Making frothed milk: What is the best milk frother?

Chai tea latte with frothed milk
My favorite chai tea latte with frothed milk

Last December, one of Joshua's co-workers gave me a Bodum milk frother (similar to this). I had heard of "frothed milk", but I had never made my own. Since I order coffee only once a year or less, I have no idea of the wonders out there in "fancy coffee land"!

Well, let me tell you, frothed milk amazed me! It's almost like whipped cream, but with a lot fewer calories. Making my own frothed milk immediately transformed my homemade chai tea lattes into pure bliss!

Eliyahu playing with the frother

Eliyahu "washing" the frother

I wasn't the only one who loved our new toy. The kids enjoyed the frothed milk and also spent hours in the kitchen sink, "cleaning" the frother for me. In fact, all the "cleaning" by the children led to the demise of my frother... when the glass carafe broke. :(

I couldn't be too upset. I mean, anything that I know is breakable and yet I allow children (or anyone else) to touch has the distinct possibility of ending up broken. And even more so, since we live in a kitchen with tile floor and granite counter tops. Luxury comes with a price tag, it seems. ;)

Purple travel mug
I found this coffee mug at GoodWill and used it daily
for over a year... until it, too, met our kitchen floor...

I miss having frothed milk, though! I know there are quite a number of different milk frothers out there. Do any of you make your own frothed milk? What kind of frother do you use and recommend?

Cozy and Warming Chai Tea Lattes for a Winter's Day

Snowy porch
Snow on our back deck, right before Thanksgiving!

My theory is, if it's not going to be sunny, it should at least be either warm, pouring down rain, or snowing. Dark, dreary, cold, and drizzling? No thanks! :)

This year, we got a nice dusting of snow before Thanksgiving. It lasted a few days, and the children especially loved playing in it! I liked just being able to open the shades/curtains and see a beautiful whiteness outside while I stayed in the house and sipped my hot tea. ;)

But, whether it's snowy right now where you live, or only cold and dreary (as most of the Seattle winter seems to be!), one of my favorite Winter luxuries is a hot fresh Chai Tea Latte!

Chai Tea Latte (like Starbucks!)

I've made from-scratch chai tea, and while it is delicious, sometimes I want something a little easier and, okay, I'll admit it... something that tastes a little more like Starbucks. ;) 

The "secret"? I use Celestial Seasonings India Spice Chai tea for the base. Add some organic sugar and cream, and this chai tea latte is deliciously similar to Starbucks Chai Tea Lattes. I would say exactly like but, tasted side-by-side, it is not exactly 100% like. Very, very close though!

Starbucks uses the Tazo brand chai tea concentrate, which can be purchased in the coffee and tea section of the grocery store. The concentrate does taste very much like the teabags used in this recipe, but when Joshua and I did side-by-side comparisons, we definitely preferred this recipe versus making chai from the Tazo concentrate. The Tazo concentrate has a strange aftertaste (almost a "boxed" taste to it, which I didn't expect) whereas this recipe tastes fresh and vibrant.

Tazo Chai Tea Latte concentrate

I have had Starbucks' Chai Tea Lattes on two occasions, and I think this homemade version comes really super close to their flavor. Add in the convenience of making them at home and cost savings, and this is definitely the way to go, even over buying boxes of Tazo concentrate! :) And, helping to confirm my opinion that the Celestial Seasonings India Spice Chai tea tastes like Starbucks Chai Tea Lattes, I noticed several reviews of this tea at Amazon.com mentioning that this is the closest they've come to recreating the Starbucks Chai Tea Latte. :)

Celestial Seasonings India Spice Chai tea

I sometimes get the Celestial Seasonings India Spice Chai tea at grocery stores with a coupon, or at Big Lots (usually $2/box) or on sale at Rite Aid ($1.49/box). Our local Big Lots has been out of this tea, and I haven't had many coupons or spotted good sales recently, so I ordered a 6-box case at Amazon.com for $15.31, using SwagBucks gift certificates. These Chai Tea Lattes are one of my  favorite winter treats and I also love serving them to guests! :)

Cost comparison for 12 ounces:

Starbucks Chai Tea Latte $2.95 (or more)

Chai tea latte made with Tazo concentrate: $1.15

Chai tea latte made with this recipe: $0.40 ($0.32 if using milk instead of cream)

So while this recipe isn't my typical from-scratch recipe, it is "mostly homemade" and remarkably like Starbucks Chai Tea Lattes -- for a fraction of the price. :) (The bonus is that in my homemade version, the sugar can be adjusted to taste. See the recipe for notes on sugar content of Starbucks! It's a lot!!)

