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Now I know we have already made shortbread but that was some time ago and this is a slightly different recipe because it contains a pinch of salt which does change the taste quite dramatically and then with the addition of the chocolate covering it makes for a whole new taste experience. You will need:
6 oz softened butter
4 oz caster sugar
8 oz plain flour
a pinch of salt
a small bar of chocolate for covering.
Oven 180 C, 160 C for a Fan oven, 350 F or gas mark 4
Mix all the ingredients together and knead well. Place in the ‘fridge for half an hour and then roll out onto baking paper to about 1/4 inch thick and slide the paper onto a baking sheet. Prick the shortbread all over with a fork and cook for about 20 minutes checking after 15 minutes that it is not too brown. If it is too dark cover with aluminum foil for the remaining cooking time. Cut the shortbread into strips while still hot and leave to cool. Once cool, melt any chocolate that you have not already eaten in the microwave and spread on top of the individual strips of shortbread, leaving some uncovered so you can taste the difference between the two. Enjoy with a cup of Assam or Earl Grey Cream.
July has arrived! It may seem like the past few months have been flying by, but we’re here to give you a little bit of tea encouragement. The teas listed below offer special pricing that will last all month long (no code needed.)
The first tea is our Regular Earl Grey Tea in Fine Loose Leaf or Teabags. The Earl Grey Tea blend from English Tea Store is a blend of Ceylon and Indian teas. The tea receives its unusual and unique flavor from oil of Bergamot – which is a small acidic orange. The Bergamot orange is a cross between the sweet or pear lemon (Citrus Limetta) and the Seville or sour orange (Citrus Aurantium). The sour orange is native to Southern Vietnam. The Earl Grey Fine Loose Tea is available in 4 different sizes: 4 ounces, 8 ounces, 15 ounces, or 80 ounces. The Earl Grey Teabags are available in a 25 pouch, 25 tin, 50 pouch, 100 bulk, or 500 bulk.
Curious about the benefits of drinking Earl Grey Tea?
- Good for your teeth – That’s right! Tea contains very high levels of catechin, which is an antioxidant that fights oral infection. Flouride is a naturally occurring component in Earl Grey.
- Promotes good digestion – Earl Grey can aid and relieve painful digestion, colic, and nausea.
- Fights anxiety and depression – Unfortunately, in today’s world many people suffer from anxiety, depression, or both. Maybe you’re looking for other routes instead of medicine? The Bergamot in Earl Grey has a calming effect and has natural aromatherapy qualities.
- Weight loss – Like most teas citrus teas, Earl Grey an induce weight loss. It is thought that calories are broken down into food for your muscles or released through the metabolic process. Try adding some extra citrus like lemon!
- Hydration (It’s Key!) – Hydration is so important for your body…and it’s not just because tea is made with water. Earl Grey has a high potassium content so it keeps your fluids in check.
Moving on to our next July tea – Mim Estate in Loose Leaf. The Mim Estate blend from the English Tea Store has a distinctive “Muscatel” character with a hint of currant. This tea is a 2nd flush Darjeeling and comes from the Mim Estate in Northern India. The genus of the Darjeeling tea bush is the Chinese Jat, which gives it the distinctive muscatel character. The fragrance and taste is a complex bouquet that travels right out of the cup. Some may describe the taste as nutty, black currant, or muscat grape-like.
The final tea of the month is actually multiple teas in a sampler (What more could you ask for?!) – The Fruit Kick – Loose Leaf Sampler. This is great if you’re looking to try something new and adventure out of your safe zone. Each sampler pack comes with 1 ounce of each of our favorite fruit flavored loose leaf teas: Apple Spice Black Tea, Blackcurrant Black Tea, Pomegranate Lemon Black Tea, Wild Blueberry Organic Tea, and Florida Orange Rooibos Tea. We recommend brewing in water, that has been brought to a boil, for 3-5 minutes.
Okay – I think we’ve given you a lot to think about. Tell us your favorite flavored tea!
