Summer means pool parties, beach days, cottage stays and lazy days spend out in your backyard. It’s also the time to have friends and family over, and not to mention the kids are out of school. Basically you’re in need of some refreshing, easy, no sugar summer drinks fit for a crowd.
These two iced tea recipes are sugar free, low waste (you don’t need to buy plastic containers of juice/ingredients) and makes enough for a large pitcher. Bonus points if you can add in some fresh mint from your own garden!
Finally summer is here! It’s time to spend all of our time outside in the sun with our family and friends. Whether you retreat to your cottage every weekend or chill out on your own deck, I’ve got some flavourful and refreshing recipes coming your way. Each of these drinks contain no sugar, no calories and no caffeine! Summer Sips is the drink of summer ’19.
0 calories, 0 sugar and caffeine free?! How?
I made all three iced tea drinks with my Summer Sips blend. Summer Sips is a herbal tea, containing hibiscus petals from Egypt. Hibiscus has a naturally tart flavour profile that steeps up a gorgeous deep pink hue. Packed full of vitamin A, C and beta-carotene, this herbal tisane puts in some serious work. Because hibiscus has a strong flavour profile, it holds up well to the addition of other liquids.
I chose to add water, freshly squeezed lemon juice and sparkling water to keep these drinks super hydrating and sugar free. I encourage you to get creative. Summer Sips pairs well with coconut milk, coconut water, fruit juices or sparkling beverages. Don’t worry about overpowering Summer Sips – it always shines through!
For best results, I suggest cold brewing your Summer Sips the night before for maximum flavour
I’ll show you how to make the following iced tea drinks that all use the same base:
Summer Sips with sparkling water
Summer Sips with still water
Summer Sips with freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pack your compostable tea filter or strainer with Summer Sips. I recommend using 2 teaspoons per 500 ml of water
Cold brew your Summer Sips overnight or for at least 3 hours. If you don’t have filters or a strainer, you can strain the hibiscus petals with a strainer. This may result in some petals leftover but it’ll do in a pinch
Strain your Summer Sips into a pitcher with ice and pour into glasses halfway
Gather your lemons and wash them. Cut one lemon into garnishes. Skip to #5/#6 for other variations.Squeeze 3-4 lemons into a pitcher and top with 500mL of water. Be sure to strain out the seeds. Top glasses with half of the Summer Sips base with the freshly squeezed lemon water
Top glasses with half of the Summer Sips base with cold filtered still water. Skip to #6 for sparkling variation.
Top glasses with half of the Summer Sips base with sparkling water
Serve all variations with a lemon garnish and serve over ice
There you have it! One iced tea drink, served three different ways. Each variation is hydrating and refreshing, and best served over ice. I would love to hear your thoughts on Summer Sips! But if you haven’t tried it, let me know your summer plans – it’d make my day!
If the tried and true gift you always give the mom in your life is getting stale, it may be time to shake things up. I suggest shopping local and supporting small businesses this year. Grab your friends and family and hit one of the local vendor shows in the area.
Craft shows, makers markets and pop-up venues always feature small businesses from across Ontario. These events showcase one of a kind, curated and specialized products. The best part is having direct access to the maker or artisan. How often do you get to speak with the individual responsible for creating their product from end to end? Take every opportunity to support the local talent across Ontario, and shop local for Mother’s Day. You’re guaranteed to walk away with something truly one of a kind.
Market Shopping Tips
Go Early – Nab the perfect parking spot and avoid the crowds
Don’t Hesitate – Pop Up Shopping means only a handful of items per maker is available. If you see it, scoop it up before someone else grabs it! Once an artisan sells out, they won’t replenish their stock for the day
Inquire – You get to shop from the artisan directly! Any questions about wear, colours, additional information or caring for the product is readily accessible – it’s right in front of you!
