Tea & Book Pairing: Angela’s Tea Blend

Garden in the East review

I fell in love with Garden in the East after hearing Angela read an excerpt at a writer’s conference. I bought the book as soon as it came out, but I’m now reviewing it for one reason: This is the kind of book I like to savor.

There are certain books that mend the soul and soothe over the damage of self-criticism and the hostilities of the world: Jane Austen novels, Rilke’s poetry, and this book by Angela Doll Carlson. I keep it on my Kindle at the top of the queue, returning again and again to re-read passages.

Angela’s background as a personal trainer is evident in her deep awareness of the body. She uses her formidable skills as a poet to weave an engaging prose vision of the body’s graces: organic, dynamic, sacred.

This book brought me peace with my body and helped me understand the rich beauty of being created. I highly recommend it for anyone who struggles with their place in the world or who wants to grow deeper into a sense of their sacred selves.

A book like this deserves a custom tea blend that focuses on building up the body. I recommend that you make this blend by the pot.

Angela’s Tea Blend

You’ll need: rosehips, dried ginger, rooibos, and dried elder berries.

For one pot, blend:

  • 2 Tablespoons rooibos

  • 1 Tablespoon dried ginger

  • 1 tablespoon rosehips

  • 1 tablespoon elder berries

Steep in boiling water for 5 or more minutes. The mixture should not get bitter over time like traditional teas.

Amazon Shopping List: Garden in the East: The Spiritual Life of the Body paperback, ginger root, elder berries, rosehips, organic rooibos.

This post contains affiliate links.

Tea & Book Pairing: Tumika’s Tea Blend

I’m revamping this blog to post allergy-friendly recipes and tea and book review pairings. Here’s the first pairing, based on a book I read at the beginning of this autumn’s reading binge.

*****

tumika's tea blend

I received a free review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Some books heal by skirting the edges of pain, but this book dives right into it, bringing us healing through facing the truth. When a Man Loves a Woman by Tumika Cain answers the question a lot of us have from the outside looking in on situations of domestic violence. Many of the reviewers have already provided insights, but I would like to offer the feeling it inspired for me in the form of a tea recipe.


This tea, and this book, taste like catharsis.


When a Man Loves a Woman Tea
*makes one pot*
3 heaping tablespoons Harney & Sons Decaffinated Earl Grey tea leaves (or 3 teabags)
1/2 teaspoon ground organic cardamom
Steep in boiling water for 5 minutes. Serve with brown sugar cubes and maybe a little half and half.

The bite of cardamom echoes the sophisticated characters, and it gives a bite to the beautiful life that Alicia lives despite the troubles she endures. The blend of the two reminds us like the book that change does not happen alone.


I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a fictional account that brings them to the heart of both pain and healing.

Amazon Shopping List: When a Man Loves a Woman paperback, Harney & Sons Decaffinated Earl Grey teabags, Organic cardamom.

This post contains affiliate links.

Advent Preparations: Allergy- AND Fast-friendly Banana Bread

Gluten Free, Egg-free, Dairy-Free Banana Bread

4 medium very ripe bananas, mashed

1 ½ cups gluten free flour mix (any variety with xanthan/guar gum already added)

½ cup red palm & coconut shortening (Such as Nutiva brand), melted

¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed

½ cup coconut milk (not low fat)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

Optional: up to 1 cup chopped dates, chocolate chips, or chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350•F. Grease a bread pan with coconut oil or shortening and set aside.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined. Add in dates and nuts if desired, and stir to incorporate. Pour batter into the bread pan evenly. With wetted fingers, smooth the top of the batter slightly. Place pan in the oven and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of gooey banana bread batter. (If you used chocolate chips, the toothpick might have chocolate on it. If so, get a clean toothpick and try another spot or two until you can tell if the batter has baked. If it’s still sticking, uncooked, to the toothpick, add 5 minutes to the cooking time and check again.) Remove bread and pan from oven. Let the bread stand in the pan to cool for 10 minutes before cutting it or turning it out on a plate. Serve warm or room temperature.

Read more about our Advent With Autism Guide on my main site!