If you know me, one of my favorite brands of tea to brew is PG Tips. It is usually my go-to tea for whenever I feel like I need a good pick-me-up or something to warm me up in the cold days of winter. It was one of the first British teas I tasted before I really began to dive into British food and culture and I introduced it to my young nephew, keeping the love for PG Tips well into the next generation.
While plain black tea is what they started with, PG tips recently began to expand their tea line from beyond the standard black tea. While there is loose leaf and decaf, PG Tips has ventured into the world of green, herbal, and fruit teas. Five varieties of green tea have been produced by PG, Pure Green, Juicy Raspberry, Fragrant Jasmine, Vibrant Mandarin Orange, and Zesty Lemon. Each box of green tea has 20 bags and is a fine blend from Indonesia and Kenya. All but the Pure Green are infused with a floral or fruity flavor.
Perhaps you fancy a more lighter taste and less caffeine? That’s where the herbal teas come in. Delicate Camomile, Refreshing Peppermint, Smooth Redbush and Vanilla, and Aromatic Spices and Mint are all here to soothe you. Camomile is infused with delicate flowers, Peppermint is a clean and refreshing minty goodness, Redbush and Vanilla is a mixture of South African Rooibos, vanilla flavor, hibiscus flowers, and cranberry, and finally Spices and Mint is a combination of familiar spices like cinnamon, mint, and a bit of orange.
Still prefer black tea? There are some new varieties that PG tips has in store such as the Strong One and the Fresh One. The Strong One has a bright red color when brewed, a malty aroma, and a bold tea character. This tea is blended from teas grown in Kenya and other African nations. The Fresh One is also red when brewed, and this tea is a Breakfast Blend plus English Breakfast, all blended from tea grown in Kenya.
It is hard to choose from all these varieties! I like to expand my horizons and try new tea but if you’re a tea lover like myself, you might have a large cupboard full of tea! Have you tried any of these flavors? Let us know!
Did you know that June is Iced Tea Month in the United States? While millions of people drink it all year long, it is widely celebrated during this early summer month on June 10th. It’s a good time, too, since iced tea is a very popular drink among Americans, especially in the summer months! About 80 to 85 percent of tea that is consumed in the United States is taken iced. While my palate is adapted to the British style of tea, who could blame my fellow Americans for liking iced tea? It’s refreshing, especially since a large amount of the U.S. is overrun by humidity during the summer months. Iced tea is dated all the way back to at least the 19th century, however, it was not made popular until the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.
The best thing about iced tea is that just about anyone can make it! You can make it to however you fancy. You could take it sweetened or unsweetened, add a bit of lemon, or garnish it with a nice piece of fruit. While iced teas consumed in the U.S. are usually ready to drink, many use teabags to make it themselves. However, another method of iced tea brewing is growing in popularity. The Keurig brewing system is already synonymous with coffee brewing and many are using it to brew iced coffee.
With more households owning Keurig brewers, many of the owners like tea. So to settle the growing demand, many tea companies began to make k-cup versions of their teas. Twinings has recently made some delicious varieties like:
Prefer a simple black tea? Not to worry! There’s a pure black tea as well!
If you still prefer to make it the old-fashioned way, there’s always the regular Twinings Teabags, Shangri La which steeps a total of 12 quarts per packet, or even our English Tea Store brand. I have previously mentioned Lady Londonderry as one of my personal favorites since it tastes like summer, with notes of strawberry and lemon in there. If caffeine is not your fancy, then the Casablanca is a brilliant tea that goes well iced! A bright red color when brewed, it is not too strongly scented before it is brewed. Once you taste it, it is a light fruit medley. Great for kids, too!
Iced Tea Day is a great day to kick off a summer of iced tea, picnics, and barbecues. Bring family and friends around for a nice cup or pitcher of iced tea and watch some fireworks. Happy summer!
The first discounted tea this month is our Keemun Panda, in bags or loose leaf. Keeman is written in traditional Chinese like this: 祁門紅茶, and pronounced chee-MEN. It brews into a vibrant red with smoky and chocolately hints.
