As we close out the last issue of this newsletter for the year, we like to go back and review past issues to discover which stories generated the most interest, were clicked on most often, and generated the most feedback. Below you will find reprints of our most popular stories of 2019. We want to take this time to thank all of our readers, advertisers, and supporters for helping to make this year another great one. If you have a product you would like us to consider for review or have some exciting news to share, please contact us.

We wish you all a wonderful new year filled with all great things.

Winter Survival Guide: 5 Cozy Winter Reads (and Teas to Match!)

"Winter is the best time of year to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage and a good book," writes Monica Burke at Verily Magazine.  Yet sometimes we need a little guidance, not just on our next read, but a perfectly paired tea to enjoy with it. 

Burke has cleverly coupled five of her favorite books and teas, which we're delighted to share with readers of the Coffee and Tea Newsletter:  “I have a recommended reading list a mile long and more kinds of tea than I can count, sometimes it can be difficult to decide where to begin,” said Burke.

To make your search easier, Burke has compiled a list of five cozy reads for the colder months—each paired with an equally cozy tea. “I hope these suggestions will inspire you to enjoy a lovely night in,” added Burke.  

1. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis) + English Breakfast

It is always winter and never Christmas in Narnia, a magical land where animals talk and all are subject to Aslan, the great and powerful lion. In order to free Narnia from the curse of the White Witch, the four Pevensie siblings must leave England behind and do their part to fulfill the prophecy that promises peace and prosperity. This tale makes for an excellent seasonal read, complete with wintry teatime with Mr. Tumnus the faun and a visit from Father Christmas.

To accompany the book, you can’t go wrong with a cup of English Breakfast tea, a hearty and traditional black tea that will transport you to the Pevensies’ native land. I enjoy mine with a splash of milk and one cube of sugar. Just about every brand of tea produces this classic blend, so go with your favorite!

2. The Enchanted Sonata (Heather Dixon Wallwork) + Peppermint

I love The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” I think the music is one of the most magical parts of the Christmas season. So imagine my delight when Heather Dixon Wallwork released a novel last fall that re-tells this classic tale!

Clara Stahlbaum is an accomplished pianist who is all set to marry the famous musician, Johann Kahler, although he may not know it yet… or know her yet, for that matter. Clara’s plans to impress Johann at the holiday concert are interrupted when she receives a mysterious gift on Christmas Eve. Soon she is whisked away to Imperia, a far-off country where the children have been turned into toys and the soldiers into wooden nutcrackers. It is up to Clara and Nikolai, the emperor-to-be in disguise, to save Imperia before Clara misses her concert and Nikolai is stuck as a giant nutcracker forever.

I highly recommend pairing this fairytale with peppermint tea, which will remind you of the famous “nevermints” produced by Polichinelle’s Candy Emporium, the most famous candy store in Imperia.

3. Emma (Jane Austen) + Irish Breakfast

The young and beautiful Emma Woodhouse is so busy trying to make matches for her friends that she hardly pays any attention to her own heart. Emma is nosy, opinionated, and snobbish—in fact, Jane Austen predicted no one but the author herself would much like her. Yet you can’t help but root for Emma as she comes to see the error of her ways and the real object of her heart.

A dash of Irish intrigue makes Irish Breakfast the perfect tea to sip while reading Emma.The eponymous heroine occasionally tries to spite the beautiful Jane Fairfax, who happens to be Emma’s superior when it comes to feminine accomplishments, by bringing up Mr. Dixon, the husband of Jane’s particular friend. The Dixons are traveling in Ireland—and Emma thinks Jane declined to join them because she secretly has feelings for Mr. Dixon. I expect that Emma might indulge in a cup of Irish breakfast tea to see how Jane might react.

4. An Old-Fashioned Girl (Louisa May Alcott) + Chamomile

Little Polly Milton is sent to spend her vacation with Fanny Shaw and her family. She soon finds herself overwhelmed by the fashionable urban life of the Shaws and withstands a lot of teasing from Fanny’s younger brother, Tom. Eventually, Polly wins them over with her kindness and becomes a family favorite. As she continues to make visits over the years, Polly’s old-fashioned customs are pushed aside for the metropolitan way of doing things. But when times become tough for the Shaws, Polly is there to guide them to what really matters in life.