Bring reusable shopping bags – Tuck all of your gifts or items away in a larger reusable bags and keep your hands free
Didn’t have time to get cash out? It’s probably okay – Most, if not all, artisans use a POS system like Square that accept debit tap, Apple Pay and Google Pay along with all major credit cards
June 1st and 2nd at Lower Brewers Dock (just outside Kingston)
If you see me at one of the makers markets, come say hi! I love to talk about everything tea. Shopping local is a great way to support your local economy while picking up items you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
Don’t forget to give the mom in your life something truly unique, after all, she is one of a kind!
Easter weekend is upon us, and no matter if you celebrate it or not, you’ll likely be treating yourself with lots of chocolate. As winter fades into spring, theres lots of reasons to get together with friends and families over tea and chocolate. When pairing tea with food, you should keep in mind the principles of complementing and balancing flavours. You’ll want to avoid overpowering food with tea, and strike the right harmony between the two.
I’ve paired some common easter treats with three different teas and one tisane. I focused on balancing out the creamy chocolate and fluffy marshmallow flavours with tea. Using different teas can enhance the flavours of your easter treats and bring out the best flavours and aromas. Finding the right type of tea to complement your easter treats can turn dessert time into a fun dining experience with friends and family.
I added a touch of milk to this black tea blend to complement the milk chocolate eggs. The smooth balanced notes and malty flavours of Morning Routine complements the candy crunch coating of mini eggs. Milk chocolate and tea with milk both leave a creamy mouthfeel, so neither chocolate or tea will struggle for centre stage.
I knew a hot cup of tea would overpower these marshmallow treats so I paired them with a cold brewed Hibiscus tisane. Steeped overnight, the hibiscus flowers pack a tart grenadine like flavour with a lemonade finish. To round out those tart citrusy notes, I topped the glass with sparkling water. The sugar texture on the marshmallow treats balances out the bubbles in the sparkling hibiscus tisane.
Like with the mini eggs, a touch of milk in the Cream Earl Grey has a similar mouthfeel to the creamy chocolate in this easter bunny. The balanced milk chocolate notes are enhanced by the vanilla and bergamot (citrus) undertones in the cream earl grey. As the easter bunny is smooth and contains only one flavour, pairing it with a tea with additional flavours proves complementary.
The savoury and creamy notes of these chocolate creme eggs are a match made in heaven with the creamy and buttery notes of this green tea from Japan. As these chocolate eggs are filled with creme, pairing with a tea made with milk would be overpowering. When pairing tea with food, usually one or the other takes precedence. In this case, the heavy chocolate creme eggs are balanced out with the light, bright notes of Sencha.
Tea and tisanes pair well with just about everything. Picking out the flavours of your easter treats and balancing them out with tea is a great way to enhance dessert time. I hope everyone has a great long weekend, filled with fun treats and delicious tasting tea!
One of the questions I most often get asked when serving tea is, ’how much caffeine does my tea have?’ Most tea drinkers either want a lot of it, or none at all if it’s later in the day or if they are caffeine sensitive. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at just how much caffeine is in your favourite cup of tea, and why caffeine free drinkers should opt for herbal tisanes (fruit/floral/herbal infusions such as peppermint or camomile) over decaffeinated teas.
It’s important to keep in mind that the amount of caffeine in your tea depends on several factors like type, leaf varietal, water temperature, amount, steeping time and grade (think tea bag tea vs. loose leaf tea). As there are so many determinants impacting the amount of caffeine in tea, I would recommend not referring to infographics that list caffeine content per category of tea (such as green tea contains xx mg of caffeine whereas black tea contains xx mg of caffeine). While they can serve as baseline amounts of caffeine for the different types of tea, the actual amount of caffeine varies greatly for the reasons listed above.
Every type of tea is caffeinated, because all tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant, which naturally contains caffeine. Caffeine can only be removed through expensive chemical processes or through the use of carbon dioxide, leaving tea leaves with >1% caffeine. When solvents are used, the tea leaves are placed in large vats and exposed to organic liquid solvents such as methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. The caffeine is dissolved by the solvent, and both the solvent and caffeine exit the vat once the process has been completed. The tea leaves are dried and resifted and re-enter the manufacturing process to be enjoyed by consumers. Typically the decaffeination process increases the price of tea by 400-700%.
