Showing posts with label tea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tea. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cinnamon Stick Tea for My Sore Throat, Cough, and (Yes!) Cognition from Cleo Coyle

Were you hit with the flu this year? A few weeks ago, it slammed into our house like an NFL linebacker. First Marc went down, and then I did (eesh). 

While we've both recovered from the worst of it (fever, chills, and upset stomachs), Marc is still battling residual blahs, and I'm plagued with a recurring cough and head congestion. That's where this wonderful tea comes in...

In traditional Chinese medicine, cinnamon is a cure for phlegmy coughs. I can testify that it works! Brewing up fresh cinnamon stick tea always gives me relief, and its spicy-sweet flavor is delicious, too. 

Yes, I know you can brew cinnamon tea from store-bought bags, but the flavor is not as powerfully good as fresh-brewed from sticks. AND there's an added benefit to brewing from sticks...

Boost Your Brain with
the Scent of Cinnamon

Fresh brewing cinnamon tea from sticks fills the house with the fragrance of cinnamon, a scent you can't get from brewing quickly in bags. And the scent of cinnamon has been linked to improving cognitive brain functions (attention span, recognition memory, response speed, and working memory).

Finally, cinnamon itself is packed with health benefits. Among other things, it's a potent antibacterial agent (great for that sore throat) and it is an anti-inflammatory partly thanks to cinnamaldehyde (a substance found in the spice). One recent study showed that cinnamon can reduce inflammation and muscle soreness.

So let's get that water on and start our tea brewing!

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.


As always, the quality of your results depends on the quality of your ingredients. Now I've made cinnamon tea from the less expensive "Cassia" cinnamon sticks, which are the most common found in grocery stores, and I've enjoyed the results. BUT if you want a better quality tea, use the better quality "Ceylon" cinnamon sticks. See more on the differences in the recipe below...

FYI - I get my Ceylon cinnamon from, click here to see the product page. One pound or 64 three-inch sticks cost around $18.00 plus a small fee for shipping, which, for me, breaks down to less than 50 cents per stick. 

To download this recipe in
a free PDF document that you
can print, save, 
or share, click here.

Click here for free recipe PDF.

Cleo's Cinnamon Stick Tea

Makes 2 six-ounce cups of tea 


2-1/2 cups of water
*2-3 cinnamon sticks (see my note on types of cinnamon)
1 teaspoon raw, local honey (optional)
1 small orange (optional)

Directions: Place 2-1/2 cups of water into a saucepan with 2 to 3 cinnamon sticks (see my note below to help choose the amount). Bring water to a boil and turn heat down to a low boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the cinnamon sticks to continue steeping in the water for a final 10 minutes. Strain into a tea cup and enjoy!

**Note on types of cinnamon: The amount of cinnamon sticks you'll want to use for this recipe will vary, depending on the kind of cinnamon sticks you're using, as well as their freshness. Let's start with...

Cassia cinnamon (aka "Chinese cinnamon) sticks are the most common type found in grocery stores. These are hard sticks with a single layer of curl. Because of their hardness, I suggest using 3 Cassia cinnamon sticks to make this tea, rather than 2. Their time on store shelves also tends to make them less potent so that 3rd stick is usually needed to make a good cinnamon tea.

Ceylon cinnamon sticks are softer and also of higher quality and potency. You can recognize them by their many layers. Because they are primarily sold by spice merchants at a higher price point, they tend to be fresher and more powerful. AND they truly do have amazing flavor, well worth the price! I suggest using 2 Ceylon cinnamon sticks for this recipe.

Cleo’s Cinnamon-Orange Tea with Honey

After straining the cinnamon stick tea into your tea cup, stir in 1 teaspoon of raw, local honey until dissolved. Grate a small amount of orange zest into the cup (I use the zest of about half a small orange) OR squeeze the juice of one orange wedge into the cup. Then garnish by placing one cinnamon stick into the cup. If you like, slice a thin round of orange and slide it onto the tea cup's rim. Serve warm and may you drink with joy!


The “zest” of a citrus fruit is the grating of its peel with absolutely none of the white pith beneath—because the white pith is bitter and you don’t want that in your recipe! The best tool for this is a microplane zester. To learn more about this handy kitchen tool or purchase it, click here or here.


Check out a sushi chef's unique
way of cutting and serving an orange...

To see a slower version of "Chef Joe's"
orange-cutting video , click here.

Eat and drink with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of  
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

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Dead to the Last Drop 
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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Southern Sweet Tea for the Dog Days of Summer

#Recipe from @Peg Cochran

I know it's heresy--a "Northerner" giving you a recipe for the ubiquitous drink of the South!  But to be honest with you, I never quite knew how to make really good iced tea--it would be bitter, too weak, too strong, etc.  So I started looking for an honest-to-goodness recipe and found this one which I've tweaked a bit to suit us.

According to American Table, the first published recipe for sweetened, non-alcoholic iced tea appeared in Marion Campbell Tyree’s 1879 community cookbook Housekeeping in Old Virginia Containing Contributions from 250 Ladies in Virginia and Her Sister States.  Quite a mouthful, isn't it?

