I prefer drinking tea instead of coffee during the holiday season because it is easier in the stomach. In fact, it helps my digestion. I also keep a supply of herbal teas for my guests who don’t want the caffeine at night.
Here are three gift ideas for people who enjoy their cup of tea at night. First, every teapot needs its cozy. This colorful tea cozy is made of acrylic, which means that it is easy to clean.
I received free sample boxes of the winter collection by Four O’Clock from TRANS-HERBe. They come in 4 flavours: almond biscotti, banana cinnamon spice, gingerbread and truffle mint. I was delighted by the taste and became a fan of the almond biscotti. If a latte is more your style, take two bags of your favourite flavour from the winter collection and steep in 250 mL of hot milk.
As a bonus, the festive illustrations of the Four O’Clock Winter Collection given by Montréal artist Bruce Roberts will look great on your table. You can find this limited edition Winter Collection in supermarkets, gourmet food stores, natural food stores and pharmacies across Canada.
Lastly, Magisso proposes an innovative teacup for serving tea with tea leaves. I have them thanks to Magisso, who sent me a few teacups a while ago. I enjoy how they work. Each Magisso teacup comes in a nice box that makes your gift wrapping easy. The Magisso teacups are available at Amazon.com and might be available at David’s Tea.
For the hostess, serving individual cakes reduces the amount of work during a party. Plus, I feel that there is an elegance to miniature cakes that is hard to beat. Apparently, there is a tin that can help you with these creations. The key factor are the straight edges of a loose base mini sandwich cake tin. It is designed to create perfectly-formed miniature Victoria sponge cakes.
A baker shared a simple trick to avoid the mushroom effect. She suggests that you make a slight dent in the centre of each mixture with a teaspoon. I’m curious to see it in action.
Whether it is for a tea party or for your holiday baking, you will find many miniature sandwich cake recipes at Lakeland.co.uk.
photo credits: Lakeland
Wow! A recipe that unites two of my favorite flavors: chocolate and Matcha tea. I am pleased that Kusmi Tea has accepted that I shared the recipe on my blog. I was surprise to see that it is not complicated to make your own choco-matcha truffles. You could serve them as mignardises at the end of a dinner party or bring those as the perfect hostess gift.
Choco-Matcha Truffle Recipe
Recipe by Kusmi Tea, which operates a boutique on Saint-Denis Street in Montreal.
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 5/8 cups 35% cream
- 3/4 – 1 lb 70% Guanaja chocolate
- 3 tbsp. Matcha powder tea (powder for cooking)
- Boil cream and honey.
- Finely chop the chocolate and put the pieces in a bowl.
- Pass the sweeten cream through a sieve, pouring over chocolate.
- Whisk thoroughly until you get a smooth texture.
- Refrigerate until the mixture hardens.
- Make small balls with mixture. Aim for 2 cm (3/4 in) in diameter.
- Roll the balls in the Matcha powder and completely cover each truffle.
You could eat that with one of the delicious teas from Kusmi Tea. Click here for their online boutique that serves Canada and the United States.
If a friend or a loved one on your list loves tea, make sure to check these 4 tea essentials for anyone who he serious about drinking tea.
First, you eliminate the guess work with a tea timer. The most practical infusion times are 3, 4 and 5 minutes. You will find the one on the left at Arthur Quentin. I prefer this design because it takes less space. Danesco makes a 3 In 1 Sand Timer that look more manly.
The Breville Variable Temperature Kettle is wonderful. I received it for Christmas last year and absolutely love it. The kettle is useful for tea drinkers and French press coffee fans. You can read the review I did about my Breville variable temperature kettle.
The last essential is a good infuser for your loose teas. The fine mesh Comfort Touch Tea Strainer includes a lid that serves as a saucer to hold the strainer when you finish.
+ 3/4/5 minute sand timer $19.50 CAD at Kusmi Tea (for the store locator)
+ 3 In 1 Sand Timer by Danesco $15 USD at Amazon.com [affiliate link]
+ Breville Variable Temperature Kettle $108.40 CAD at Amazon.ca [affiliate link]
+ Comfort Touch Tea Strainer $16.95 USD at Teavana
Kyusu is a traditional Japanese teapot mainly used for brewing green tea. We used these teapots all the time when we were in Japan. They pour very well. Typical features include a side handle and a built-in strainer.
If you want to get yours, you can find them at Lucipia, a Japanese tea shop which operates a few stores in the USA plus an online store. Typically, a kyusu is small. I like the black Komarukyusu.
Sencha tea lovers can opt for the elegant Sawa teapot. This modern version of a Japanese sencha tea pot with an ergonomic handle and thumbprint lid allowing for easy one-handed pouring. Add 4 to 6 Sawa cups and saucers to create a wedding gift that the couple will be happy to use for many years.
Oct. 2nd, 2010 Update: My husband brought me back from San Francisco the stylishly modern SAWA teapot. I love it! It comes with two strainers: a built-in porcelain strainer on the inner edge of spout and a removable strainer for tea leaves. The one-handed pouring system works like a charm.
+ Komarukyusu black $22 USD
+ SAWA Teapot with Strainer $49
+ SAWA Sencha Cup $11
+ SAWA Saucer $13
I still have a craving for the fabulous matcha bakery treats I ate in Japan. One thing I like about Japanese desserts is that they are not as sweet as here. They mix traditional French patisserie with Japanese techniques and ingredients to create cakes and pastries that taste fresh and new.
Therefore, it will come to no surprise that I felt in love with the photography of Evangeline who runs the blog Evan’s Kitchen Ramblings and a bakery shop in Singapore called Patisserie dessert couture. She specializes in macarons, petits fours secs, tartlets and cookies.