Decaffeinating tea often strips the leaves, leaving them less flavourful and aromatic. Often this process leaves behind one dimensional tea leaves, resulting in a flat tasting tea. If you are looking for a caffeine free alternative, its best to enjoy herbal tisanes. Herbal tisanes are caffeine free and full of flavour, making them the better caffeine free option. Only herbal tisanes are naturally caffeine free as they do not contain any tea. Some examples of tisanes or herbal infusions are lemon and ginger, peppermint or camomile.
You can expect your cup of tea to have around 66% less caffeine than your cup of coffee. If you are looking for a caffeine free alternative to your favourite brew, I would suggest steeping an herbal tisane. Full of flavour, tisanes are naturally devoid of caffeine, such as mint leaves. I recommend steeping your herbal tisanes for 3-5 minutes at 100 c, using around 1 teaspoon per cup. Do you opt for caffeine free tisanes after a certain point in the day? Or are the moderate levels of caffeine in tea the perfect amount for you? Let us know what you think in the comments section.
I am a certified Tea Sommelier with the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada. A Tea Sommelier is an expert on tea, someone who has trained their palette to pick up on the subtle aromas and flavours between many different types of tea. A Tea Sommelier knows the process of tea from bush to cup, and can expertly complement or contrast tea with food. Every Tea Sommelier has years of practice behind them and often works directly within the tea industry. For a long time, the term sommelier had been reserved for experts within the realm of wine. However, the origin of the word sommelier points to the latin word sumere, which means to drink or absorb liquid.
I began my journey to become a certified Tea Sommelier in September 2017, taking my final certification exam in January 2019. Classes can take place in person at various colleges or online with the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada itself. Students can take the courses for their own educational advancement or for the purpose of becoming a certified Tea Sommelier. There are 8 courses in total that the student must pass in order to qualify to sit the final certification exam. Personally I took both classes in person and online, as during the latter part of my studies the online option worked better with my schedule. I attended both Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, and Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario in person to complete a course. At both colleges, the Tea Sommelier classes were part of the Continuing Education Program.
In person classes met once a week for 3 hours at a time. Classes were held on the weekends or during weeknights. I took the introduction course (Tea 101) at Mohawk, which is the only course that is 4 weeks long. The remainder of the courses are 6 weeks in duration. Often in course instruction connects you in real time to other potential Tea Sommeliers and individuals with a strong passion for tea.
Online courses run for 6 weeks, with two tutorials that allow you to connect and ask questions directly to the instructor. You could choose from two different time slots for the tutorial, allowing for the more convenient option for your schedule. I found that both in person and online courses were flexible and appropriate for those who worked full time or had other commitments.
Tea 101 – Introduction to Tea
Tea 102 – Regions of the World
Tea 103 – Sensory Development
Tea 104 – Tea Types
Tea 105 – From Bush to Cup
Tea 106 – Preparation, Consumption, and Health
Tea 107 – Menu Design, Food Pairing and Cooking
Tea 108 – The Business of Tea
Class participation – 5% (for both in person and online through the tutorials)
Assignment – 20% (presentation, either alone or in a group for some in person courses)
Blind Tasting* – 60%
Final Examination – 50%
*Students must pass the Blind Tasting with a minimum of 51% / Students must achieve at least 60% to pass each course
Each week you complete a lesson, taste teas and complete a full sensory evaluation of each tea. All teas are provided for you when you enrol in the course. For in course instruction, the tasting takes place as a class with the opportunity to make notes on your own. For online instruction, the teas are mailed to you and marked accordingly to taste teas on your own.
The final assignment was often a presentation, or a discussion around your menu or creation. The assignment required you to complete additional research and use the course material to complete.
