Tea Infusiast News, No. 13

January 2024, Winter

Welcome to the January 2024 edition of Tea Infusiast News–a newsletter for tea lovers to connect with and through tea. This is the 13th edition of the newsletter.

In this January 2024 Edition

*NEW* Rest Kit for Tea Lovers

Reflecting on what I learned from offering the Virtual Tea Table series last year, I’m offering my first online Rest Kit for Tea Lovers. Registration is open now for the February kit.

My goal is to provide inspiring, helpful, and convenient practices that tea lovers can use for restful tea breaks throughout the month. Even on busy weekdays!

Image of a brown tea bowl on a cozy piece of fabric and text for "Online Rest Kit for Tea Lovers" from Tea Infusiast

Teaware Talk

It was a difficult decision, but the CommuniTEA Spotlight feature of the newsletter is going on vacation for a while. Instead, I’m delighted to show and talk about some pieces from my teaware collection.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? I have a sweet white teacup, sugar bowl, and creamer with delicate pink flowers and green leaves from a tea set that I have owned longer than any other.

My step-father thoughtfully gave me an entire tea set over 30 years ago. He purchased it in the UK when he was travelling back and forth there on business.

This tea set has been used and loved for decades–a cup often warming my hands, shared with family and guests, or appearing in tea parties with my kids when they were younger.

I treasure the few pieces from this “Elizabethan” Hampton Court set that have survived the many years of use and several cross-country moves.

What’s Steeping

I enjoyed many wonderful teas last month. One stood out for being delicious and a conduit for several wonderful lessons–about trust, dealing with frustration, and communiTEA.

During one of the days of Being Tea‘s Between the Years tea box, I knew my family would be on the road to visit out-of-state relatives so I planned to join the daily tea time from my phone in the car.

That morning, I hurriedly opened the little envelope marked with the date and found the corresponding packet of tea. My heart sank when I read “Black Saffron” tea. I have had several different teas with saffron over the years, and never enjoyed any of them; however, I trusted Sooz. I also subscribe to their monthly Being Tea Tea Tasting Box. So many great selections! And, even when I haven’t loved one of the teas, it has always been interesting and a learning experience for my palate. So, I steeped the Black Saffron tea and poured it into my pink confetti thermos.

Tea Lessons from the Road

We were on the New Jersey Turnpike when it was time for the daily online tea session included in the Between the Years box. I hadn’t tried logging onto Zoom on my phone in over a year–and I had never done it without Wi-fi. I made it into the session, but I couldn’t get sound. I tried troubleshooting, but it didn’t work. I was so frustrated.

I decided that even though I probably wouldn’t like this tea–and I was frustrated–I would drink it while the other subscribers to the box where gathered and drinking it.

I took that first sip with low expectations and was so happy to be wrong. The Iranian Black Saffron tea was a revelation. It tasted strongly of a complex dark honey, with delightful and muted florals–the way the flavor of flowers can be woven throughout a great honey. So good! This tea mesmerized me. And, it replaced my sense of frustration with delight.

Pink thermos full of Black Saffron tea, held next to a car window with the New Jersey Turnpike in the background.

What’s more, this tea reminded me that it never serves me well to anticipate disappointment in advance.

As I rode in the passenger seat of our car on the NJ Turnpike (see the photo), this tea also transported me to the community of tea lovers enjoying it together online. I felt connected to them as deeply as the honeyed flavor of this tea. It was a bit of magic that I never expected to experience on the NJ Turnpike! Thank you, Tea (and Sooz)!

CommuniTEA Spotlight Updates: July – November 2023

I’m sharing the second half of a retrospective of my 2023 CommuniTEA Spotlights. It was a pleasure updating the 2023 July – November featured tea people. Learn about them and what each of these members of the tea community has been up to since being highlighted.

My Favorite Hot Cocoa Recipe

I’m sure you’ve seen this tea joke: “How do you take your tea?” And, the response: “Seriously. Very seriously.”

Well, I take tea in both a serious and a light-hearted manner. And, the same is true for hot cocoa. I’ve been making homemade hot cocoa for many years, and have one variation that I keep returning to. It is a personal and family favorite.

Pink and white smiling plushie marshmallows with little feet

I’m sharing “Traci’s Fav Hot Cocoa” recipe again, as I did last year in a winter edition of the newsletter. It’s the start of a tradition, perhaps!

A few words about this recipe…

You can adjust the sugar to taste–my recipe is on the less sweet side. It’s also possible to replace the added cream with extra milk, and leave out the coffee and vanilla. The cocoa will still be very good. Of course, I think these additions enhance it.

The addition of coffee was inspired by my Great-Grandmother, Naomi. (Shown in this photo with me in the early 1990s.)

She was a fabulous and resourceful cook. She always added a little coffee to the chocolate icing she made for her home-baked cakes.

This version of the recipe has remained my favorite for several years now. If you make Traci’s Fav Hot Cocoa, I’d love to know what you think. You could let me know in the comments.

If you subscribe to the newsletter, you received a downloadable pdf of the recipe with a printer-friendly white background.

ICYMI on the Blog

This blog post compiles the wonderful teas that the newsletter featured in its “What’s Steeping” section in 2023.

In honor of the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, this post updates the first blog post I ever wrote! Read to find out the “Why, What, and When of the Boston Tea Party.”

I hope you enjoyed the January 2024 edition of Tea Infusiast News!

I welcome your thoughts in the comments.

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