And most of the tea used back then was green tea which is suddenly so in vogue again and which, during World War II, became impossible to get since it was imported from Japan--that's when black tea began appearing in everyone's cup.

 Use six tea bags.  I like to mix it up--some black tea, some green tea and, in this case, some Zen tea from Tazo with green tea, lemongrass and spearmint.

Bring two cups of water to the boil.

Add tea bags and sugar.  Recipe calls for 3/4 cup but that is way too sweet to us.  We substitute 1/3 cup of Splenda, but experiment to see what you prefer.  Cover and let tea steep for 15 minutes

The secret to iced tea that isn't bitter--a pinch of baking soda!

Add six cups of cold water or cold water mixed with ice if you want to drink it right away--although the recipe in Marion Tyree's cookbook gently suggests that if you want the tea for dinner, you should make it at breakfast!  Use a pretty pitcher or a utilitarian container that can go in the fridge with no fear of breaking.

 Pour into a pretty glass, sit back, put your feet up and enjoy.

If you'd like to visit a world where there's plenty of sweet tea and a dash might enjoy my Sweet Nothings Lingerie Series written as Meg London.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Guilt-Free Chocolate Bliss for Valentine’s Day from Cleo Coyle

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought this recipe might just hit the spot. (Possibly more than one.) Why? Served with coffee, tea, espresso, or cocoa, this elegant treat has very few calories (fulfilling my guilt-free claim) yet it has lots of amazing flavor. The way you consume this dessert is pretty darn sensuous, too, and all three ingredients have long been considered aphrodisiacs…

CHOCOLATE, of course, is the classic Valentine’s Day consumable. The Aztecs were probably the first to make the connection between amorous feelings and the cocoa bean. The emperor Montezuma was said to have fueled his romantic trysts by ingesting large amounts of the bean.

CINNAMON is a delightful, fragrant, and stimulating spice. The Romans believed cinnamon was an aphrodisiac. Cleopatra famously used it to arouse her many lovers.

COFFEE AND TEA contain caffeine, which is considered a perk in the department of stimulating amorous desires.

When coffee was first introduced to the Turkish culture, husbands were expected to keep their wives well supplied. If the husband could not provide daily coffee for his wife, it was a legitimate cause for her to divorce him. Fair enough since a wife's ability to make coffee was one of the ways a husband decided whether she was a good match for marriage.

So what is this dessert that combines chocolate + cinnamon + coffee (espresso or tea). I'll tell you...


Cleo Coyle, who goes
loco for mocha, is author
of The Coffeehouse
Okay, this recipe is stupidly easy. It's more of a “process with tips” than a recipe. I thought it would be easy to write up. Wrong! This is one of the longest recipes I've ever written! But I wanted you all to have enough tips to make this easy and foolproof. (There are far too many ways to muck up the melting of chocolate and the dipping of things in I hope all the directions help.)

I came up with this idea when I finished baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies and had about ½ cup of extra chips. I saw the cinnamon sticks on my shelf and decided to chocolate-coat them, just a fast, fun way to use the extra chips. That evening, I served the chocolate-covered cinnamon sticks with our after-dinner coffee, receiving happy compliments and quite a few kisses from my Valentine. I hope you all receive the same!


Start with selecting your favorite chocolate. What kind of chocolate? Because no sugar is added to this very basic recipe, I prefer using a chocolate that has sugar in it such as white, milk, semi-sweet, or Mexican.

If you like dark chocolate, by all means use it. Just taste it first and make sure the flavor is good naked, without additional ingredients added. A bittersweet chocolate (one with a very high cocoa percentage) may be delicious in a cake, cookie or pudding, but remember that you're adding sugar to those recipes. To many people, dark (or baking) chocolate with little or no sugar added will taste too bitter for this recipe.


12 cinnamon sticks (the longer the better)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or about 4 ounces of block chocolate, chopped)

Step 1 – Prepare drying area: When the chocolate-covered sticks are wet, they’ll drip melted chocolate (obviously). So you'll need to prep a safe area for the sticks to dry. Here are two methods: (A) egg carton and (B) wax paper...

A. Egg carton method – Remove the top from an egg carton. Place it on a large dish. Using a knife, make a small incision in the carton top. To make sure the incision is large enough, insert one end of your cinnamon stick into the carton. Repeat for all 12 sticks. (See my photo below. I suggest you use the carton top only, which is sturdier. The egg carton bottom is tricky and although you see me using it in the photo, the sticks tend to move around more on the carton bottoms.)

Note: The top of the egg carton actually provides more
stability than the bottom. So I suggest you use the
entire top of the carton and forget about the bottom.

B. Wax paper method – Place wax paper over a large, flat dish. The only drawback with this method is appearance. Your chocolate-covered cinnamon sticks will still taste delicious but there will be a funny sort of flat side to your stick. If you want prettier sticks, use my method A (the egg carton). NOTE: If you have no wax paper, do no use paper towels or a naked dish! The chocolate will adhere to these surfaces and your sticks will be ruined. Parchment paper and aluminum foil are better alternatives.

