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The teapot is as much fashion as it is form and function. Decorative styling is a natural extension of one’s own personality. While some tea lovers will fawn over antique china tea sets with the gold leaf and floral designs, others will stand by their iron testubin pots. Sometimes a tea pot is chosen for its look or perhaps their sentimental value. Other tea pots are better suited for a specific type of tea. There are a myriad of designs that you may already own, and pots you prefer to use. However, there are 3 tea pots every tea lover should think about owning.

#1: Tea for One

This teeny tea pot is for you and you alone. It is usually sold as a teapot that stacks on top of the matching tea cup. Whether it’s part of a morning ritual or a classy way to use up the last scoop of your favorite tea – having a special one-cupper is the sign of a true tea lover. Because of their small size, they tend to be extremely affordable. They also make great gifts.

#2: The Glass Pot

Drinking tea is an all-around sensory experience and having a glass pot can enhance that experience. Watching the leaves as they impart their colorful hue, infusing the water with their dance is poetry in motion. A glass pot offers a window into this world, allowing you to luxuriate in the coppery-red hues of a Keemun, or the honey yellow colors of a Snow Orchid Oolong. Bonus: Flowering Teas are a magnificent visual experience that require a glass pot!


#3: The BIG Pot

Anything worth having is usually worth sharing, and that’s where the BIG POT of TEA comes in handy. Tea parties don’t depend on a special celebration or holiday occasion in order to happen. All you need is a gathering of people…and tea. And chances are, you’ll have more of an excuse to get people together if you own a sizable tea pot.

No matter how many people you are serving – from one to one hundred – and no matter what your style – from fancy to fanciful, it’s important to have the ideal tea pot for the occasion.

Happy Sipping!

Madam Potts’ blog, Mad Blog of Tea!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Growing up as a kid, my favorite time of the year was always summertime. It wasn’t just the fact that school was out, although I’m sure that had something to do with it. However, summertime meant that the family got to go camping. As far back as I can remember, the whole family would pack up the tent and rough it in the woods. My dad would lead the charge, giving us all jobs to do – the five of us working like a well-oiled machine, so that in no time flat the campsite was set up and the fun could begin.

Now my favorite part about camping was, and still is, the campfire. Making the campfire, cooking over the campfire, singing songs and playing games around the campfire – it was a circle that brought us together as a family. I’ve started to suspect that our going camping was simply an excuse to sit around the fire. Even though I am older and out of the house, my Dad and I still manage to go camping once a year. Setting up the tent and building that campfire still gives me the same thrill as when I was a child.

They say that smells can trigger memories – and sure enough, they can. The first time I tried Lapsang Souchong tea, with its rich, smoky fragrance, I was immediately transported to the woods – sitting around the campfire with my Dad.

The strong taste may be overwhelming for some, but for me, it has become a personal favorite. Various tea legends tell of Chinese tea merchants needing to dry tea over a campfire which resulted in the woodsy taste for which it is known and prized. Surely this is a unique tea. If you could go camping from a tea cup, then Lapsang Souchong is the tea that would get you there.

By sharing the variety of his interests and hobbies, my dad opened me up to lots of creative new worlds and ideas. I’ve been able to return the favor by sharing with my dad love and passion for tea. He has indeed expanded his palate. Slowly but surely, he has increased his appreciation for tea. Perhaps he simply enjoys the fact that sharing a cup of tea gives time to sit together, to talk, and to bond – just like sitting around a campfire.

Happy Father’s Day!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

There are a variety of methods of making iced tea. And as the warmer weather approaches and the sunny days make us reach for something cold, icing down your tea is a great way to get your favorite flavors and blends in a way that is refreshing. It makes me wonder why anyone would buy a separate iced tea making appliance when making iced tea is so extremely easy.

If you have all day…Put it in the Sun

Sun Tea Method: For those of you with lots of time and patience, you might employ the sun tea method of iced tea preparation. This involves using a clear glass container with a cover (steeping anything hot in plastic is heavily discouraged due to the chemical that will infuse into your tea). Add your water and tea. Use one tea bag per 8oz cup of water, plus one or 2 more for good measure, to the container. Let it sit in the sun for at least 4 hours. Serve with ice.

