Sunday, December 13, 2009

Winter Pleasures

Steaming mugs of cocoa, hot cups of tea...these little indulgences are practically a necessity in December!

This is the first year I have really been able to enjoy hot tea. Always before, I HAD to have hot chocolate.
Winter seemed to be an impossible time to reduce sugar content in my drinks because the sugar-free packets of hot chocolate just did not hit the spot.
I would try to get "into" tea-drinking but just could not find what satisfied my taste! But now, I have made it!
I have finally found what satisfies me in the tea line!

My favorite hot tea is loose leaf Scottish Breakfast Tea. I turn my nose up at the tea bag trade! I first found a website that I ordered tea from, Come For Tea...I tried several small packages of loose leaf teas and for a while my favorite, and Alison's, was Lady Londenderry. By the way, this site has lovely packaging. She includes little candies and crinkled shredded paper in different colors for packing in your shipment. I have read a lot about loose leaf vs teabags and decided I would go highbrow and not get my tea in dust in a bag! My Mennonite friend Carrie Johnson showed me (unknowingly) how to brew without bitterness...I met her one afternoon and she fixed hot tea for us in clear glass footed mugs, so cute! I finally found a set of four like them for myself. She was using teabags, and just dunked them up and down for a short time, not leaving the tea to steep for 3 minutes. This has worked for me almost without fail. That is why I could never get into tea, I always found it bitter, even with the sweeteners. By the way, I use a stevia sweetener. Now I can buy my looseleaf teas here locally! I found a shop that imports British foods and that is how I stumbled upon the Scottish Breakfast type. I really enjoy it- with milk like they do, or with real cream.

This particular tea can be brewed at least twice before you must discard the leaves. I use a cup-sized strainer made by Finum. It works so much better than the old ball-type strainer. I always had a few stray leaves in the bottom of my cup if I used that type.

I have several great tea books- recipes and party ideas and interesting reading. I try to not argue with my relatives that mostly use teabags...the women in my husband's family have started a tradition of having a Christmas tea when we are all together. We have done this about 4 years maybe? Sometimes we will wear hats...

My sister-in-law Angela, my daughter Alison, my niece Tenaye...

My daughter Julia...

We have a lot of fun! (this is me)

My sister-in-law Kim...

Here are some cookies I made in teacup shape...

Mom usually makes homemade biscotti in several flavors.

One year I made little apricot tarts that the menfolk wanted to snitch.

My husband was not above trying on a hat...we had issued the decree that if they wanted to taste our tea things, they must wear a hat also!

That is a has black feathers and none of the ladies wanted to wear it!

Here is my husband's mother-"Grandmother" to our kids. She is drinking from a cup that I gave her...Her mother, our Grandma Classen, gave me a tea saucer before she died with this design. I did an internet search and found the cup to match it, in either England or Australia. So I let her have the saucer, too. I also bought myself this same set on e-bay, to remember Grandma Classen by. I have started a collection of teacups and saucers...I love beautiful china. I have some wonderful chintz dessert plates.

My niece, Sabrina...

My niece, Tamara...

My sister-in-law Gwen...

My sister-in-law Kathy and her two girls, Karissa and Andrea, were not at this particular tea party. Back then they were living in Oregon and could not always make it for Christmas. Right now they are living in Louisiana, so we see them more often now.

I still do love a great cup of hot chocolate, but I must watch my sugar intake now. Sometimes I will get the little tins of suger-free International Cafe mixes and add a little cocoa to them. I am glad to say that most of the chocolate drinks are now too sweet for me. I thought I would never get to the place of saying so, but it's a good thing for me to have made it here!

The one chocolate drink I really do miss is the Chantico from Starbucks. They discontinued it because "Starbucks customers like to customize their drinks and this was only offered in one size, one way." It was really rich and you had to just sip at it, but it was great.
I just ordered a little tin of Bellagio Sipping Chocolate to try and find it WAY too sweet! This is one I have to add to the International Cafe drinks in a very small quantity, or I can not take it!

Another thing I have come to really enjoy that I never would have believed...Ginger Cookies! Kathy made us some last year for part of our Christmas, and I really enjoy them...with a Nice, Hot Cup Of My Favorite Tea. She packaged them in a cute little tin...I'm using it this year to store our cookies for snacking.

The ones from the store cannot compare to the ones made at home! Yes these can have lots of sugar on them, if you make them that way. So I must be careful with these, also! I think the ginger automatically limits the out-of-control indulgence.

This is my favorite evening snack on these cold December tea and ginger crinkle cookies!

Hey! Only 11 more shopping days!


  1. It looks like you had a great tea party and lots of fun. For real hot chocolate, you might try our Sipping Dreams European Style Drinking Chocolate. Unlike most "hot chocolates" (first ingredient sugar, second cocoa) our chocolate is mostly 72% dark chocolate. What you get is a real "Winter Pleasure," a rich, thick chocolate that customers describe as "drinking a dark chocolate bar!" While it does have a lot of sugar (13g / serving) I think you'll find it to be the chocolate you want to spend those extra sugar points on. You can read what another blogger said about us: You can find us on line at

  2. Lovely post! So glad you stopped by and linked up! Yum to all the chocolate and beautiful pics (love that hot chocolate plate!). And enjoyed hearing about all the tea!