Have you re-created a favorite Starbucks beverage? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section! :) Or, if you've tried this Celestial Seasonings India Spice Chai tea, I'd love to hear your thoughts! From all the boxed/bagged chai teas I've tried, I think this one is the best!! :)

Your questions answered: Naturally sweet herbal teas

Market Spice tea

On the weekend, I branch out from cooking-related posts and write about my family, answer reader questions, or just blog about what's on my mind! If you have a question or topic you'd like me to tackle, send it my way! :)

Andrea writes:

I enjoy your blog and know you are quite a "tea girl". Are you aware of any loose leaf, naturally sweet herbal teas to recommend? I need to avoid caffeine but love refreshing cold tea.

Absolutely! :) MarketSpice is a Seattle-based company and their Cinnamon Orange tea is delicious, spicy, and sweet. I recommend the loose leaf (rather than bagged) because it keeps fresher longer. They sell cinnamon-orange decaffeinated loose leaf tea and I LOVE IT!! (Shop around for the most affordable online price... or get it on sale in grocery stores in the PNW.)

MarketSpice also has a green tea version of their cinnamon-orange tea, which is loose leaf but not decaf.

The MarketSpice cinnamon orange tea is very similar in taste to Good Earth's Original Sweet & Spicy herbal tea. I don't believe the Good Earth tea is sold anywhere in loose leaf form, but you can get it in bagged form at grocery stores or on Amazon.com. It's a very delicious tea that is FABULOUS iced as well!! We just love it.

I have not tried this tea, but The TeaSpot sells a loose leaf rooibos tea that's vanilla and almond flavored and supposedly sweet. Since I have not tried it myself, I can't say how it compares to MarketSpice or Good Earth as far as sweetness.

Another option is Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice herbal tea. It's naturally sweet and spicy (and decaf of course). I've been drinking this tea in the evenings lately, or when I don't feel up to using my teapot to brew a larger amount of loose leaf tea. :) I can usually find Celestial Seasonings teas on sale or with a coupon for about $1.50 a box, and they have some really spectacular blends! :)

More tea-related posts can be found here! :)

From-scratch spiced chai tea

Spices for chai

I've been exploring more uses for my suribachi set (like a mortar and pestle) and recently delved into homemade chai tea!

A trip to the local health/bulk food store provided starter amounts of cardamom, allspice, and cloves -- spices I didn't already have in whole form. Also pictured above: peppercorns, ground ginger, and cinnamon sticks. What a delicious combo! :)

This Spiced Chai Tea is spicy, creamy, and sweet. The aroma of freshly crushed spices, the body of black tea, and the addition of heavy cream and brown sugar make this a very luxurious treat!

Spiced Chai Tea recipe

The days have been dark and dreary: perfect for a comforting hot cup. I'm still finding time to relax, amidst small children, home school books, and the never-ending to-do list!

Sweetening tea naturally and frugally with stevia herb

For many years, I have drank all kinds of "teas" -- black, green, white, and herbal -- without sweetener. I always figured the added calories and negative health effects just weren't worth it! :)
I do still prefer most of my teas unsweetened, but I recently discovered a natural way to sweeten my tea as I brew it: Stevia leaf! :)
Dried Stevia Leaves

Here is my dried stevia leaf! A little goes a long way when using to sweeten herbal teas.

You can get a whole pound of dried stevia leaf from Mountain Rose Herbs for $9 (or you can order as little as 4 ounces for only $3.25).*

You can use stevia in more ways than just to sweeten teas, but since it is much sweeter than table sugar, a pound will go a long way! (A pound of dried herbs is also a large bag full!!)

Stevia and chrysanthemum

A small bag of dried stevia leaf, and a bag of chrysanthemum buds, which combined make a delightful herbal tea! :) I've been experimenting with the amount of sweetness I prefer, as well as which herbal tea combinations taste best with stevia.

Stevia and chrysanthemum herbal tea

Brewing loose leaf herbal teas using herbs purchased in bulk is a very affordable way to drink tea! I probably get upwards of 60 cups of tea per pound of herbs. Using bulk dried herbs is frequently a much higher-quality tea than purchasing bagged teas, especially the cheaper brands of bagged teas.

Mountain Rose Herbs has a page about brewing teas which I found interesting. They estimate 40-60 cups of tea per pound, depending on how strong or weak you prefer your tea. (I like to drink many cups of weaker tea each day!)

Having a good tea strainer is essential for making loose leaf tea without a lot of bother and mess. You can use mesh strainers that lift in and out of your cup or pot (like this tea ball -- a lot of mess in my experience, or this mesh strainer).

