2014 Gifts for Tea Lovers

Nine days and counting! Just a few days ago, I spent hours online trying to buy Christmas gifts for my friends and family (the non-tea loving ones). At this point, I can only hope that I chose some gifts that won’t end up at the back of the broom closet come New Year’s.

Luckily, tea lovers are easy to shop for. The art of buying tea-themed gifts is to choose something unique, a bit different from the usual. If you are shopping for the tea lover in your life, look no further. I’m sure at least one of these tea goodies will bring a smile to their face.

ChaHoney Monthly Tea Subscription

My friend Elizabeth launched her company ChaHoney this year, with a vision to share her passion for discovering new teas. If you’ve ever purchased a tea that you didn’t like (and never drank again), you know how important it is to sample a tea before committing. Nobody wants boxes of less-than-pleasing tea taking up room in their tea cabinet.

A ChaHoney subscription is effortless and genius: each month, 4 featured tea samples will arrive at your doorstep. Curious? You can even try out a one-time sampler pack for starters. The code THIRSTY10TEA will give you 10% off any of the subscriptions through December 25th. Support small business, taste a world of teas, and discover the ones you love most through ChaHoney!

Kami Wood Cups

I don’t want these teacups, I need them. These wooden Japanese teacups are hand crafted in Hokkaido. They are made with gorgeous castor aralia wood, which has a grain similar to unfinished birch wood. There couldn’t be a better way to enjoy a cup of grassy Japanese sencha.

Smartea Tea Set

I like to describe this teapot as the BMW of teapots. It’s functional and sleek at the same time, the image of a modern tea drinker’s teapot. I love that you can insert a tea light in the base so that your tea stays warm from first sip to last.

Fresh’s Black Tea Face Mask

My sister introduced me to this stuff several years ago when she said I was starting to get wrinkles (thank you, Melissa!). Now that I look back, I suppose it was kind of her because I love this black tea mask and haven’t found a better antioxidant mask since. The best way to describe its texture is velvety. When the weather is cold and dry, I leave it on my face for anywhere from 10 minutes up to an hour for a deeply hydrating effect.

Tea Leaf Reading Kit

Are there any Harry Potter fans out there? I know there are. If you are one of them, the word tessomancy may sound familiar. Term refers to the art of reading tea leaves (Professor Trelawney reads Harry Potter’s tea cup during Divination lessons), and this whimsical little kit brings that idea to life.

Numi’s Artisan’s Tea Blending Kit

Last month when I visited Adagio Teas in Chicago I was so impressed to find a tea blending station. Tea blenders take years to perfect their craft, but if you’ve ever been curious this kit is a great place to start. Blend, taste, and blend again…perhaps you have a knack for tea blending too!

Zoku Ice Cream Maker

Have you ever thought of making your own tea flavored ice creams at home? Problem is, the process is often way to fussy with those large, awkward ice cream makers. Place this ice cream bowl straight into the freezer. When it’s chilled you can make smaller batches of fresh ice cream within moments. Matcha frozen yogurt? No problem. Creamy gelato made with your favorite Earl Grey? Coming right up!

Pantone Universe Mugs

If you are familiar with Pantone, you know that they serve as a color atlas for designers. They make a variety of fine bone china mugs in their signature colors, and these babies are ideal for a distinctively colorful tea time. Their color of the year is Marsala, a spicy, pomegranate shade of red that’s Christmas-like and cheery.

Valerie Confection’s Matcha and Rose Petal Petit Fours

Based out of Los Angeles, there’s no better way to describe this confectionary’s petit fours than to say that they are perfect. Not too big, not to small, not too sweet…just perfect. They have several petit four flavors, from champagne to mint, but the rose petal variety is my favorite.

Trader Joe’s Tea Sampler

When it comes to snacking and tasty eating, Trader Joe’s almost never fails. I came across this box of internationally sourced loose teas last week, and was delighted when I opened the package to reveal this eclectic collection of 10 tea-filled vials. Forget the chocolates and give tea this year. No calories, more flavor, and for $12.99 a tea gift doesn’t get better than this.

Kombucha Revolution

This book takes some of the mystery out of making Kombucha, that effervescent fermented tea that’s prized for its flavor and health benefits. The book is written by Stephen Lee, a co-founder of both Tazo and Stash Brand Teas. I have the book myself and can’t wait to try the Long Kombucha Iced Tea and BambuCha recipes soon…don’t they sound delish?

Tea Cup Stool

If this were easier for me to buy in the US, I would have my feet propped up on one in my living room right now. If you live the UK you are lucky, because apparently these are readily available there and delivery is free! I’ve decided that my life isn’t complete until I get one of these…need one now.

