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A Perfect Cup of Tea with Tea Bits and Pieces Info

Here’s all you need to know about the ‘right’ way to make tea. No ceremony necessary. Read on…

Here is a simple digest of what works.

  1. Fill the kettle with fresh water from the tap. Yes, your grandmother was right: water that has been boiled already will affect the taste of the tea.
  2. As it approaches the boil, warm the teapot by rinsing it out with hot water.
  3. Treat the teapot to one rounded teaspoon (yes, or caddy spoon) of tea leaves for each person and one extra spoonful ‘for the pot’. That’s the orthodox rule, though many these days find it a little strong. You’re in charge here.
  4. Just before the kettle water boils, pour into the pot. It doesn’t need to be stirred.
  5. Leave to infuse for three to five minutes, depending on taste. Serve, using a tea strainer.

If making tea in a cup with a tea infuser or tea strainer , the same rule applies – one spoon of tea, use water just off the boil and infuse for 3-5 minutes.

If making tea using tea bags, use 1 bag for 2 cups of water, use water just off the boil and steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove the bags or tea will be very strong.

Good to have a few tea making essentials, such a sturdy strainer and the ever important teapot.

Milk in first or last?

This thorny question has divided tea drinkers for quite some time. Putting the milk in last was considered to be the ‘correct’ thing to do in refined social circles, but the reason for this is often forgotten. In the early days of tea-drinking, poor-quality cups were inclined to crack when hot tea was poured into them, and putting the milk in first helped to prevent this. When finer and stronger materials came into use, this was no longer necessary – so putting the milk in last became a way of showing that one had the finest china on one’s table. Evelyn Waugh once recorded a friend using the phrase ‘rather milk-in-first’ to refer to a lower-class person, and the habit became a social divider that had little to do with the taste of the tea.

Having said that, there is a good reason for adding the milk last – if you are drinking an unfamiliar tea, it is easier to judge the correct amount of milk to add once you have seen the strength and colour of the tea. On the other hand, putting the milk in first means that the fat in the milk emulsifies in a different way when the tea is poured, which does change the flavour of the tea, giving it a more even, creamier flavour. It also cools the tea slightly to a more acceptable drinking temperature. So, now that the days when one’s social position was judged by this sort of thing are long gone, you may pour your tea however you choose. If anyone comments, send them to us. Visit Fortnum’s to purchase their excellent teas 

Bits ‘N’ Pieces

The story I heard for adding milk to tea goes back 2-300 years when English pottery factories were attempting to copy the porcelain cups that came from China. A genuine Chinese cup could withstand any temperature, but if you poured hot tea from a pot into an English cup, it would crack. However, few people could afford genuine Chinese porcelain. The solution was to put a couple of teaspoons of cold milk into the cup first, then pour the hot tea onto the milk. This would reduce the heat shock on the cup and it would survive. Adding milk after you’d poured the tea meant you could afford the more expensive genuine porcelain, and hence was the start of the class divide that is supposed to surround the milk first/last issue. No idea if this is true or just a myth…

Milk in the cup first or after the tea is in the cup?  The aristocracy in the 1800’s used bone china tea cups, boiling water in first risked cracking the cups – only the barbarians with clay mugs did not. I wouldn’t risk cracking my Royal Albert tea set.

The idea of adding the milk first was started back when tea was served in fine china cups. The shock of boiling water caused the cups to break so the milk was put in first to take the instant shock of heat out of the tea. Also Just for the Americans, fruit teas are never served with milk and Earl Gray is served with fresh lemon. Loose tea should be strained but if its large loose tea, it’s not necessary but a very small splash of cold water will make the leaves sink to the bottom just as cold milk will.

“Builders Brew”, Brit tradesmen like their strong brew tea with milk and sugar. Builder’s brew with Earl Grey or English Breakfast is best.

