Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tuesday Tastings

I am so excited that we will start offering Tuesday Tastings....a FREE The Soap & Coffee Hut.
Beginning Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016....every 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month from 9am-7pm we will host a FREE Tasting event. We will have a selection of tea and coffee for you to try as well as some of the edible goodies that we will soon be offering. Throughout the day we will have a selection of teas brewed for you to taste. And then, from 5pm-7pm, we will have some special brews and treats you won't want to miss out on. You will discover some delicious new ways tea can be served. Recipe cards for our featured beverages will be provided for you to take home to recreate using our delicious teas.....and coffees.
Please help us to spread the word about this awesome FREE event by sharing this blog post and the link below to our Facebook event page.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Herbal Teas coming soon!!!!

Things have been moving right along for us at The Tea Hut. Since introducing teas to The Soap & Coffee Hut we've had opportunity talk with so many folks about what they are looking for in a tea. One of the most requested things has been a tea that supports and promotes a healthy state of life. So let me put this here first.......we do not diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe anything for any disease. We leave that up to the medical professionals. But what we DO provide, is a selection of herbal blends that are intended to not only be flavorful, but to also promote a healthy well-being by supporting natural and proper body function without actually treating a named disease.

With that now out of the way......we can tell you that in our Herbal Tea line we will have teas that support healthy function of body systems. We can also assist you in learning what herbs may need to be avoided due to certain medications you may be taking. This is not to offer medical advice, but rather to ensure that you are using herbal teas in a safe manner. Keep in mind, that while herbal teas may support healthy function of any body system, you also must be responsible with what you take into your body as well as your activity level.

Our herbs are scheduled to arrive Wednesday June 29th. And we will begin blending our Herbal Teas as soon as they are unpacked and added to inventory. A few of the blends we will have available are: Digestive, Circulatory, Mommy's Milk, Mommy To Be, Happiness, Sleep Well, Vivid Dreams, Tea For Her, Tea For Him, Cleanse, Athlete's Friend, Relax, Focus, Throat Soothe, and more to come. Our individual herbs are also available for those that like to create their own custom blends at home.

But our Herbal Tea selection doesn't stop there. We will also be offering a selection of Tubby Teas. These aren't intended to be sipped.....but rather enjoyed in the tub. Let's face it, a nice long hot bath, sipping on a perfectly brewed cup of tea is one of life's most relaxing moments.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


Matcha!!!!!! What's all the fuss? So it's green powder that happens to be tea....what about it???

What is it exactly? Well, simply put, it's green tea. But it's more than just steeping a few green tea leaves. Matcha is made from grinding the leave of shade-grown tea plants into a fine powder. This powder is what is called Matcha. It is brewed a bit different than other teas. Rather than steeping and straining off, the fine powder is blended with the water with a whisk and taken whole. It has a very earthy, grassy flavor and produces a bright green liquor. This is where all the wonderful benefits come in. Of course there's a lot of history behind Matcha and it's production is much more involved than we've described here, but we're just going to discuss the wonderful health benefits and a few of the ways we serve it at The Soap & Coffee Hut/The Tea Hut.

Matcha is said to have so many great health benefits. And considering when you drink Matcha you are consuming the whole leaf meaning you are now receiving ALL of the benefits/nutrients of the tea leaf. One of the biggest benefits of Matcha is that it is packed with antioxidants. It is said to contain more antioxidants than 10 cups of regular green tea. A few other health benefits said to be contained in this delicious leaf is the fiber and vitamin content. It is said to help boost metabolism and to help burn calories. It helps to naturally detoxify the body. And many claim it to also have calming effects on the mind & body. It helps to enhance mood and helps with concentration (have an exam coming up?). It is also said to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. There are just so many great health benefits to drinking this tea and we have not even listed them all here. All this on top of being an absolutely delicious beverage.

