Oh, yes, it is that time again – the holidays are upon us and, as always, we are looking for something different to prepare and serve – something festive, creative, tasty and easy?  Now that I have your attention, you probably know I am going to suggest TEA.  I will certainly not disappoint you, of course it is TEA!  Finding spiced-up teas for those chilly and down-right cold winter evenings is worth the hunt.  Do not worry or fret, though; there are a great variety of new teas especially designed for the holidays.

So many festive blends and seasonal creations are out there right now.  Your full-bodied black teas, such as Assams and Ceylons, are a good place to start.  Most people seem to want to add milk to their teas at this time of the year; these teas are great with milk or soy products.  You could even get creative and spice up the milk that will be added to the freshly-steeped black tea of your choice.  On a very low heat, you can add raisins, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, cloves, cardamom, ginger pieces, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, and almost anything else like this you can think of.  Any variation of the above is great, too.  The raisins will sweeten the milk and the spices will add a very special touch to the tea – yours.  This new creation of yours can be added to plain black teas or even the flavored and pre-spiced ones.  When adding milk, teas can be steeped longer for a rich and satisfying cup.  Add the hot milk to the hot tea immediately; stir, add whipped cream, a dash of powered cinnamon or nutmeg, or even a few chocolate sprinkles for a truly festive and delightful hot beverage; sure to please everyone.

For the kids, try rooibos.  Rooibos – the caffeine-free herb from Africa – is great to serve the kids on those nights when you are all snuggled around the fireplace; come on, hot chocolate is so last millennium!  You can find many flavored varieties of rooibos all year long and definitely holiday-spiced ones this time of year.

For the unexpected guests and family members that drop by, you can dazzle them in minutes flat with your tasty new version of a holiday tea.  The milk can be cooled down and kept chilled in a sealed container or jar in the refrigerator and re-heated in minutes.  There may be a little film that forms on the top of the milk; simply skim it off before reheating the milk slowly in a pot on the stove.  I do not recommend the microwave to heat your milk or to boil the water for your tea – the old-fashioned way is still the best for both.

Perhaps it is time to bring back some old-fashioned hospitality as well.  Serving a hot, spiced-up, freshly steeped holiday tea sure sounds good to me.

HOSPITALI–TEA

There is a place in me of endless generosity.
I am open and giving, kind and friendly.
This is the me that God has always known.
From here, I know God is all there is.
We are one and love is all I am shown.
I accept this love and reject all else.
This love helps me project myself, my good,
my value and my virtue.
An open me extends love easily.
I welcome all others and socialize freely.
I open my heart and open my home,
and I see a whole new me –
confident, positive, living life, keeping it real.
I give thanks to God for the good I feel.
This is really who I am.
I release all beliefs in a lesser me.
I let go and let God be, and I am shown divine hospitality.
This I know, love I show, and in God I grow.
Amen

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