Recipe: Mulled Wine with Wild Forest Black Tea

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Our take on a holiday classic: mulled wine enhanced with a brisk black tea! Festive and aromatic, this recipe is sure to warm you up and fill you with cheer. Let the spicy sweet scent fill your home on a cozy Christmas eve or a chilly weekend day like holiday potpourri.

Ingredients:
– 1 bottle dry red wine (like Cabernet)
– 2 cups water- 4 tea bags Wild Forest Black
– 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
– 1/2 cup orange juice
– 1/2 cup frozen cranberries
– 1/2 orange sliced
– 1/2 apple sliced
– 4 cinnamon sticks
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1 Tbsp whole cardamom pods
– 1 tsp cloves

Instructions:
1. Steep tea bags in boiled water for up to 5 minutes.
2. Pour bottle of wine into large stock pot along with tea, honey, orange juice, cranberries, fruit slices, cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, and cloves.
3. Cook for 10-15 minutes over medium-low heat until simmering and hot.
4. Serve immediately, garnishing with fruit from the pot or fresh pieces of fruit if you like.
Optional: add a touch of brandy to each serving for an extra kick.

Recipe: Ginger Tea Infused Cranberry Sauce

cranberrysauce1.jpgJust in time for Thanksgiving is the perfect cranberry sauce side to go with your turkey or tofurky. Our organic ginger tea adds a simple twist to this holiday classic by enhancing the aromatic whole spices and imparting a unique flavor into the recipe.

Ingredients:
– 2 cups sugar
– 2 cups water
– 4 whole cardamom pods
– 3 cinnamon sticks
– 1 tsp whole cloves
– 5 Ginger tea bags
– 1 tsp orange zest
– 8 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

Instructions:
1. In a large pot over high heat, add water, sugar, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon sticks.
2. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes.
4. Add Ginger tea bags and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
5. Remove tea bags and spices with a slotted spoon.
6. Add cranberries and increase heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring often until the sauce thickens, cranberries have softened and their skins split. This will take 10-15 minutes.
7. Remove pot from heat and cool to room temperature before serving.

Recipe: Earl Grey Blueberry Scones

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Looking for a snack to go with your cuppa?
Scones make a great side to any warm cup of tea and adding aromatic Earl Grey tea leaves to the recipe enhances this fresh-baked classic. Serve with honey butter and jam for a fantastic treat.

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
– the contents of 5-6 Earl Grey tea bags or 5-6 tsp of loose leaf Earl Grey
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
– 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup frozen blueberries
½ to ¾ cup heavy cream

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Place dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, and tea leaves) in a food processor and pulse until mixed. Add butter and pulse until dry ingredients and butter are incorporated and have formed a coarse, pebble-like texture. Pour mixture into a large bowl.
If you don’t have a food processor, use a large bowl to mix the dry ingredients as above, adding the butter and using your fingers or a pastry knife to work the dry ingredients into the butter to form pebble-like texture.
3. Add the egg and cream and gently mix to create a slightly sticky dough. It might be necessary to add a little flour or a little cream to get the right consistency.
4. Add blueberries and mix to combine.
5. Gently knead the dough a couple of times on a lightly floured surface.
6. Form the dough into a 3/4 inch thick circle and cut into even wedges and place onto an ungreased baking sheet.
7. Brush the top of the scones with cream and sprinkle each scone lightly with sugar.
8. Bake for 9-11 minutes until golden brown.

Makes about 8 scones.

Hurricane Popcorn with Dragon Well Furikake

DWpop3.jpgLooking for a snack that is a little salty and sweet to pair with a night on the couch? Maybe you’re taking in a good book, binging Netflix, or watching election night coverage?  This twist on a Hawaiian classic fits the bill for handfuls of habit forming goodness! Furikake, traditionally made with seaweed, fish flakes, and sesame seeds, is created with Dragon Well green tea instead for a nutty, toasty addition.

Hurricane Popcorn with Dragon Well Furikake

Ingredients:
– 1 tablespoon loose Dragon Well tea, coarsely ground or approximately 2-3 Dragon Well tea bags
– 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
– 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1/2 teaspoon sugar
– 1/4 organic popcorn kernels
– 1 teaspoon safflower, grapeseed, or other neutral oil

Instructions:
1. Stir the tea, sesame seeds, salt, and sugar in a bowl to make the furikake.
2. Pop the corn by your preferred method, in a hot air popper or on the stovetop.
3. Pour into a bowl. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle on the furikake.


Reprinted with permission from Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea (published by Andrews McMeel)
Recipe by Annelies Zijderveld

Non-GMO Project Verified Teas

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October is Non-GMO month, a month meant to raise awareness and educate about genetically modified crops and their effect on the environment and our health.
Did you know that Choice Organic Teas was the first tea company in the U. S. to receive Non-GMO Project Verification? We’re proud to have the Non-GMO Project Verified logo on our products and we hope to answer some common questions about GMOs and their place in the tea industry for you.