But I really love my ingenuiTEA teapot (which I won, but would purchase if mine ever broke!). There are other similarly-functioning devices out there as well. I love the ingenuiTEA tea pot and use it multiple times a day; I did a video review of it a couple years ago (link to the video is in this post). :)

*Full disclosure, as usual: Ordering through my affiliate links to Mountain Rose Herbs does send 15% back to us. I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs since they have the best affordable organic herbs and ingredients I've seen so far! They are highly recommended. :)

I'd love to hear...

What are your favorite bulk herb combinations?

Do you have any recommended teaware?

If you sweeten your tea, what do you like to use? :)

Bulk Herb Store: Review, Giveaway and Discount!

I love finding family-owned companies with great products and excellent service. Bulk Herb Store is one of those companies! I'm more than a little excited to be able to tell you about them once again, and even better -- offer a discount code and give away DVDs to two winners!

Bulk Herb Store has excellent prices on high-quality herbs. I've ordered from them in the past and was very pleased with their service. After waiting and saving, when I finally placed my order I was delighted when it arrived quickly.

red rapberry leaf

The pound and half-pound bags of dried herbs were even larger than I expected, and the box smelled delightfully of peppermint, red raspberry leaf, alfalfa, nettles... Mmmmmm! :) One of the perks of ordering these herbs in bulk is that you get so much for so little! When I looked at the huge (gallon-plus sized!) bag of dried red raspberry leaf herb I had just purchased for $6.60 I could only imagine the mounds of fresh leaves I would have needed to harvest in order to produce that amount. (Yes, red raspberry leaf is probably my favorite herb. Forgive me for going on about it!)

A great resource on their website is the Cooking With Herbs page. You'll find lists of different types of foods -- things like stir-frys, vegetables, rice dishes, soups, fish dishes -- with a list of herbs or seasonings that accent those foods and some of their health benefits. Cooking with herbs is flavorful, fun, and good for you, too!

There is also an articles section with a list of natural-health-related articles, along with a few recipes. All of the recipes use chocolate! I'm planning to try the Dark Chocolate Coconut Balls, for sure! :)

I love to drink herbal pregnancy tea, and believe that it has helped support me in healthy pregnancies. A couple years ago when I was expecting my third child, I had run out of pregnancy tea and decided to order from Bulk Herb Store. (I've already blogged about the herbs I purchased from them, the recipe I used to mix up my tea!) I drank lots of this tea -- more than I had in my previous two pregnancies -- and was blessed with a surprisingly easy 85-minute labor and birth. I'm not saying that herbal pregnancy tea will guarantee anything -- but the herbs are known to support a healthy pregnancy and delivery, and I'll definitely be drinking lots if we're blessed with future pregnancies! :)

If you're interested in herbal teas but not sure where to start, Bulk Herb Store sells some great pre-mixed blends. Mama's Milk Tea supports breastfeeding, Rise and Shine Tea provides a morning boost, Stress Buster Tea helps you wind down, and Sleep Tight Tea will put you out! Well, it's not quite that potent. But you get the idea. ;)

And now for the really good part: You can leave a comment for a chance to win the DVD Making Herbs Simple!

Bulk Herb Store sent me two copies of Making Herbs Simple, a DVD all about getting started recognizing, harvesting, and using some of the herbs that are most likely growing right in your back yard!

About Making Herbs Simple:

You can watch a trailer for Making Herbs Simple here. (There are links on that page for other videos and podcasts as well; take a look!)

I watched the entire DVD with my boys and we all loved it! It's got beautiful close-ups of various herbs and lots of tips sprinkled in here and there. If you've ever wanted to know more about using fresh herbs or how to prepare/use poultices and tinctures, this DVD makes it simple and attainable! If you've already done lots with herbs, then it might be a little too basic. I learned from the DVD and it definitely inspired me even though I already knew some of the information presented. :)

I will draw two winners from all the comments left on this entry. This giveaway is only open for two days -- Wednesday and Thursday, March 4th and 5th, 2008. Please include a way for me to contact you in your comment so I can notify the winners!

Bulk Herb Store is also offering a 3-day-only 10% discount for anyone here who wishes to place an order. This discount is good Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week (March 4, 5, and 6, 2008). Use this code at checkout: TAMR09

P.S. Bulk Herb Store also sells just a couple models of the Berkey water filters, so if you read my reviews (here and here) of the Berkey but missed the 10% discounts in the past, here's one more chance to get one at a discounted price!

P.P.S. Check out their blog for even more articles and updates on herb and health-related topics!

Full Disclosure: I jumped on the opportunity to blog about Bulk Herb Store and help promote their great products with a discount and giveaway for you, my readers. In return, Bulk Herb Store sent me a copy of Making Herbs Simple and a tin of Eden Salve. :)

Tea Bag Collectors -- Find exchange contacts here!

Tea bag collection

I've been getting emails from people around the world who read about my teabag collection and want to exchange teabags with me.