If you have an hour…Stick it in the Fridge

Cold Tea Method: Cold tea is not the same as iced tea, because it requires no ice. The cold tea method is essentially the same as making hot tea and then cooling it down. Brew your favorite cup or pot of tea and then stick it in the refrigerator. Let it get cold. Drink. This method does not require ice at serving, nor does it require that you add more tea while steeping because you are allowing all the flavors and oils from the tea to be released by steeping it hot (according to the type of tea you are using). This method is especially good if you want to make a large batch for later that day.

If you have 10 minutes…Shake it Up

The Fastest Iced Tea Method Ever: Make your favorite hot tea, being sure to brew it double strength. While your water is boiling and the tea is steeping, take a Tupperware container, cocktail shaker, or anything with a strong lid, and fill it with ice. Take the steeped hot tea and pour it into this container full of ice and cover it. Shake it vigorously about a good 20-30 times for an instant ice down. You can serve your quickly brewed iced tea over ice if you want, as long as it isn’t watered down.

Enjoy!

Madam Potts’ blog, Mad blog of Tea!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

French Blend

The reputations the French have for their fashionable style, their epicurean sense of taste and their valued appreciation for art and beauty, are all present here in this blend, aptly named French Blend.

Inspired by my recent trip to Paris, and still reveling in all things French, I was thrilled to discover that the English Tea Store even had a French Blend tea. I simply had to try it right away, and it is quickly becoming a new favorite of mine. This rich, complex black tea blend is softened with a mix of florals that will have you saying “Ooh La La!”

From the moment I opened the bag, to take in the aroma I was whisked away. If you could travel in a tea cup, this blend would take you there. The lavender is from the Provence region of France, and it is combined with teas from India, China and Sri Lanka.

The sophistication in this blend is no doubt a product of being a well-traveled tea! Indeed, a blend of Assam, Kenyas, Nilgiris and Ceylon and a touch of Earl Grey teas, creates a flavorful and bright tea base, with some malty undertones.

The art and beauty are found in the aroma, visual appearance and the elegant taste that come from the bouquet of flowers that grace this blend. The lavender, jasmine, cornflowers and rose petals romance the tongue with each sip. It is perhaps the perfect tea to sip whilst (imagining) sitting in the gardens of Giverny, home to the ever-famous painter, Claude Monet. I think that you too will be impressed by the quality of this floral blend, which is a fine example of the art of blending tea.

What I miss most about my time in Paris is the many cafes that line the streets, allowing people plenty of time to sit, to relax, to catch up with a friend while imbibing their drink of choice. There was something very civil and very luxurious about stopping the world in such a way and having a cup of tea. But you don’t have to travel to Europe to enjoy this Parisian way of life. Brew yourself a cup of French Blend tea. Combine it with your favorite pastry (perhaps a croissant, some madeleines, or an éclair). And enjoy.

Vive la Vie!

Madam Potts blog, Mad Pots of Tea!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


 

Paraguayan Stamp Featuring Stevia

There are a few more choices these days in the search for something sweet. With diabetes on the rise, amongst other increased health concerns, never before has there been such a concentrated effort to find alternative, natural sweeteners. No longer do consumers have to choose between the pastel pink, blue or yellow packets of artificial sweeteners to satisfy their palates, thanks to the stevia plant.

While relatively unheard of until only recently, stevia seems to be the newest answer to feeding America’s sweet tooth, while also fulfilling the growing concern or requirement for things to be “all natural”. Stevia is a plant that grows in South America and parts of western North America, and is purported to be 30x sweeter than sugar in its natural state and the extract (the constituent known as Reb A) is up to 300x as sweet. Because of it’s potency, consumers should experiment with possibly using less than they would with regular sugar as too much stevia produces a strong after-taste. Some companies producing powdered stevia (extracts) are: PureVia, Reb-A, Rebiana, Sweet Leaf, and Truvia.

