…your Afternoon Tea Greeting Card is complete!

Summertime Sun Tea

What’s a girl to do when it’s a hundred degrees outside and moving to Antarctica sounds like a good idea?  Make sun tea, of course!  With July 4th celebrations coming up, everyone is in need of some cool refreshment.  To put it simply, Summertime Sun Tea is the drink of sunshine and rainbows…colorful, nourishing, and just plain delicious!

Sun tea is a method of slow cold water brewing.  This technique produces a gentler tea infusion that’s crisper and clearer than teas brewed the traditional way.  Cold water brewed teas also have less caffeine and are less bitter since the process of steeping isn’t as harsh.

Today I’m using Elmwood Inn’s best-selling Kentucky Black Tea to make my Summertime Sun Tea.  The Kentucky Blend is a Chinese black tea made from tea leaves that originate from Yunnan (Southwestern China) and Anhui (Eastern China).  This blend is my favorite standard black tea because it’s robust without being overwhelming.  It has a rich flavor with sweet grassy notes, and complements fresh fruit flavor extremely well.

I gave up sodas just last summer and haven’t looked back since.  Being obsessed with teas and herbals like I am, this wasn’t as hard to do as I thought it would be.  Summertime is the best time to get over a soda addiction.  It’s the time when fruits and veggies are most plentiful, and this way you’ll never get bored.

Here are some of my favorite iced tea, fruit, and herb steeps.  Some flavor pairings are more adventurous than others, but all of them are delicious in their own unique way.  As always, it’s a very good idea to buy organic fruits if you can.  And as a side note, starchy fruits won’t work well in tea-fruit steeps.

My Favorite Iced Tea & Fruit Combos:

1.  Peaches & Blueberries (with black tea)

2.  Oranges & Mint (with oolong)

3.  Pineapple & Strawberries (with rooibos)

4.  Cucumber & Mint (with green tea)

5.  Strawberry & Basil (with green tea)

6.  Peach & Rosemary (with black tea)

7.  Mango & Ginger (with oolong)

8.  Apple & Spearmint (with green tea)

9.  Grapefruit & Strawberries (with green tea)

10.  Pitted Cherries & Lemon (with black tea)

At any gathering, it’s important to consider those who are going caffeine-free.  Fruit water is the ideal treat for this crowd.  Again, use any fruit that you prefer in these waters, just try to make sure that the fruits aren’t overly ripe so that the water doesn’t get too cloudy.  There’s no need to “sun” these fruit waters.  Simply mix them up and place them in the fridge or in ice a few hours before serving.

I like to call the fruit water steep in the photo above my “Fourth of July Water” because it looks so festive and patriotic.  Generally, the strawberries like to float and blueberries like to sink.  There it is…red, white, and blue!

Say goodbye to sodas this year with some wholesome Summertime Sun Tea.  Salads, burgers, ribs…these yummy, portable drinks are a perfect match for any hot weather-themed meal.  Just a few sips and your picnics and barbeques will never be the same!

Summertime Sun Tea

What You’ll Need:

mason jars with lids


tea bags, regular or decaf, one for each jar

distilled or spring water (cold or at room temperature)

fruit (not overly ripe, cut into slices or small pieces, & preferably organic)

mint, basil, or other fruit-friendly herbs



a place in the sun…

a large tub with lots of ice (or a fridge)


1.)  Sterilize the jars/lids or wash the mason jars and lids thoroughly with very hot water and soap.  Rinse well.  This step is essential to prevent bacterial growth.  We aren’t canning here but we still want to take proper precautions.

2.)  Place 1 tea bag in each mason jar, cutting off the string part of the tea bag if necessary. Pour cold distilled water into the jar leaving a 1 1/2″ clearance under the rim  (you want room to fill the fruit in later).  Screw lid on mason jars tightly.

3.)  In hot weather under direct sunlight, place the jars of lid-covered tea to brew.  In weather above 90 degrees F you can easily do this in one hour.  Set a timer to keep track of time.  (If it’s not hot where you are or you simply don’t like this sunning method, just park the tea in the fridge to steep for 6-8 hours.  You’ll get the same end result.)

4.)  After 1 hour, take the jars of tea out of the sun.  Open jars and use tongs to place fruit slices/pieces or herbs into each jar.  Screw lids on tightly.  Plunge the mason jar teas into a tub of ice or place them in the fridge for easy drinking later.

***Entertaining Tip:   If you are serving these at a party put a small tub or container next to the tub of sun teas.  Guests can drop the jar lids in when they start sipping. 