DUNKING:  Digestive biscuits are less sweet and perfect for dunking. The best dunking biscuit is actually a hobnob but.  Chocolate digestive biscuit are very nice  too.  (American cookies are made to be dipped in cold milk or just by themselves. Especially Oreos and chocolate chip cookies.)

Hoi Polloi Tea Method: Make sure it’s in a nice big mug with a hearty handle.  Boil the water, pour over the tea bag in the mug.   Bash the tea bag around to get all of the good stuff out of it and then take the tea bag out. Use milk (whole or semi) added afterwards & sugar if desired.  Yummy!

I am Canadian and my favorite is an orange pekoe flavour & aroma.  I normally use tea bags & number one brand is Yorkshire Gold tea from UK (it is mind blowingly good!),  Salada & Red Rose in Canada. Make in the tea pot after warming it, allow 1 bag per 2 cups of water, let it steep for 5 or 6 minutes, remove the bags and cover the pot with a quality Canadian made Dome Tea Cozy. Serve with milk & sugar or drink black… Delish & very refreshing.

I like Loose tea, too…so many flavours to choose from.  Try this one: 3 parts Earl Grey blended with 1 part English Breakfast in a tea ball.  Made in the pot after warming it, let it steep for 5 or 6 minutes, remove the tea ball and cover the pot with a quality tea cozy.  Serve with or without milk & sugar. Delish!

A “proper” cuppa is NEVER made by placing a tea bag in a cup and pouring in boiled water. That’s how Americans and, increasingly, Canadians make tea. If time is an issue, it’s acceptable and along the same lines as instant coffee (ugh). It’ll do in a pinch, LOL.

Serious Tea Lovers would ever use teabags when real loose tea is available. Warm the teapot, put in one spoonful of tea per person and one for the pot, pour in boiling water and let it steep for two or three minutes – large leaf tea like Darjeeling needs slightly longer. Milk first or tea first ? Makes no difference to the taste but sugar ruins it.

My Aussie friend says the best tea in the world is Daintree from Australia. Visit a tea plantation to see what goes into teabags and you will never use one again.

Teapots & Cups:  I like using a teapot that does not change the flavour of the tea.  So, bone china, ceramic, stainless steel are some. The cup or mug should also be of a material that does not transfer its taste into my tea plus I like a thin-lipped cup or mug & not fussy as to brand, size or dollar value.  I love shopping in the charity shops (value village, sally ann, benevolent stores) & go to the dishes & china shelves first to see if I can find a new teapot & cups of any size.  These are what you will be served with in my home…

“We had a kettle; we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven’t had any tea for a week…
The bottom is out of the Universe.”
― Rudyard KiplingThe Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling

Your thoughts? Leave a comment…

Shirley Smile

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Gluten-Free Christmas Sugar Cookie Chex™ Party Mix

Sugar cookies are everywhere at Christmas, so why not make this holiday cookie-inspired snack mix? Rice Chex™ cereal is coated in a sweetened, buttery vanilla mixture, dusted in powdered sugar and finished with a drizzle and holiday-colored sprinkles, resulting in a snack mix that your taste buds will crave.

Gluten-Free Christmas Sugar Cookie Chex™ Party Mix


  • 6 cups Rice Chex™ cereal
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups white vanilla baking chips
  • 4 teaspoons gluten-free holiday-colored nonpareils or sprinkles


  1. Line large rimmed cookie sheet with waxed paper. In large microwavable bowl, add cereal.
  2. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High 20 to 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in granulated sugar; microwave uncovered on High 30 to 40 seconds or until sugar is dissolved. Stir in vanilla. Pour over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
  3. Microwave uncovered on High 3 to 4 minutes, stirring after every minute, until thoroughly glazed. Add powdered sugar to bowl, mixing well to coat cereal. Spread mixture on cookie sheet.
  4. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chips uncovered on Medium (50%) 1 to 2 minutes, stirring after a minute, until melted and smooth. Transfer to small resealable food-storage plastic bag; cut off small corner of bag. Drizzle over snack mix; immediately top with sprinkles.
  5. Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes or until drizzle is set. Carefully break into bite-size pieces; transfer to large serving bowl.