There has been some controversy about the use of stevia – and it was only approved in the last few years here in the United States as a food additive. It seems that the US is about the only country to have an issue with stevia. It has been used for hundreds of years without side effects, but then again with the intensity of the American sweet tooth, perhaps the call for some caution and moderation is not out of place.

Stevia is being trumpeted as an the all-natural, no-calorie alternative. As the body does not metabolize the glycosides from the stevia leaf (or any of its processed forms), it imparts no caloric effect on the body. Studies have shown that stevia doesn’t adversely affect blood glucose levels and may be used freely by diabetics. Some research has shown that stevia has possible benefits in combating obesity and high blood pressure.

What reports often do not tell us is whether or not the studies were done with whole leaf stevia or the extract of the plant. As any scientist or herbalist can tell you, the two are not always the same. I recommend using the whole leaf, as Mother Nature knows more about how and why whole leaf tends to work better and be gentler to our bodies.

With companies like Coke and Pepsi hoping on the “natural” bandwagon (Sprite Green, SoBe Life Water), we will soon be seeing stevia in numerous every day products. When you see stevia listed in loose leaf teas, you are getting loose leaf stevia.

So I would certainly try and experiment with stevia if you are looking to cut out unrefined sugars and aspartame from your diet. Do try to use a smaller amount – allowing the taste buds as your guide (with the proper amount, you shouldn’t have an aftertaste). So relax with your favorite cup of tea and enjoy the sweet things of Life!

Madam Potts blog, Mad Pots of Tea!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tax Day is here. For some people still scrambling to fill out the right forms and gather all of their information, this is a very stressful time – even more so for those who owe for the current or previous tax years. It is times like these when a pot, not a cup, but a pot of black tea comes in handy. If you’ve been staying up all night finishing your various Forms and Schedules, a bit of caffeine will be especially important. However, you could be needlessly taxing your body’s systems, doing it more harm than good.

Did you feel the way this guy looks around tax time? Tea may be able to help.

The way in which caffeine affects the body is not the same with coffee as it is for tea. The caffeine in coffee is so strong that it sets the body up for an extreme high, followed by a crash, creating a vicious cycle of needing more coffee. The reason this happens is because coffee stimulates the adrenal glands, which are the glands responsible for releasing the hormone, adrenaline. This release immediately put us in the “fight or flight” mode – this is instinctual survival mode kicking in.

Adrenaline is released through the body, heightening the senses (which perks us up) and closing down or interrupting digestion. This is false stimulus is very wearing on the body – ultimately leading to further exhaustion and dependence on stimulants – thus needlessly taxing your body. The short pay off will cost you more in the long run as adrenal fatigue limits our body’s natural ability to cope with stress and can lead to chronic fatigue, digestive and respiratory issues, such as bronchitis, influenza and pneumonia.

Tea, on the other hand, offers the sipper a more even and balanced boost of energy. Even though there is caffeine in tea, the boost it gives comes from being able to take the body out of its “fight or flight” mode and into the opposite state, which is known as “rest and digest”. This restful state allows the nerves to relax, creating a state of focus and calm which can just as useful, if not more, when preparing your taxes. The caffeine in tea is offset by L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes the mental and physical relaxation. Theanine also contributes to a release of dopamine, which is the feel good chemical that we get from things that bring us pleasure – like chocolate, cuddling and tea!

You never hear of Buddhist monks staying up all night meditating with coffee do you? And there’s a good reason. Tea has the marvelous ability to keep us up, alert, and focused, while at the same time having a calming effect on the mind and body. So instead of taxing yourself, try brewing a nice pot of tea.

Madam Potts blog, Mad Pots of Tea!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

There is nothing more relaxing then a warm cup of tea. Its ability to soothe and comfort us is unparalleled. So when Tea GW came out with their new line of tea pillows, they took the comfort-giving properties of tea to a whole new level. These elegantly decorated silk pillows are filled with premium tea leaves. With 3 styles to choose from – a lounge pillow, a bolster and a travel pillow – you can enjoy this tea-inspired comfort on the couch, on the floor or on the road!