I love sablés. The most memorable I ate lately were the sakura sablés and the matcha sablés we bought at a fancy bakery shop in Kyoto. Evangeline shared a Matcha sablés recipe from the Okashi treats cookbook written by Keiko Ishida. But do not search for the cookbook, it is out of print.
Another treat that brought back nice memories is the Matcha chiffon cake. Chiffon cakes are popular in Japan. I still have to publish a cool video I filmed about the making of these tasty cakes.
Finally, a Japanese version of two French classic cakes. First, her homemade matcha financiers decorated with black and white sesame seeds. For a twist, why not bake your own matcha madeleines.
+ photography: Evangeline Teo of Evan’s Kitchen Ramblings
Stamps are ideal to create unique invitations and place cards. Looking at the latest collection of Yellow Owl Workshop gave me the urge to host a BBQ with old-fashioned outdoor activities, to host a tea party with my girlfriends or if you are really romantic, you could invite the love of your life for a weekend in Paris or in the Big Apple.
Experiment by creating several scenes on regular sheets of paper cut the same size of your good paper. Buy a few extra of the good paper. You can complement the scene with your own drawing or a big text. I suggest that you buy several colors of ink to give you a chance to try different palette.
+ Yellow Owl Workshop Stamp Set starts at $11.50 USD
An adorable idea for a party are those tea bag cookies made by Kimberly of Frost Me. To reproduce, prepare your favorite shortbread cookie recipe, cut the top edges of a rectangular and punch a hole at the top. Kimberly used a round icing tip to punch the hole. When the cookies are cold, dipped then in chocolate.
The tea tags she created were perfect for a birthday. Design yours to fit with your theme.
Ideas to Gift Wrap Your Cookies
You could fold a piece of wrapping paper into an envelop to get a one-of-a-kind party favor, or fill a food-safe clear cellophane bag that you decorate. Get inspired by these easy gift wrapping techniques from Paper Source.
+ photo: Frost Me
+ photos of cellophane bags: Paper Source
Having tea at Crown & Crumpet is on my agenda for my next trip to San Francisco. This place inspires me from the whimsical decor to the menu. They served 4 menus: breakfast, lunch, an afternoon tea and the evening menu. They all look delicious. Plus, you can select from 38 types of tea.
Two tea lovers, the couple Amy and Christopher Dean started Crown & Crumpet in September 2008. The tearoom is located in the Ghirardelli Square in old San Francisco. The English architect and designer Roland Courtenay Bishop imagined a decor that is fun, modern and refined. They reinvented the English tea service.
If you live in the San Francisco, they can host a party with up to 20 guests. It would an ideal spot for a baby shower. Otherwise, you could borrow the spirit of their design concept for your own tea party.
They carried their modern Victorian style even in their holiday decorations. I agree with Darling Darleen when she said that they have an Alice in Wonderland vibe.
+ Crown & Crumpet
+ holiday decoration photos: Darling Darleen
I went to Toronto for two days last week to research stories for my blog, to attend a social media event and to meet people. One thing on my list was having a formal tea service. When I saw that Windsor Arms starts serving their tea service at 1 pm, I jumped at the occasion. Some people find it old-fashioned but I like the luxurious feeling of sitting in a classical tea room. For me, the more formal style is part of the pleasure.
I went with Ian Barr and Brenna Flynn of Rocket XL, the firm that planned the Pillsbury Baking Challenge for which I am a judge. Since we only communicated by email or on Twitter before that day, I wanted to actually meet them. The tea service experience was enhanced by our lively conversation.
What comes with the Full Tea Menu at Windsor Arms?
We each chose a tea blend. I opted for the Earl Grey tea with blue flowers. The lavender adds an exquisite touch to the classic Earl Grey blend. Brenna enjoyed her Earl Grey tea with roses. Since they had to go back to the office after, they ordered the Full Tea menu. I indulged by ordering the Complete Tea menu, which added a sparkling wine (or a sherry) to the full tea menu.
We started with elegant sandwich rolls. They look so much more elegant than basic triangles. They served us three delicious sandwiches:
- Smoked Salmon and Salmon Caviar with an Oven-Roasted Tomato Cream Cheese
- Baby Greens with Asparagus, Cucumber Salsa and Chive Cream Cheese
- Grilled Chicken with Citrus Essence
The smoked salmon sandwich and the asparagus one were my favorite. The scone with raisins pleased me. I did not try the plain scone. Besides the sandwiches, the scones and the sweet desserts that I captured on photos, they served us a goat cheese and caramelized shallot tart. The finale was a small bowl of strawberries with whipped cream. As you can see there was a lot of food. Overall, I am pleased with my tea service at the Windsor Arms.
For almost any tea service, you need to make a reservation 24 hours in advance. I knew it but I didn’t reserve! Still, they have accommodated us by sitting us at a nice table.
Business and Pleasures
A while ago, I read an interview where Martha Stewart mentioned that she booked her meetings around her daily activities. For me, it a pleasant way to talk business. When I asked Ian to join me for lunch at a place that I was researching for a blog post, I made him laughed by making this reference to Martha Stewart.
+ Tea Menu at Windsor Arms
Amongst the tea brands that are served in restaurants around Montreal is the American brand Harney & Sons. I often drink their Supreme Earl Grey and the Dragon Pearl Jasmine. Their production facility is located in Upstate New York. Since 2006, they are a member of 1% For The Planet.
+ Photo by Kim Vallee taken at DNA restaurant in Montreal