Muffins January

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

Over the pond here we have imported your muffins and made them our own.  We use a normal cake mixture and use slightly larger bun cases than normal.

Heat the oven to 180 C, 350 F or gas mark 4

100 g or  4ozs Butter
100 g  or 4 ozs Caster Sugar
2 medium eggs
100g or 4 ozs Self Raising Flour.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time with a small amount of flour to stop curdling then fold in the flour and put the mixture into muffin cases inside a bun tray.  Cook for 15 to 20 mins,. until firm on top.

When cold decorate with piped butter cream and tiny marshmallows or other decorations of your choice.

~JB

© Phil Date | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Phil Date | Dreamstime Stock Photos

January brings fresh beginnings and with it, many new resolutions. There are the typical “lose ten pounds,” “make time for family” and other very worthwhile goals. But many of us choose to try new things, or master a hobby or skill. The English Tea Store brings you teas of the month, which is a featured selection offered at a discount. In January it is Buckingham Palace and China Jasmine Green teas. In the spirit of learning and trying new things, we will be exploring the monthly teas in depth here. Today we will look at the Buckingham Palace.

The Buckingham Palace Garden Party tea loose leaf blend is a delicate medium tea with a hint of Earl Grey and Jasmine. This is a lighter afternoon tea.

At least three times each summer, the Queen holds a garden party at Buckingham Palace, as well as one in Edinburgh. Queen Victoria began this tradition in 1860 with what was called “breakfast” but was actually served mid-day. Back then, she hosted two of these events a year; in the fifties the third was added. Originally a prestigious debutante rite of passage, they now include honorees recognized for service. From 4-6PM, the over-30,000 guests are invited to stroll the grounds while royalty mingles through a series of laned walking paths. Each royal family member takes a different path so guests never know whom they will run into. The beginning and end of the event is marked by the National Anthem. According to the British Monarchy website, even though the event lasts only two hours, a staggering number of sandwiches, slices of cake, and cups of tea are served by over 400 waitstaff. Over 27,000 cups of tea are served from long buffet tables.

tolsll_afnbpg_-01_buckingham-palace-garden-party-loose-leaf-teaThe tea that is served is a delicious Palace medley of five teas: Ceylon Early Grey, Jasmine, Assam, Dimbula Ceylon, and Ceylon East of Rift. The intriguing hints of high-grown pure Ceylon Earl Grey blend effortlessly with the soft jasmine from Fujian Province. Couple this with malty Assam (from the estate of Borengajuli), flavory Dimbula Ceylon (from Hatton), and golden cup East of Rift Kenya (from Kambaa and Kagwe); and you have one of the most flavorful teas to come from the British Isles. The flavours present themselves at separate times in the drinking of the tea so no two cups are ever the same.

Buckingham Palace Garden Party tea is available from ETS in either bag or loose leaf.

~Your Editor

Happy 2015! It is once again the New Year and that means new everything! It does not just mean “new year, new me” but as a way to start anew. There are 365 brand new days ahead of us and we have the power to make each of them great! So while we ring in the new year by raising our glasses (whether it’s champagne or tea), others have their yearly rituals to ensure good luck in the coming year.

© Freds | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Freds | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Great Britain rings in the new year with fireworks over the Thames with everyone cheering and shouting their celebrations, singing Auld Lang Syne. The British then open the back door of their homes to wish the old year farewell and reflect on the year passed. The first-foot of the new year is very important. To ensure good luck to the residents of the house, the first entrant to the front door must usually be young, male, good-looking, and healthy. He must also be dark haired and carrying a bit of coal, salt, bread, and money. It’s apparently even better if this gentleman is a stranger! The children also wake up early to visit their neighbors to sing some some New Year’s songs. The neighbors usually give the children sweets, apples, mince pies, and coins in exchange for the songs. This is usually done until noon.