Inhaling the fragrant tea pillows will bring an immediate sense of peacefulness, as with each breath you calm your nervous system. According to Tea GW company, these pillows come with a bevy of benefits, including better sleep, brighter eyes, lower blood pressure, and the harmonization of your entire body.

I own the travel pillow. It comes equipped with an elastic band that fits around the headrest of a car seat. Having the pillow supporting my neck allows me to lean back into my car seat. This affords me better posture when I’m driving, and allows me to be more relaxed while driving. Nothing beats the comforting feeling of laying your head back in the middle of a traffic jam or at a red light and taking an extra moment to breathe deeply. Alternatively, you can use this pillow as lumbar support, as many people have poor posture due to a weakness or lack of support of their lower backs. For bonus tea comfort – enjoy a soothing cup of tea from your favorite travel tea mug!

Tea GW claims that the tea pillows can be used to help decrease sleeplessness and memory loss, clear your ears, brighten the eyes, soothe your nerves and blood pressure and provide harmonization to the body over all. Quite like ingesting a cup of tea, there are benefits to be derived from taking your tea externally too. There are days I wonder if there is anything that tea can’t improve.

As a massage therapist, I am recommending this product to my clients. The combination of poor posture and the stress that comes from driving effects everyone. We especially tend to stick our necks out of alignment when we drive (as well as when we spend time on the computer reading). The travel pillow is especially designed to support the cervical area of the spine, and increases our body awareness. Being back in alignment does in fact affect our breathing, our nerves, organs and muscles – so the claims the company makes are not unfounded.

Whether it’s the kind of pillow you can sleep with depends on the person and they way they sleep. I definitely recommend the travel pillow in your car. You don’t have to be a tea fanatic to appreciate them. Even the distinct and elegant packaging will give you a moment’s pause to behold the experience of something very special. The stunning flair of Chinese characters and design on the silk pillows make these as desirable for their look as they are for their benefits. Pillows can be filled with your choice of green tea, tie guan yin, jasmine, rose, or lavender. The only thing left is to choose your cup of tea and enjoy it inside and out!

Madam Potts’ blog, Mad Pots of Tea!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Easter time is now upon us and many of us will be decorating eggs with our families. This time honored tradition is always a lot of fun, whether you like the painting of the eggs, the hiding of the eggs, or the finding of the eggs.

However, in Chinese culture, they have an egg decorating tradition of their own, in which they prepare hard-boiled eggs in a mixture of black tea, soy sauce, and spices. I was first introduced to Tea Eggs last year, when I moved to my new home and was invited over to my neighbor’s house to celebrate Chinese New Year with her and her family.

To make Tea Eggs, eggs are first hard-boiled. Then the shells are cracked (but not removed) and then put into a marinade of black tea, soy sauce, water, and Chinese Five-Spice powder, which contains ground cinnamon, star anise, fennel, cloves and Szechuan peppercorns (although some recipes just call for star anise and cinnamon). The cracking of the shells produces a marbled look to the eggs after they have been dyed in the spiced-tea mixture.

Because of the tea, soy and spices, the taste of the egg is more flavorful than the standard hard-boiled variety. I have even read that a pinch of brown sugar to the mix will give it a sweeter taste, though that’s certainly a Western-sweet tooth version of the recipe.

I asked if the Tea Eggs were specific to Chinese New Year, and my friend told me that the recipe was not holiday-specific. In fact, when traveling in mainland China, you can find Tea Eggs sold on street-carts and grocery stores. Even the 7-11s in China sell Tea Eggs as an everyday snack!

Further research into this topic instructed that only black or Pu’erh teas be used. Green teas can be too bitter or astringent. Also, Tea Eggs are traditionally eaten cold – just like our Easter eggs.

So if you’re looking for something unique and exotic for your Easter baskets and egg hunts this year, or looking for a healthy, low-cost snack food, try a Chinese Tea Egg!

