Tag Archives: mint

Frugali-tea

Let me just start out by saying that I really like tea.  I always have.  I like it hot, iced, luke warm, black, green, red, plain, flavored, loose, bagged, morning, noon, night, caffeinated and not caffeinated.  I even like teas that are not teas: tisanes or herbal “teas.” So, this transition was easy for me…but for my husband–not so much.  He has often commented that he has nothing against tea, but that it doesn’t taste like anything. And he was always more of a coffee drinker in the morning.

I am proud to say that I have converted him. Not that he likes it much more than before, but, at this point in our house, it’s either water or tea, and however you squeeze it, tea has more flavor than water.  He still has coffee, too, so don’t feel bad for him.

The evolution of having just three things (water, tea and coffee) to drink in our house was gradual.   I used to buy a lot of juice, but, being cognizant of the amount sugar and calories most “natural” juices contained, I started to buy the stuff with the sweeteners. I would also occasionally buy soda if it was a really good deal, though diet, of course, because of the whole calorie thing. But, then I really started to worry about what the sweeteners were doing to my body.  At that time, I was also adding sweeteners to several cups of hot tea throughout the day, usually the yellow packets. And the simple truth is that nobody knows what sweeteners do to the body.  I decided I needed to stop playing roulette with a possible carcinogen and stop using sweeteners.  Okay, okay… I do still, on the very rare occasion, which is usually a latte, use sweeteners, but it is still a MASSIVE reduction for me.

Despite always having a cup of tea at home, I never really kept a pitcher of it in the fridge.  As long as I was buying juice, my husband wasn’t touching it. But once I decided to stop buying juice…I knew I needed another option.  I grabbed a margarita pitcher that, sadly, had never seen enough margaritas, and began to keep a pitcher of iced tea in the fridge.

There are many schools of thought on how to properly prepare iced tea.  This is my method: Fill pitcher with water, throw in 5-6 bags of tea, stick in fridge.  Within a few hours, it is steeped. I tend not to use hot water because I am using a glass pitcher.  I apologize to tea connoisseurs around the world that may be cringing at this method of tea preparation (i.e., not steeped at the correct temperature for the correct amount of time)  but it works just fine.  And, really, if it were more work, I might not do it.  I usually use a plain, cheap black or green tea bags as a base, and then add one to two bags of “flavor” such as mint or chai.  Sometimes, if I want to get fancy, I might add a bit of honey or fresh squeezed lemon.  And now that I have a juicer, things can start to get really crazy.

The advantages of converting to tea rather than juice and soda are numerous.  1) There is the health benefit of not drinking sugar and other crap and drinking tea, which has a lot of health benefits. 2) There is also the cost advantage.  If before I was spending $2-$4 on each 64 oz juice, now I spend mere pennies on a pitcher of iced tea.  For example, I just bought a pack of 100 grocery store brand black tea packets for $1.99.  If I made a pitcher of just plain black tea, it would cost just 12 cents.  If I added a couple of packets of Bigelow’s Plantation mint (on sale for $1.95 for 18 packets) the cost would shoot up to around 30 cents!  3) Plus, I am reducing the waste I am producing by not buying 2-3 large plastic bottles or many more cans every week.  When I am done using the tea bags they get fed to my worms.

Here is where I make my confession.  I still feel that my offerings are a bit meager for company.  I hate that I feel this way.  But I do.  As a hostess, I feel that I am being inconsiderate.  That not everyone likes iced tea like I do.  Or maybe they can’t drink it because of the caffeine. Or maybe they’re six years old.  So, I still feel pressured to go out and buy more choices.  I hope to wean myself off of this need.  And I think the way I will do that is by playing around with combinations of flavors to add to my tea, so that it’s an exotic offering rather than a boring one.  I’m already thinking of throwing a piece of ginger in the juicer and experimenting. I hope to come back to this page and add many interesting (and cheap) recipes.

It’s alive!

Did you know that you could take the top of a pineapple–you know, the part you cut off and throw away–stick it in some dirt and it will grow. And in, like, three years you might get one tiny pineapple.

In my book, this is not worth it. Though it might result in a decorative plant while you await your little tropical beauty, there are many other plants that give you a much quicker return on cuttings.

Many herbs, for example rosemary, mint, thyme and oregano, are easily propagated simply by removing the lower leaves and submerging in water until you see strong roots. No growth hormones required. Mint roots so easily that you could take a handful of cutting and stick them directly in dirt and they will start to take over. Make sure and keep mint contained because it will take over your garden.

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Also, many tropical plants such as pothos, dracaena and the above bromeliad–also known as pineapple–are quick to take root. It’s one of ways they survive in nature. When cut off or pushed over, they simply start taking root. For example below is the pothos. It’s actually a tropical vine and in its natural environment the leaves grow bigger than your head. At home indoors, its often a scraggly, stringy mess. In my opinion, which is possibly supported by science, keeping this plant compact leads to a healthier and more attractive plant. You should take cuttings as the vine gets long. Strip the bottom two to three inches bare of leaves. Note the nodes that you expose. Roots will form from any of those little nodes.

20130328-184854.jpg   I recently received a beautiful tropical bouquet from a friend as a thank-you.  I was delighted when I realized that as part of the bouquet are two plants that will root as they decorate your home in a vase.  In fact, the company intentionally does this…and makes sure you know that you can have a wonderful houseplant after your bouquet has lived its life.  What a fantastic idea.

So when you go to a restaurant and they use a sprig of rosemary or mint as decoration, or you trim your office plant, don’t toss out those parts. You can get a healthy FREE plant with just a little attention.

Even if you already have these plants, they make great gifts. Once they form strong roots in water, you can transfer to dirt. If you tend to keep disposable flower pots, these are great to create a thank you or hostess gift. Be creative on how you cover up the plain plastic pot. But a gift that keeps on giving will be much appreciated.