There seems to be a demand for U.S. teabag envelopes, since most collectors are in Europe. I've been collecting empty tea bag wrappers for 10+ years, but the time constraints of being a wife and mom (along with the costs of mailing packets overseas!) have diminished my exchange capabilities.

I haven't been able to find any good tea bag collection exchange lists online. So, I'm inviting tea bag collectors to leave comments on this post! Post a comment with your name, location and email address. You can email people directly from this list. :)

Celestial Seasonings instant herbal packets

Celestial Seasonings herbal tea packet

This week, we got a free sample* of Celestial Seasonings tea in the mail! The packet pictured above is an instant herbal mixture, sweetened with stevia. It's quite a small packet (perhaps 1/2 teaspoon or so) and makes two cups of iced tea when added to water.

We added the powder to an almost-full bottle of water. I let Yehoshua shake the bottle for me.

I don't usually like the instant herbal tea mixtures I've tasted, but this one was wonderful! It was slightly sweet and had a great berry flavor! I took one sip and told Yehoshua, "Oh, you're going to love this!" And he did. He drank most of the tea, until I took the bottle from him and said the rest was for me!

Yehoshua enjoys the tea...

The next day, he asked me to make more of that red tea for him. ;) I told Joshua, "I know why they send out free samples to people. Now I want to buy some of that instant tea! And I would have never bought it without first tasting how yummy it is!" :)

But, I still have lots of pregnancy tea, so I don't really foresee myself actually buying instant tea that I don't need. I thought about getting some for Yehoshua, to use as a special treat or reward, but I doubt I could keep myself from drinking it all!

Have any of you seen this instant tea in stores, or tried a sample of it? If so, I'd love to hear what you thought! :)

*I've been regularly checking Wal-mart's free sample page, since they usually have 4-6 different free samples posted there. Right now, all I see is one for NutraSweet, which I would never use -- but in a few days, they should add more. I have the link saved in my favorites folder and just check back once or twice a week. :)

Bulk herbs and pregnancy tea

Bulk herbs

Red raspberry leaf tea is an excellent health supplement for women, especially during pregnancy. In the past, I had been given various herbal pregnancy teas, but I used the last of those a few months ago. I have been patiently impatiently wanting to order some herbs to mix up my own pregnancy tea. My herbs came this week, and I have been jumping for joy! Literally! Just ask Joshua how many times I've said "Honey, I know I already told you this, but thank you so much for the herbs!!!!!" :)

I like to get my herbs in bulk from More Than Alive. (This is also the company where we bought our Berkey water filter!)


Mixing up pregnancy tea!

I mixed my own pregnancy tea, based on the measurements given for the pre-mixed "Mama's Red Raspberry Brew".

8 parts red raspberry leaf
3 parts alfalfa
3 parts peppermint
2 parts nettle leaf

I whisked everything together, and then put it into a container in my tea drawer. I've already been really enjoying my "pregnancy tea"! :)

My wonderful loose-tea-infuser!

This handy little teapot makes it so easy to brew loose-leaf teas! (You can read my review and watch a video clip of me using it here!) I love it. Yehoshua does too (that's his hand in the picture). ;)

You know you're a teabag collector when...

You know you're a teabag collector when:

You feel compelled to purchase new kinds of tea that you don't particularly care for, just so you can save the wrappers.

You know words like "tea", "green", "black", "lemon", and "apple" in ten (or more) different languages.

You've drank tea without knowing what kind it was, because you couldn't read the wrapper.

You get excited when you see a new packaging design for Lipton's old kinds of teas.

You've secretly taken empty teabag wrappers from someone's trashcan when you were at their house.

You never, ever just tear open a teabag. In fact, you have a special knife or scissors just for opening teabags.

You never make a cup of tea with a teabag that still has a tag attached to it.

When your guests have tea, you open the bag for them. If you're feeling especially kind (or self-conscious), you might let them use the tag, but you keep a watchful eye on it so you can remove the tag before the used teabag gets thrown away.

When your friends offer you a cup of tea, you look at their selection and drink a kind that you don't already have in your collection. Usually you already have envelopes from most of the kinds of tea they have, anyway.

You have developed specialized detective skills so that when you're in the tea aisle at the grocery store, you can shake, tap, jiggle, and squeeze an unopened box of tea and figure out whether the teabags inside are individually wrapped.

You're extremely disappointed when you open the new box of tea you bought and discover that the individually wrapped teabags are in plain white envelopes.

When you're putting empty teabags into your albums, you can identify whether the teabag still has the tag inside (or attached) by simply feeling the bag rather than looking.

And lastly:

Your husband is afraid to buy you tea for a gift, because he has no idea which one(s) you still need for your collection. :)


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