What about caffeine you ask? The amount of caffeine in Matcha may vary and since you're consuming the entire leaf rather than just an infusion of the leaf, the caffeine content in Matcha will be slightly higher than in regular cup of steeped and strained green tea. But in general, there is approximately 68 mg of caffeine in 1 tsp of powdered Matcha. So your cup of Matcha is going to have roughly half the caffeine as the same cup of coffee would have. HOWEVER, the caffeine in Matcha effects the body much differently than that of coffee. Where with coffee you have a steep energy spike and then a steep crash. With Matcha the caffeine is released more slowly and gradually which actually creates a more sustained level of energy over a period of time (6-8 hours). This is where the aid in concentration comes in. This is also the reason there is no sudden energy spike and sudden energy crash as with coffee. This is, of course, the very simplified explanation. There is a lot of science behind the difference in the way the body assimilates the caffeine in tea vs coffee. But this is the basics.

So how do we serve Matcha in our store? You can order it hot or iced, hot latte or iced latte, and soon we will be adding Matcha Protein Smoothies for that post-workout or morning get-going beverage. We also offer it as a loose tea that you can purchase to brew at home.

Have you never tried Matcha? Or maybe you've tried it somewhere and didn't like it? As I've mentioned before, I have always been a coffee drinker and not much into teas. But when I started with teas I decided to also try Matcha and I had regular hot Matcha (non-latte) as well as Matcha Latte in many different coffee shops. I was convinced that I did NOT care for it at all. It was either way too sweet or way too grassy or it was just so watered down that it was a weak brew. And then we had someone come into the store and actually train us to make it properly. Well, I had to force myself to try it because I was sure that I wouldn't like it....again. To my surprise, I LOVED it. The way it is made makes such a huge difference. I can now say that Matcha is one of my favorite drinks. Of course, I prefer it as a latte but the point is I now love it where I didn't like it before. So give it another try if you didn't like it before. Perhaps it just wasn't prepared properly????

Wednesday, May 4, 2016



Above is a panoramic view of the store with the new coffee & tea bar added. This would be the reason it's been a while since I've posted here. I've been working hard at getting the coffee & tea bar ready to open.

So we've opened with a small selection of coffees from a local roaster, Larry's Coffee. We have both coffee for brewing and espresso for beverages as well as bagged coffee for purchase to take home and brew your own. The retail bagged coffees are whole bean. But if you do not have a grinder at home we are able to grind it for your at no additional charge.

As for teas.....Oh my do we have teas for you. We have started with a selection of over 20 loose leaf teas (some single origin and others are blends and some are tisanes) from 3 different companies. We tasted and tested so many teas we thought we would just float away if we tried any more. LOL I had to narrow the list down quite a bit though. We originally had something like 35 or 40 teas on the list. What we've started with will grow as we grow.

I will be adding my own blend of herbal wellness teas within the month too. There are many companies that offer wellness teas already blended. However, I want to be able to blend my own making it much easier for me to customize them for individual tastes and needs. As many may know I've been using herbs in our household, and to help others, for over 20 years now. So wellness teas are something that I love to blend. And as I become more familiar with blending purely for flavor I will begin blending my own regular line of teas as well.

So stop on in at The Soap & Coffee Hut for a coffee or tea, and do a little shopping for Mother's Day & Teacher Appreciation Week while your beverage is being blended! Sit & Sip or Grab & Go!! Either way we'd love to have you stop in.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Wellness Teas

I've used Wellness (Herbal) teas for many years (at least 26 years) for various reasons.... Dandelion Root for cleansing, Ginger/Lemon/Honey for sore throats, Nettle for general nutritional support, Red Raspberry Leaf for female support, Lavender/Chamomile/touch of Valerian for rest and relaxation.

Nature provides us with so many plants that are known for being useful with medicinal qualities. And, they're 100% caffeine-free so no worries about getting all hopped up and hyper on caffeine overload. Wellness Teas are not really "teas", however. Teas are made from the Camellia sinensis plant. Wellness (Herbal) Teas do not generally have any actual Camellia sinensis leaves in them (this is why they are naturally caffeine-free). They are created using other plant materials such as Chamomile, Lavender, Hibiscus, Lemongrass, Echinacea, Dandelion Root, etc. They are also made using a variety of plant parts and not just the leaves. Herbal blends are created with flowers, leaves, stems, and roots of a wide variety of plants. These "teas" are properly called Tisanes or Infusions.

