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

We wuv you!

Happy Friday, lovely people! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week, and managed to stay warm in this chilly February weather. Speaking of February, guess what day tomorrow is? That’s right, it’s Valentine’s Day! Whether you are a fan of this celebration or not, you can’t seem to get away from the pink and red lovehearts at the moment. But it’s always good to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us and in honour of that sentiment, we’ve found you a romantic rose-bedecked tea cosy, because after all, sharing a pot of tea is a such a sweet way to say ‘I love you’.

bouquet1

This beautiful design by Louise Fitzpatrick incorporates a simple knitted body with a bevy of gorgeous crocheted flowers sewn to the top. Knitted in classic stocking stitch, the main part of the cosy is very simple, with the first sections worked flat and then joined into the round for the top shaping, leaving gaps for the handle and spout.

bouquet2

The really fun part is making the flowers for the top. Based on a pattern from www.funfreecraftlimited.com, this is great for newbie crocheters. As long as you can chain, slip stitch and double crochet, you can make these roses. And if you use a fun colourful yarn, like Louise did, they come out with the subtle variegations that real flowers have. Genius!

bouquet3

There’s a fair amount of sewing involved with this design, but it’s so worth it – aren’t those buttons delightful? Make sure to give yourself a full afternoon to dedicate to the construction and take your time when you position the flowers. A little bit of effort goes a long way and after all, you want this cosy to show just how much you care about your people.

Happy Valentine’s Day tea fans, we love you all!

Super Tea to the rescue!

With January comes the inevitable talk of the ‘D’ words: diet, detox and don’t-eat-any-more-of-that! And really, it makes sense. After the weeks (or months, maybe) of indulgence that always surround Christmas and New Year, our bodies do cry out for more of the good stuff. I know I turn to carbs and chocolate when the weather is rubbish, and I could do with eating more fruit and veg by the time January rolls round.

But rather than January being about eating more fresh, healthy ingredients, it often becomes more intense, with people turning to juice cleanses and the like. Which drags other foods and ingredients into the fray to be dubbed ‘superfoods’. One of them is Green Tea, which got us wondering, just how magical is it?

Morning_cup_of_green_tea

“Morning cup of green tea” by Kanko from Nagasaki, Japan.

Green Tea has been used for medicinal purposes in Chinese culture for centuries, and recently tales of its wonder have started to migrate to the West. Claims abound that Green Tea can speed up your metabolism, improve your cholesterol and even prevent Alzheimer’s or cancer. But is it true?

Well, in amongst the crazy claims online, the NHS teamed up with the British Dietetic Association to check it out. It turns out there hasn’t been much research, really, and what has been undertaken is inconclusive. It’s believed that the treatment process (steaming, rather than fermenting) of the leaves means that Green Tea has more antioxidants, alongside the naturally occurring B vitamins, folate, manganese, potassium, magnesium and caffeine. But what that means in practise is…not much. Some people might experience health benefits if they drink more Green Tea, some people might not.

What we’ve discovered that is unequivocally true, is that Green Tea does you no harm. Let’s face it: anything has to be better than the wine, port and other festive tipples we’ve been imbibing of late. So you can guzzle Green Teas by the bucket load guilt-free – whether you opt for our Jasmine or Lemon versions!

For more details and links to studies, visit http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/superfoods/pages/is-green-tea-a-superfood.aspx

May old acquaintance be forgot…

Happy New Year! Don’t worry, I can still say that because we are only in the single digits of January. We hope you all had a beautiful break at the end of 2014, whatever and however you celebrated, and are feeling fresh and rejuvenated for the new year to come.

And what could be better to usher in 2015 than a brand new knitting project? Exactly – nothing! Well, we’ve got you covered. This month’s tea cosy is stylish and sophisticated and it might just teach you a new technique or two. Intrigued? You should be.

The Cushy Smocked Tea Cosy is a Patons design from yarnspirations.com. It’s mostly worked in a wide rib but every few rows the smocking technique is used. This is where the needle is inserted at a specific point and a loop is drawn out that will pull parts of the rib into a diamond shape. It sounds a bit abstract and weird, but it’s actually really easy to do, and look how pretty it turns out! Worked flat and then seamed, you can concentrate on the smocking, with just a few simple decreases towards the end to distract you.

cushy cosy 1

For extra squishiness and insulation, this tea cosy is knitted in aran yarn on 4.5mm needles. So even if you’ve never smocked before, you’ll still have a finished object in no time – and really, aren’t they the best kind of knitting projects?

Possibly our favourite part of this design is that it comes with a genius way of making pom-poms. If you’re used to the old-school approach that requires two discs of cardboard, you’ll know it can be slow going and pretty mind-numbing. Well, this pattern suggests simply winding the yarn around your fingers instead, which sounds much quicker, much more satisfying and just, well, better.

And if you’ve really fallen for this design, you could even make yourself a matching throw, with the corresponding pattern which is also free – but it doesn’t sport a pom-pom. Ah well, you can’t win ‘em all…

cushy throw

So whether you’ve made resolutions or not, you can enjoy getting stuck into this beauty of a cosy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a million pom-poms – fuss free!

Line ’em up!

As December trickles away, we are well and truly in the season of eating, drinking and being merry, and we are loving it! For today’s blog post we’re going to make sure you have plenty to drink and that you most certainly are merry. How are we going to do that, you ask? Easy. With some of our favourite tea cocktails.

Yup, boozy and delicious, cocktails just got so much better thanks to one wonderful ingredient: tea! These would make the perfect drinks to serve up at Christmas parties, drinks in with the girls, or just as an alternative to sherry and wine on the big day itself.

Are you drooling yet? You will be…

IMG_3125

(Recipe and image from joythebaker.com)

Starting with the humble English Breakfast tea, this is a simple but astonishing cocktail. Mixing black tea with bourbon and honey sounds delicious, and just perfect for sipping under a blanket. Use Cosy Tea’s English Breakfast for a scrumptious fireside treat.

EarlGreyTeaCocktail2

(Recipe and image courtesy of sugarandcharm.com)

Earl Grey and gin. Now isn’t that a match made in heaven? Add some honey, lemon and lavender and you’ve got something truly special. All that’s left is to don your best cocktail dress, slap on the Christmas-red lippie and you’ve got your evening sorted.

Green-Tea-Gimlet-Marla-Meridith-BO1V2125

(Recipe and image from freshfamilycooking.com)

Zesty and bright, this Green Tea Gimlet cocktail will put a spring in your step, no matter how cold it is outside! Combining green tea with gin and citrus makes for a sassy result that the girls will love. You provide the gossip and the embarrassing stories…

the-leland-palmer-640-640x600

(Recipe and image from bonappetit.com)

The Leland Palmer. Doesn’t that sound sophisticated? Featuring such ingredients as limoncello and grapefruit juice this is a cocktail to impress with. Invite all the in-laws round and show them just how much hosting prowess you have – but don’t drink too many of these, or the image will be shattered.

20130317-244846-chamomile-tequila-sour-thumb-625xauto-313179

(Recipe and image courtesy of seriouseats.com)

Combining soothing chamomile and crazy tequila may not seem like an obvious choice, but we think this cocktail might just become a favourite. The chamomile tea is used to make a simple syrup which would be equally delightful drizzled over cakes or ice cream. This recipe is the gift that keeps on giving!

Whether you serve your tea with milk or booze this festive season, we hope you have a wonderful one. Merry Christmas, everyone!