Take a punt on some Summer bunting!

With the weather sticking to a pleasant shade of grey recently, you’d be forgiven for thinking we are in the depths of Winter rather than the height of Summer. Keeping a stiff upper lip can be tough when you’re forced to hold a brolly in your tea-hand. Ever the optimist, I’m daydreaming of afternoon Cosy Tea parties in the garden…think fine bone china and teeny tiny sandwiches. Oh and cake, of course.

I found this fab free pattern for knitted bunting from those lovely folk over at Buttons and Beeswax to cheer things up. It’s simple, colourful and perfect for decorating those tea parties…or just hanging in your living room and admiring with a cuppa while you wait for the rain to stop.

Knitted_Bunting3

Photo by Jesse Wild

To make this super simple design you’ll need to use several colours of yarn heavy enough that your bunting hangs properly, such as Aran. Oh and don’t forget some lengths of ribbon to string it up with. You’ll need a tapestry needle for threading the ribbon, so be sure to get that at the ready too. You could stick to solid colours but this is a great way to use up any odds and ends of yarn you’ve got lying around, and if you wanted to really go to town why not sew on some buttons or other decorations? You could even go all out with the tea theme and take inspiration from the Cosy range…Rooibos bunting anyone?

Photo by Jesse Wild

Photo by Jesse Wild

Psst! All the patterns we post here on the blog are free at the time of posting. Unfortunately we can’t be held responsible if the original poster decides to charge for it at a later date.

A slice of Summer

Summer is finally upon us and with it comes the promise of sunshine, smiles, the prospect of frolicking through a floral meadow wearing a white floaty dress and a wide brimmed hat. Perhaps you’ll be accompanied by an adorable puppy and a smattering of freckles. Maybe you’ll head home fairly quickly because you really fancy making a cake. We may be in the middle of a heatwave here in changeable old Blighty but who knows how long it’ll last? There’s only one thing you can rely on in life and that’s cake. Two things if you count tea. And hey, you know what goes really well together? Tea and cake. Well would you look at that.

LemonGreen

In light of this, I paired refreshing Cosy Lemon Green with a sweet lemon icing to create something that tastes like the evergreen optimism of a British Summertime. No one wants to slave away in the kitchen in a heatwave, especially when you don’t know how long it’ll last so luckily for you this recipe is quick and basically fool proof. I made it by hand the good old fashioned way but if you’ve got an electric mixer then you’ll have something fresh and zesty and worthy of eating in a country garden full of flowers in under an hour.

You’ll need:

  • 4 x Cosy Lemon Green teabags
  • 125g butter
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 210g self-raising flour
  • 112ml milk

For the icing:

  • 70g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Lemon zest to decorate
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c and grease a small loaf tin with butter. Steep two of the teabags in 50ml boiling water and set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in eggs, flour, and milk then empty the contents of the remaining two teabags into the mix for good measure.
  3. Your tea should now be nice and brewed, so pour that in and mix well.
  4. Pour the cake mix into your loaf tin and pop in the oven for 25 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean in the middle. Take out and leave to cool completely.
  5. For your icing, mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice until smooth and shiny. Have a little taste and add a little more lemon juice if needed. Then have another taste, and probably another, just to be on the safe side. This was my favourite part.
  6. Remove the cake from the tin and using a teaspoon, drizzle the icing over the cake in a zig zag pattern until it has all gone and the cake is nicely covered. Sprinkle with lemon zest to finish.
  7. Put the kettle on, slice, eat outside and pray the sun stays out.

LemonGreen Slice

It’s made with what?

Psst! Do you know what Sunday is? That’s right, it’s Father’s Day. I know, I know, dads are really tricky to buy presents for. They wouldn’t appreciate knick-knacks, jewellery or hand-knits like your mum would (actually, they might – I’ll let you decide on that one) and they seem to always buy whatever they want for themselves! It’s just plain rude. But if there’s one thing you can always have more of, it’s food, and lovely home-cooked meals. So here are a few suggestions for gastronomical delights this Sunday, and – you guessed it – they all include tea!

trout

Hot tea-smoked trout with new potato and rocket salad

This particular recipe has the added bonus of being cooked on a barbecue. Dad’s love a barbecue. The only problem is he might end up taking over – men and hot coals are magnetically drawn to one-another. It’s scientific fact (actually, it’s not). But if he does let you at the ol’ BBQ, all you need to do is mix tea leaves (from one of our Breakfast Tea bags) with sugar and rice and pop it on the grill to start smoking. Once it’s hot, pop your fish on top, cover them up and let the flavour sensation do its thing!

