You probably picked up on this from the whole living-in-the-middle-of-nowhere thing, but I lead a pretty simple life. And I like it that way. I’ve always been the girl who prefers to stay home in her jammies on a Saturday night instead of heading out to the local hot spot (although, there was a period of time in college…), so living in a place where nothing is open past sundown meshes pretty well with who I am.
One of my favorite things about living simply is that you really get to appreciate the joy in the everyday. I haven’t always been good at this. If you would have asked me about five years ago, I would have told you I was too busy, too stressed, and too defeated to even notice the little things—let alone appreciate them.
In fact, I think anyone who had passed a high school psychology class would have probably told you I was overcompensating for how unhappy I was by going “big” in my day-to-day life—big vacations, big purchases, big declarations. It wasn’t until I became really happy that I started to accept that a beautiful life is made up of small joys.
There are so many small things in my everyday life that bring me joy. Cozy slippers. Hitting inbox zero. Eating a perfect poached egg. Using a brand new marker. When my daughter gives me a hug for no reason. When the sun shines through the leaves of the trees. When there is something good in the mail. A perfectly made bed (especially if my husband is the one who made it). Our roosters crowing in the morning. Nail polish going on smoothly. The smell of bacon. A recipe that turns out just right. A purring kitty cat. A perfectly brewed up of tea.
I know a lot of folks drink tea as a way to start their morning or to help them feel cozy, and while tea is great for those things, for me, tea has a different purpose. Tea is about taking a minute to really savor the small joys in life. It’s about being selfish for just a second. It’s not a big gesture. It’s not buying myself the $300 pair of riding boots I’ve had my eye on for months. It’s not chopping all my hair off. It’s not jet-setting off to some exotic locale.
For me, a perfectly brewed mug of hot tea (with a little touch of honey) is just a simple head nod to the concept that I am worthy of joyful moments—no matter how small the dosage.
I was never a tea drinker until I started sharing an office with a heavy tea drinker. She and I became fast friends (and still are, even though we’ve both long since left those jobs), and her tea-drinking ways quickly rubbed off on me; in fact, they rubbed off on everyone!
Our little office soon became a tea-drinking hub for the entire floor—we had a full selection of teas, an awesome kettle, and lots of laughs available for anyone who wanted them. Tea became something we all rallied around. We even had an office-wide “tea time” that was a time to think of big picture ideas for how we could innovate moving forward.
I think what appealed to me (and everyone else) about how my friend drank tea was that it wasn’t the same way someone would drink coffee—as something you need to start your day. Instead, she drank tea like it was something to be savored. Something to help enhance the joy of her day. Something to bring people together. She thought of tea the same way I think of food. And that really stuck with me. I had never even had a sip of green tea until I started working side-by-side with a tea drinker, and once I figured out how to brew a perfect cup of green tea—not too hot of water and not too long—I was beyond sold. I loved the taste. I loved the touch of caffeine. I loved the health benefits. I’ve tried pretty much every green tea on the market (including the really pricey loose leaf stuff from speciality shops), and every time, I come back to Tazo® Tea.
I wouldn’t consider myself a tea snob—I just want to brew a good cup quickly, and I find that Zen just flat works every time (Awake™ English Breakfast and Passion® are favorites, too).
I love how convenient the hot filter bags are. I love the consistency of taste. I love the blend of green tea and mint—I find it really nice and uplifting, and the mint helps to mellow out any bitterness that you might get from overbrewing the green tea. I love that it’s affordable and widely available (I just pick it up at my local supermarket).
Of course, you guys know me, and know that the chances of me just sitting down to sip on a mug of tea without anything to nibble on are slim to none. I like to really round out the whole tea time experience with something sweet. Not too much, just a little bit. A piece of really dark chocolate (we love these individually wrapped ones) or a scone or a few of these Dark Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies.
Now, I’m not normally much for crunchier/dry cookies. Give me underbaked cookies or give me death. But, I think shortbread cookies are my one exception. Because shortbreads are so gloriously buttery, they are meant to be crumbly, crackery, and just perfect for dipping in a mug of green tea. If you’ve never made shortbreads at home before, you really have to try them. It doesn’t get much easier. This recipe is so crazy simple—there aren’t even any eggs in it! Shortbreads are very mildly sweet and mildly flavored, making them a perfect vessel to slather in chocolate and sprinkle with sea salt.
This is a small batch recipe—meaning it makes about 16 small cookies. But because this recipe is so simple, it’s easy to double or triple if you’re looking for more than a handful of cookies.
One last note: promise me you’ll use almond extract in these cookies. Vanilla extract (especially the good stuff) is delicious, but it’s the almond extract that really takes them over the top. I think good quality almond extract is one of those must-have secret ingredients for anyone who likes to bake—it just adds this undercurrent of nutty, rich flavor that really rounds out the taste of almost all baked goods. Enjoy these cookies, and enjoy the simple things in life, friends!