Undoubtedly the blind tasting portion of each course is the most challenging yet interesting section. As a student you were required to complete a blind taste test of either 6 or 8 teas and identify the category (white, green, oolong, black or pu’erh) and another identifier such as country of origin, specific region within a tea producing country or manufacturing method. You are only presented with the tea liquor, and do not see the package or dry/wet leaf.
The blind taste test is a true reflection of your efforts and practice. During the first course, you start with the basics and progress to tasting the subtle nuances within a single category. In the beginning of my journey, I had to practice over and over to taste the differences between a green tea from China and a green tea from Japan. At the end of my studies, I could visually see the difference without even smelling or tasting the teas. The best way to approach a blind tasting is to compare and contrast the teas from your lesson, accessing what speaks to you directly about each of the tea. I tasted each tea over and over again, and often got my tea buddy to quiz me frequently. Blind tasting teas allows you to slow down and rely on your senses to determine the different aromas and flavours of a specific tea. Tea Sommeliers and students always hear that ‘all tea tastes the same’ when really, this statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
Final Certification Exam
In order to become a certified Tea Sommelier, you must pass the final exam. Students must score a minimum of 75% in both the blind tasting and course in order to pass.
Tea Preparation – 30%
Oral Presentation – 10%
Final Examination – 30%
Blind Tasting – 30%
The final exam is timed and moderated, so preparation is essential to your success. The blind tasting component comprises of 10 teas that you have studied from any of the previous 8 courses. The Tea and Herbal Association has an exam preparation session available to students who are enrolled in the final certification exam.
Certified Tea Sommelier Designation
As a certified Tea Sommelier, you become a member of the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada. Yearly membership fees grants you access to current tea research and data, and connects you with tea professionals across the industry.
Many certified Tea Sommeliers are entrepreneurs and work within the tea industry itself. As the second most popular beverage worldwide after water, continual research, studies, and international conferences help further our understanding about tea.
For more information about tea, the certified Tea Sommelier program and upcoming courses or the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada, please visit their website at tea.ca
Feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions about studying to become a Tea Sommelier or blind tasting tips at email@example.com
Sometimes a good tea latte is all we need to relax or power through our afternoon work session. When the weather outside is frightful, the last thing we want to do is to trudge outdoors to get our tea fix. Tea lattes are so easy to make in your own kitchen and are so versatile. Whether you make yours vegan or with dairy, all it takes is a few minutes to whip up.
I’ll be sharing how to create a rose dusted earl grey tea latte made with coconut milk at home. The calming aroma of rose fills your kitchen as you sip away on this creamy earl grey tea latte. You can follow these same instructions to create a tea latte with another tea (I recommend using a black tea, like Morning Routine) with the milk and sweetener of your choice. I used our cream earl grey loose leaf tea with our rose buds and petals.
Step 1: Grab your favourite mug and boil your kettle. Steep your tea however you’d like (tea press or in a compostable tea filter) at the optimal length and water temperature. Unsure of how long or how hot your water should be? Refer to our chart here.
Step 2: While your tea is steeping, begin to warm your milk on your stove or in the microwave (watch to ensure it doesn’t boil over!). Your milk is ready to be frothed once it reaches around 145-155 degrees Fahrenheit. Begin frothing your milk with your frother or tea press. You can texturize your milk in a tea press by aerating the milk through the repeated motion of lifting the tea press up and down.
No tea press or milk frother? Use a whisk or a fork to froth your warmed milk.
Note that different milk types will froth differently!
Step 3: Sweeten your brew with honey, maple syrup, sugar, simple syrup or a flavoured syrup. I used a teaspoon of vanilla syrup to compliment the creamy notes of my earl grey. Not a fan of adding sugar? Skip this step!
Step 4: Pour the milk into your cup. For more foam, froth milk close to the surface and use a spoon to scoop the milk foam for your tea latte.
Step 5: Garnish with rose petals or the floral of your choice, and enjoy!