duck

Smoked tea duck with bigarade sauce

The same approach is put to delicious use in this recipe, but with the more floral element of Earl Grey tea leaves – it’s the perfect partner to the delicate yet rich taste of duck. This is a great choice if your dad isn’t a particular fan of fish, or if you want to impress with more unusual ingredients. As soon as anyone mentions ‘duck’ or ‘Earl Grey’ it becomes instantly fancy. Trust me…

salmon

Tea-smoked salmon with herb mayonnaise

For a lighter meal (perhaps you’ve started the day with an all-out fry up, for which we do not blame you) this salmon and salad combo is special without being too much. The smoking technique is exactly the same again, so you can wow your dad without bustling about the kitchen for hours on end. Which leaves you more time for bonding and playing board games – or watching shoot-em-ups, if your dad prefers.

So there you have it. High impact, low effort recipes that incorporate your favourite thing in your dinner. After all, dads always love a cuppa.

Colour fantastic

As we speed towards summer it’s time to get some more colour and fun into our tea time habits. This felted cosy is the perfect balance of bonkers and practical and we just love it. Who wouldn’t want this combination of stripes, polka dots and brightness on their teapot? And you get to try a new technique along the way – bonus!

cosy1

(Image courtesy of Knitty.com)

Kristin Nicholas has created possibly the most perfect tea cosy. The knitting itself is very simple. Worked in the round, you just keep going, using only the knit stitch, and changing colours every now and then. In fact, the pattern is so easy, it doesn’t even have spout or handle slots to worry about – which will also prevent any heat escaping, meaning your tea will be even warmer for even longer.

cosy3

(Image courtesy of Knitty.com)

Once you’ve knitted the cosy, it’s time to get felting. It’s worth mentioning that at this stage your cosy will look huge. Do not panic. When you felt knitted items they shrink. This is why your yarn choice is important. You must use natural fibres for this pattern. Anything artificial or superwash will not felt, so you will be left with an oversized cosy that will flop and sag over your pot and, let’s face it, nobody wants that. Felting is really easy but it feels totally wrong: you put your knitting in the washing machine. Trust me. This time you want the tiny, fuzzy result.

cosy2

(Image courtesy of Knitty.com)

A little bit of embroidery (with very clear instructions, thanks to the pattern) is the finishing touch, et voila! You have a quirky bit of fun to liven up tea time and your beverages will stay hotter for so much longer. If you aren’t already addicted to felting your knitting, you sure will be after this.

This free pattern can be found on Ravelry and Knitty.

For the love of tea

Recently we’ve had a lot of posts about the ways you can use tea to be more than just a drink. I’d like to think it’s been interesting, and you’ve all enjoyed thinking about your favourite cuppa in a slightly different way, but I think it’s time we slow it down a bit, take a step back, and take the opportunity to show tea itself a little bit of love.

Care to join me?

Good.

There’s something truly magical about a good cup of tea. No matter what mood you are in, no matter what’s going on around you, tea will always make it better. Sometimes it has to be a classic cup of English Breakfast because, as we all know, it’s the beverage equivalent of a hug from your mum (best way to start the day). But what about all the other kinds of tea out there? Here’s my suggestions for just when and where each tea will enrich your life and lighten up your day.

I want to go on a health kick, but I’m not quite ready for kale…

Green tea. Green tea all the way and back again! This little beauty of a drink has all kinds of health benefits attributed to it but without a whole lot of evidence to back it up, let’s just stick to this simple fact: Green tea is yummy, it’s a genius way to drink more water and in Cosy Tea’s Lemon and Jasmine blends it’s something a little bit different. Ease yourself into that healthy lifestyle with buckets and buckets of Green tea.

I’m exhausted, but my mind just won’t stop whizzing!

First things first, I’ve been there. I feel your pain. It’s like your body is made of lead, but your brain is an excited puppy that heard ‘walkies’ out of nowhere. There are lots of tricks you can try here. Switch off the tele at least 20 minutes before you go to sleep. Read a book for a while. Picture yourself in the most calming location you can imagine. These aren’t exactly scientific, but they’ve worked for me in the past, and all of them can be even more effective with a good mug of Chamomile tea. It’s very floral and light, so you won’t feel bloated in bed and it’s got all kinds of herbal goodness too. James Wong, the ethnobotanist, waxes lyrical about the antihistamine properties to Chamomile in his book Homegrown Revolution – just inhale the steam from your cup as you drink. Two for one goodness there!

I want to reduce my caffeine but I don’t like fruity teas.