This novel is so heartwarming—and, lucky for you, in the public domain, so you can download it for free wherever you get your eBooks. You will love the scene where Polly joins all the boys to go sledding—it brings back memories of how exciting snow was as a child!

I recommend pairing this story with a hot cup of chamomile and a spot of honey. I am partial to “sleepy time” chamomile myself—I love any blend that includes lavender!

5. A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett) + Chai

Young Sara Crewe is used to a life of luxury—but then, her father tragically passes away, and Sara is sent to work at a boarding school without a penny to live on. Despite her troubles, Sara is generous and kind—the real marks of royalty.

Sara befriends many people due to her kindness, including Ram Dass, Mr. Carrisford’s Indian assistant, and his pet monkey. I recommend pairing this book with chai, a spicy and delicious Indian tea. You can stick with a straightforward cuppa, or you can try a chai latte. However you take it, this blend is a great way to warm up in the winter months.

Photos by:  Michael Steiner


The Evolution Hoodie: Made from Recycled Coffee Grounds

Coalatree designs eco-minded gear and apparel for the adventurer in everyone, from athletes and photographers to your average city folks and weekend warriors. It’s their passion to bring elements of the outdoors and the city life together. Whether you’re summiting the tallest peaks or lounging around town with friends, their products are practical, stylish, and functional. Being ready for anything is what they’re all about.

But, a hoodie made from recycled coffee grounds and plastic bottles?  It's true! Spent coffee grounds are collected from local shops, processed to separate the oils, and finally are ground into nano-sized particles. These particles are mixed with melted plastic bottles and spun into the threads that eventually become the Evolution Hoodie!  The folks at Coalatree work hard to bring you the most innovative technology that supports a healthy you and a healthy planet. By utilizing discarded materials like coffee grounds and plastic bottles, they’re keeping our waste streams small and making our impact big!


The Evolution Hoodie features a hidden zippered pouch to securely stash your valuables, plus two organizer pockets and a hanging loop for keys. Keep your goods safe so you can explore the streets of a new city worry-free!

The Evolution Hoodie features a hidden zippered pouch to securely stash your valuables, plus two organizer pockets and a hanging loop for keys. Keep your goods safe so you can explore the streets of a new city worry-free!

The Evolution Hoodie is designed to be worn on-the-go. The material is constructed with small, microscopic pores which increase its surface area. This means moisture is spread throughout the hoodie and the drying process is accelerated!  Dries up to twice as fast as traditional hoodies

Play hard and stay worry-free! Coffee is a naturally odor-absorbing material and by weaving the grounds into the fibers, odors are trapped as you sweat. Because the grounds are embedded into the fabric, this feature is permanent and will never wash out!  Traps 3x more odors than traditional hoodies

Keep your skin healthy from the sand to the slopes! The tiny pores in the fabric trap and block UV rays, turning the Evolution Hoodie into a chemical-free shield.  Nearly 6x more effective at blocking UV rays than traditional hoodies.


$62 + shipping.  Support them on kickstarter.  As of today, they have over $263,000 pledged.  Their initial $50,000 goal has been far surpassed by the nearly 3,000 backers.  Kickstarter fundraising ends 4/18.

As if this wasn’t enough of a reason to love this company, each year they use surplus fabric to create warm blankets for the homeless in their hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah. They also partner with local organizations to maintain the hiking and biking trails we frequent and to protect the integrity of our watersheds.


How Much Do You Know About Honey?

The story of honey is older than history itself. An 8,000-year-old cave painting1 in Spain depicts honey harvesting, and we know it's been used for food, medicine and more by cultures all over the world since.

But honey isn't about humans. It's the natural product made from bees—one of our planet's most important animals. Honey bees visit millions of blossoms in their lifetimes, making pollination of plants possible and collecting nectar to bring back to the hive.
Lucky for us, bees make more honey than their colony needs, and beekeepers remove the excess and bottle it. Just like they've been doing since the beginning of time.

Enjoy this honey quiz from the National Honey Board and see just how much you know about nature’s finest work. 