Magnetic Tea Chalkboard

Some gifts just can’t be purchased, so if you’re crafty this might be just the project for you. This board is great for featuring colorful teas or for anyone in need of some simple organization. The board is highly customizable to suit a selective tea drinker, and can be reused in so many ways long after the tea is drunk!

Magnetic Tea Chalkboard

During the the busy holiday season, I only make crafty gifts for those I love most. A few weeks ago, I created a Magnetic Tea Board for my dear friend Danielle over at This Picture Book Life. She seemed thrilled to receive it, and at the very least I was proud to call it one-of-a-kind, something she couldn’t buy in a store.
As Danielle prefers herbals over the caffeinated kind, I filled her tea board with tisanes like honeybush, peppermint, and Hawaiian Mamaki tea. That’s the great thing about this little project, you can tailor the tea board to please all kinds of tea drinkers. How about a tea board with a variety of chai teas or only Christmas themed teas? The possibilities are endless.  And speaking of possibilities, you can use this board for much more than just tea. The favor tins could hold spices, vitamins, sprinkles, jewelry, or even your workspace desk supplies! Depending on what your frame looks like, you can play around with the shapes of tea tins you use. Just make sure that you use sturdy tins, well made ones that have tops that snugly attach to the bottoms so that the tins’ contents are well contained.

If you use this magnetic board for tea, a tea timer is a nice touch to the project. Although I like to use an elegant sand tea timer, you could also use a precise digital tea timer instead. The key is to pick the frame, timer, and teas to suit a specific style. The board that I made here has a slightly French look, inspired by the sexy little tea timer that I bought from Fauchon in France.

I guess it’s a bit ironic that I used labels on this chalkboard, but if you’ve ever seen my penmanship–trust me, it would make sense. If you are able to write out a lovely script, by all means show it off here! I’ve decided to go the more reliable route, using an embossed label maker. I love that the embossed label gives the board a trendy vibe, so that the aesthetic elements of the board come together to look organized.

There’s nothing like a hand-made gift to tell someone how much you appreciate them. This stylish and versatile Magnetic Tea Board has so many uses, I love that it’s a visual reminder to make time for a tea break. Make one for yourself or for someone special…there couldn’t be a better gift for the avid tea-lover.

Magnetic Tea Chalkboard

What You’ll Need:

magnetic chalk board sheet

12″ x 12″ frame, glass removed

adhesive craft magnets

favor tins

4 button magnets

tea timer

permanent craft glue (p.s. the glue from a glue gun won’t work here)

label maker (optional)

chalk

a selection of teas

Step-By-Step:

1.)  Prepare the magnetic chalk board by inserting and securing the magnetic chalk board sheet into the 12″ x 12″ frame.

2.)  Attach 1 adhesive magnet to the back of each favor tin you plan on using. Now the tins are ready to be filled with teas of your choice.

3.)  Attach the button magnets to the back side of the tea timer using the permanent craft glue. Let the glue dry according to the package instructions before attaching the timer to the magnetic board.

4.)  Create labels for the teas using the label maker, or simply use chalk to write in the names of the teas onto the board wherever you see fit.

5.)  Affix the labels on the board, then attach the tins and tea timer onto the board. Hang the finished tea board up in a convenient location (in the kitchen, or by your desk at work) for an effortless and organized tea time…enjoy!

Holiday Gifts for Tea-Lovers

Only 7 days left, but there’s still time!  Here are a few of my selections for those who love tea…enjoy!

The Tea Towel by Stewart Gardiner

Learn where your tea is from and how to brew it right.  Everything you should know about tea printed on one charming tea towel.  You can also find this at UncommonGoods.com.

High Tea Nail Polish Collection

Tea-themed nail polishes like “Tea with the Queen” and “Crumpet” from cosmetic company Butter London.  Grab some scones after your nails are dry and your afternoon tea is complete!

Float Tea Lantern

This is not your grandmother’s tea set.  Lit tea lights will illuminate your tea blend and keep it warm for hours.

Social History of Tea by Jane Pettigrew and Bruce Richardson

From the days of the East India Company to our modern-day tea renaissance, British and American tea historians tell us how your perfect brew came to be.  You’ll never look at a cup of tea the same way.  Fresh off the press, you can still get your own signed copy!

Harney & Sons Tea Sampler Cube

Great as stocking stuffers!  Each cube has 18 different samples of Harney & Sons’ most popular teas.

Color Matching Tea Mug

Match your tea brew to just the right shade and you’ll be guaranteed a perfect cuppa tea every time.

Sorapot Teapot by Joey Roth

Gosh, I want one of these!  Modern, chic, and beautiful, this teapot will elevate any tea drinking experience.  And if you can’t afford it (like I can’t), at least watch the video clip of how it works…just breathtaking!

