I Want You to Want Tea: How to Make the Most Thoughtful Gift Ever

Gather round fruitcakes. If you are fretful about how you can possibly communicate all your supersonic love waves to a certain somebody in this festive giving time, well unfurrow your brows already. Yer too attractive to be all furrowed. Come and I will regale you with tales of this one time when I combined some dead plants and made the most Thoughtful Gift Ever, thus spreading joy and peace and love and all that good stuff.

I am the most glad that I get to share this enchanting project with you beautiful people. It doesn’t cost a lot, you can put it all together in a few hours of fun AAAAND you’ll be seriously warming the heart cockles of a special someone because tea just keeps on giving! And you made it your very own special snowflake self for their very own special snowflake selves! It’s like a cuddle for heart cockles! It’s like a herbal mix tape for your mouthbuds! Rejoice! Here is how:

1) Do some pondering. Put on the kettle and some festive beats, preferably Mariah Carey. Ponder the person you are making tea for. Do they have a quirky interest that deserves accompaniment by a specialty tea? A love of bacon or other specific flavours? A chronic health issue that can be soothed by herbs? Do you want to make a peppy caffeinated tea or a mellow herbal blend? It can be neat to try to recreate a favourite food of theirs in tea form (like banana bread) or else to choose some fan kid theme. My girlfriend likes to combat the zombie apocalypse on her Xbox, for example, so I’m going work with that. The more thoughts you have the more thoughtful this gift is gonna be so make like a third grader and have one of them brainstorms! They were right. Putting your thoughts in cloud bubbles is helpful for real life.

2) Now you grab your fancy hat and your British accent and go tea shopping. Your best bet is to find a place that sells loose leaf tea in bulk. A bulk food store is the obvious choice, but some natural health food stores also have a bulk section for herbs. Those stores sometimes have cool people working there, LIKE ME, who know some things relevant to your quest. So ask all the questions okay? I’ve found loose herbs and teas at some larger drugstores as well. And farmer’s markets. And my garden. And the internet. YOU CAN DO THIS!

I picked white tea as my base. Light in flavour and only slightly caffeinated, it makes a good canvas for zombie tea. I also picked out pansy herb for detox, marshmallow root for its anti-inflammatory properties and hibiscus flowers cause they have vitamin C and look kickass. See what I did there?

But Kelsey, say you, wild eyed wanderer, what other kinds of winsome infusible materials can I use for inspiration in creating the Most Thoughtful Gift Ever?! Well, bless your cotton socks, I am ever so glad you asked! There are so, so many things you guys.

+ Chopped Nuts
+ Dried fruit (freeze dried usually gives you more flavour in a tea, but that crystallized looking kind is also dandy)
+ Candy sprinkles
+ Extracts and flavourings
+ Spices
+ Chocolate chips (tiny baby ones are cute and better for your purposes)

If you are like me, faced with all this possibility, your eyes will begin to gleam with that mad scientist gleam- I MUST COMBINE ALL THE THINGS. But please, keep cool my babies. You actually mustn’t do that because it will taste weird and this isn’t about you, budding apothecary, it is about the joy of giving to cute people so you get to make them smile and feel loved or something. Stick to a few complementary flavour profiles. Chocolate and dried orange peel with black tea. Mint and almond chai. Bacon and maple Canadian breakfast tea. Pumpkin pie spice rooibos. Licorice root with mango and green tea. Try to contain yourself and do more awesome with less fuss. You got this.

It is the best if you can go to a place that lets you smell their wares before you buy them. The sense of smell is so huge in the experience of a tea you know? Also think about how your tea will look in a jar. It can be so purdy you guys, like a bejewelled burnt shimmer salad with rainbow shooting star sprinkles. Like a drag queen unicorn’s ashtray if unicorns smoked cigarettes. They’d be rolled by hoof.