The top stick was made with my egg carton method.
The bottom was made using the wax paper method.
Both of these treats will taste great. The egg carton method
simply looks nicer for presentation. Note also that
cinnamon sticks come in different lengths. For this recipe,
the longer sticks are easier to work with.

Step 2 – Melt Chocolate: Place ½ cup chocolate chips (or about 4 ounces of block chocolate, chopped) into a microwave safe bowl. I use my Pyrex measuring cup.

WARNING: Chocolate burns easily, especially white and milk chocolates, which have more milk solids, so you really need to be careful when you melt chocoalte in a microwave.

Nuke it for about 20 seconds. Remove the bowl and stir (make sure the spoon is dry because moisture will make the chocolate seize up). The chocolate won’t be completely melted yet, but you need to stir it to prevent burning. Now microwave it for another 10 seconds. Remove and stir again. Continue this process until the chocolate is completely melted.

Step 3 – Dip sticks (gee, that sounds funny, doesn't it?): Okay, one at a time, dip one end of each cinnamon stick into the melted chocolate. Allow excess chocolate to drip off the stick, back into the bowl. Spin the stick around slowly until the drips stop completely. Now place the clean end of the stick (the end you’re holding) into the prepared egg carton.

Step 4 – Wait: The chocolate must dry and harden. Give it about an hour before touching. To speed up this process, carefully move the dish (on which you’ve placed either the egg carton or wax paper) into the refrigerator for about thirty minutes.

To serve: Once the chocolate hardens, you're ready to use. Lightly stir the chocolate-covered stick into your cup of hot coffee (espresso, tea or cocoa). Stir only enough to re-warm the chocolate. Place the stick into your mouth like a lollipop and enjoy the taste on your lips and tongue. The flavors of warm chocolate and cinnamon combine with the coffee to create a lovely after-dinner sensation. It’s a deliciously fun and sensuous dessert experience with very few calories. A perfectly blissful ending to a romantic meal.

To store: Once the chocolate is completely hardened, simply place sticks in a plastic baggie and store in your refrigerator.

Valentine's Day,

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes, win free coffee,
or find out more about my books, visit me
 at my *virtual* coffeehouse:

Click on the book covers above
to learn more about Cleo's culinary mysteries.


A final, quick note for our mystery reading fans.
The latest Mystery Readers Journal with the theme Hobbies, Crafts, and Special Interests is now available.

The issue, edited by Mystery Fanfare's Janet Rudolph, includes many mystery authors who have guest posted for us over the past year. You can check out the contents by clicking here, which will also give you info on how to purchase a copy (hard or electronic) for yourself.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Avery’s Favorite Scones

Congrats to last week’s winner, Sally Minyard. She won a $25 Williams-Sonoma gift certificate! We have a new winner, who will be announced this coming Saturday.

So, dear readers, we’ve been blogging now for nearly six weeks and we have covered everything from pork roast to frappacinos and antipasto platters to the best way to prepare asparagus. If you scour our archives, I’m sure you can put an amazing meal together.

What we haven’t covered is afternoon tea. For cozy readers, this is a must. There’s one character in my new Cheese Mystery series, Lois [she is NOT my protagonist...I thought I'd introduce you to a few characters along the way.] Lois owns the Lavender and Lace Bed & Breakfast. She’s a tea cup collector, and every afternoon she serves high tea. With her scones, she likes to serve a little jam and a wedge of cheese. There’s nothing as decadent in the afternoon as having a scone slathered with jam and a nip of cheese.

For this particular tea plate, I chose a fabulous boysenberry jam and a wedge of Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam cheese.

It’s smooth and nutty, with flavors like a good Camembert. The Cowgirl Creamery is located in Pt Reyes Station, California. For over a decade, they have been furthering the fine art of artisanal cheesemaking. If I might quote from their website: “They started with an old barn,made it beautiful, put in a small plant for making hand-crafted cheese…” And the rest is history. Check out their website: Cowgirl Creamery

Now...being the nice person I am, I decided to lend my quirky fictional Lois my favorite scone recipe, and get this (all of you who are celiacs), it’s gluten-free. [*Note: I often use Pamela’s Gluten-free products as my base. For this recipe. I tweaked her scone recipe to give it an extra richness that is melt-in-your-mouth yummy.]



2 1/4 cup Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
4 Tbs. butter, cold
1/3 cup 1%milk
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup raisins
1 egg, extra-large, beaten


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix the Pamela’s mix, baking powder, and sugar together. Cut in the butter, using a knife and fork, making sure the butter is still cold. It’ll form small pea-sized balls. Add milk, cream, and eggs, stirring briskly until all incorporated. Add the raisins.

Drop by large spoonfuls on an ungreased baking sheet. Makes 9 good-sized scones.

Bake for 14-17 minutes, checking at 14 because you DON’T want the bottoms of the scones to burn.

So this afternoon, grab a good mystery, make yourself a cup of your favorite tea, and enjoy a delicious scone! Major comfort food!

And if you like, visit my website: and sign up for my newsletter with recipes and tips and a recurring column about the history of cheese.

Lastly, don’t forget to check back for our next Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest, coming soon. This last week's winner of the $25 gift certificate to the Williams-Sonoma will be announced Saturday!

Smile and Say Cheese!