Of all the China black teas available, Keemun Panda is probably one of the best known. Keemun is one of the congou-type teas meaning it requires a great deal of gongfu (disciplined skill) to make into fine taut strips without breaking the leaves. Interestingly, the characters in the written Chinese script for time and labor are the same as those used for ‘gongfu.’ It is often said that a properly produced Keemun, such as Panda, is one of the finest teas in the world with a complex aromatic and penetrating character often compared to burgundy wines. Traditionally, Keemuns were used in English Breakfast tea. Keemun is one the best-keeping black teas. Fine specimens will keep for years if stored properly, and take on a mellow winey character.
The name Keemun comes from Qimen county in southern Anhui province where almost all the mountains are covered with tea bushes. Qimen county produced only green tea until the mid 1870’s. Around that time a young man in the civil service lost his job. Despite being totally heartbroken and completely embarrassed by his shame, he remembered what his father told him: “A skill is a better guarantor of a living than precarious officialdom.” In America we would say, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” Following this advice, the young man packed up his courage and his bags to travel to Fujian Province to learn the secrets of black tea manufacturing. Upon his return to Qimen in 1875, he set up three factories to produce black tea. The black tea method was perfectly suited to the tea leaves produced in this warm, moist climate with well drained sandy soil. Before long, the superb flavor of Keemuns became very popular around the world.
If you haven’t tried our exquisite Keemun Panda tea, now is the perfect time, with 15% off through the month of May only.
Our second tea for March is vanilla flavored black tea. According to our site, “Vanilla calms the nerves, lifts the spirits and improves the romantic aspect of one’s life.” Wow. Maybe I should have written about this one last month instead of wasting space driveling about chocolate (oh, wait, sorry, chocolate is never drivel.).
I’ve lately found myself tempted to buy some essential oils and experiment, because they are great for making your own lotions, body scrubs, and candles. Around the DIY sites you can find 1001 uses for them, and vanilla is one of the most popular. If you mix some coconut oil with sea salt and a few drops of pure vanilla, you can smooth and nourish your skin in one inexpensive step. A drop of vanilla on the cardboard toilet paper tube before you put it on the holder will make your bathroom more inviting. And if you are painting a room, a tablespoon of the oil into the paint will not only knock out paint fumes but make the room smell pleasant for many months. Who knew? Vanilla being at the top of the list for creating your own “me time” products attests to our site’s statement.
I’m not sure how the weather is in your locale but where we are, the winter has been one of the coldest, breaking a few records. More commutes than usual have seen white knuckles through ice, significant snow, and “wintry mix” (euphemism for “holy man, not this mess again!”). I am voting for a two-minute mini break when you get to the office. Brew a strong cup of our vanilla black tea, inhale deeply and languidly, then sip slowly as the steam brings warmth back to your cheeks and the scent envelops you. If your boss pokes his (or her) head out and yells, you can tell him (or her) I gave you permission for this and your productivity will be higher. If you are the boss, treat your reports to this tea.
The Groundhog was right on his prediction when he said there would be six more weeks of winter. Pretty much everywhere in the United States there is snow, freezing rain, or just cold in general. I have been fortunate enough to live in a state that has managed to avoid most of the dreary, wintry mess of a season. That is, until now.
Yesterday I left sunny California for over a week to go to the icy cold East Coast of the United States! I normally love cold days in California but the lowest it usually gets is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m staying where subzero temps are the norm for now. Brr! So to help handle the bitter cold, I will be packing a lot of tea with me, including some picks for this month’s teas of the month that are sure to keep you nice and warm until Spring arrives!
For a sleepy wintry morning, the Nonsuch Estate Tea is a good choice. It’s a little strong so it’s perfect for the morning. It has a fruity but floral-like maltiness to it that I find yummy. This tea is a blend of Nilgiri tea from South India where it is grown 5000 feet above sea level.