How to brew: Most Wellness Teas call for 1 tsp up to 1 Tbsp of the herbal blend per 8 ounce cup of tea. They are generally steeped for 4-8 minutes in water that has been just boiled (212F). The amount of the blend and the amount of time to steep depend largely on the type of herbs you have included in your blend and how strong you would like it to be. And they can be sweetened just as any other beverage. But the more natural the better.

Sweeteners: If you have local honey that's even better. Other options for sweetening may be Stevia (be sure it's pure stevia and not a blend of other ingredients when making your purchase), cane sugar, beet root sugar, agave. There are many options. And many enjoy their teas completeley without sweetener. Although some of the herbals (cleansing and detoxing blends in particular) are not very palatable without a sweetener and are rather bitter.

A few of the Wellness Teas we will be keeping in stock are (further detail will be put on our website for each of these blends): Stress Buster, Cold Buster, Chamomile/Lavender, Detox, Peppermint, Purify, Restore, Sweet Lullaby, Peace of Mind, Pick Me Up and a few others.

In addition, we will be carrying the individual herbals so that we can custom blend to your specifications. Ingredients such as Chamomile, Rose Buds & Petals, Lavender, Vanilla, Dandelion Root, Peppermint, Spearmint, Rose Hips, Red Raspberry Leaf, and many more will be in stock for custom blending.

If you're ambitious and would like to grow, harvest, dry and blend your own teas this is an excellent article for you: Mother Earth News Article

Thursday, March 31, 2016


Matcha is said to be one of the best and healthiest teas rich in antioxidants and flavorful. Matcha is a fine ground green tea powder. It has a sweet, strong, earthy and "green" flavor. It is traditionally served with a "frothy" top not unlike the crema atop a freshly pulled shot of espresso. It is prepared by whisking in with water to blend the finely ground powder as well as to form this frothy top. Unlike other teas, the infusion is not strained off the tea is the actual tea leaves ground and blended with the water.

My first experience with Matcha was at a very popular coffee shop. I can't say that it was a very favorable experience. And it left me really not liking Matcha at all. I opted for a Matcha Latte. Now, I should have known by the way their other beverages are prepared that it would be way too sweet for my liking. Well, it was. They prepare their Matcha Latte by adding a couple pumps of Vanilla syrup as well as a sweetener (according to the barista) and then steam the milk right along with the tea. I'm unclear as to how the tea was prepared prior to the addition of the milk. But it was sickening sweet and I could not even drink the entire drink. The earthiness and "green" flavor was way too strong for my liking as well. I was pretty much turned off from ever wanting to try Matcha again.

Now with the upcoming opening of the Tea & Coffee bar in the store I knew I would have to eventually try Matcha again. And I'd have to make it for customers. So one of the companies that we have been sampling (The Tea Spot) sent a sample of their Matcha. I finally decided to give it a try for myself. What a HUGE difference. This time I prepared it as I had seen on many youtube videos (yes, I youtubed it LOL) and as it had been described to me by other Matcha drinkers. The difference is that I did not have an actual Matcha bowl and whisk so I had to improvise. I prepared it as follows: I added 3/4 tsp of the Matcha to the cup and wet it just enough to make a paste. Then added 8 ounces of hot water and whisked it to blend and create the frothy top. I tasted this mixture without any added sweetener so I'd have an idea of what it truly tastes like. To my surprise, I liked it. So I decided to take it a little further and make a Latte out of it. So I steamed up about 4 ounces of milk with the steaming wand on the espresso machine. Poured that frothed and steamed milk into the cup of Matcha. Tasted once again without sweetener. Very smooth. Very nice flavor. I then added a touch of local honey for a little added sweetness. Liked it even more. So the last step was I added a spot of whipped cream and drizzled with caramel. REALLY loved it then. Yes, I know, I just took this wonderfully healthy beverage and added sugar to it. LOL But it didn't ruin it. It is a delightfully, gently sweetened Matcha Latte.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tea With a Friend

Yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting and enjoying a nice cup of tea with a friend. We discussed all the excitement we have with adding the Tea & Coffee bar to the store. And oh so many of the options of teas and coffees that we have. She had the chance to smell all the wonderful teas I received from one of the companies whose teas we will be carrying in the store. And we enjoyed a delightfully smooth brew of Boulder Blues. This is definitely one we'll have available in the store.

