While loose leaf tea will often brew a better cup of tea, you definitely cannot beat the convenience of tea bags. They’re easy to use and offer hundreds of tea options for just about every single taste. There are a few problems with tea bags, of course, and the biggest is that it is easy for the string and tab of the bag to slip into your cup of tea. When they do, they become soggy and difficult to fish out. The Tea Bag Holding Mug is the perfect solution for people – like me – who always seem to have that tab slip into their steeping cup. The ceramic mug has two small notches on the rim, right near the handle. You can simply loop the string from your teabag around the “tab” and it will remain perfectly in place until you are ready to take it out. The notches are close enough to the handle that you’ll never risk putting your mouth on them (and they’re not sharp enough to do any harm, even if you have an unusual tea-drinking style) and dribbling tea down the side of the glass accidentally. I’m adding this mug to my wish list – and adding it to the list of potential gifts for tea-loving friends!
This week, Starbucks added a new drink to their seasonal spring menu: the Tiramisu Latte. This latte joins the Caramel Flan Latte, which is making a comeback from last year, as part of a line of dessert-inspired drinks good for providing a little indulgence as winter drags on. Of course, for those readers out in Southern Californa enjoying summer temperatures in February, the drinks are also available in Frappuccino format.
The Tiramisu Latte was test marketed last year. It primarily received good reviews from tasters and sounded like a natural fit for a coffee drink, since tiramisu is an espresso-spiked dessert in the first place! The drink is served simply topped with a swirl of whipped cream, unless you request otherwise, and has no special garnish. I, of course, opted to keep the whipped cream on mine because of the whipped cream layer that usually tops a traditional tiramisu. The drink was not overly sweet and had the flavors of cinnamon, cocoa and even a dairy-hint of mascarpone cheese. It did evoke the flavor of a tiramisu, as I could still taste the coffee underneath the other flavors, and the only thing it was really missing out on was the texture of the Italian classic.
I would have preferred to taste a bit more of a dramatic espresso flavor, but I say that as someone who is generous with the coffee when I am making tiramisu myself. That means that I’ll be ordering an extra short the next time that I get one of these drinks. I would also get an affogato-style shot on the frappuccino version to intensify the coffee in a similar way.
Many foods are all about the flavor, but there are a few out there that are all about the color and red velvet is one of those. Red velvet cake is a buttermilk cake that has a hint of chocolate to it. That hint of chocolate from natural cocoa powder originally gave the cake – decades ago – a natural reddish hue when it combined with baking soda. These days, red velvet cakes are all colored with plenty of red food coloring and many omit the cocoa entirely to keep the color as bright as possible. This actually allows us to play around with the idea of red velvet a little more, since red food coloring gives us the freedom to put the original cake into new forms.
This Red Velvet Mocha doesn’t taste much like red velvet cake, but it is a delicious chocolate drink with a big “wow” factor that is perfect for treating your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day or another special occasion. The mocha is made with dark chocolate chocolate that is melted into strong black coffee. The dark chocolate gives the drink a velvety texture, however you can substitute your favorite hot cocoa mix to make things a little easier. It only takes a few drops of food coloring to give this drink a rich red hue, so add it in slowly. I topped mine with whipped cream and a few red sprinkles, just to add a bit more flare, however this drink needs no embellishment since the color says it all.
Latte art is one of the most fun things that you can do with coffee, and it’s fun to drink your mistakes when you’re learning the art. That said, it isn’t the only way to decorate a drink. You can use a dusting of cocoa powder or spice to add some color to steamed milk or whipped cream. A stencil cut out of a piece of stiff paper will give you some control over your design, but the Cinnibird Spice Pen will give you even more control. This food-friendly pen can be filled with ground sugar and spices, then used to draw or write just about any message you can think of! The spices pour out of the tip of the pen in a thin stream, allowing you to make fairly intricate designs very easily. It does have a fairly generous stream (to prevent clogs), so I would recommend using cocoa powder or a ground blend of cinnamon and sugar, rather than straight cinnamon, for your drinks.
In addition to topping lattes, you can use the pen to decorate dessert plates or add splashes of color to savory dishes. It will really make you look like a pro – and it is very fun to use.