3) If you are using extracts to flavourize you will now need a spray bottle. You can just find a clean spray head and stick the straw right in the bottle of extract. Spread your tea out on a baking pan and mist with the extract. Mix the tea leaves around a bit and then mist again. Put your now misted tea in a mason jar and screw the lid on. Let it do its absorbing thing in there for a few hours. Now, spread it out on a baking sheet and let it dry for a few hours more. Tahdah!

4) Tea and you, and you and tea. No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be time now to make the tea magic happen wizards! Chop your fruit and other peripheral flavour givers down to small cubes for better infusion. Throw it all in a large bowl so you can see what kind of proportions you are getting yourself into. Take a random sample and make yourself a cup. Add a little more of this, a little less of that, get good and golden. Give yourself frequent pats on the back for encouragement. You are doing it friend! You are inventing new taste sensations. 10 points for Griffyndor!

5) There comes a time in every crafter’s life when they’ve got to make some tough decisions. Do you want to give your somebody a delightfully decorated jar of gorgeous tea? If so, make sure they have the supplies to drink loose leaf tea. Or knit/sew them a tiny reusable tea bag. Or, OR, consider the possibilities of a post-gifting cup of plain old school tea. So badass. Just leaves, a mug, hot water and the good ole future. Whudup?

Also, you can easily make your own tea bags from coffee filters. Yep. You betcha.

The idea of writing quotes on the “tags” is aces, kid. If I were dating myself I would so gift myself some handmade tea and tea bags each with handwritten Andrea Gibson quotes. Then I would probably need tea just to calm down from the palpitations of adorable. Just sayin’.

Whatever you do be sure to take chances, make mistakes and get messy. Also, include with your tea, a list of ingredients and some prep directions. Go by your base tea and add more minutes to the steep time if you have fruit pieces, chocolate or nuts so they get a chance to fully express themselves. If you aren’t sure, do a search for preparation directions for your base tea on l’ Internet.

6) Emerge from the smouldering refuse of your craftwork, wiping the glitter from your eyes. Listen to Kraftwerk. At the right moment, give your somebody their precious tea treasure. Let the astonishing wonder of your skill sink in for 5-10 minutes. For best results, pair tea with cuddles and a marathon of holiday television specials. Enjoy and repeat often and oftener.

Thank you to Matilda, my kitten model.

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Kelsey has written 1 article for us.


  1. Yeah, absolutely no joke I frequently tell people if they give me tea for presents I shall love them forever, especially if this is a green tea with Jasmine or an oolong tea with chocolate and mint. Alas I don’t know anyone who loves tea as much as I do for me to gift this to :(

    But maybe I’ll make myself a present :)

  2. I don’t think it’s ever occurred to me that I could *make* my own blends of tea… this could be a game-changer. *_*

  3. Sprinkles in tea. You just changed my life. I also really love how interested it seems Matilda was in this endeavor.

  4. If I wasn’t already making my girl an extra-special super secret present of awesome (Hi Alison!), I would totally make her tea. But I might give my mother tea. And my aunt. And every other tea drinking human I know.

  5. This is going to be the most productive/amazing way to procrastinate studying for finals!

  6. PERFECT TIMING. i have someone i need to have a gift for by sunday and this might just be the ticket. thank you!

  7. I’m not nearly talented enough to do this, but you made me feel like what Neville Longbottom must feel like when Hermione Granger whispers words of encouragement to him in Potions class. Like maybe I could do it. Like maybe I’m worth 12 of Malfoy.

    • Hold the phone. If you can work in an obscure yet heartwarming Harry Potter reference like that into your comment then you are more than talented enough to make this happen. I believe in you!

  8. Note to self for future girlfriend gift-giving opportunities.
    I’m just a beginner tea-drinker myself, so really I was just incredibly distracted by HOW ADORABLE YOUR KITTEN IS while reading this post.