The description of Boulder Blues: This blend of fine Japanese Sencha and high-grade Chinese Dragonwell combine to create a rich yet refreshing base, while wild strawberries and rhubarb flavors add a subtle twist. This tea yields a bright liquor with a luxurious aroma and brisk, vivid flavor. The ideal accompaniment to dark chocolate. Makes the perfect gourmet iced tea!

It has Green Tea, Mallow Flowers, Cornflowers, Strawberry & Rhubarb Flavoring. And it is delightfully smooth. My friend enjoyed hers without sweetener.....I have to add sweetener to my teas....but not too much.

Friday, March 25, 2016

First Mocha.....New Machine

It has been nearly 8 years since I had the coffee & chocolate shop open. So that's a pretty long time since I've made a real mocha. Needless to say, I am out of practice. This is the first Mocha made with the new espresso machine at the store. I'll be indulging in many of these over the next few weeks while we prepare to open the coffee/tea bar. I need the practice. LOL I must say though, it was delicious. 12 oz Mocha, double shot, Ghirardelli chocolate sauce, topped with whipped cream and drizzled with Ghirardelli caramel sauce. Mmmmmmmm yep, I enjoyed it very much.

And this would be the new espresso machine. No, it's not one of the really huge plumbed machines you see at Starbuck's. We're a small shop with a small coffee/tea bar. And to be honest, this pulls a great tasting shot that is no less in quality than the big huge fancy machines. It took me a few tries to get the grind, amount and tamp just right. But I do believe I got it. :-) At least it did taste delicious. It doesn't steam the milk quite as fast as the large fancy machines do. So just be patient because you won't be disappointed in the shots it pulls. And, it's all in the bean too. We will have Larry's Coffee in the store (a local roaster) so it will be even better and so very tasty.

For those of you that love to stamp and scrapbook.....did you notice the mug my Mocha was made in??? Yes, I enjoy stamping as well. And we will be offering some stamp gathering events in the store once everything is set up so be watching for more information on that.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

More "New to Me" Flavors

Ok, so I have to admit that while I was in Teavana I had to pick up a few other teas and tea gadget and all while I was there. I couldn't stop with just the one tea. LOL Yes, I've become a "tea junkie". Can you beleive there's a mug for that? LOL

On to the other teas I tried from Teavana.

Jasmine Pearls & Peach Tranquility ~ This is another one that they had on their sampling bar. I think this is one that they had out that was NOT sweetened. It was delicious before any sweetener was added. And smells heavenly. So I had to get some to take home to brew. And yes, I did add a little bit of sweetener. While at Teavana I also picked up a bag of the Rock Sugar (beat sugar crystals). Only a little bit is all that is needed. I followed the instructions they put on the tin and it was just as tasty as it was in the store (a little better with the sweetener).

Jade Citrus Mint ~ This one smells sooooooo good. But, I guess I'm more of a fruity kind of gal because I didn't LOVE this one. It was good. But not my favorite. I didn't try it over ice though. So that's next on my list. I can tell you this though, I could sit and sniff on this tea all day long. It's very uplifting. I think it needs a little more of the citrus and a little less mint.

Maharaja Chai Oolong & Samurai Chai Mate Oolong Tea ~ wow. what a mouthful. I kid you not though, that is exactly as it appears on the label. First of all, I've never really been much of a Chai fan. I do have to say that I did enjoy this one. It wouldn't be my first choice. But I can see drinking this on a cold night to warm up. It was also on their tasting bar. They had added just a tiny bit of sweetener to this one. I picked it up because it smelled so good. I haven't tried it since bringing it home. And when we first unpacked my bag from the store and looked at the names, well, look at the first word, at first glance and without glasses on one could mistakenly read it as Marijuana. LOL But no, I'm not drinking Marijuana tea. It's just Chai.

My other take away from my first visit to this store was a nifty little tea brewer that you brew your tea in and then sit on top of your cup and it drains the brew minus the tea leaves and minus a bag. So you have the wonderful fullness of flavor from the full loose leaf teas with ease. Love this little thing. A little on the pricey side but I do like it.