DIY Japanese Tea Tins

Personalize your tea tins with gorgeous, vibrant Japanese Chiyogami paper…I’ll show you how!

Melissa & Doug Sweet Treat Tower

For the kiddos who already love tea…this time, the treats really are too cute to eat!  This toy is tested and approved by 2-year-old niece Maddie!

Modern Manners:  Tools to Take You To the Top

Did you know that Liv Tyler’s grandma is a well-known etiquette expert?  Manners are timeless, and Liv Tyler and her grandmother Dorthea Johnson (founder of the Protocol School of Washington) team up to tell us why.

A Box of Tea Sweets

Ship off some beautiful Chocolate Tea Bark or Lemon Matcha Cake Bites to your friends instead of those humdrum Christmas cookies.

David’s Tea Sweet Indulgence Collection

Delicious flavors like Cream of Earl Grey and Blueberry Jam will satisfy any sweet tooth.  My favorite is the Glitter & Gold–a cinnamon flavored black tea with gold sugar balls in the blend…so decadent!

The Herbal Tea Crate

Test your green thumb.  Grow, pick, and drink your own caffeine-free teas at home!

Williams Sonoma Croissants

A classic, timeless tea pastry you can eat warm out of the oven on Christmas morning with your best tea.  As of today, they still have free shipping!

Flavor Infuser Water Bottle

Make a resolution to skip the soda next year…I did, you won’t regret it.  Make your own refreshing, on-the-go tea and tisanes with this handy and convenient bottle.

DIY Japanese Washi Tea Tins

One of my favorite hobbies is origami, the art of Japanese paper-folding.  I used to fold all kinds of pieces including little kimonos for paper figures that I would frame and give as gifts.  They must have had at least some charm because surprisingly, people really seemed to like them and would even showcase them in their living rooms.

Not much has changed in the time since then, as I still love origami but haven’t had much time to partake.  This project is a nod to my love of origami, a sort of grown-up application of using beautiful, brilliant Japanese paper prints.

In fact, this project involves no paper-folding whatsoever.  This project makes good use of beautiful Japanese Chiyogami paper, a paper very similar to Washi paper but cheaper and easier to find.  I found my papers at Paper Source and the Japanese American Museum giftshop in Little Tokyo, when I was there for the Los Angeles Tea Festival a several weeks ago.

Chiyogami paper has a medium thickness but is still quite pliable.  It is also very fibrous and almost cloth-like in texture.  If it is exposed to any kind of moisture it actually absorbs it in a sponge-like manner, which is why the Modge Podge glue works really well in softening the paper so that it adheres to the tin exceptionally well.  And when it comes to patterns, I like to choose patterns that are smaller and compact in imagery so that I can get a more interesting look to the tin.  If you have another type of paper that is similar to Chiyogami it may work, but just remember that the goal is that it doesn’t warp and is reminiscent of fabric.

Traditionally, Washi tins have a pretty tall lid in proportion to the overall height of the tin itself.  Here, it’s best to get a tea tin with a lid that is quite short, not exceeding an inch in height.  This makes the tin easier to cover, since we don’t have to worry about covering the top part of the lid.  I found some tins perfect for this project at www.specialtybottle.com.

I went to Teavana over the weekend, and although I just love their tea and products, a Washi tea tin would set you back about $12 there, and no, there is no tea included in that tin.  These tea tins are just as beautiful, and cost a fraction of the price.  They make unique, classy gifts, and the best part is that you can fill them with any variety of lovely teas that you know your friends will love (not just green tea).  You can even fill them with cookies, sugars, or other small items.

You’ll be really amazed at how easy these are to make.  The key to a beautiful tea tin is to get the right type of paper and the right style of tea tin.  Basically just cut the paper precisely and the rest will come into place.

DIY Japanese Washi Tea Tin

Materials:

Chiyogami Paper (in your favorite print), cut in rectangle (1/4” more than tin circumference) x (tin height)

Modge Podge glue, for paper

Exacto knife and cutting surface/board

sponge or brush for glue

tea tin(s)

piece of paper (8.5” x 11”) to work on

ribbon

labels (I used Martha Stewart)

strong double-sided tape (optional)

rubber bands

Directions:

Cut the Chiyogami paper into rectangular pieces:   length is (1/4” more than tin circumference),  and width is (tin height).

Paint an even layer of Modge Podge glue on the back of the paper, with piece of regular paper underneath.

Line up paper with tea tin and start to roll…

Match the edges of the paper to line up with the tea tin and roll up, making sure the paper adheres snugly and evenly to the tin’s surface.

Finish the tea tin with a small piece of ribbon and labels.

Use dabs of glue or strong double-sided tape to secure the ribbon and label.  If you are using glue, use a rubber band to wrap around the ribbon and label for 24 hours or until the glue completely dries.