Brandy snaps look really impressive but are not that difficult to make, not easy peasy but not hard!

BrandySnaps

(c) Julia Briggs for use by The English Tea Store

50 g or 2 oz butter
50 g or 2 oz caster sugar
2 x 15 ml spoon or 2 tablespoons golden syrup
50 g or 2 oz self raising flour
1 x 2.5 ml spoon or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 x 5 ml spoon or 1 teaspoon brandy or rum

Whipping cream whipped up.

Brandy Snaps

(c) Julia Briggs for use by The English Tea Store

Heat the oven to 180 C, 350 F or gas mark 4, grease a baking tray and the handle of a wooden spoon.

Melt the butter sugar and syrup in a saucepan or in a bowl and into the microwave.  Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients, beat well.

Brandy

(c) Julia Briggs for use by The English Tea Store

Put small spoonfuls of the mixture at least 3 inches apart on the baking tray and bake for 7-10 mins.  Bake in small batches I put four drops on each tray, they spread out.  Allow each batch to cool slightly and always have the next batch ready to go when one comes out.  Roll each one around the handle of a greased wooden spoon, remove the spoon and leave the biscuit on a wire tray.  Do not try and roll too soon, if the mixture is too soft it will not hold the shape of the wooden spoon.  If the biscuit is too cool and set you will not be able to roll without it cracking, so  re-heat a little more in the oven to soften and try again.  Keep going until all the mixture has been used.  When completely cold pipe fresh cream into both ends and serve immediately.  These biscuit will keep for quite a while in an air-tight tin and then just piping the cream before you serve.

If you roll when the biscuit are too hot you will get a slump!

~J. xx

Snowlined fence

© Ice | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The start of the new year, January being National Hot Tea Month, and new writers all facilitated bringing you new teas to try this month. I intended to write this article many weeks ago and title it, “January is National Hot Tea Month.” If my life is like yours in any degree, you are well familiar with the shortage of time fighting against a surplus of tasks, errands, and chores.

We’ve had some harsh weather in areas, which also encouraged you to stay bundled up and warm. One of my favorite things to do in the winter is find a large, sunny window that overlooks a busy street or woodland rife with wildlife; park a solid, overstuffed chair in the sunspot; encourage a cat or two to find refuge in my lap; crank the heat or wrap in a lap throw; and watch the world go by while I remain stationary. Hot tea helps with the contrast between the snowy outside and toasty inside.

Whether I am doing this alone or snuggled up with my LTR, I have enjoyed the decaf chai. I load my little infuser with the loose tea, brew it strong, and 20141224_150629add milk and honey. Robbing the cup of its heat, I wrap my hands around it until the tea is cool enough to drink.

Remembering to sit quietly and appreciate simple pleasures allows me to recharge my batteries and find more value in my world. With the fast pace of today’s connected world, I think National Hot Tea Month is a very good thing. Raising a cup and hoping you had a moment to enjoy it, too.

~Your editor

 

PG Tips Chimpanzee

While searching online for tea I found the history of PG Tips. It is not everyday that a product such as tea has a unique story behind it. I do not know about you, but I find the history of how a business came about to be quite fascinating.

You see PG Tips began with an entrepreneur who opened his first shop in Manchester, United Kingdom in 1869. Mr. Arthur Brooke opened what we would call a modern day coffee house selling coffee, tea, and sugar. He had the fantastic idea to break the mold of other tea companies who were producing blended teas. Mr. Brooke produced pure, high-quality teas from India and China making his brand quite popular. Who would have thought being different and innovative could work?

Following Arthur Brooke’s influence of innovation and creativity, PG Tips launched a novel advertising campaign involving chimpanzees. At this time there were not many commercials aired in the United Kingdom. PG Tips hit gold with the campaign for the chimpanzees to be one of the longest running characters in British television advertising.

Another bit of the story is PG Tips produced the most expensive tea bag ever made. The tea bag was covered in 280 diamonds raffled off to raise money for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Okay, okay, I know-do not give away the entire story. Sit down with a cup of tea and check out the rest of PG Tips’ history.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A classic entry originally published 01.23.2009

WD-February-HomeWe are please to announce Woman’s Day chose our Tea for One as their Pretty Pick, in February 2015’s issue. The Amsterdam Tea For One featured comes in more than a dozen cheery colors and we have guaranteed the $10.99 price during the run of this issue. This set is very affordable and durable, and goes with you wherever you go! Both dishwasher and microwave safe, you will find this indispensable little set your new favorite go-to. ETS Tea for one sets range from $6.99 for our brand, to $38.99 for the prestigious hand-painted gilt-rimmed porcelain Vanderbilt by Biltmore.

~Your Editor

© Ragne Kabanova | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Ragne Kabanova | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Earlier this month we presented our first tea of the month for January, Buckingham Palace Garden Party. Our other tea is the China Jasmine Green tea. The description on our website is very brief: “The China Jasmine tea blend from English Tea Store is a green tea with a surprising body with the captivating character of jasmine.” The ingredients are simply green tea and jasmine petals. But like all teas, this one too has a story.