You can make an indulgent tea latte at home in just a few minutes! We hope you have fun creating your tea latte and that this inspires you to take a tea break whenever you need it throughout your day!
Show us your DIY tea latte with the hashtag #teabyplandevida
We’re highlighting the top five places to sit and sip on tea in Kingston, ON! All areas are accessible on foot from the downtown core in Kingston. Feel free to check out one of these stops before or after doing one of our tours. Some of the following places are featured on our Sip Tea and Sightsee Around Kingston Tour and the Kingston Walking Tour with Tea.
1. Springer Market Square
Location: 216 Ontario St
Stop #1: Sip Tea & Sightsee Around Kingston, Kingston Walking Tour with Tea
The start and end point for all of our tea tours also doubles as a great spot to sip your tea from. Sip tea as you weave your way through the stalls or sit by the fountain on a bench to watch the hustle and bustle of the market. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays the market square is bustling with fresh local produce and goods from artisans and farmers around Kingston. On Sundays the market square features antique wares and interesting finds. The market runs through the end of November.
Tour Tip: Browse the market stalls on market days before or after your tour for a light breakfast or snack or pick up some local produce for your dinner.
2. Confederation Park
Location: Ontario St (located directly across from City Hall)
Stop #6: Sip Tea & Sightsee Around Kingston, Kingston Walking Tour with Tea
Once an active train yard, Confederation Park is a go to for visitors and locals alike in Kingston. There are many places to sit and enjoy a cup of tea from. Watch the 1000 Islands cruises or Wolfe Island Ferry cross the waters as you sit in the shadow of Kingston’s famous Martello Towers. Explore every corner of the park! Located throughout the park is informative signs, Kingston’s Tourism Centre or revisit Engine 1095.
Tour Tip: Pose as the ‘i’ in the Kingston city sign!
3. Sit in the Shadow of St. George’s Cathedral
Location: 270 King St E
Stop #9: Sip Tea & Sightsee Around Kingston, Kingston Walking Tour with Tea
Walk around the side of St. George’s Cathedral and rest on one of the benches located on the grass. Find a quiet moment in the city as you sip tea, or enjoy a book. This is a great spot to rest your feet and relax.
Tour Tip: Located around the Cathedral are several historical signs that contain interesting facts and figures. How many can you find?
4. Battery Park
Location: Waterfront Pathway
Take in the stunning panoramic views of the Kingston waterfront as you sip on your tea. Battery Park has a lot of green space and benches to sit on. Enjoy your time in the park or select it as a resting spot as you walk along the Kingston waterway.
Tour Tip: Try and find all the Kingston landmarks highlighted on the Sip Tea and Sightsee Tour. Some Martello Towers, Wolfe Island, the Wolfe Island Ferry and the Royal Military College are all visible from Battery Park.
5. Gord Edgar Downie Pier
Location: Breakwater Park
One of the newest additions to the Kingston waterfront is the Gord Edgar Downie Pier. Located along the waterfront pathway, this spot features stunning water views, a sandy beach, and plenty of places to rest your feet. Soak up the sun while sipping on your tea at the pier!
Tour Tip: On warmer fall days, the Pier is a great spot for a picnic. Take in the panoramic and picturesque Kingston waterfront views from one of the picnic tables on the pier. Looking for a picnic platter for your group? Check out our options here.
Hope everyone is enjoying the fall colours of Kingston! Happy touring through #YGK
We’re continuing our countdown from last week! Read on as we debunk the next five myths surrounding tea.
Myth #6: Tea tastes like hot water.
Fact: If you find your cups of tea are tasting like hot water, there are a few different tweaks you can try to enhance the flavour of your cup. Pay attention to the quality of your water – and never boil your water twice. Bring fresh filtered water to a boil, and cool to the appropriate temperature depending on the category of tea. Another way to enhance the flavour of your cup is to try multiple steeping’s of loose leaf tea, using a ratio that calls for less water and more tea leaves. With some teas, you can infuse the leaves multiple times, resulting in a slightly different flavour profile with each cupping. Another method to try is to ‘rinse’ your tea leaves. Quickly pour your water over the leaves and pour it off, allowing the tea leaves to open up. After the initial rinse, you can begin brewing your leaves according to what type of tea you’re drinking.