© Fedor Patrakov | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Fedor Patrakov | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Over in Scotland, people celebrate Hogmanay. It is the celebration of New Year’s Eve, lasting from the last day of the year up until January 2. The Scottish take it a whole new level! Fireworks and musical performances line the night at the big moment! Then at the stroke of midnight, the partygoers begin to sing Auld Lang Syne, a Scots poem by a gentleman named Robert Burns. Linking and crossing arms arms and singing at the last verse. The song is also played in Times Square in New York City after the ball drops (did you know that the ball is usually made from Waterford Crystal in Ireland?) at midnight.

© Josiah Garber | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Josiah Garber | Dreamstime Stock Photos

And much like Britain, Scotland also partakes in first-foot. They give coal, shortbread, whisky, and a black bun, which is a type of fruit cake covered in a delicious pastry. The guest is then give food and drink. In Britain, it is also a good gesture to offer tea to the guest. Possibly to accompany some delicious shortbread or mince pies/black buns. The first entrant of the year might fancy a good cuppa after such a celebration.  The pick could be the standard Typhoo or maybe something a little more different, perhaps a good Irish or Scottish tea? Keep in mind the people over in the UK have entire store aisles devoted to tea, so the choices are endless!

~CD

Editor’s Note: I am including the English version of Auld Lang Syne here for those of us who never really knew exactly what is sung (italics for original Scot/modern English translation):

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and days of long ago?

CHORUS:
For days of long ago, my dear,
for days of long ago,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for days of long ago.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for days of long ago.

CHORUS

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since days of long ago.

CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since days of long ago.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for days of long ago.

CHORUS
Photo © Elizabeth Stubna

Photo © Elizabeth Stubna

I have a friend in Hawaii who sends me her regional delicacies once or twice a year. A few years ago, she blessed me with a flowering tea. What a novelty! I thought. I had recently begun my foray into tea and was armed with the arrogance that came with knowing herbal tea is actually tisane, and rooibos was becoming a “deviant” favorite.

Photo © Elizabeth Stubna

Photo © Elizabeth Stubna

My palate was trained 15 years ago to appreciate a dry Merlot and I prefer my coffee robust. I am a food and drink snob, but when she sent these packets, I became a child again. When I read that you can reuse these flowers a few times, I became a thrifty child.

These were not taken to the office as an afternoon substitute for my morning coffee like my typical Celestial Seasonings were. They stayed behind in my home’s cupboard with the tea chest of “good” tea. One special weekend morning, I followed the instructions and watched the flowers bloom, with wonder. Left behind was a delicate tea perfect enough to accompany my tailless lap cat, my husband, my bathrobe, and good waking up conversation.

Photo © Elizabeth Stubna

Photo © Elizabeth Stubna

That treat got lost in the daily living, until I received some in another box from the very same friend, this year. Spurred by the memory, I looked on our website to see what we offered along these lines, and found many. The 1000 Day Flower flowering tea is said to be inspired by a specific monkey who, according to legend, was protecting a peach for an Empress. The honey and citrusy Flowering Symphony was named for the paintings by Whistler (not his mother). The Mystere Oolong is a nod to the mystery of two mummies. I will let you follow the link to read the story. Story? Every tea has one. You have met our two new bloggers but you have yet to meet me. I will be filling in the gaps as we go, sharing some of the stories behind the teas on our site whenever Julia and Crystal need a break from writing. It would be my true delight for you to join me.

~Your editor

With December coming to a close, the frantic holiday rush picks up and it’s hard to find a good time to wind down and relax with a good cup of tea. My seasonal picks for the month of December from the English Tea Store are sure to delight and soothe even some of the most frazzled holiday preppers.

For a good holiday tea to entertain your guests who enjoy tea, English Tea Store’s Holiday Spice is a must. The spicy flavors and a hint of orange will take you into the spirit of the holidays along with a burst of energy to keep you going. I enjoy my cup without milk and a hint of sweet.

(c) Crystal Derma for ETS use, all rights reserved.

(c) Crystal Derma for ETS use, all rights reserved.

For those in the mood for some mint flavor, you are in for a treat! The English Tea Store chocolate mint tea is a good pick-me-up. At first, I thought chocolate tea was not my thing and I am a huge chocolate lover but I felt not in tea. Once I opened up my bag, however, I was in heaven. A minty chocolate scent burst up to my nose and I thought to myself, This is tea? I immediately brewed my cup in anticipation, sweetener and milk nearby. I expected it to taste a little bit like a peppermint mocha and it does, but not as strong as I thought it would be. Milk made the flavors more subtle yet. Delicious.