Jasmine tea is said to be the oldest aromatic tea, and is used for soothing and relaxing. Green tea is typically used as the base for the flower addition, though black and white can also be used. There is an inherent, subtle sweetness to this tea brought by the jasmine. As early as 200BC, this tea blend traveled from Persia, through India, to China, where ours is still grown today. Vietnam also produces a bit of this tea.

© Arnon Ayal | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Arnon Ayal | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The jasmine flower is best grown in the higher elevations of the mountains. The tea leaf is picked and harvested when it is ready, and stored until the jasmine flowers are ready in late summer. The jasmine is picked early in the day, when the flowers are closed. Towards nightfall, they open and release their scent. It is at this time that the tea is flavored: the tea leaves are either layered with the harvested jasmine flowers, or mixed together. Over the course of four hours, the scent of the jasmine is absorbed into the tea. This process can be repeated a few times, depending on the tea, before the blend is dried and packaged.

tolstb_grncjs-25p_china-jasmineJasmine tea is a welcoming tea, often served to guests upon arrival. We welcome 2015 with this aromatic blend.

~Your Editor

IMG_2721

(c) Julia Briggs for use by The English Tea Store

When my dentist was pregnant she craved sweet things and I made her a Mars Bar cake which she loved but banned me from making it unless she was pregnant.  To say this is fattening is a bit of an under-statement.

You will need 3 Mars bars

150 g (1 1/2 stick) butter

150 g (6 cups) Rice Crispies or corn flakes if you cannot buy rice crispies.

IMG_2733

(c) Julia Briggs for use by The English Tea Store

250 g (9 oz) Cadbury’s milk chocolate.
Melt the three Mars bars with the butter either over heat or in a microwave then add the rice crispies and combine well.  Spread the mixture into a shallow tin and refrigerate until set ( a few hours will suffice)  Melt the chocolate and use it to cover the whole cake, cut into pieces whilst still warm and allow to cool before trying to eat it!

~JB

I like both Redbush (Rooibos) and Honeybush teas, though both are actually the leaves of flowering legumes, and not really tea at all. Neither has caffeine, both are low in tannin, and both come from Africa. Both are rich sources of antioxidants. Both have naturally sweet undertones. Close cousins, both these herbs require a longer-than-Ceylon steeping, of 5-7 minutes. Because of the low tannin, the “tea” will tolerate this length without becoming bitter. Rooibos is only grown in South Africa, and Honeybush is rarer still, relegated to only the eastern and western cape regions of South Africa. Both are harvested by cutting and bruising, oxidizing (fermenting), then drying. Given the similarities, why choose one over the other?

honeybushHoneybush was one of the first black tea substitutes. There are 23 species, each with a slight varietal flavouring. Originally cultivated by hand in the mountainous regions of east coast South Africa, much honeybush is still hand picked today. However, in 1998, group of South African farmers formed the South African Honeybush Producers Organization (SAHPA), which promotes new growing and production techniques. As a result, two large Honeybush plantations have opened since 2001, as have many Honeybush research partnerships. If you have tasted this tea, more prolific Honeybush is a very good thing! This tea is usually composed simply of honeybush, which carries undertones of wood and honey. It is so aromatic that it can be steeped on the stove and left to scent a room. It is likened to a hot apricot or dried fruit mixture in taste and a bit of honey added while brewing enhances the natural flavour. It is said to have a stronger but more pleasant flavour, than Rooibos.

bourbonRooibos, Honeybush’s more robust cousin, has long been believed to alleviate headaches and stomach aches. It also answers to the name Red Tea, Bush Tea, and Red Bush Tea. It has an earthy, creamy, sweet flavour. Unlike most teas, there is nutrition information accompanying this herb. Though trace, a typical cup of Rooibos contains Iron, Potassium, Calcium, Copper, Zinc, Magnesium, Fluoride, and Manganese. Unlike plain honeybush, rooibos often comes flavoured: strawberries, lemon, orange, peach, pina colada, bourbon street vanilla, the list is endless. It is said to taste more “medicinal” and the flavoring helps cut down on that. Unlike honeybush, if you steep it a bit less than the 5-7 minutes, you will still get a full-bodied cup. The needle-like leaves are fermented, which gives the plant its reddish color and enhances flavor. Unoxidized Rooibos is available as “green” rooibos but is grassy, malty, and pricier than the red version.

Those who have tried both range from “very similar” to “distant cousins who don’t even talk and I much prefer…” I am drinking a porcelain cup of unadulterated, delicate honeybush right now and it suits me fine, just as a rich rooibos in a thick earthenware mug on a snowy day does.

~Your Editor

Flapjacks are easy to make and last a while in an airtight tin.  I sometimes double up the recipe and hide half of them to make them last longer!