We are just going to ignore the disdain for fruit teas there, because woah. But fair enough, some people aren’t a fan. In which case get your chops around Rooibos. This South African tea is naturally low in caffeine but it has a real flavour of its own. I personally think it tastes like cake, but most people look at me as though I’m bonkers when I say that, so I might be on my on there. Either way, it is unequivocally less caffeinated than the ol’ English Breakfast, so sup away merrily dear drinker.

When I’ve eaten a big meal, I don’t really fancy coffee. 

You and me both sister! Or brother. Or whatever. The last thing I want to chug after a fancy pants dinner is something as strong and rich as coffee. In these cases it’s all about the mint tea. Supposedly, there’s something about mint that helps us digest food, so it’s actually a very sensible postprandial beverage choice. It’s also a lovely fresh drink that will clear your palette, and reduce the risk of garlic repeats later in the night. Because nobody wants that.

What’s your favourite tea?

Oh I thought you’d never ask! When it comes to quantity, thirst quenching and mood lifting it has to be English Breakfast – I’m a classic bird with simply ways. But, for a bit of a treat, a mid-afternoon bit of luxury, I’m always going to go for Earl Grey. It’s light and refreshing with slight floral tones that make it feel much more fancy pants (it is named for an Earl, after all) and extravagant, but it’s still just tea! You can’t tell me that’s not genius, now can you?

So anyway, there’s a bit of tea love for all of you fans. What’s your favourite cuppa?

Mummy, I love you!

Psst! Did you know it’s Mothers’ Day on Sunday? I know! How did it come round so fast? Well, if you’re stuck for a present, panic no more. We have a great suggestion for you. It’s quick, it’s stylish and your mum will love it. It is, of course, a tea cosy and it’s simple but delightful.

mday1

Worked in garter stitch (with just a few simple decreases) in aran weight yarn, this tea cosy from www.craftown.com will be finished before you know it. Once you’ve cast off, whip up a couple of felt blooms to sew on the top, and bingo! Mum gets a beautiful handmade gift come Sunday, that hasn’t taken you months to make.

So if you’ve got some aran weight yarn kicking about, why not put it to good use? You’ll feel good for clearing out your stash a bit, and you’ll save even more time! We know how we’ll be spending our Saturday…

To make this gift that little bit more special, why not give mum a box of her favourite Cosy Tea, as well? We think a sophisticated brew of Chamomile would be particularly fitting, don’t you?

Whether you are a mum or a child, we hope you all have a wonderful day this Sunday.

Beau-TEA-ful!

A few weeks ago we talked about how tea could benefit your health. Now, it’s time to show our appreciation for the leafy goodness of this hot beverage in a slightly different way. Did you know you can use tea to make homemade skincare products? It’s true! Here’s our pick of quick and easy remedies to start you off.

CTmist

The simplest of home beauty treatments we found was this Green Tea face mist from www.homemademamas.net. Although we can’t be totally sure of all the supposed magical health benefits to Green Tea, we can all agree that it is refreshing and packed with antioxidants. So why not spritz that goodness on your face, as well as slurping it down? Just add water…

Cosy Lemon Green Box OUTLINED_FIR_AW

For the next step up, how about a toner specifically for spot-prone skin? We all have breakouts every now and then, and if there is a natural way to combat them, then why not give it a go? For this recipe from www.livingthenourishedlife.com you’ll need a few of our Green Tea bags and some apple cider vinegar. Sounds tasty…

CTmask

If you find shop-bought exfoliators a little harsh on your skin, this may be the way forward. Using only ingredients that you are likely to have in your cupboard (including some Cosy Tea Green Tea bags) this mask from www.poorandpretty.com will give you a good scrub without making you feel sore. And you can tweak the ingredients to suit your skin needs. Handy, eh?

CTscrub

Or, for a deeper clean, how about this calming scrub? Sugar, coconut oil and soothing tea are all you need, so grab some Chamomile, pop to the shops for the coconut oil and you are ready! This scrub, from www.savynaturalista.com, supposedly helps to clean sinus headaches as well, which is a bonus.

CTcleanser

Feeling like a bit of a shopping challenge? Well here you go, alongside oats and Chamomile tea, this cleanser incorporates bentonite clay to make a powder that, when hydrated with water, forms a paste to make your skin feel delightful. There is a link in the post on www.empoweredsustenance.com to buy the clay on Amazon, but it’s from the US. If you are in the UK, and you’re happy to pay £8.49 for 150g, you can snaffle some from here.

So there you go. We hope you are feeling inspired to use your tea in a slightly different way. Although it seems that Chamomile and Green tea have taken the main stage in these recipes, there’s nothing to stop you sipping on a nice cup of Blueberry tea while your mask does it’s magic, now is there? Let us know how you get on with your beauty treatments!

Cosy Tea Rack