Finally, my favorite is the peppermint tea. If you have never tried peppermint tea, you must. Fine tea leaves allow room for minty flavor in your cup. It’s good any time of day, even before bed since it’s caffeine free! Plain sweetener is just fine but some honey is also good for more natural sweetness. I like to mix both. If you like peppermint with a caffeinated kick, I would suggest the Stash White Christmas tea if you order it before it’s gone. It has not only peppermint but a bit of ginger in it.

I hope you join me again next month for January’s tea roundup. In the meantime, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings!

~CD

© Pilar Echeverria | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Pilar Echeverria | Dreamstime Stock Photos

PG MonkeyBoxing Day is actually a holiday in the Commonwealth nations, including the UK and Canada. It is considered a bank holiday, so many buildings like the banks and post offices are closed that day. It is also said to give people an extra day to spend with family and friends who they were unable to be with on Christmas Eve or Day and to recover from the holiday festivities. The origins of Boxing Day are mixed. Some say it was a Christmas box given to servants by a household for working during the year, others say it was created by servants who had to work on the Christmas holiday. The British use the holiday to kick back and relax from all the Christmas festivities, especially with all the hard work of spending so much time getting ready. When I was a child, Christmas was way more fun when I didn’t have to help set up or help clean up, but it IS more for the children in my family.

In Canada, Boxing Day is more of a shopping day, often compared to the US’ Black Friday in November. Retailers open back up and post sales, but there is also a rise in gift returns for the people who did not like what they received. The sales are mostly to get rid of the stuff from what they didn’t sell from the holiday season. I always find the best deals after the holidays, sad to say!

Talking about shopping and relaxing is making me want to go have a nice cup of peppermint tea and take a nap. I shall sign off to go celebrate the holidays with my family but I will see you all in the New Year! It’s been a hectic December and I do hope you have a lovely holiday. Post your pictures and tell us your holiday traditions to our Facebook page or on here in the comments! Happy Holidays from us to you!

~CD

puddingOne more British Christmas must-have is the Christmas pudding. Figgy or fruity, it’s usually on the mind of nearly everyone in Britain during the holiday season. Purchased in shops or homemade, a pudding is always a staple in a British home for Christmas.

Christmas puddings date back to at least the Middle Ages but it wasn’t made popular until the 1800s during Queen Victoria’s reign when her husband enjoyed it and started the trend. This British pudding is nothing like the creamy, chocolate or vanilla flavored stuff that comes out of a box known in America. Christmas puddings are similar to the Christmas cake but this dessert is either boiled or steamed. Flour, sugar, raisins, sultanas, spices, and brandy usually make up this traditional treat.

Once the pudding is ready to go, it is turned into a spectacle. Christmas puddings are usually decorated with a sprig of holly or it’s doused in brandy and set on fire. It is said this is done to ward off the evil spirits. Once everything is set, the pudding is served but that is not the end. A silver coin hidden inside and would grant good fortune to the lucky person who found it inside their piece of pudding, so it makes things more interesting. The puddings can be served with custard or a brandy sauce.

pudding tooI tried the Christmas pudding myself for the first time this year. I followed the directions on the package and while you can steam the pudding, I wasn’t sure how since I do not know how to steam a pudding, so I had to resort to a microwave. It’s a little something to get used to but it tastes very fruity and strong. Word of warning, though, DO NOT reheat the pudding in the microwave or else it becomes very dry! My sister and I tried it together but my sister couldn’t even swallow it, which was why I had to wait until later that day to finish the rest of the pudding.

pudding basinI must say that I rather enjoyed the pudding but I do warn you that it is an acquired taste due to the alcohol and the fruits. Puddings have come a long way from the Middle Ages where it’s said to have originally been made since the ingredients have been altered and changed. Puddings can be made nut free, alcohol free, and even gluten free. While I wish to make a pudding of my own someday, it is rather challenging. Once I get across the pond, I am bringing a pudding basin home with me!

