In the weeks leading up to Halloween, things that are creepy and crawly catch my eye a little more frequently than they do the rest of the year. Fred’s Tea Bones tea infuser isn’t an item that needs to be relegated to your box of Halloween decorations 11 months out of the year, but it certainly is perfect for adding some frightening flair to your favorite tea this time of year. The infuser is made of molded food-safe silicone and has two main parts, a skull and crossbones. The crossbones act as an anchor for the skull, which pops open to give you a perfect cavity to stash your tea, and the two parts are connected by a thin chain. It’s a great looking infuser that is ideal for use with spicy seasonal teas – especially if you have clear glasses in which to steep your tea so you can enjoy the spooky effect.
I recently made a batch of Candy Corn Simple Syrup over at Baking Bites. It’s a honey and vanilla flavored simple syrup that is made with – you guessed it – melted down candy corn. The syrup is a great use for leftover candy corn because it makes it a lot more versatile (and more delicious) than a pile of sugary candies. The candies also don’t have a particularly strong flavor on their own, so boosting it by adding honey into the syrup really amplifies that subtle note. The syrup is bright orange and, in spite of its unusual color, it can be used just like any other syrup to sweeten and flavor a drink. This Candy Corn Latte is made using that bright orange simple syrup and, while it doesn’t taste exactly like candy corn, it does have a hint of honey and vanilla to it that makes it a very enjoyable fall drink.
I used espresso and steamed milk for this latte, though you can also use roughly equal parts of strong, brewed coffee and hot milk, as well, and poured in the candy syrup. You’ll note from the picture that I didn’t stir it in immediately so that you could see the color against the coffee at the bottom of the glass. This is a lovely way to serve it for the effect, and the syrup will dissolve almost immediately in to the drink when it is stirred in before you take your first sip.
Have you ever noticed that a cup of coffee can affect people very differently? You might be able to drink a few cups of your favorite roast and take a nap an hour later without a second thought, while your close friend might get the jitters after just half a cup. You might have chalked this up to caffeine tolerance – after all, caffeine is a drug – but it might be deeper than that. A new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry found that genetic variants explain why same amount of coffee can have different effects in different people.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital studied over 120,000 coffee drinkers and found six genetic variants linked to coffee. Two are thought to play a role in the positive effects of caffeine, the happy stimulant effect that you get from your first cup, while others had impacts on glucose and fat metabolism, blood pressure regulation and addiction (to caffeine, for the purposes of this study). For instance, regular coffee drinkers were less likely to have high blood pressure than those who did not drink coffee. The study is interesting in part because it focused specifically on coffee and the caffeine in coffee, not just caffeine from general sources, and the fact that they identified links to coffee specifically help to explain why so many other studies have found health benefits related directly to coffee consumption.
Do you take your tea with lemon? Lemon juice is a great way to perk up a mug of otherwise boring tea, giving it not only a little extra flavor, but adding a sinus-clearing citrus aroma to the cup that is idea for cool fall and winter evenings. Typically, the lemon is served as a simple wedge that can be squeezed over your cup. This is a bit messy when you’re serving tea to guests and a bit wasteful when you’re making tea for yourself, as you have a good portion of lemon leftover that might dry up or otherwise be forgotten. One stylish way to add a splash of lemon juice is to use this lovely Lemon Squeezer, instead. The gadget is made of stainless steel and it includes a base and a pointed spout. The spout, which has a serrated edge that will loosen the juice from the lemon, slides neatly in to your citrus without requiring a knife or making a mess. Once your lemon is spouted, you can rest it on the stand until you are ready to serve. Then, simply angle the spout over your mug and give the fruit a little squeeze, and the juice will run neatly into your tea. This also might come in handy for adding just a splash of citrus to your cocktails, for those times when tea isn’t quite enough.
The best part about the spout is that, since the skin of the fruit is largely intact, it won’t dry out sitting on your counter and you’ll be able to come back for another squeeze the next day. For longer storage, keep your lemon in the fridge.