Next up we have the Mim Estate. I really like its name, which I learned has come from Mim in Northern India where you can see Mount Everest on a good day! Our Mim Estate is a Darjeeling, second flush. A second flush is a harvest in June where the tea is fully developed. When I tried it, I could taste a hint of currant and muscatel (grape). It tastes pretty light if you like a less strong tea but I find it nice to relax with a few digestives or scones.
When traveling, sample packs are the way to go since they are small so they save space in your luggage. The Estate Sampler has a few of our estate teas including the ones I mentioned above plus others. it’s a nice gift to give to your host (always try to bring a gift since they are kind enough to let you stay at their home), or share it with the loved ones you came to visit.
The upside to my trip is that I won’t be having tea by myself! My fiance will be joining me and he will enjoy a few cups with me during the cold, bitter days. As February winds down to a close, I still find it the month of romance and I would love to make my dear a nice warm cuppa (cross your fingers that I get him into my biggest tea obsession, PG Tips.
One tea that has definitely caught my taste buds by surprise is the English Tea Store Brand’s Earl Grey Cream Blend. I made this on a rainy day a few days ago and was very surprised at the taste! A little milk and sweetener helped make this stand out.
I wanted something caffeinated but something different from my usual PG Tips. Then I remembered I had a bag of Earl Grey Cream, so I opened that up while I had the kettle boiling on the stove. As I waited, I studied the tea leaves and noticed there were little purple flower petals in the bag. I later found out that they were corn flower petals. Found them to be very pretty, though.
This tea tastes very much of smooth, creamy vanilla, especially after the milk and sweetener were added. It made me want to have a scone right then and there! It feels very much like a dessert tea. Or better yet, skip the sweet treat and just have another cup of tea!
In my research, I learned that 98 percent of this tea comes from estates that are part of the Ethical Tea Partnership. The ETP website explains they they are a non-profit organization working to improve tea sustainability, the lives of the tea workers, and the environment in which the tea is produced. They are a worldwide organization that includes tea companies big and small. Some tea companies that are partnered with the ETP include well known British tea brands like Ahmad Tea and Twinings.
January has come and gone and everything seems to have returned to normal after the holiday excitement. Christmas lights are down and there is a chill in the air. Everything seems blue but one thing that is around the corner will definitely warm your heart. Valentine’s Day.
As much as people say that Valentine’s Day was totally made up, Valentine’s Day is
much more than hearts, cards, and chocolate. Valentine’s Day is to celebrate in the memory of Saint Valentine, who was a martyr and lived his life for love. February 14th was a feasting day in Saint Valentine’s honor. Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world to this day and the United States and Britain are no exception!
I grew up in the US where I have seen so many flowers, cards, and sweets given to loved ones, along with packed restaurants booked to the brim with reservations. Britain has the same customs but unlike the Americans, many Brits write poems, sonnets, and more to pay a tribute to Saint Valentine.
The children of Britain also get to be a part of the celebrations! When I was growing up, the only thing I did was give Valentine’s Day cards to my classmates along with some candy hearts. The children in Britain sing special songs and are given treats and money in return. In some regions, tasty Valentines buns with plums, raisins, or caraway seeds are enjoyed as well. These buns are also eaten in honor of the birds. Valentine’s Day is dubbed “Birds Wedding Day” because February 14th is the time for birds to begin looking for a mate. Geoffrey Chaucer even wrote a poem about the birds: “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”
Mid-February in Britain also signifies the changing of seasons from winter to spring. With the birds and everyone rejoicing, it certainly adds a spring-filled cheer!
Of course, not all the gifts have to be the standard flowers and candy. Tea lovers enjoy a nice cuppa, perhaps even with their date! English Tea Store’s Lover’s Leap can be purchased by itself or as part of a number of samplers (Tea Lovers being one). The Lover’s Leap is a black tea which can be enjoyed during a nice Valentine’s Day tea. The Lover’s Sampler is also a nice variety for your V-Day tea, letting your guests pick which tea they want to try! Don’t forget to whip up some fresh scones, too! Home baked goods are always the best gift of the heart!
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!
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!