Lavender Green Tea Foot Soak

Summertime feet.  They’re supposed to be pretty and sandal-ready but sometimes they just aren’t.  Perhaps you’ve tried pedicures, pumice stones, or foot balms to care for them…but have you ever tried a foot soak?  I didn’t think much of foot soaks until I indulged in one for the very first time a few weeks ago, after my feet were totally spent from having moved into a new place.  A bucket of hot water and some salts might not seem like a big deal, but when your feet are sore and aching like you’ve just hiked through the Mojave Desert nothing could be better.

The secret to this foot soak is epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate.  Epsom salts come in cartons or large bags which can be found in any drug store for just a few dollars.  The salts are commonly used as a home remedy to treat aches or sprains, and are also known for being an excellent skin softener and exfoliant.

Another ingredient added to this foot soak is some common everyday green tea.  When applied topically, steeped green tea is thought to have antibacterial properties and can also to help to reduce swelling…perfect for reviving tired, less-than-fresh feet.  Here, lavender essential oil and buds not only give a hit of soothing aromatherapy, but also add a flowery pop of purple color to the soak.  The calming fragrance of this herbal will leave you feeling like you’re being primped and pampered at some exclusive spa.

This easy-to-make foot soak is perfect for expectant moms, atheletes, or for anyone who simply has horribly aching feet.  The salts can be easily packed into jars or sachets for easy gift giving, and also make luxurious yet inexpensive party favors.  Try this Lavender Green Tea Foot Soak as a simple pleasure at the end of a long day.  It’s sure to leave you feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and wondering why you hadn’t made a stop at the drug store for some epsom salts many summers ago.

Lavender Green Tea Foot Soak

What You’ll Need:

large mixing bowl


1 cup epsom salt

2 tea bags or 2 tsp loose green tea (please, don’t use the fancy stuff!)

2 tsp fresh or dried lavender buds

1/2 tsp lavender essential oil

1 cup capacity jar, sachet, or other sealed container

foot tub or bucket

8 quarts warm water (I like the water to be very warm/almost hot)


1.)  Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Place the mixture in a sealed container until ready to use.

2.)  When ready for the foot soak, place the fragrant salt into a large foot tub and add 8 quarts of very warm water.

3.)  Soak feet for 20 minutes or until feet feel soft, refreshed, and squeaky-clean.

DIY Tea Soap

Have you ever had a tea so fragrant and delicious that you wish you could bottle its essence up and make perfume out of it?  When I came across some Sloane Teas in Toronto last year I realized how tea is actually the culinary version of perfume.  While I can’t blend my own perfumes, what I can do is make soap out of tea!  With a trip to the health food store, an easy-to-use soap base, and some favorite steeps, you can create rustic, nourishing tea soaps in so many shapes and varieties!

Rose Bud Herbal, Earl Grey Black Tea, Lavender Herbal, and Sencha Matcha Green Tea are some blends that I love to drink.  I thought that these teas would also make some refreshing soap blends because of their unique fragrances and cosmetic appeal.  While rose and lavender buds give off the prettiest shades of color, black and green teas have excellent exfoliating properties.
When I originally thought of making tea soap, I was going to do it the authentic way, with olive oil, coconut oil, and one very mysterious ingredient–lye.  After doing some research I realized that going the lye-based route wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it would be.  Apparently, gloves and goggles are a must when you work with this corrosive product.  At the word “saponify,” I closed out of the “how-to” You Tube video I was watching and decided to hit up my local craft store for some olive oil soap base, a microwaveable soap that’s amazingly convenient and easy-to-use.

If you’ve been to the beauty section of your health food store, you’ll most certainly encounter essential oils.  These oils are concentrated scents commonly used in combination with lotions and creams for moisturizing skin.  The scents are pure and often organic.  A few drops pack a powerful punch of scent.  As yummy as they smell, keep in mind that essential oils aren’t made for culinary uses.  Essential oils are oil-based and will carry scent for a long period of time where food extracts (like vanilla, rose water, or orange blossom water) won’t.

Keep the size, shape, and roughness of your tea choices in mind when you are making tea soaps.  For my selections, I ended up ripping and destemming the rose buds before adding them into the soap base.  My earl grey tea was pulsed in a spice grinder to create smaller bits–not as nice looking as the herbals, but much more effective as an exfoliant.  The buds and leaves of the lavender and green tea were softer and small enough that I didn’t have to alter them in any way.  Tea from tea bags also work well in tea soaps, as the leaves have often been cut and torn into smaller bits.

