Toasted Marshmallow Campfire Contest

August 30th is...National Toasted Marshmallow Day! As you may know, one of my Adagio signature blends is Toasted Marshmallow so I came up with another contest idea.

From now through August 23rd, submit your favorite campfire ghost stories for a chance to win one full-sized pouch of Toasted Marshmallow from Adagio along with FIVE (5) 1-ounce samples of ANY of my custom-made blends including:
-Pink Pearls
-Summer Sunshine
-Vampire Lemonade
-Peachy Keen

And others available on Adagio.com. I'll post a complete list of tea samples available closer to the date, so the winner will be able to pick from what is freshest and available.

How to Enter
1) Post your favorite campfire ghost story below or email me at keenteathyme@gmail.com.
2) I'll post all entries by August 25.
3) Then we'll vote on the favorites. YOUR vote will count!
4) The top three stories will be entered in the drawing for the tea. I'll select the winner using a random selection online tool.
5) I'll post the winning entry, as well as the selection of tea the winner from which the winner will choose.

So get in the "spirit" - brew a cuppa and think of your scariest, funniest, or most surprising ghost stories. One entry per person. Deadline is August 23 so get crackin'!

RealiTEA - Homemade Beauty Products

Lots of places sell tea-infused and inspired products for a variety of prices. But what if you have some tea leftover at home? (Come on, we all do, don't deny it.) Are there any recipes out there on how to whip up your own tea-infused beauty products?

Sure! For one thing, you can use tea leaves in soap making - the melt-and-pour kind. These kits are available at most craft stores. You basically chop off a few blocks from the sheet and melt them in the microwave, then add color and fragrance quickly, before the soap starts to harden. Pour the soap into a mold and voila! About.com recommends steeping the leaves BEFORE you add them to the mix, that way there is no "bleeding" and changing of the soap's color. Make sure you dry the leaves as well as you can before adding them to the mixture.

There's an old recipe I read years ago for a hair treatment using tea. Brew up one cup of chamomile tea (about 6-8 oz), using loose tea for the best results. Allow the tea to cool completely. Pour the tea into a reusable bottle, like those sold for travel purposes. Add high quality extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup per each cup of tea. Shake it up vigorously and store in your shower/tub. Then, before you wash your hair, apply a small amount (about the size of a quarter for medium-length hair) of the chamomile concoction to your hair. Leave on for about five minutes and rinse thoroughly. Then shampoo and condition as normal. Do this about once a week depending on hair type - if you have oily hair opt for twice a month, dry hair; try it twice a week. The bottle should last at least a month or so, depending on how often you use it. You can change it up with other teas too, of course: peppermint, or ginger peach, or whatever you prefer. 

You can make a green tea face treatment too just by using green tea, fullers' earth and honey. That site also offers alternative for those of you with sensitive skin.

Here's a fun one: Cinnamon Tea for a Healthy Glow. The author uses tea and real cinnamon sticks, but I'm sure you could swap out the cinnamon tea for peppermint...and peppermint leaves if that's your preference.

And here's a recipe I found on Lipgloss Love Affair - the author is a huge fan of green tea and beauty products so this one is sure to be perfect for us tea fiends:

What you'll need
1 green tea bag or loose tea leaves
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup Rose Water (available at Wholefoods or you can make your own by following these instructions)
Vitamin E Oil
Mini Spray Bottle 

What to do:
1) Steep the tea in 1/2 cup boiling water.  
2) Let the tea cool to room temperature.
3) Add the rose water.  Rose water helps keep skin moisturized, fresh, and balances the pH.
4) Add a couple drops of Vitamin E Oil.   Vitamin E Oil acts as an antioxidant which prevents the formation of free radicals on the skin and also has anti-inflammatory properties. In addition it prevents water loss from the skin and helps to retain its natural moisture.
5) Pour into spray bottle.  Keep it in the fridge or carry it around in your purse!
6) Spray as needed for a refreshing mist!

Got any others? Submit your recipe for a tea-infused beauty product by emailing me, or post below.

RealiTEA - BeaTEAful products

Tea is becoming more popular than ever, as people turn to tea for more than just drinking. Tea is being used as an essential ingredient in everything from cookies to marinades, and everything in between.

Even beauty products are getting in on the buzz, adding tea in a variety of ways. Tea is added to facial products like Ole Henriksen's African Red Tea Facial Mist; Way of the Bath - Matcha Tea body soak and body lotion from Origins;  

Green Tea by Elizabeth Arden has been around since 1999 and is fairly popular, as it is intended to smell like green tea - a blend of peppermint, musk, amber and other notes - but the product doesn't actually list green tea, or any tea for that matter, as an ingredient. Bvlgari's Eau Parfumee Green Tea does list green tea leaves as one of the ingredients, but as with other prestigious beauty products, there's a higher price tag to match. Hey, if you want to treat yourself, be my guest. But for others - like me! - on a beauty budget, there must be some less expensive products using our favorite ingredient: tea.

One of my favorite brands, Demeter, does offer a variety of tea-infused flavors, er, fragrances including Chai Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Green Tea and Chamomile Tea at more wallet-friendly prices. Try a frag out for $10 or splurge on a 4 oz version for $39.50. Plus Demeter sells matching body lotion and shower gels so you can layer accordingly.

Check out the  ingredient list and you'll see black tea listed. Perfect!

Perfume is one thing but what about every day beauty products - for women and men? Like soap? And lotion?

I did a little research online and found some surprising results.

Kiehl's, a prestigious beauty company, sells a Yerba Mate Tea Toner, which is comprised of several natural ingredients including yerba mate extract. I couldn't find it on the regular Kiehl's site but you can get it on Amazon...for about $70. Yikes, I know! 