And so now, I am looking forward to trying so many new teas from a couple of suppliers that I've narrowed down as providers for our little tea bar that will be opening soon. And in the meantime, I am continuing to devour all and every book and bit of information regarding teas, where they come from, how they are harvested and processed, how they are flavored, and everything else you can think of that a "tea junkie" might want to learn about tes. :-)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My First REAL Tea

So let's begin this journey, shall we?!? I'll be posting about my tea journey from start to present. And yes, I'll be giving my opinions (good, bad & ugly on each tea tasting and tea shop visit).

Once I decided to add teas to the new coffee bar going in my store, The Soap Hut, I figured I needed to learn a little something about teas. Taste them for myself. Learn what I like and don't like. Learn how to serve the many different types and flavors. My first trip out and about landed me in a Teavana store in the mall. Now, I know, some of you more seasoned tea lovers may be saying "that's not tea" (as I've heard several already tell me in person LOL). BUT, it's where it started for me. And everyone has to start somewhere, right?

The first tea I tried was heavenly. It was their Youthberry® Wild Orange Blossom Blend. It wasn't overly sweet. And oh my is it delicious. It is a white tea blend. And here is the description they give: "Refreshing sweet pineapple & fruity acai berry infusion with orange and light floral undertones". This tea made me want to try others in their store. I did end up coming home with that blend, a Chai, Jade Citrus Mine (a flavored green tea), Jasmine Pearls & Peach Tranquility (a green tea blend) and a bag of their beet root rock sugar (love this stuff too).

Being that I had nothing to even steep the tea in I also purchased an infuser while I was there. And now, I'm hooked. Trying many other teas since and looking forward to trying many more.

Before I Knew Better.....

Sweet southern iced tea......grew up on the stuff. Although, I was never very fond of it. I remember my Great Grandma's tea and my Grandma's tea. Both were so sweet you could hardly taste the tea. LOL. My mom's tea was sweet but not quite as much. But the thing I remember even more than all that sugar is the bitter taste left behind with every swig and gulp. I think between the sugar and the bitter taste I was nearly ruined forever from liking tea. Fortunately, I know better now. 😏

I had no clue that the tea I gee up on was over steeped. All I knew was that to make tea you had to use lots of tea bags and steep it in boiled water at least 20 minutes or so. The longer the better. And the more sugar the better. That's the southern way you know. ;-) I think all the sugar was added to try and mask the bitterness from over steeping.

Then there was the "Hand" tea. Yes, we had our own little way of brewing our tea in the Hand household. Everyone thought we were nuts but they sure loved it. You see, I'd always forget about the water boiling so had to come up with a way to brew it and not burn down the house. Unlike me, my husband loved sweet iced tea. So I decided to put my tea bags in the brew basket of the coffee pot and brew it just like a pit of coffee. Worked line a charm. Best part, I didn't have to add so much sugar because it wasn't as bitter. But it still was t my favorite beverage. Little did I know, the tea bag teas weren't the best quality.

I still preferred my coffee and espresso drinks.

And now, well let's just say I know how to make a cup of tea the right way using the right kind of tea. And I must say, I'm a tea convert slightly on the obsessed side. LOL.

Just a side note. The image shown at the top of this page can be found at It is wall art available for purchase. I am not affiliated with the site or seller in any way. I just found it and loved the image but also give credit where credit is due. :-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Journey Begins.....

And so the journey actually began several months ago but I've got to start somewhere......and I've got to get you caught up from the beginning. LOL

I have always loved coffees. Everyone in the family drinks it. And I was no different. I owned a dessert and coffee shop many years ago and was a self-proclaimed "coffee snob". I loved my espresso beverages....especially when I knew they were made with a particular local roaster's beans. Don't get me wrong, I still love a good mocha. But my love for tea has begun....or should I say obsession.

If you had told me even a few months ago that I'd be so hooked on teas and so interested in learning about them I'd tell you that you were nuts. I've never even been a southern sweet tea drinker (being from the south that's a tragedy LOL). But now I can't seem to stop reading about teas, learning about the different varieties, and I can't wait to taste another flavor that I've missed out on all these years. I've started to love teas both hot and cold.

So this blog will pretty much be a chronicle of my tea journey. I'll be sharing what I love, and maybe some that I don't particularly care for, along the way.

And for the most fabulous news of my journey......I will be opening a Coffee & Tea Bar inside of my soap shop May 2016.