~CD

 

Paddington (tm) and Paddington Bear (tm) (c) Paddington and Company Limited/Studiocanal SA 2014

Paddington ™ and Paddington Bear ™ (c) Paddington and Company Limited/Studiocanal SA 2014

Have you ever read the story of Paddington Bear as a child, or to your child? Whether in the US or the UK, Paddington by Michael Bond has been in classrooms and families over the years. Recently Paddington has been adapted from the book and into a film, released to the theatres in the UK and will be released in the US on Christmas Day. This prompted me to go over my own memories of reading the story as a child in the 1990s. I remember reading A Bear Called Paddington in first grade (age 6-7) and loved the story. I was also shown a cartoon adaptation in my class on VHS and enjoyed them as well.

(c) Paddington and Company Limited

(c) Paddington and Company Limited

According to the official website, Paddington was based on a bear that the author, Michael Brown, had purchased in a shop one Christmas Eve as a gift for his wife. He noticed it sitting on the shelf all by itself, so he picked him up and bought him. The bear became an inspiration to write a story about and Mr. Bond named him after the train station nearby the shop he purchased the bear at. In 1958, A Bear Called Paddington was published and hit the bookshelves. This book became a hit both at home and abroad, inspiring many more books and stuffed versions of the bear.

If you do not know the story of Paddington, I will give you a bit of his backstory. Paddington’s story begins in Peru where he lived with his Aunt Lucy and Uncle Patuzo. He was sent to Britain by his Aunt Lucy, travelling as a stowaway on a lifeboat. He ends up at Paddington Station where he found by Mr. and Mrs. Brown. He is seen sitting on his suitcase, a note simply pinned on him reading “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” So, the Browns named him after the station and bring him home.

Paddington’s appearance is of brown fur, a coat that is sometimes blue, red, or yellow (at least from what I have seen in the pictures as a kid), and a hat which is also sometimes blue, red, or yellow but his usual combination is the red hat and blue coat. He has a well known love for marmalade which he realized when he was on his move from Peru to Britain. He loves marmalade so much that he makes them into sandwiches! It didn’t specify what type of marmalade, whether it was orange or grapefruit, but you can always leave it to your imagination!

With the recent movie adaptation, I am very much looking forward to see it and possibly taking my nephews with me. It is bringing back the bear in a whole new way with live action and computer animation. The film has an ensemble cast, including Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi, who is known as the Twelfth Doctor, although he plays a smaller role. Like I previously mentioned, the film has been released in the UK but is coming out in time for the Christmas season in the US. If you are looking for a good family film, check out Paddington! And have a marmalade sandwich in celebration with a good cup of tea!

~CD

A grateful nod to the blokes at Paddingtonbear.co.uk for their generous permission in furthering the reach of the beloved bear.

 

As you who follow us on our social media know, we are very pleased to announce that we have two wonderful additions to our blog staff. Judging by the metrics we see, you agree! We wanted to take some time to introduce you more fully to them and let you know what you can expect. You will be able to find current information on them on Our Writers page.

Crystal2Crystal is our relevant content correspondent, which means she will be writing about everything from tea to specialty foods; etiquette to books; accessories to current British events: all topics you are used to seeing here. She is a schooled journalist with a budding passion for tea and all things English. Crystal hails from California but her heart lies in the UK.

“I am excited to write for the Tea Blog because I love tea and researching British culture,” Crystal shares. “I tell my sisters that I really love this job.”

You may find her posts informative and engaging, or you may find you are able to interject a little something that may help her passion develop. Her enthusiasm has breathed new life into the blog. As always, we encourage you to join in lively conversation as a part of our online community.

You will know Crystal’s posts by her CD signature.


bloggerJulia 
is our dedicated recipe blogger. She will create and serve up authentic English recipes that have been in her family for generations (aren’t we lucky!?). Yes, she really is from Britain, and yes, she really does magic in the kitchen. She enjoys gardening, knitting, and making handmade greeting cards.