Myth #7: Tea tastes better with condiments like milk, sugar, and lemon.
Fact: Adding condiments to your tea comes down to preference. Use of condiments should enhance your cup of tea and increase your own satisfaction. However, adding condiments to tea isn’t always necessary for a great tasting cup. You can get creamy, buttery and citrus notes right from the tea leaves themselves. For example, a Silver Needle (white tea) tea from China has stone fruit notes, without the addition of citrus or sugar. Tea picks up subtle aromas and flavours from terroir and throughout the manufacturing process.
Myth #8: Tea is unaffected by weather, economy and supply/demand issues.
Fact: The tea industry’s ability to keep the price consistent for the consumer is impressive. Tea is a live crop that is just as susceptible as other agricultural products. Extreme weather conditions or drought would impact suppliers that supply the major tea companies around the world. In order to mitigate any possible supply or demand issues, tea companies have contingency plans set up. If the supplier they use is impacted by drought or any other problem, they will select another supplier that can supply tea with a similar flavour profile. This ensures flavour consistency and does not impact the consumer (you!). For most boxes of teabags, you will not find what countries the tea is from, in the event suppliers need to be changed at the last minute.
The economy also impacts the price of tea, however you would not see the price of tea on your grocery shelf fluctuate often. Majority of tea is still bought and sold through auction houses. The inconsistency of the cost of tea is not communicated to the consumer, with large tea companies ensuring the price of their tea remains fairly consistent.
Myth #9: It doesn’t matter what country my tea is from – it all tastes the same.
Fact: Every tea is as unique as the country it’s grown in. Tea is produced all around the world, with each country’s unique soil, weather and climate influencing the flavours and aroma of their tea. These environmental conditions that impact tea can be described by the word terroir. Terroir along with manufacturing practices influences the flavours and aromas of your cup. A green tea from Japan tends to be a bright vibrant green, with herbaceous and grassy notes. Whereas a green tea from China tends to be a darker green-brown with roasted and toasty notes. The difference in flavours within the green tea category comes down to terroir and how each country manufactures their tea (Japan steams their tea to reduce moisture, whereas China pan-fires their tea).
In fact, some countries protect their tea by applying a Geographical Indication (GI). A GI is used on products that taste the way they do because of the region’s unique terroir and manufacturing methods. Read more about a GI tea, Darjeeling,here.
Myth #10: Tea is boring! Tea reminds me of afternoon tea parties with grandmothers.
Fact: The image tea conjures up in Canada is often gender-specific mixed in with memories of your grandmother and a drink that should only be consumed with your pinky finger extended. Most Canadians experience tea as a dusty teabag served piping hot in a small metal teapot. The truth is that tea is a diverse beverage that can be served both hot and cold, and enjoyed at all times throughout the day. There are thousands of different teas across every category that are a true reflection of a time-honoured craft. Try pairing your tea with food, by complementing or contrasting flavours on your plate and in your cup. A great after dinner tea and dessert pairing is a green tea from Japan (Matcha or Sencha) with white chocolate. The creamy and buttery notes of both items complement one another. It’s also important to note that tea is a social beverage that gathers us to share and socialize. Around the world having tea with friends and family is a social and cultural norm. A great way to challenge your perception of tea is to try having a cup to open your palette before a meal or to finish your meal with tea. Other ways include hosting tea tastings or mixing tea with juices and sparkling water.
Camembert paired with Darjeeling tea (black tea) from India. Switch up your glassware and pair your tea with your favourite cheese for a whole new take on this classic beverage.
We hoped you learned something new as we debunked our top ten tea myths. Coming up next on the blog is why you should entertain with tea!
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