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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Warming your insides

I'm sitting here drinking a cup of tea. Its cold out, but I'm warm inside.

Drinking tea and other hot drinks are good ways to keep warm on cold days. My house is cold, my heat is off, but I do not feel chilled as I have warmth inside me.

The easiest way to have a hot drink on a cold day is to pop over to a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, pick up a latte and head on your way. While this may be simple, these dollars add up very quickly. Though you probably all know this already, it pays to make your own coffee, tea, or hot cocoa.
But I'm out of the house. I need a hot drink when I'm not home and have no facilities to make a hot drink.

A thermos is a great investment. With a good thermos, you can prepare yourself a nice brew at home and have a piping hot drink hours later. My thermos was not so cheap but it was a frugal investment. Even when I'm at home, I can boil a large quantity of water one time and keep it steamy without paying the cost of electricity to run a hot water urn.

I'll admit, I'm no coffee maven- I only drink it when my eyes are threatening to shut from being extremely overtired. However, I have heard from my coffee lover frugal friend that buying your own coffee beans, roasting them, grinding them and then brewing your own coffee is quite cheap and delicious. I'll stick with my instant coffee on occasions like that.

I drink tea more often than I do coffee. Until a few days ago I was using an electric kettle to heat my water for tea, but then I found out just how expensive it is to run that electric kettle. Now I'm boiling water in a covered pot on my stove until I get a chance to invest in a stove top kettle.

How do you drink tea? From those little packets of tea that come from the store? They can be costly if you're an avid tea drinker. Reusing those tea bags is the way to go. Did you know that you can get two to four strong cups of tea from just one tea bag?

Even cheaper than tea bags are buying tea mixes from a spice store and making your own tea, either straight or making mixes from the teas that you buy. From a spice store I've bought: chamomile, hibiscus, rose hips, lavender, red raspberry leaf, mint, sage, lemon grass, jasmine, peppermint, ginger, cinnamon, chai masala mix. There are so many types of teas out there in spice stores and it is much cheaper to make yours from scratch rather than buying the little packets.
To make your tea from herbs and spices requires a drop of special equipment. A tea infuser that fits in a cup is one option. The other option is a teapot with a built in strainer. I've had both and largely prefer the tea strainer as I find it much easier to clean.

Homemade teas take very little herb to make strong tea, and they too can be reused a few times.

The cheapest way of all to make your own tea is to grow your own herbs. Think about what type of tea you like best. Peppermint? Sage? Lavender? Lemongrass? Most herbal teas are very simple to grow, even indoors on your windowsill if there is no room for an outdoor garden.
Even if you don't grow these herbs yourself, many are so proliferous that those who grow them are glad to share.

Hot cocoa is another drink that is great. I have used chocolate powder (nestle quick style) with only 3 ingredients (sugar, cocoa, vanilla- no additives, artificial flavorings or colorings) that was cheap and has lasted for months. I add a bit of the powder to a moderate amount of hot water and then add some milk to top it off. You can add it directly to warm milk if you would like. You can also make your own chocolate powder mix, but I haven't bothered to do so yet. Powdered hot cocoa mixes are truly a waste of money.

What is your favorite hot drink? Do you make it at home or buy it from a coffee shop? If you make it yourself, is it from scratch or ready made?

2 comments:

  1. Ok, I have to ask about the electric kettle, because I use one every day when I make tea. I have an electric stove and I assumed that the electric kettle would be more efficient in heating water since the heating element is in direct contact with the water. My stove, on the other hand, would be heating the tea kettle, then the water. Is it more efficient to use the stove? Do you have a gas or electric stove?
    Katie in WI

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  2. I have a gas stove. I can't tell you details of what exactly is cheaper- an electric stovetop or an electric kettle, all i know is that an electric kettle is a huge electricity guzzler.

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