Flap jack

(c) Julia Briggs for use by The English Tea Store

250 g (2 sticks) butter
250 g sugar (1 cup) (either caster of a mixture of brown sugar and caster)
4 tablespoons of Golden Syrup
500 g Porridge oats
pinch of salt
250 g (9 oz) Cadbury’s milk chocolate

Heat the oven to 375 F, 180 C or gas mark 4-5

Grease a swiss roll tin, Melt the butter in a large pan and stir in the sugar stirring all the time.  Add the syrup and salt and combine the oats thoroughly.  Press into the tin and cook for 15 mins.  Then turn down the oven a little and cover the tin with foil to prevent burning and cook for a further 10 mins.  Leave in the tin and mark into squares or fingers and allow to cool.  Melt the chocolate and use to cover the top either in one piece or individually.  If you cover the whole thing cut through the chocolate before it cools.  Fork the top to make a pretty pattern!

~JB

For the shortbread:
170g plain flour
60g caster sugar
120g unsalted butter

For the caramel:
1 tin of condensed milk (397g)
2tbsp golden syrup
60g caster sugar
1 cup of soft brown sugar
120g butter
1 tbsp vanilla essence

For topping:
1 (100g) bar of milk chocolate melted

chocolate caramel shortbread

(c) Julia Briggs for use by The English Tea Store

Method:
Preheat oven to 170 deg C or gas mark 4, lightly grease or line a 8″ square cake tin.

For shortbread, sieve flour and sugar together into a large bowl. With clean hands, rub the butter into the mixture until it comes together as a dough (if squeezed in hand should keep its shape) then press it into the bottom of the prepared tin spreading it evenly and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 15-20 mins or until golden brown.

For the caramel, while shortbread is baking, pour the condensed milk syrup, sugars, butter and vanilla into a saucepan and cook over a medium heat. Note: You must continue to stir once the mixture heats up! I did turn mine up more but it is important to keep stirring (do not allow the mixture to burn and stick). This step takes awhile – be prepared! The mixture will eventually thicken and become a deep caramel colour. Once thick enough, pour on top of the shortbread base, then put into fridge to chill for 30 mins or so.

Melt chocolate using a Bain Marie method (a inch or so or boiling water in a saucepan and a glass bowl placed over the top to allow the steam to melt the chocolate without curdling it). Pour chocolate over set caramel and return to fridge to set for 30 minutes. Cut into desired squares, then return to fridge to set completely (mine took an hour or so).

These will keep for 5 days in an airtight container, refrigerated

Tip…..use a mixture of different chocolate if you like-try mixing dark/milk/white and swirl together when pouring over caramel set in fridge.

~JB

One of my favorite ways of enjoying tea may not be familiar among the British but it is beginning to sweep the United States by storm. Bubble Tea, or Pearl Tea and Boba Tea (boba is what bubble tea is called in the area I live in), is a Taiwanese variant of milk and tea but with an added twist of little black bubbles. The term bubble comes from the little black “bubbles” or “pearls”* on the bottom of the cup. But what are they?

The little bubbles are actually a form of tapioca. The tapioca comes from the cassava root. Americans make tapioca pudding from this but the Taiwanese use this to make their little pearls. They make them small or large. In addition to the tapioca pearls, they add other things like pudding (not the British pudding!), aloe, and flavored jellies like lychee or mango. This can be added to the milk teas, clear teas, and even the slushies they make!

Boba

(c) Crystal Derma for use by The English Tea Store

The tea used to make the bubble tea are simple black, green, oolong, and ceylon teas. They are mixed with milk or made iced. Another type of drink that is made by bubble tea shops is called a snow, which is LITERALLY like snow! Just be warned, they’re very hard to drink. The fun part of bubble tea is that the milk tea can be made in many flavors, like coffee, chocolate, taro, red bean, or fruity flavors. The plain teas like black, green, oolong, and ceylon can also be flavored as such. Of course, the MOST fun part is drinking the pearls through a straw. Usually a large, wide straw is given so the pearls can travel up and be chewed (yes, I eat the pearls).

Unfortunately, there is a debate among my fiance and I. Where I come from in California, there is a competition for bubble tea. I like to get the “Tapioca Milk Tea” which is made with black tea and milk and I consider it to be the basic flavor but when I visit my fiance out in Virginia, there isn’t such a flavor. I tried to order it out there and everyone gave me funny looks, including the fiance. The closest thing I had to get was coffee/mocha and it just wasn’t the same.

I have been a fan of bubble tea since about 2001 or 2002 as a teenager and it’s an undying love for me. The local specialty stores are finally stocking the pearls to make my own bubble tea. You need to take the pearls and cook them. Once I obtain these next time I go, I hope to tell you all how to make them! I have also been told it is just black tea that is used to make the original milk tea. However it is made, bubble tea is delicious!

*When consuming these pearls, they CAN be a choking hazard. Do be careful and supervise a young child if they are enjoying one!

~CD

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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