Mild Masala Chai

The weather is turning cool here. Then it turns warm. Then it turns cool. Autumn in the South means fluctuating weather. This weekend, we’re due for a cold spell. The leaves are almost done showing off, and I was craving spices. After reading several chai recipes online, I decided to make my own.

My goal was three-fold: 1.) Make a spiced chai that’s not bitter, and 2.) Make a spiced chai that works in my teapot rather than needing time on the stove, and 3.) Make a spiced chai that I can serve to friends who can’t have dairy.

I had run out of several spices, so I went to the store this morning. This afternoon, I got everything together: our favorite Indian tea in tea bags, ground ginger, black peppercorns, cloves, and cardamom pods. We have a wonderful tea kettle that keeps the water at the perfect temperature all day, so I dove right in.

First, I added the spices to a loose tea filter bag. Then I placed the black tea bags and filter bag into the pot and filled it with boiling water. After three minutes, I removed the black tea bags. This kept them from oversteeping and turning the mixture bitter. I kept the spice bag in the pot for another 7 minutes (10 minutes total). After removing the spice bag, I poured the tea out into mugs that had 1 teaspoon demerara sugar and a splash of half & half each. It made 4 big mugs of spiced tea. If friends who are fasting from dairy or have dairy allergies come over, I can pour the tea over coconut milk instead.

IMG_8054
The ingredients: black peppercorns, ground ginger, Assam tea bags, whole cloves, cardamom pods.

This tea was mild enough to drink without food. If I were serving it with spicy foods, I might steep the spices a bit longer or add more of them. But for a rainy afternoon, it was just right.

Mild Masala Chai

Tea & Crumples is available now wherever books are sold! Find it at Amazon HERE (affiliate link).

Dye-Free Pink Frosting – For a Pretty Tea Time

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving break – or your weekend if you’re not in the US. We celebrated casually with just two favorite foods: homemade chicken pot pie and vanilla cake with pink cream cheese frosting.

naturally dyed cake frosting recipe
Perfectly pink cake with dye-free maraschino cherries on the side. The frosting was made with beet root powder in place of artificial dyes. Learn how on Tea and Crumples.

We’ve known for a long while that my oldest child is sensitive to artificial food dyes, but his reaction has gotten more extreme recently. I tried using the tubes of natural food dyes*, but at $20 a set at my local store, they were cost prohibitive. They also oxidized quickly after opening. I was resigned to only feed my children chocolate frosting for a little color.

Then, while shopping for lentils last week, I happened across a jar of bulk beet powder at my local Whole Foods. Here was the not so secret ingredient in natural red food dyes! At only $1.91/oz, it was affordable, too. I loaded up with about 4 tablespoons, which was so light that the cashier couldn’t even get it to register. I had read around the internet about using beet powder for dye. The basic process is simple: 1/4 teaspoon beet powder to 1 teaspoon water, mix, strain through a coffee filter, and use normally.

But there are obstacles! Beet powder is pH sensitive, temperature sensitive, and air sensitive. It also doesn’t dye as vividly as artificial petroleum-based colors, so you need more. Fortunately, I knew that I was making cream cheese frosting. It’s slightly tangy, so I could add a drop of vinegar to my dye without affecting taste. Here’s what I came up with to frost our ordinary vanilla cake for Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy!

Naturally Dyed Pink Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 teaspoon beet root powder*

2 teaspoons water

1 drop white vinegar

1 8oz packet organic cream cheese

1 stick (8oz) unsalted pastured butter

4 cups organic powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Soften butter and cream cheese at room temperature. Cream together for 2 minutes on medium low in stand mixer. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing till well blended in between. With last cup of sugar, add two teaspoons of vanilla extract. Mix well. In a cup, combine beet powder and water. Stir well, then strain into new cup with coffee filter. Add vinegar. Add the food coloring to the icing. Mix till well blended on medium speed. Makes about 5 cups of light pink frosting.

Pin now for when you need it! Beet powder colored pink frosting on Tea & Crumples blog.
Pin now for when you need it! Beet powder colored pink frosting on Tea & Crumples blog.

Do you have a favorite dye-free hack? Share or link in comments!

*Amazon affiliate links to the natural food coloring and beet powder.