Without sounding too much like a lady of the backwoods, I’d like to mention that making tea soap is actually an incredibly fun and rewarding craft project.  It’s a fantastic way to use up any leftover teas that are sitting in the back of your tea cabinet or other teas that for some reason don’t please your palette.  Tea soaps make simple party favors, decorative bath accents, or a simple, fresh burst of daily aromatherapy to brighten your day.

DIY Tea Soaps

What You’ll Need:

melt & pour soap base

essential oils/ tea powders ( I used rose, bergamot, lavender, and match green tea powder)

leaf teas or herbals (I used rose buds, earl grey, lavender, and sencha)

soap or silicone molds (just any plastic mold with an inner smooth surface will do)

microwave safe medium or large mixing bowl

spoons for stirring

dough cutter or knife (for cutting chunks off of soap base brick)

tea towel

parchment paper and twine (optional)


1.)  Looking at your soap mold(s), estimate the amount of soap base you will need to fill the molds.  Use a dough cutter or other dull cutting tool to cut off chunks of the soap base.  You can also use a knife to do this, just be careful as the soap can be sticky and slippery to the touch.

2.)  After you’ve cut off the amount of soap base you need, place it in a medium or large microwave safe bowl.  Melt it in the microwave according to the manufacturer’s directions.  For the amount needed for my mini bar soaps I only needed 20-30 seconds in the microwave on high.  The soap base melts readily in the microwave, so melt at 20 second intervals to avoid overheating.  Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave with a tea towel, and stir in 1 tsp of the tea leaves and a 1/2 tsp of the essential oil (or tea powder).  I use these amounts for 1 of my 3″ x 2″ x 1″ soap bars.  You can adjust the amount of tea and essential oil according to how large your mold is.

3.)  With a spoon, mix together the tea leaves and essential oil (or tea powder) until you get an evenly mixed soap.

4.)  Pour the soap mixture into your mold(s), then set them aside until they have completely hardened.  Clean the mixing bowl by running under cold water.  The residual soap will peel off from the bowl.

5.)  After the soaps have completely hardened, pop them out of their molds.  Wrap each bar in a square of parchment paper and tie with twine until ready to use.

Teapot Bouquets

Here’s a quick and easy idea for celebrating Mother’s Day this year!  These Teapot Bouquets transform your everyday, grocery store bunch of blooms into the most beautiful arrangements.  If you hit up your local market today, I’m sure you’ll notice that they’ve stocked up their flower selections by at least double the usual amount.  Flowers?  Check.  Now all you need is a pretty teapot and you’re almost done!

If you ask me, teapots are an even more practical vessel for flowers than vases are.  A teapot spout makes it super simple to refresh the water for your blooms every day so that the bouquet stays fresher, longer.  Also, when you don’t have to remove the entire bouquet out of the vase for each water change, your arrangement is able to keep its shape and structure better.

Tulips are hands down my favorite flower, so I’ve used them here to complement some of the tea wares that I already have in my collection.  The best way to prepare these flower bouquets is by lining the blooms up by their heads and then using a sharp knife to cut through the stems straight across to a height that best suits the teapot you are using.

Pick a teapot that complements the intricate color and detail of your bouquet.  You can see that the flower petals of my bright orange tulips are more opaque than that of these delicate, airy looking pinkish tulips, which is how I decided to pick a solid cream-colored teapot for the orange blooms.  This taller, silvery iridescent teapot paired beautifully with the pink stems, giving them a romantic and soft glow.

My favorite of these Teapot Bouquets is this Japanese cast-iron one filled with elegant white tulips.  I’ve tucked in more of the tulip leaves here for an extra pop of vibrant green color and contrast.  Who knew that tulips, a flower much associated with Holland, would look so perfect in a frosty gold Japanese teapot!

I wish I had some mad macro lens skills like my blogger friend Patty does so that I could do these gorgeous bulbs justice.  If you love naturalistic, close-up shots of blooms and fauna, you must check our her Macro Monday posts!  Her photos of nature are breathtakingly intricate and artistic.

Create a Teapot Bouquet for your mom this year, and pair it with some lovely teacups (and tea!) to complete the set.  Whether vintage, modern, or Asian in style, choose cups that complement the look and feel of your Teapot Bouquet.

Finally, why not brew up some tea for your mom while she sits back and relaxes?   She deserves it.  Present the steeped tea to you mom as a way to show her how much you respect and appreciate her.  This simple gesture is a beloved Chinese tradition that’s taken place between daughters and mothers for generations, and has stood the test of time.

Here is my own sweet and beautiful mom, enjoying time with her 2-year-old granddaughter Maddy just last week.  And with that, I’d like to say Happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful mom and all the other awesome and dedicated moms out there!  Seriously, what would we do without them!?