What is a GMO?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms whose genetic material has been altered in a laboratory through genetic engineering. Plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes are spliced together in ways that would not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. There are currently a handful of crops in production that have been genetically modified: alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, and yellow summer squash. Nearly all of these crops have been engineered to tolerate direct applications of herbicide and/or to produce their own insecticide. These crops are referred to as “at-risk” or “high-risk” ingredients. Although tea is not from genetically modified plants, many additional ingredients and materials that go into tea can be derived from genetically modified organisms. A list of ingredients commonly derived from GMO sources can be found here: http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/

What does it mean for a tea company to be Non-GMO Project Verified?
The Non-GMO Project Verification process is comprehensive. It requires on-going testing of all raw at-risk ingredients, their traceability, and their segregation to ensure ingredient integrity. Further, audits and onsite inspections for at-risk ingredient inputs are conducted annually.

While our tea does not contain any at-risk ingredients, supporting the Non-GMO Project goes hand in hand with our commitment to providing organic, high quality products. Should Camellia sinensis or any other herb we use become genetically modified, we will proudly be sourcing only Non-GMO crops. To learn more about obtaining and maintaining Non-GMO Project Verification visit here: http://www.nongmoproject.org/product-verification/about-gmo-testing/guidelines/

Why would a tea company want to be Non-GMO Project Verified?
With corn being one of the most ubiquitous GMOs on the market, it’s no wonder we’re finding it in animal feed, gasoline, biodegradable plastics, and teabags. The teabags we use for our Original, Gourmet, and Wellness lines are made of natural abaca fiber. Abaca, also known as Manila hemp, is a species of banana that is native to the Philippines. This hardy plant has historically been used in making ropes, twines, and many specialized paper products including teabags. We put a lot of time and effort into sourcing high quality ingredients and our packaging materials are equally as important.

If you are already USDA Organic, why do you need to be Non-GMO Project Verified?
While all of the tea we source meets USDA Organic standards, it is also important to be Non-GMO Project Verified. The organic standard does not allow farmers to plant genetically modified crops. However, it does not require ongoing testing to confirm that cross-contamination has not occurred. Having both USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified is the gold standard when looking for products that are free from pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified plants.

Read our press release about being the first tea company to earn the Non-GMO Project Verified label here.

Fair Trade Month Recipe: Orange Spice Tea Banana Bread Muffins

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October is Fair Trade Month and we’re celebrating #FairMoments with Fair Trade USA. As consumers, we create Fair Moments by incorporating Fair Trade Certified ingredients and products into our every day lives. Fair Trade Certified products, like tea, protect and improve the lives of farmers and workers by creating funds for programs that provide education, healthcare, and safety standards.
Find your own Fair Moments with this recipe that is chock full of Fair Trade ingredients. These banana bread muffins are sweet and satisfying with a touch of orange spice, perfect for on-the-go breakfast or snacking!

Orange Spice Banana Bread Muffins

Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup water
– 6 heaping tsp Orange Spice Black Loose Leaf tea
– 1/2 cup butter
– 1/4 cup Fair Trade dark brown sugar
– 3/4 cup Fair Trade white sugar
– 1 cup plain greek yogurt
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 3 very ripe Fair Trade bananas, mashed
– 2 eggs
– 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
– optional: chopped walnuts

Instructions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, remove from heat, and add loose tea leaves.
3. Steep tea for at least  5 minutes, and strain the tea leaves out of the water.
4. In the saucepan, combine steeped tea, the brown and white sugars, and butter.
5. Place saucepan back on stove over medium heat, stir until butter and sugars have combined. Set aside to cool.
6. Mix yogurt and baking soda in large mixing bowl, let stand for 5 minutes.
7. In the large mixing bowl, combine cooled tea and sugar mixture with yogurt. Add the eggs and gently mix.
8. Gently mix in the mashed bananas.
9. Place liners in muffin pan and fill each 1/2 way with batter.
10. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Makes approximately 21 muffins.

10 Tips to Live an Organic Lifestyle

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Organic Harvest Month may be coming to an end, but there are so many ways to continue celebrating and supporting organic products year-round! These days, you can find organic certification on almost any kind of household product, from bedding and clothing, to beauty, bath, and cleaning supplies. But, adapting a more organic lifestyle doesn’t only apply to purchasing products, but is also demonstrated in reducing waste and recycling or re-using the things we no longer need. Little lifestyle changes can have big long-term effects on reducing waste in landfills and the presence of harsh chemicals, toxins, and synthetic materials in our lives, resulting in a healthier you and a healthier environment.

Here are some of our favorite simple ways to transition to a more organic lifestyle:

1. Make your own cleaning products and dump the toxic, chemical stuff. Try tea for window cleaning!
2. Donate clothes you don’t wear and make cleaning rags out of old, damaged clothes instead of throwing them away.
3. Throw the contents of your tea bag in your garden with the compost, your plants will thank you!
4. Wear organic cotton. You can find socks, sweaters, leggings, t-shirts, hats, and much more available in organic fabrics. Buying organic clothing supports agriculture that maintains healthy soils and protects the environment.
5. Make a pledge to cut your environmental impact by carpooling or biking to work one day a week (or more).
6. Small changes make a difference! Try making locally sourced, organic meals once a week.
7. Use a little organic olive oil or coconut oil as a moisturizer instead of buying lotions made with chemicals and synthetics.
8. Start shopping for organic cosmetics, body, and hair care products.
9. Better yet, MAKE your own organic cosmetics.
10. Support organic brands that you love to ensure that organic products stay on the shelves and become the new standard!