Experience: Tea Tasting (NYC)

One of my favorite mornings ever was spent with some good friends and Elena, of Te Company, at Elena’s Introductory Tea Experience. We sat at a table right by the window with beautiful light streaming in and tasted teas, and snacks as Elena walked us through the history and process of tea production and answered our many questions. The entire experience was just amazing and so enriching.

Treating a loved one to your company and a morning at one of these classes would be a truly delightful gift. It would also be sweet for a bunch of friends to do together for a birthday, just for fun, or how about for “Gal”entine’s Day?

Check out my full write up on the EXPERIENCE and more photos here.


Personalized Night Sky Prints

What a sweet way to remember a special date, whether it be a first date, a wedding date, special anniversary or the birth of a child. Finch and Cotter, an Etsy shop, offers a number of different sky, caption and framing options so you can find the perfect one for your special occasion. It would make an amazing Valentine’s day present.

Here are 2 of my favorites:

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Homemade Waffles

My husband made these waffles for me one year for my birthday and  I request them every chance I can reasonably do so! 

The Pioneer Woman nailed a perfect waffle recipe. The outer layer is crisp and with a slight crunch and encases soft pillowy insides. The flavor is delicate yet far from bland. They are so good.

Fresh berries, some good quality maple syrup and bacon are excellent companions. 

I encourage you to make these any time you want to treat someone.

Oh! And they also store well in the freezer. To freeze, place them in a ziplock bag with a piece or parchment paper between them. Then they are ready to go right into the toaster to warm through and toast up the exterior.

Enjoy! The Pioneer Woman's  Waffle Recipe

Adopt a plant on the Highline (NYC)


The High Line draws millions of visitors each year and though I have walked it hundreds of times, it still amazes me every time, especially in the early morning when it is quiet.

If you are looking for a special gift with a special meaning for anyone who loves the High Line, whether they fell in love on a trip or as a local, let me suggest adopting a plant on the High Line! Contributions "go directly toward ensuring that the High Line's plantings continue to thrive in all seasons."

Options range from $25 to $150 for different plant types. Each adoption comes with Certificate of Adoption, a postcard set of the plant and either a grass pen or a pack of High Line seed bombs depending on the adoption level. On the site you can even read about where on the High Line you can find the plants. 

DIY Marbled Jewelry Tray Kit

Brit + Co have given crafting and DIY a stylish spin! This Marbled Jewelry Tray Kit has everything needed to make 2 one of a kind marbled dishes with gilded edges. Just add love and jewelry. 

A wonderful gift for the crafter in your life to make on their own.

Or a very sweet gift if you were to make it yourself and then gift it to a loved one. Perhaps as a gift to mom on her birthday or mother's day. 

If you make it for someone else, make it extra special and truly one of a kind by inscribing a little message or name on the bottom of the tray with a toothpick while the clay is still wet. How sweet would it be to turn it over and read, "You are loved" or a child's name. Would be nice to include the year in fine print as well. Another option is to write on the bottom with a fine tipped sharpie after the clay is baked. You could also use the gold paint pen included with the kit, Brit + Co just says to be sure to let the writing sit for 8 hours so it does not smudge. 

Each kit is $25 and you can pick one of 6 colors. 

Buy now through Brit + Co - Marbled Jewelry Tray Kit

All images from Brit + Co

All images from Brit + Co

We have no affiliation with Brit + Co besides loving what they make and do. 

Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

If you drink tea often you need this tea maker. If you know someone who loves drinking tea, they need this tea maker. You'll be one of their favorite people it you make this a gift. 

I have now had this Breville One-Touch Tea maker for about 4 years and still love it. The only reason I have not used it daily since we moved to NYC 2 years ago is because I do not have the counter space in our NYC sized kitchen. But I do still pull it out when we have a group of people over for brunch. 

In short, with some water, some tea leaves and a couple button presses you can have a cup (or a few cups) of tea brewed at an optimal temperature and for just the right amount of time. The tea that results is great and you can keep remaining cups warm by the touch of another button. No more cold tea! Prior to this tea maker I'd have to boil water on the stove, pour it in a cup with a tea bag once it was boiled and then wait for it to steep. That is when I would often get distracted by my daughter or something else and inevitably leave the tea too long, often to the point of it being cold...and thus disappointing. This tea maker saves steps, produces stellar results and saves you from cold, over-steeped tea. If you have the counter space, it also looks nice left out, unlike many coffee makers. It is a must have.  