  9. My heart says yes, my head says sprinkles in tea are you fucking insane?


    love the post btw

    • Similar thoughts here. As a tea obsessive I love this post, but the sprinkles confuse me. Do they melt in hot water? And will chocolate chips just be messy in my tea basket?

    • Yeah, that confused (but also strangely delighted) me too. I think this may call for some Experimenting. I have to make my lady an awesome Christmas gift (because gift-giving stresses me out and I’m poor) and this might indeed be “just the ticket” as stef said upthread.

    • I am sorry if the sprinkles upset your brain. As a general rule of thumb in life, when feeling conflicted I usually side with the part of me that is attracted to bright colours and shiny things. Which is why the sprinkles. Even if it is against the rules of tea and tea is awesome just by itself and don’t need no sprinkles to make people happy and be beautiful… The sprinkles melt in the hot water and, like the chocolate, can make your tea gear a little gooey. But I think the extra hot water it takes to rinse them away it is worth it for the sweetness and festive qualities. You can grate the chocolate from bars instead of using chips and choose smaller sprinkles to reduce goo factor. In addition, sprinkles make people who don’t usually drink tea interested in tea which is especially good if this is a gift for someone whose tea habits you are unsure of or who you want to recruit for the tea army. Sprinkles and chocolate = gateway into world of tea? Acceptable? Despicable? Discuss.

      • I was very dubious when I was gifted tea with tiny little meringue tear drops in it (though they were SO cute). It was green tea with dried orange, rosebuds and cinnamon pieces and the meringue melted to make it a little bit sweet and it was delicious. I’m totally sold on the concept.

      • I might use sugar sprinkles (the clearish kind) instead of the kind pictured here since they would probably be a bit less messy, but I *love* the way the big star sprinkles look! Still, sprinkles and chocolate in tea… not sure I’m convinced just yet, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try it if someone made it for me!

      • I feel like the psychological barrier is too great. For now. Like every time I try and wave a thought-frond in the direction of thé au sprinkles it gets fried by a forcefield of negativity.

        But only with regards to imbibing it. I could just look at it. Because it does look great. I think that would be a fair compromise: look at pretty tea with a mug of PG Tips in hand.

        Ok, I am satisfied now.

  10. this hetero lady loves coming to autostraddle for the coolest articles, ideas and insights! this is the best DIY holiday article ever! thank you so much for the humor and the inspiration!!!!


    … because my trips to Whole Foods weren’t already full of more decisions than i can handle …

  12. This is amazing!!! My gf loves weird fruity green teas and I was having issues with ideas for stocking stuffers but the diy tea + diy tea bags + diy tea bag tags solve all my worries!
    Keep the diy gift posts coming AS!

  13. As someone who’s had a lot of close calls with the potentially hazardous, I should mention to be careful when buying your tea ingredients. Dried herbs from a whole food store is probably pretty safe, but if you’re growing the ingredients yourself, watch what you put on your plants. We had a neighbor spraying his yard for weeds who didn’t even think of avoiding the fruit trees. Pretty much whatever you put on your yard is going to find its way to your plants, and probably isn’t all that healthy to be ingesting. (You’d think it would be common sense, but I thought I should mention it anyway.) Also if you plan on using essential oils or extracts be wary and make sure stuff is food grade. There’s a lot of “100% natural” extracts meant for aromatherapy that is not meant to be ingested that sound just like the oils some people use in food. As a rule of thumb if it doesn’t have a nutrition facts label on it, be careful.
    Also, since we’re on the topic of the insanely colorful and adding sprinkles to tea, I’d suggest the edible glitter they have for cupcakes/frosting. Also, there’s a few etsy shops selling edible sugar doilies, which would be a fantastic thing to give someone along with the tea.

  14. This is PERFECT for my gf! I was considering buying her tea that I know she loves and I think smells like her but this is too great to pass.

  15. I made tea blends for a bunch of different people this year and honestly, it might have been even more fun for me to make than it will be for them to decorate. Thanks for this awesome idea!

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