1. How many flowers must honey bees tap to make one pound of honey?
2. How far does a hive of bees fly to bring you one pound of honey?
3. How much honey does the average worker honey bee make in her lifetime?
4. How fast does a honey bee fly?
5. How much honey would it take to fuel a bee's flight around the world?
6. What is mead?
7. How long have bees been producing honey from flowering plants?
8. What Scottish liqueur is made with honey?
9. How many sides does each honeycomb cell have?
10. What is the U.S. per capita consumption of honey?
11. What state is known as the beehive state?
12. How many wings does a honey bee have?
13. How many beekeepers are there in the United States?
14. How many honey-producing colonies of bees are there in the United States?
15. How many flowers does a honey bee visit during one collection trip?
16. How do honey bees communicate with one another?
17. What does "super" mean to a beekeeper?


1. Two million. 2. Over 55,000 miles. 3. 1/12 teaspoon. 4. About 15 miles per hour. 5. About one ounce. 6. Honey wine. 7. 10-20 million years. 8. Drambuie. 9. Six. 10. On average, each person consumes about 1.3 pounds per year. 11. Utah. 12. Four. 13. USDA has estimated that there are between 139,600 and 212,000 beekeepers in the United States. Most are hobbyists with less than 25 hives. 14. The USDA estimates that there are approximately 2.68 million honey producing colonies. This estimate is based on beekeepers who managed five or more colonies in 2010. 15 50-100. 16. "Dancing." Honey bees do a dance which alerts other bees where nectar and pollen was located. The dance explains direction and distance. Bees also communicate with pheromones. 17. The super is the hive box in which honey is stored.

1Ullmann, Fritz (2003). Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. John Wiley & Sons


RAVE Reviews Releases Ranking of the Best Green Tea

RAVE Reviews, the innovative site that publishes entertaining rankings based on advanced data-driven analysis, has published a ranking of the "Best Green Tea."

People in the West often view tea as a humble beverage that is mostly consumed by people who don't enjoy the almighty coffee. This is far from the truth. Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world (aside from water), is deeply interwoven and held in high regard in many cultures, has a mainstream political movement named after it, and has even been a contributing factor to wars breaking out. Yeah, tea is a pretty big deal. This is without even mentioning the awesome health benefits that accompany tea. Tea quality varies greatly, so RAVE Reviews teed up a list of the best-tasting, highest-quality green teas available.

Why solely focus on green tea when there is such a diverse selection of teas to choose from? Well, all tea actually comes from the same parent species of tea plant. In other words, there is no green, black, or oolong tea plant. Out of all the varieties of tea, green tea is the one that is in its most unprocessed form, meaning it has the most robust array of benefits. The staff at RAVE is all about originality and getting the maximum benefit, so green tea was an obvious choice. If you aren't sure where to start, go with RAVE's number one pick, Tao of Tea's Jasmine Pearls Green Tea. If that isn't your thing, RAVE has also included traditional, matcha, gunpowder, and flavored varieties of green tea. Several different options were covered so that everyone really could find their cup of tea in this ranking.

"I drink so much coffee that I sometimes forget how wonderful green tea is. It tastes great and has been proven to have benefits ranging from the prevention of multiple chronic diseases to elevated cognitive function," said Hillary Miller, Marketing Coordinator for RAVE Reviews. "You have a lot to gain from drinking green tea. This ranking lays out some of the best options available."

In determining which teas to feature, RAVE compared reviews from sources across the internet and took into account multiple factors such as overall quality of the tea, taste profile, price, and the packaging material and method.

The full list of featured products includes:

Babingtons In Tè Veritas - Rome, Italy

Benjamin Tea Pomegranate Green - Chicago, Illinois

Harney & Sons Organic Green Tea with Citrus and Ginkgo - Millerton, New York

Numi Gunpowder Green - Oakland, California

Rishi Sencha Green Tea - Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Sazen Matcha Saiho no Mukashi - Kyoto, Japan

Steep it Real Dragon Well Green Tea - Wheaton, Illinois

Tealyra Gyokuro Green Tea - Champlain, New York

The Republic of Tea People's Green Tea - Novato, California

The Tao of Tea Jasmine Pearls Green Tea - Portland, Oregon

RAVE Reviews is an authoritative and entertaining guide for consumer goods, entertainment, and travel. It's not a product review site or a lifestyle magazine. But if those two met on an online dating site, 9 months later, you'd have RAVE Reviews.