    • Cooking Gluten Free? Always read labels to make sure each recipe ingredient is gluten free. Products and ingredient sources can change.
    • It’s ok if some cereal pieces clump together as a result of the drizzle.
    • Store in covered container at room temperature up to 5 days.


      • 1 Serving: Calories 240 (Calories from Fat 90); Total Fat 10g (Saturated Fat 7g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 10mg; Sodium 190mg; Potassium 105mg; Total Carbohydrate 33g (Dietary Fiber 0g); Protein 2g
      • % Daily Value: Vitamin A 8%; Vitamin C 6%; Calcium 10%; Iron 25%
      • Exchanges: 1 Starch, 1 Other Carbohydrate, 2 Fat
      • Carbohydrate Choices: 2
    • Makes: 12 Servings

More Gluten free from Chex here: Holiday -Chex

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Sugar Cookies Recipe


What would Christmastime be without Sugar Cookies?
I like these using smaller cookie cutters for small hands & little bites.

Here is the simple recipe which most of you no doubt already use:
(I wanted small cookies with definition to them so I left out the tartar and soda so they would be flatter.)

Sugar Cookies Recipe:

1 cup butter,
1 tsp vanilla,
1 1/2 cups sugar,
3 eggs,
3 1/2 cups sifted flour,
***2 tsp cream of tartar and
***1 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt

Cream the butter and vanilla, add sugar gradually till fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time and beat after each.
Sift dry ingredients together. Add this to the creamy mix. Chill 3-4 hours.
Roll on floured surface and cut out with cookie cutters.
Bake on ungreased sheet 375 degrees for about 8 minutes.

When cool decorate with icing: mix 1 cup of confectioners sugar with 1 egg white and several drops of desired food coloring.
You can make up several colors in containers for variety. Spread over cookie and add sprinkles of choice.

Or Simply sprinkle on coloured sugar on top cookie before baking.


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Cake Mix Confetti Cookies

Christmas Tea – Cake Mix Confetti Cookies

Cake Mix Confetti Cookies

I can see making these cookies for different occasions by varying the sprinkles that are used. They really are easy, fun, and oh so good!


1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 box white cake mix
1/4 cup green, red and white candy sprinkles
1 container vanilla frosting (or homemade)

1 tablespoon green, red and white candy sprinkles


  • Heat oven to 350°F.
  • In large bowl, beat cream cheese and softened butter with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until well blended; scrape side of bowl. Beat in egg and vanilla until smooth. On low-speed, beat in cake mix until blended. Beat in 1/4 cup sprinkles. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  • Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes;   remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 20 minutes.
  • Using knife, spread slightly less than 1 tablespoon frosting over top of cookie, and immediately top with sprinkles. Repeat with remaining cookies. Store in airtight container at room temperature.(These keep well!)
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Chocolate Peppermint Bark Recipe

for our Christmas Tea on Boxing Day (Canada)


I found this really simple and VERY delicious peppermint candy recipe at and wanted to share it again. I plan to make it this week for giving, and usually make it each Christmas season…at least once if not more, depending on the need:

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes


  • 12 oz. of high-quality white chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips
  • 5 regular sized candy canes, crushed up
  • 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract


1 Break up peppermint candy into little pieces. Melt the chocolate according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once melted, add the peppermint extract and stir.
2 Pour the melted chocolate out onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and spread out with a spatula or wooden spoon. Sprinkle the peppermint candy chunks on to the chocolate and gently press them in with yours hands.
3 Place in the freezer for 5 minutes or until hardened. Break into pieces and serve or store in the fridge in an airtight container.
Thanks for joining me for my Christmas tea planning
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Measure your Pot!

tea pot size

Tea pots come in all kinds of sizes but I can usually  make a Tea Cozy for any of them. Best practice is to measure, then decide on the style you want before ordering.  If you are not sure what to order, please contact me so I can help you.  I want you to be very happy with your new tea cozy!

