How to Make Fresh Hibiscus Tea

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Hibiscus flowers make a wonderful tea. The bright red color and tart, cranberry-like flavor delight the sense. And research has shown there are health benefits to drinking hibiscus tea, including regulating cholesterol and blood pressure.

I recently made tea from the fresh hibiscus flowers growing in my garden. Here’s how to do it:

1) Using 4-5 flowers, remove the stamen from the center of each flower so that only the petals and green pistil beneath each flower remain.

 

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2) Tear up the flower petals and place them in a heat-proof container.

3) Pour 3 cups of boiling water over the flowers.

4) Allow to steep for at least 20 minutes. It will be a brilliant deep magenta color.

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5) I added 1/4 cup of honey, the juice of 1 lime and 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger. It changes the color of the concoction to a lighter pink. Delicious!

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How to Make An Old-Timey Popcorn Garland

photo copyright Cherry Hill Farmhouse and Barn

This weekend, my husband surprised me with high tea at Cherry Hill Farmhouse, a historic property managed by Falls Church parks and rec. Cherry Hill hosts reenactments, concerts, readings, lectures, and teas, and this past Sunday, the tea included a presentation by a costumed interpreter who told us about Christmas celebrations in Northern Virginia the late 1800s. We sat in the parlor of the farmhouse, and learned about the decorations used on a typical Christmas tree. There were small candles clipped to the branches, handmade paper ornaments and a garland made of popcorn and cranberries was wound around the tree.

This reminded me of how much I enjoyed making popcorn garlands when I was a child. So I decided to make one for the little live Christmas tree we bought this year. Making the garlands is pretty simple, but in case you haven’t tried it before, here’s how you do it.

You will need the following materials:

  • popped popcorn (unbuttered, of course!)
  • fresh cranberries
  • embroidery floss or other heavy thread
  • needle
  • Place the cranberries and popcorn into bowls to make it easy to access them as you string.

    Cut the embroidery floss into 5-foot lengths. This makes it easy to manage. You can connect them later for longer garlands. Thread the needle with the embroidery floss (I used 3 strands), then thread one cranberry down to the end and knot the thread around it to make an anchor.


    Thread the popcorn and cranberries in a pattern until thread is full (I did 1 cranberry, 3 popcorns, 1 cranberry, 2 popcorns, etc., but you can do whatever pleases you), avoiding any squishy cranberries.


    Leave enough of an end to tie another cranberry-knot when you’re done. If you would like a garland longer than 5 feet, leave a length of thread beyond the cranberry knot, which you can tie to the next garland.

    This garland looks lovely and when you are ready to toss out/plant/put away your Christmas tree, the garland can go outside where the birds and squirrels will make good use of it!
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    Happy Lucky’s Tea House and Treasures: Serving Up World Change

    On our recent trip to the West, we stopped in the city of Fort Collins, CO on our way to Montana via South Dakota. We didn’t spend much time, just enough to have lunch at Coopersmith’s Pub & Brewing, which has a wonderful menu with fresh, local items and several vegetarian options. We wanted to grab some coffee for the road, and my eye was caught by an interesting looking store/tea house with an inviting looking name – Happy Lucky’s Tea House and Treasures.

    This light-filled shop, housed in a former firehouse, had high ceilings, and beautiful exposed brick walls. Along one area, shelves were lined with tins labeled with all sorts of appealing-sounding tea names. Happy Lucky carries over 100 whole leaf teas. They also carry a nice selection of fresh baked goods from local bakers including galettes, scones, cookies and lemon bars.

    I chose a very sensual smelling chocolate and cinnamon tea, and a gluten-free oatmeal bar to go with it. While I was waiting for my tea to brew, I looked around the light-filled, colorful space. Across from the cash register was a hand-written sign explaining why there were paper cranes in a basket and adorning the brick wall. The story of Sadako and the 1000 origami cranes has always touched me, and I thought of it the other day on the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.

    In the back of the store, there was a nice selection of fair trade handbags, clothing and accessories handmade in Cambodia. Several handbags and accessory pouches caught my eye, but I resisted since I already have an ample collection at home. All of the bags were very attractive and made with repurposed materials.

    In reading some literature on a table in the store, I found out that the Cambodian goods are tied into the Happy Lucky mission to support fair trade and education – 10% of profits from the teahouse go to support education in Cambodia via a donation to Sustainable Schools International.

    Sustainable Schools International works with poor, rural and marginalized communities in Cambodia to sustain their schools in ways that serve their children and support community needs. Kari Grady Grossman, who was working the counter at Happy Lucky the day I visited, is the Executive Director of Sustainable Schools International (formerly know as Friends of the Grady Grossman School).

    According to the Sustainable Schools International website, “In March 2001 George and Kari Grady Grossman traveled to Cambodia to adopt their son. Their desire to leave a legacy of hope for the children left behind led them to American Assistance for Cambodia, a Phnom Penh based humanitarian organization that builds rural schools. They spent three months selling photographs on the internet to raise the $15,700 for a school to be build in their son’s honor. Their donation was matched by the World Bank and construction of the Grady Grossman School began.”

    I love discovering businesses that do well, do good and have amazing products. Happy Lucky Tea House and Treasures certainly fits the bill. If I lived closer, I would be a regular!

    Happy Lucky is located at 236 Walnut Street in the Old Town section of Fort Collins. If you are interested in finding out more, or hearing about their daily specials, you can visit their website, Fan them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter @happyluckys.

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    New Tea in Town

    tranquilitea41I’ve come up with the second in my series of organic herbal tea blends. This one, Tranquili*Tea, is made from organic chamomile, organic lemon balm, and organic red raspberry leaf, which have wonderfully relaxing and soothing properties. And it comes in eco-friendly packaging — individual tea bags, which are hydrogen peroxide and oxygen whitened, without the use of bleach or other chemicals. The label is printed on 100% recycled paper, and the packaging is compostable vegetable cellulose.

    This tea has a warm, flowery herby taste, with a hint of lemon from the lemon balm. In the herbalist tradition, these herbs are believed to improve blood circulation, aid digestion and serve as an antispasmodic.*

    I also offer a women’s blend, Feminini*tea, which contains a blend of organic red clover, red raspberry leaf and nettle, which are considered, in the herbalist tradition, to be excellent women’s tonics, supporting overall health and female-specific health.* Feminini*tea is available on my store website.

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    For now, this tea is available only through my Etsy store. But it will soon be available in my online store herbanlifestyle.com. Here’s what customers have said about Feminini*Tea: “Yum. Really nice tea, very fresh tasting and relaxing.” “OH MY GOODNESS! I enjoy tea but I am REALLY enjoying this one! The floral notes in the tea are just beautiful!”


    *These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.