Madam Potts’ blog, Mad Pots of Tea!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

To call something “vanilla” is to infer that it lacks excitement. What is it about vanilla that people find boring? This association couldn’t be further from the truth! The warm sweetness of vanilla is what makes things taste scrumptious – everything from bakery items to tea! In fact, I have found an increasingly steady trend of vanilla tea options recently. Some teas are nutty, some are creamy, some are fruity, some even combine vanilla with mint! My favorite, which has prompted me to reconsider vanilla’s lackluster reputation is Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos. Talk about a jazzy blend that will start your morning on the Sunny Side of the Street! The warmth of cinnamon, almonds and vanilla mix with the natural sweetness of the rooibos in a near perfect blend of deliciousness!

Did you know that Vanilla is a member of the orchid family? Also, it was originally native to Mexico and was used for centuries by the Aztecs. It is now grown in tropical areas around the world. The majority of our vanilla comes from the Madagascar region of Indonesia. Also, it is the second most expensive spice in the world (after saffron). Natural vanilla tends to be very expensive because its production is extremely labor and time intensive. As the process, from planting to curing, can take anywhere from 1.5 – 3 years, it has given rise to the popularity of (and economic advantage of) artificial vanilla.

Vanilla comes in pods or beans, in extracts, in liquid form, and in sugared form. It is sought after for cooking, baking, perfumes, and aromatherapy. Even Coca-Cola uses vanilla in their formula – which is probably why it tastes so good! So, someone tell me where the “boring” part comes into play!

In case you haven’t seen what they’ve been doing with vanilla in tea lately, let me give you some examples of some teas you may want to try. Because of its natural hint of spiciness, vanilla makes a great addition to chais, like Twinings French Vanilla Chai. If a fruitier blend is more your cup, sample Taylors of Harrogate’s Raspberry Vanilla Tea or Harney & Sons White Vanilla Grapefruit. And for something really bold, check out the Golden Moon Tea Company, who offers both Vanilla Mint, and Vanilla Jasmine.

As you can see, vanilla is anything but boring. This highly sought after bean blends well with other flavors. And for those who want just “plain vanilla”, you’ll be captivated by its enticing aroma and its exquisitely warm and cozy taste, which is anything but plain.

Madam Potts’ blog, Mad Pots of Tea!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

As a kid, one of the joys of Easter was discovering the many and varied items hiding in our Easter Baskets. Sure, the Easter eggs were fun to make and to find, but as I didn’t much care for hard-boiled eggs, after all the eggs were found, the thrill of the hunt dissipated quickly.

The thrill of the basket, on the other hand, meant that there would be goodies and treats and small little items that could be enjoyed slowly, one by one. I usually elected my absolute favorites to be savored last. There was a random quality to the treasured trinkets and candies that enhanced the exciting sense of “discovery”. I would experience the same thrill each Christmas. After the larger gifts, which often reflected things that we had specifically asked Santa for, the biggest thrill was the in the stockings. Stockings had things you liked, that you enjoyed, that you didn’t ask for but got anyway.

Perhaps it’s the idea that both of these things, the basket and the stocking, being oddly-shaped containers, could and would hold anything. Anything could be in them! Anything! For no matter how silly or small the item, its inclusion in the Easter basket automatically deemed it as special. Among all the things an Easter basket can hold, what they hold first and foremost is the mysterious allure of surprise.

Years later, not much has changed. Even though the family is older, and we no longer get together to color and hide eggs, our family holds firmly to the tradition of creating an Easter basket for each other. It is of course the wisdom of growing older that helps us to understand that it is the little things in life that mean so much.

So when I found out that I could create my own Easter Basket at The English Tea Store and fill it with a random assortment of teas, accessories and chocolates, my mind raced with the possibilities with the unfettered glee of a nine-year old child! I also realized that a selection of tea and English candies probably excites me more than the rest of my family. In the two times I traveled through England, I had made a habit of trying out all the candy bars and candies that we couldn’t get here in the States every day that I was there. Even now, visions of Revels, Lion Bars, Wine gums, Maltesers are dancing in my head. I may have to simply create my own Easter basket and if they are lucky, I will share the spoils with my friends and family. Either way the thrill of discovery and the joy that comes from appreciating the little things in Life is most certainly alive this Easter season.

Madam Potts’ blog, Mad Pots of Tea!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, LLC, and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, LLC., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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