Coffee Health Benefits: Cold Brew vs. Hot Brew

What type of coffee is better for your health – cold brew or hot brew? Wellness expert, Dr. Michael Roizen, weighs in.

Grabbing a morning cup of coffee can be good for your health. Coffee is known to be rich in healthful antioxidants, which are beneficial in reducing the risk of several diseases. But for those of us who enjoy a cold brew during the summer months – are we getting the same benefits? A recent study shows when it comes to antioxidants, ‘cold brew’ coffee is lacking.

“When it’s actually brewed cold, it’s not the same as iced coffee where you take hot brewed coffee and put it in a refrigerator or over ice,” said Cleveland Clinic’s Michael Roizen, M.D., who did not take part in the study. “This is actually brewed without hot water; it takes longer, and it has a little less acidity, and about 50 percent less antioxidants.”

For those who like their coffee cold, but want to hang on to those antioxidants, Dr. Roizen suggests brewing it hot and then having it over ice. He said previous research has shown the major benefits of coffee come from both the antioxidants and the caffeine. Other studies have linked coffee consumption to a reduced risk for diseases such as type two diabetes, liver disease, and heart disease.

However, as Dr. Roizen points out, if we load our coffees full of cream, sugar, syrups or whipped cream – we can wipe out all of those health benefits in a hurry.  The healthiest way to enjoy our coffee is to have it black.  He said anyone can make the switch to black coffee. He adds that it may take a week or two to get used to it, but if you can make the change, it’s the best thing for your health.  And you can even save yourself some money by skipping all the add-ons.

“You’re better off going black for your health, and for your finances, which obviously pertain to your stress level,” said Dr. Roizen. “You don’t have to have all the additives in there, black coffee is much less expensive, and if you go black, it’s much healthier for you.”

Source:  Newsroom, Cleveland Clinic


The Most Expensive Tea from the Oldest Trees - Now Available

The folks at California Tea House say, “for those new to the world of tea, this is an exciting opportunity of which you should not partake”. With only a few Ancient trees left in existence and their leaves saved and sold only to government and royalty, Ancient Pu'erh should be curated for those that can appreciate a cup so rare. California Tea House, a boutique of the finest tea located in Los Angeles, got their hands on a small batch through a very gratuitous, insider connection. For true pu'erh aficionados, this is a rare, special treat that they are proud to share with you.

Ancient Pu'erh comes from Kun Lu Royal tea farm famous for its historic trees used to make royal tribute tea for Chinese emperors. If you are ready to enjoy an epic tale, who better to tell that story than a cup from the trees that have survived centuries.

The ancient trees have witnessed the change in tea production and how tea has become a quantity over quality commodity. When the first ripe pu'erh was created in 1973, it became easy to mass produce teas that fast-forward years of natural fermentation. Forced to age before their time, those young leaves from cultivated shrubs show a rebellious nature having a flavor hard to accept even despite the health benefits.

Undergoing the traditional, natural and unforced fermentation process, Ancient Pu'erh tea leaves reveal mellow and smooth notes of wood, honeysuckle, tobacco, walnuts and vanilla. They have a flavor very rich and complex, yet light and exhilarating. Being the only tea type produced from ancient trees, pu'erh not only has an exceptional character, but many effects on health and body all backed up by science. Famous for aiding digestion, lowering bad cholesterol, aiding weight loss more efficiently than green tea1, reducing body mass index and improving the lipid profile2, pu'erh has been a favorite tea choice after meal for many avid tea drinkers. Being able to reduce heaviness in the stomach after a rich meal, it is a must needed addition to any tea cabinet during feasting holidays.

Ancient Pu'erh is a tea of transformations and unshaken character of nature hidden deep within the layers of flavor. California Tea House is proud to have this tea as a part of their exclusives list and hope it will broaden your tea horizons if you are lucky enough to get your hands on a bag before it runs out. Shop and learn more about California Tea House premium teas at their online tea store. $68 for 4 oz. / $19 for .5 oz.



SOURCE California Tea House