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Design Advice Q+A // What are some of the best ways to prepare my tea?

Q: I loved your post last week on ways to prepare coffee in the AM, but what about tea toward the end of the day? Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by all the factors - tea bags, tea leaves, how long to steep, how hot should my water be - but I'd like to get in the habit of drinking tea daily. What guidance can you give?

A: While we love our morning coffee boost, nothing beats curling up at home with a warm cup of tea. It's hydrating, full of nutrients and antioxidants, and can leave you feeling calm and focused. Try to drink organic decaffeinated tea when possible. 

Many cultures around the world have ritualized the tea making and drinking process for centuries. The famed Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh describes tea drinking as a means to ground yourself and to speak calmly to others: "Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future." 

Steeping Guide for Loose Leeves

We found this super simple guide to determine how hot your water should be and how long you should steep depending on the kind of tea you drink and how strong you'd like it to be. Simply pour your boiling water into a mug then place the steeping vessel on top. Ceramic is best, followed by glass, then metal. Pour tea leaves into vessel and allow the tea to steep for as long as the guide below suggests.


Matcha Green Tea

We are huge fans of matcha, the oldest kind of green tea harvested in Japan. It's even been referred to as "the healthy espresso of green tea," and is being sold more often in cafes these days. Green tea is brimming with antioxidants, chlorophyll, amino acids, and other nutrients and vitamins. It provides sustained and focused energy, enables weight loss, and offers a natural detox. 

Panatea Green makes a gorgeous tea brewing kit ($67), so you can make ceremonial grade green tea at home. They also offer dozens of recipes that incorporate matcha green tea into all kinds of yummy, festively green treats. We can't wait to try the matcha lemonade popsicle once it warms up!

Bellocq Teas

If you're looking for a brand of teas to rely on, we suggest the delicious, Martha Stewart-approved line of teas called Bellocq. Their tea atelier is nestled in a quiet corner of Brooklyn, NY, and there, you can taste, smell, and admire their teas that come from around the world. Their teas transport you to the meditative place that Thich Nhat Hanh encourages you to go. They even offer an "Ultimate Year of Tea" box ($198), which contains 12 months of their finest artisan blends in their beautiful yellow boxes. Each package includes a handwritten note and metal strainer. 



Design Q + A // How should I make coffee in the AM?

Q: I need my caffeine fix, but am looking for alternatives to the $5 latte I've gotten into the habit of buying every day. What are some of the most economical and healthy ways to prepare my coffee at home?

A: Before launching into the coffee brewing methods to which we're most loyal, we'd like to share this video of Maria Forleo asking Arianna Huffington a few questions about the advice she bestows in her book, Thrive. In it, Arianna writes, "Sleep your way to the top," in order to emphasize the importance of sleep and not undermining health and joy along your path to success. So while yes, one cup of coffee is totally fine (and necessary in our opinion) to jump start your morning, don't subsist on caffeine throughout the day in order to make up for lack of rest. You will crash. And fall. And wake up in a pool of your own blood like Arianna did.

Now that we've encouraged (scared) you to drink coffee in moderation, here are a few healthy and easy ways to prepare your daily cup of coffee:

A Nespresso machine

While the price tag may be daunting at first, think of how quickly you'll make your money back by saving on buying coffees-to-go. Not to mention, Nespresso is constantly offering discounts up to $100 and rebates of $75 to spend on espresso pods, so find the machine that best suits your needs and consider taking the plunge. These machines produce creamy, rich fuel that will keep you running for the entire day. Our favorite machine is the VertuoLine, and right now Nespresso is selling the VertuoLine Bundle for $249, which includes the machine, different sized cups, and a to-go mug. 

If you'd like to shop around before making a purchase, compare Nespresso to other single-serve pod coffee makers, such as De'Longhi, Keurig, and Nescafe. We think you'll make your way back to the one below!


French Press Brewing Method

Using a French press to make coffee produces higher caffeine levels because, unlike with drip coffee, the grounds are entirely submerged in water during the brewing process. French press is also believed to create higher levels of antioxidants thanks to their standard metal mesh filters. Stumptown coffee has put together a step by step instructional on how to make coffee using a French press which includes helpful, not to mention, beautiful photos of the process. You can find it here.

You can buy the below French press from the Stumptown website for just $30. 

Add Butter and Coconut Oil to your Coffee

Ditch the creamer and refined sugar in your drip coffee and try this alternative, all natural method of drinking coffee. For a while, the Bulletproof Coffee was a big trend, but instead of paying for overpriced pre-made concoctions, try making something similar yourself. If you add 1 tsp of grass-fed butter, 1 tsp of coconut oil, and a dash of vanilla extract, you will find yourself brimming with positive energy that lasts all day long. Added bonus: drinking coffee this way puts your body in the routine of burning fat, which ultimately helps you trim down. Pair with a banana and slice of avocado toast, and you've got yourself a quick, delicious, and healthy breakfast boost. 

Design Advice Q + A // What humidifier should I buy?

Q: The dry winter has been brutal on my nose, throat, skin, you name it. I'd love to buy a humidifier for my bedroom but am not sure which one is right for me. Any pointers?

A: Humidifiers are a great way to create moisture in your room throughout the night in order to prevent snoring, coughing, and nosebleeds by lubricating your nasal passages; they also help to cure skin dryness and allow for a deeper, less disrupted sleep. We suggest going with a ultrasonic cool-mist humidifier because, although they require more upkeep than a warm-mist humidifier, the cold air feels great through your passages and are less dangerous as the hot water of a warm air humidifier can burn you. A regular cool air humidifier has a fan that makes a gentle humming noise (some people love it; it drives others crazy), but if you buy an ultrasonic, there is no sound at all.

Bacteria and mold can grow quickly in your humidifier, so for long-term results, be sure to change the water daily, scrub your device with water and bleach often, and replace the filter as often as the instructions tell you to. 

Below are a few ultrasonic cool-mist humidifiers that we love for their effectiveness and design; pick the one that fits within your budget and join the club of sound sleepers!


Crane Drop Shape Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, $41.99

Air-O-Swiss Cool-Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier, $99.99

Broksonic Allonge Humidifier, $199.99

We're also eager to follow the development of the Osmos, a humidifier we found on Quirky, that allows you to monitor its care through an app on your smart phone and receive alerts when it requires cleaning or has achieved balanced humidity levels. A major technology swoon.