Measure the pot
Measure the pot



For the french press DOME cozy, you just need the distance around it including the handle, and the height including the push-down bit on the lid.

The French Press Bodum JACKET only goes around the cylinder or body of the bodum & that is what you measure.






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Ireland Passport with a Gaelic Welcome Tea Cozy

Ireland Passport with a Gaelic Welcome and a collage of Irish iconic symbols.

I actually made this Irish “Tae” cozy for a friend & during the research, I found the most popular Irish brands of tea are Bewley’s, Barry’s, and Lyon’s’, which I included in the gift basket. They prefer loose tea not bags as they like their tea very dark.  Read More at Irish Fireside. – (have you figured out that we are tea lovers?)  Shirley

Gaelic “Cead Mile Failte” translated is “A hundred thousand welcomes”.

Harp Description: This ancient instrument has long symbolised the island of Ireland. It’s Nationalist origins come from when Owen Roe O’Neill, a Gaelic Chieftain, adopted a green flag incorporating the harp.

Shamrock Description: is one of Ireland’s national emblems. Legend has it that the shamrock was used by St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, to illustrate the Holy Trinity. While trying to convert the Irish into Christians, St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the holy trinity with each leaf representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The three leaves of a shamrock are also said to stand for faith, hope and love, hence its widespread use on St. Patrick’s day on 17 March.

This dome tea cozy comes in small for 2-4 cup and larger for 6-8 cup tea pots,  Included is a tea pot mat / trivet so your tea pot will be completely insulated all around to keep your tea nice and hot. Linen and cotton blends used throughout construction. 2 layers of insulation, one of insulbrite & one of thick poly is encased in the outer shell & the lining.

Buy 2-4 cup Tea Cozy

Buy 6 to 8 cup Tea Cozy

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Snuggie Tea Cozy Wrap New Design

My once popular Snuggie Tea Cozy wrap was losing popularity so I asked some of the stores that carry them for feedback. They responded with the ribbon closure seems to be the issue for arthritic / rheumatism hands, men & kids are put off too by fussing with a ribbon to close the top when making a pot of tea.

These are the changes that I made.  Now has plastic elastic in the drawstring channel and closes with a Velcro tab.  The lid is exposed for filling the teapot with water or for topping up the pot with more hot water.

The sewn in bottom is back in the design, so it is easy to place the teapot inside the cozy.  The bottom has a layer of insul brite to help keep the tea hot longer plus help absorb any drips from the spout.

The handle & spout remain on the outside of the cozy for easy access to pour your tea.

Buy your Snuggie Tea Cozy Here

Snuggie Tea Cozy Ready to useRemove teapot by opening the velcro tabMake tea & replace the teapot in the snuggie cozy.New! Cozy with sewn in insulated bottom.
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Canadian Spring Welcome

It’s always exciting to watch our garden begin to come alive with the lilacs in bloom and the trees beginning to leaf and flower. I can’t wait for the warm spring mornings to drink my first cup of tea for the day on the patio. I try different kinds of tea during the day, but my first one is always English Breakfast – with milk, of course!

There are three primary types of tea: black, oolong and green. However, a fourth type is beginning to join the ranks, white tea. Of course there are hundreds of varieties of flavored and scented teas. Another type of “tea” are the tisanes or infusions, which are flowers, leaves, roots and flowers from other trees or bushes. These contain no real tea leaves from the camellia sinensis plant, so they should be called tisanes and not tea. All “real” tea will have caffeine, while tisanes are caffeine-free.

Tea Tip of the Week:
Always keep tea stored in a dry, cool, and dark place, away from sunlight and heat.
Never freeze or store tea in the refrigerator.