Giveaway // Kikkerland Tea Set + de Pelikaan Tea

Back in May, Sara hosted a tea salon event at the Kikkerland shop in Manhattan and I got to taste an iced Mona Lisa Smile tea from Dutch company de Pelikaan. A green tea with roses and strawberries, it was my favorite of the teas I tasted and it was wonderful iced.

Thanks to the generous folks at Kikkerland, this giveaway to one lucky winner includes the Mona Lisa Smile tea in their signature red tin, two Ora teacups (double walled glasses), and the very pretty Ora Teapot. Both the teacups and teapot are double-walled glass, which is great for hot or iced tea. The total value of this giveaway is $85.00.

Since it's been so hot out, I've been cold-brewing this tea by putting in 1-2 teaspoons of loose tea into the teapot, adding cold water and letting it sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but usually overnight. 

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This giveaway is only open to US residents. Good luck!

NOTE: Winner will be contacted by email and comments/follows will be verified. If winner does not respond within three days of being contacted, another winner be chosen. Good luck!

//Giveaway prize courtesy of Kikkerland.//

Posted on July 26, 2015 .

Color Coded Credit Cards

This tip is something completely genius that I had to share. I keep all my cards (ID, credit, debit, etc.) together in my wallet -- not in card slots -- so when reaching for a card, I have to grab the whole bunch and flip through to find the one I want to use. NOT ANYMORE. 

I recently got a credit card that had the rim of the card colored in a bright orange color (I love functional design) and whenever I look in my wallet, I can find it right away. I thought, why not do this with my other cards using different colors? 

I got a few brightly colored Sharpies and colored the rim of each card with a different color.

TA DA! Now I can find the card I need at a glance. 

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Posted on July 23, 2015 .

Iced Matcha (Green Tea) Watermelon

Who knew matcha and watermelon would go so well together? MatchaBar in Brooklyn apparently. I ordered this drink on a visit and enjoyed it so much (and I recently have been on a blending binge with a newly acquired Vitamix) I wanted to try making it on my own. Because the watermelon is sweet there's no need to add any sugar.

(I love the look of the stacked layers of color.)

You can prepare the matcha for this drink the traditional way with a sifter, whisk, and hot water, but because I'm super lazy and the matcha is cooking grade, I used cold water and power whipped it using a milk frother.

When you're mixing matcha with other ingredients, no need to get the far more expensive ceremonial grade -- get cooking or culinary grade. Great ceremonial grade matcha has a very smooth subtle flavor that will completely get lost when diluted with other flavors. Also, I would never power whisk ceremonial grade. Blasphemy!

ICED MATCHA (GREEN TEA) WATERMELON
Makes 2 cups

INGREDIENTS
1 3/4 cups seeded and cubed watermelon 
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon matcha
Ice
Optional: Tiny watermelon wedges

DIRECTIONS
In a small bowl, whisk together matcha and water. Puree watermelon in a blender until smooth.

Into two cups filled with ice, pour in the watermelon puree first, then the matcha. Garnish with tiny watermelon wedges.

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Posted on July 19, 2015 .

Afternoon Tea Review // Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park South

SETTING: ★★★★☆
Afternoon tea is served in the Star Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park where there is a mix of dining tables with armchairs and low tables and plush sofas. Reservations are required and afternoon tea is served on the handful of dining tables in the lounge. With its low lights and plush seating, the Star Lounge feels like a fancy cozy urban escape, albeit a slightly stuffy one.

SERVICE: 
Service was very good but I took off a star since I did feel rushed toward the end when we (Georgia, Sara, and I) were chatting over tea after they took away the finished sweets tray. I had asked for an additional savory, but that never showed.

TEA & TEA SELECTION: 
All teas are blends created for Ritz-Carlton by “T” Tea Company and they all looked great -- I had a hard time nailing it down to just one. I had the The Ritz-Carlton Spring Blend which was delightful and perfectly steeped.

One thing I love about having afternoon tea here is that they pour the tea for you every single time and they always seem to know when you're getting to the bottom of your cup. Teapots are placed at a nearby table and the server will do all the pouring.

Interestingly, they serve the savories first, then they take your tea order. I would have preferred getting the tea first so I could have it with the savories.

SAVORIES: 
The savories here are excellent. Every single bite was delicious. If forced to choose, the Lobster and caviar roll was my favorite. Their savory game is strong. (The above picture of the savories is for two people so you get five savories per person, which is the perfect amount.)

SCONES: 
Scones are served separately after the savories and come out warm in a basket. There are a couple of selections (plain and fruit) and I got the fruit. Their scones are too big for my liking, but they were tasty. They are served alongside berry preserve, lemon curd, and Devonshire cream.

SWEETS: 
The three-tiered tray of sweets came out next. The one shown is for three people. Six sweets per person, which is generous. They were good, with the eclair with a matcha cream filling being my favorite. (Surprise, surprise.)

OVERALL: 
The savories are a highlight, along with never having to pour the tea yourself. It's worth a visit.

INFO: Star Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton | 50 Central Park South | New York, NY 10019 | 212.521.6125
AFTERNOON TEA HOURS: Daily from 2PM - 4PM
COST: Traditional Afternoon Tea, $55 | Menu

//Get the same teaware the Ritz-Carlton uses: Wedgwood teacup, teapot, creamer, and plate.//

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Posted on July 15, 2015 .

Pea, Asparagus, and Ricotta Tea Sandwich

A tea sandwich light and fresh for the summer. Serve these tiny bites with iced tea at your next tea gathering!

I'm using Pepperidge Farm Very Thin White bread but this works well with regular white bread. Sliced and toasted baguette turns this into a crostini if you want to make this a little more substantial.

A two inch cookie cutter cuts two circles out of each slice of bread. (With leftover bread scraps, I toast them and have it for breakfast, dipping them into soft boiled eggs.)

To those that have more patience, you can thicken the ricotta by draining it for about an hour using a cheesecloth in the fridge. This will keep the bread from getting too soft from any excess liquid from the ricotta. If you're assembling and eating it right away, there's no need to do that though.

PEA, ASPARAGUS, AND RICOTTA TEA SANDWICH
Makes 14 tea sandwiches

INGREDIENTS
7 slices of Pepperidge Farm Very Thin White bread
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup peas (frozen or fresh)
1/4 cup asparagus, trimmed then sliced to the same size as the peas
Chopped chives for garnish 
Salt (I like Maldon Sea Salt Flakes.)

DIRECTIONS
Using a 2" cookie cutter, cut two circles out of each slice of bread. Toast lightly.

Blanch peas and asparagus in salted water for 1–2 minutes. Cool immediately in an ice water bath or run under cold water.

Assemble the tea sandwich. Spoon a little bit of ricotta cheese onto the toast, creating a little dip in the middle. Sprinkle with salt. Top with peas and asparagus and garnish with chopped chives. Lightly sprinkle with salt to finish.

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Posted on July 12, 2015 .