Fresh sells a Black Tea Age-Delay Eye Cream for about $65. I've tried some Fresh products and I've been impressed, especially with how long their products last. (A sample of this I had lasted about a month, applying daily.) Sephora sells a great set of all the Fresh Black Tea Eye creams too. 

A more budget-friendly solution is Korres, which happens to be one of my favorite beauty lines as well. Korres uses all natural ingredients and offers some vegan-friendly beauty options too. Korres sells a White Tea Facial Fluid Gel Cleanser for just over $20. 

Check out this tea haven called Tracy Stern SalonTea. She sells tea, tea accessories, and an entire line of tea-infused beauty and bath products, all at salon - but reasonable - prices. Check out her travel kit to get a sampling of what wonders she works with tea. Tracy also offers a brick-and-mortar locale in NYC, and hosts afternoon teas and tea parties. Add that to your NYC To Visit List pronto!

There's another "scentsational" shop online for tea-infused beauty products including Strawberry Honey Tea Lip Balm and even Chai Tea soap: SCENTSational Soaps. This eco-friendly company offers vegan alternatives too. 

You can also make your own tea-inspired beauty products. There's a wealth of ideas, recipes, tips and suggestions on making your own beauty products at home. Click here for more info, including a chance to submit your own recipes.

Got any other tea-infused and/or tea-inspired beauty products? Drop me a line or leave a comment below and I'll add 'em.


VarieTEA kettle - Review

The VarieTEA tea kettle sold by Adagio.com allows water to be boiled as hot as the type of tea one is making. I ordered mine back in late spring, taking advantage of a special dollar off amount, and using up some of my gift certificate points for purchases and selling signature blends.
It is available for sale on Adagio.com, along with a 12-month warranty plan:

I received mine a few days ago and am in heaven! I love the variety (er, sorry, varieTEA) of teas I can make with this. I've used it on all settings, but since I prefer green tea - and typically that's all I drink in the summertime - that's the kind I've brewed most lately. I use the delicate setting for a lot of the caffeine-free teas, such as Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime line. I'm surprised at how much crisper a lot of the green teas are - I can actually taste the gunpowder green in the Mint Green Tea from Culinary Teas. Also, my Awakening blend from Adagio tastes much better; I can identify the light vanilla taste with mint.

There are some quirks; though nothing is as bad as others have reported (see the reviews from Adagio). I have to watch when I set the kettle back on the stand because the black tea "212" button will light up. I can just select another tea type or turn it off. Also, the "keep it warm" feature doesn't work too well... or at all. But since I would prefer reheating the water anyway, I don't mind. (Sometimes I'm not sure which tea I want to have next, so I like the option of changing my mind.)

The price is another downside. Since I got this on a sale and using gift certificates, I didn't worry about the price so much at the time. But I thought about getting this as a gift and I'm not sold on the price tag, with as many quirks as has been reported.

Readers, if any of you have purchased this kettle, what do you think? Is it better or worse than other varieties?

Stay tuned - I'll do a review after I've had this for a month to see it is still up to par.

LittleMewBrew - July 2011 CelebriTEA

Little Mew Brew AKA WifeyWoman
CelebriTEA ©: July 2011

Real Name: Courtney Powers
AKA:   WifeyWoman & Little Mew Brew (Steepster/Twitter)
Blogs:  Little Mew Brew: http://littlemewbrew.teatra.de/
            The Many Tea Adventures of Wifey Woman http://wifeywoman.teatra.de/

Courtney Powers, of upstate New York, loves to blog, but admitted she has a hard time keeping up with the writing. “Seriously there are probably 50 blogs I’ve started, sitting out there in cyberspace.”
          But now that drinking tea has become an everyday part of her life, Courtney has blended her love of writing with her passion for tea.
          Her tea blogs are in their infancies; both began in the spring of 2011 and her tea company, Little Mew Brew is brand new as well. But Courtney’s love of tea has been a part of her life since she was seven years old.
          “My grandma would always visit us each summer from Florida and she drank tea with every meal,” Courtney explained. One morning young Courtney asked if she could join her grandmother, who served her tea chock full of milk and sweetener. A new tradition was born. “To this day when she visits or I visit her we always make time for tea,” Courtney said, adding that her grandmother prefers to use bagged teas while she opts for loose.
          Her two blogs serve different purposes. The Many Tea Adventures of Wifey Woman explores tea tasting, reviewing and other tea-related adventures, while Little Mew Brew is aimed towards her business venture of the same name. That blog focuses on her journey into blending her own teas as well as buying experiences as she launches her company. “I hope that too will be a how-to guide for others looking to get into the wonderful business of tea,” Courtney added.
          Of course she enjoys writing on both of the blogs. “I like writing the reviews on…Wifey Woman but I also like dropping in bits on my personal life and how tea fits into that life,” Courtney explained. She approaches the Little Mew Brew blog differently, however. “I like posting about my tea blending attempts. I keep it light and funny because that’s what it’s like for me.”
          Courtney does take her tea blending seriously, but keeps the fun level high so she’ll continue to enjoy blending tea.
          Her tea journeys have broadened her horizons, Courtney explained. “I used to like only herbal tisanes, but that got boring for me. So I branched out to good black teas.”
          Her favorite teas don’t stop there though.
          “I think each tea type holds a favorite for me,” Courtney said. “For example, I really enjoy a good Gunpowder Green. I’m also finding out that Earl Greys aren’t as scary as I once thought they were, nor oolongs.”
          She credits the amazing online tea community, such as Steepster.com, for helping her along the way. “I’m really thankful for all the Steepster folks who have shared their knowledge and tea with me in the last five months.”