Available on Amazon for about $220. Buy one, you or the giftee will not be disappointed. 

I have revived a review I wrote back in January 2011 for more details: 

One of my Christmas presents from my amazing husband was a Breville One-Touch Tea Maker. I had mentioned that it would be nice to have an electric kettle with a timer so I could have hot water waiting for me when I woke up in the morning for my urgent first cup of tea. But I have to say that originally I was apprehensive about this tea maker. I love tea and thought I had a good thing going with my electric kettle and good, strong English tea bags. I got a nice cup of tea each time and didn’t have to deal with measuring out loose leaves or knowing steep times, etc. Simple, yet satisfying was a good thing. The Breville Tea Maker had lots of buttons and configurations, and while I love technology, I want getting my perfect cup of tea to be simple. 

But boy did my mind change quickly! It took just one use to turn me. I know think every tea lover should have one. Really!!!

Here is what you do: 

  • Fill the kettle with however much water you want for that batch of tea
  • Then put the corresponding amount of loose tea leaves in the basket (1 teaspoon per 250 ml of water plus one extra "for the pot" as the saying goes, I always use slightly heaping teaspoons – I like my tea strong!)
  • Next you can do one of two things,
    • select what kind of tea you are making (black, green, oolong, etc) which sets a brew temp for you and then select how strong you want it (mild, medium, strong, custom) which sets the brew time, then hit the brew button.
    • or you can do what I’ve been doing, which is going by the recommendation on the tea I have. Conveniently, the tea I had included a recommended brew temperature and time. Select a type of tea that matches the recommended brew temp (currently 195 degrees for my black tea, which is the oolong setting) and a tea strength that equals the high end of the recommended time. Then hit the brew button.

If those steps sound complicated that’s my fault, because they aren’t. The 1-3 button presses become second nature very quickly. It also remembers your last settings, so if you are having the same kind of tea all you’ll need to do is press Brew once you’ve added the water and tea leaves.

The kettle then very quickly heats the water to the proper temperature and then gracefully lowers the basket holding the tea leaves into the hot water. It is kind of neat to watch. It steeps the appropriate time and then the basket moves back to the top of the kettle, out of the water, leaving you with perfectly brewed tea that you can just pour out of the carafe into your cup.

If you have made more than enough for one up for yourself, then you can simply return the carafe to its stand and hit the keep warm button! It will stay piping hot until you are ready for your next cup. Amazing!! I usually have a couple cups of tea in a row and this lets me brew them both at once and keeps the second cup hot while it waits for me, versus either making it cup by cup or in a teapot which never keeps the tea hot enough for me.

And the tea is divine. I guess brew temps and times do matter! I had just been boiling my water till my electric kettle said it was boiled (or until my stove top kettle whistled) and letting my tea steep until I managed to return to finish making it. I also made a single cup each time. Meaning, each time I’d boil the kettle, I would have get to the kettle before the water cooled down too much, pour it into my cup with my tea bag, leave while my tea steeped and then try to get back to it before it got cold. I’ve had to dump out many cups of cold tea – if you have a toddler you’ll understand why getting back to finish making a cup of tea just can’t always be a priority. 

With the Breville tea maker, all the work is upfront and simple with great returns. You set it up and it beeps when your tea is ready, and perfect. I also like that it may save on energy a bit since I’m not boiling more water than I need every time. And, it does have a timer! I haven’t used it yet but plan to soon so I can have tea brewed and waiting for me when I get up in the morning! I get a little giddy just thinking about it!

Clean up is a breeze too. Just rinse it out! For the most part, that is all you’ll need to do. If you’ve spoken to anyone who is old school about brewing tea they never washed their teapot. So most times I just rinse mine out – thoughtoughly, of course. But I do feel the need to also wash it from time to time, so maybe weekly I’ll pop the tea basket in the dishwasher and handwash the carafe (you can’t get water on the bottom side of it where it connects to the heating element).

If you do need just hot water, then that is just a button press away as well.

Yes, it is on the expensive side, but it is completely worth it. It is incredible. So, if you love tea or you know someone that does, run out and buy this tea maker now. Now! Copious amounts of love will follow.

….and get some nice tea to go with it. Any tea shop will be more than happy to offer you recommendations if you are unsure of what to try. 

There is also a video about it on the Williams-Sonoma site.