Her favourite tea is Yorkshire blended not far from her in Harrogate! “Also I like mint tea especially if I am feeling a bit sickly. Pineapple tea is also nice. The important thing about tea is to have it hot with just a drop of milk and something nice to eat it with!”

IMG_2891We give our writers great largesse in choosing their content and style but do not be afraid to speak up if you have a recipe you would like to persuade her to share!

You will know Julia’s posts by her JB signature.

~Your editor

Pittsburgh, PA gingerbread house display, (c) Elizabeth Stubna

Pittsburgh, PA gingerbread house display, (c) Elizabeth Stubna

As we get closer to Christmas, the demand for holiday foods grow, especially the sweet ones. While sugar cookies are baking and gingerbread houses are being constructed in the US, over in the UK people are whipping up or purchasing Christmas cakes.

The German stollen cake (Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen in German), Italian panettone, the French bûche de Noël (also known as Yule Log Cake) all share the same thing with the British Christmas cake. They are all their own nation’s variants. One day I hope to delve into the other Christmas cakes but today I will be comparing the British and American. The American version is not called a Christmas cake but the plain and simple fruitcake, which is sadly not as celebrated as the British version since it does not suit the American palate. Much like its English counterpart, the American fruitcake has candied fruit, peels, spices, and is also usually soaked in brandy or other liqueurs, sometimes even alcohol free. There are popular fruit cake companies in the US but many Americans have either not tried a good fruitcake or even tried one in general. Whenever one does sample a piece, many don’t fancy the taste and simply just chuck it in the bin or pawn it off on someone else.

The American fruit cake is usually frowned upon and even considered a joke because people often re-gift it or give it as a joke, thanks to a quip by the late Johnny Carson. He joked that there was only one fruitcake and it was passed down from one generation to the other. He is sort of right with that one. There has been a history of fruitcakes that have lasted for generations. I remember reading a story of a 70 year old fruitcake in 2011 that sold for over $500. It was owned by a family who bought it Christmas week in 1941 but kept it until the 1970s when they returned it to the company from which they bought it. As of this writing, the fruitcake is STILL unopened in its original tin and everything! The alcohol helps preserve the cake which helps keep it moist. As it goes, everything gets better with age!

© April Turner | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© April Turner | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The Christmas cake in Britain is made with candied fruits, peels, spices, and “marinated” in brandy or liqueur. The difference with this is that this cake is usually frosted and decorated very beautifully for the holidays. They are in many shop windows and in popular British retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and Marks and Spencer. Some people even make their own. According to the British, it’s not Christmas without one on the table! The Christmas cakes are usually made at least two months in advance for the cake to obtain a good flavor and to moisten, much like a good wine or cheese!

And we can’t forget the icing! Unlike the American fruitcake, many British Christmas cakes are frosted with a snow white icing. I am sad to say that I have never tasted an actual English Christmas cake with frosting (forgive me for saying frosting here and there), but from what I have seen so far, they look so beautiful but I want to gobble it up because it looks so sweet! It often looks like cream cheese icing to me, but I know it’s not. There are people who outdo themselves when it comes to decorating Christmas cakes. The most common one I have seen is usually topped with little holly berries and leaves or ribbons on the cakes, yet many of them look like mini winter wonderlands. It’s probably no wonder why the British respect that cake so much

As I compare these two similar yet different cakes, it baffles me as to how the Americans don’t like fruitcake. Is it the nuts? The candied fruit pieces? Or the brandy? The British eat Christmas cake just fine. It’s crazy how on one side of the pond a simple cake can go from one of the most respected things about the holidays to one of the most ridiculed and misunderstood.

~CD

Editor’s note: I love American fruitcake. I can eat a whole one myself in a matter of days!

Categories

Explore our content:

Find us on these sites:


Follow Us!     Like Us!     Follow Us!     Follow Us!     Plus 1 Us!
Follow Tea Blog on WordPress.com

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Tweet This!    add to del.icio.us    add to furl    digg this    stumble it!    add to simpy    seed the vine    add to reddit     post to facebook    technorati faves

Copyright Notice:

© 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.

Blog Affiliates

blogged
Bloglisting.net - The internets fastest growing blog directory

Networked Blogs

%d bloggers like this: