Homemade Gifts: Iced Tea

Check it out. I made some really nice iced tea for my friends as gifts.

It sounds like I'm tooting my own horn, here, but for real, the tea was tasty and I would love to receive a bottle that looks so pretty as a gift.

My favorite brand of tea is Mariage Frères. When my daughter and I were in France last summer, we spent a number of hours having tea at the tearoom in  Mariage Frères (you can read about our escapades here). The ceremony with which they serve the tea, and the treats that come with it are extraordinary.

The first time I encountered Mariage Frères tea was when I was working as a low-level manager at Williams-Sonoma in San Francisco back in 1992. Having worked at Pottery Barn in NY, I was able to transfer to Williams-Sonoma as soon as I got to SF.

I had just moved out and was missing home. The manager on duty stationed me in the gourmet food section at the back of the store. They always had classical music playing in the store at that time. When a piece came on by Mozart that had been featured in the movie "Amadeus", one of my and Joe's favorite movies, I got weepy.

Somehow, I managed to cry internally and still help customers. As I was busying myself with cleaning up the shelves I smelled something sweet, spicy and cinnamon-y. Upon further investigation, it was a can of tea that had been opened to entice the customers senses. It certainly worked for me. The flavor was L'Esprit de Noel, a Christmas tea. I bought a can, which cost somewhere in the realm of two hours' worth of retail wages. And continue to buy one every year for Christmas.

You can buy Mariage Frères teas on Market Hall and Dean and Deluca online. I know in San Francisco and Berkeley there are a few places that also stock this tea. But, the best place to go, is to get on a plane and head to Paris :)

My Favorite Teas from Mariage Frères:

  • Earl Grey Blue
  • Esprit de Noel
  • Lapsang Souchang
  • The sur le Nil

Sage Infused Simple Syrup

makes 2 cups


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 10 to 12 fresh Sage leaves, bruised


  1. To bruise the sage leaves, twist them lightly between your fingers until you see some discoloration.
  2. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Lower heat to a simmer.
  5. Stirring frequently, keep the mixture simmering until it becomes clear.
  6. Using a strainer to catch the sage leaves, pour the liquid into a sterilized jar with an airtight lid.
  7. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

You can add this syrup to cold or warm drinks. I don't drink coffee, but wonder if it might taste good in that, too! I do know, however, that it'll be great in lemonade and just add a bit to seltzer water for a little spark.