Thursday, June 9, 2016

Tea For Five

     By now all of my readers know that I am an absolute tea fanatic.  I’ve talked about hot tea, sweet tea, flavored tea, and even made some tea cupcakes.  One thing I’ve never mentioned though is how to boil water for tea.  You might be asking “Does it really matter?” and the answer is yes! 

     Did you know that your tea will taste different depending on whether you use tap water, filtered water, or bottled water?  It will also taste different whether you heat it in a microwave, on the stovetop, in a glass container, or in a metal container.  All of these things actually affect the flavor of your tea.  So, how do you choose?  Well, we each need to make our own decisions based upon our priorities and needs.

     My tea is made from tap water that is heated in a stainless steel tea kettle on the stovetop.  Why?  Because that’s what works for me.  Fortunately, I am happy with my tap water.  The town where I live puts out annual water quality reports and I just received mine last month.  I have friends with private wells who’s water reports aren’t as good as my city water.  I’m blessed that way.  So, you are going to have to choose your water based on your personal research and choices. 

     So, why do I use the stovetop instead of the microwave?  It certainly takes longer.  I think it’s worth it.  The water just tastes better heated on the stove.  If you don’t believe me, try an experiment for yourself.  Heat some water on the stove and heat some water in the microwave and do a side by side taste test.  There really is a difference!

     The real trick is finding just the right tea kettle for you.  I have a glass top stove, and find that copper bottom cookware works extremely well for my stove.  I also prefer the way my tea tastes when the water is boiled in stainless steel.  This isn’t a deal breaker, but if we are making our dream list, why not list everything just the way we want it, right?  And I want a big tea kettle.  I drink lots of tea and my family likes to share it, too, so I want a kettle that holds a lot of water.  And finally, a whistling tea kettle is awesome.  It might sound like a frivolous and “cute” feature, but in reality it’s very practical.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left a pot of water on the stove to boil and then forgotten it until I hear it boiling over.  Sigh.  I hate cleaning up that mess.

     So, where do I find this dream tea kettle?  It turns out that SKIVU sells a whistling tea kettle that is 3.17 Qt.  That’s even big enough for me to boil water for my pitchers of sweet tea!  It’s made of stainless steel, and it has a copper bottom.  Wow.  That’s everything I was looking for.  Plus, it has an ergonomic handle that makes pouring very easy.  I’ve found my tea kettle.  It’s available here: Chef's Secret Tea Kettle.

     I’ve told you before that southern girls take our tea very seriously.  That goes for the kettle, too.  So, tell me… How does your tea pantry look?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bark Outfitters Pet Tent

     Everyone enjoys being outside in the fresh air and sunshine sometimes, right?  That is true for our small pets, too.  But we can’t always keep them safe the way we would like.  It’s great to have a fenced yard, but life doesn’t always work out that way.  Then, there are some pets who love to be outside, but even a fenced yard doesn’t help – like my bearded dragons.

     Bark Outfitters came up with a terrific solution.  How about a pet tent?  I have a terrific tent that is made of mesh that allows plenty of fresh air and sunshine to get in.  It’s almost like a screened in porch for your small pet.  This pop up tent is 83” x 40”.  Not large enough for a rousing game of fetch, but plenty big enough to allow your cat, small dog, or other small pet some quality time outdoors.  You can attach the included sunshade to the top or leave it off to let a pet enjoy the sun more.

     This pet tent was actually designed for cats and small dogs, but I want to bring this to the attention of other small pet owners out there.  We have bearded dragons in my house.  They need special lighting and temperatures maintained in their vivariums in order to keep them healthy.  One of the most important lighting requirements is UV light.  Although we are able to purchase special bulbs to provide for our pet’s needs, the effects of real sunshine are amazing and bearded dragons love to get time in it.  Unfortunately, with predatory birds as well as various insects that they shouldn’t be eating, it can be difficult for some bearded dragon owners to give their scaly friends the outdoor time like they want. 

     City pets and country pets both love time outdoors.  Depending on your situation, this might be just the way to give them what they want.  I know Fluffy is bright and happy now that she’s getting regular sun time again.  Who knows what kind of benefits your pet may enjoy from spending time outside in the fresh air and sunshine.