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(c) Julia Briggs for use by English Tea Store. All rights reserved.

If you need something sweet then Florentines are wonderful. They sound Italian but I think they are of French origin. They are fairly easy to make but require constant attention so don’t start them if you are doing something else. For approximately 20 Florentines you will need:

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(c) Julia Briggs for use by English Tea Store. All rights reserved.

A quantity of quartered glace cherries, chopped almonds, flaked almonds, candied peel and chopped dried apricots.  Difficult to be precise but about 10 oz in total.

3 oz butter
4 oz caster sugar
1/2 oz plain flour
2 tablespoons of double cream
4 oz block of chocolate.

Oven 180 C, 350 F or gas 4.  A greased baking sheet or one lined with baking parchment.

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(c) Julia Briggs for use by English Tea Store. All rights reserved.

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(c) Julia Briggs for use by English Tea Store. All rights reserved.

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(c) Julia Briggs for use by English Tea Store. All rights reserved.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the sugar and bring gently to the boil. Take off the heat. Cover the fruit and nuts with the flour and then stir into the mixture add the cream and leave to cool and set. When quite cold and set, place teaspoons of the mixture onto a baking sheet leaving plenty of room for expansion. Bake in the centre of your oven for about three minutes then take out and pull the biscuits together into a circle with a metal pastry cutter. Bake for another three minutes.  If necessary repeat the pulling together one more time and cook for another two minutes. Once cooked the biscuits will change to a darker colour; leave on the sheet until cold then very carefully remove to a cooling rack with a spatula. The biscuits are fragile at this point; it is the chocolate that makes them more robust. Once cold, melt your block of chocolate (if you have not eaten it by this time!) and dip or spread the underside of the biscuits with the chocolate and leave upside down to set. Just before the chocolate sets, move a fork through and make wavy lines on the chocolate. These will keep for some time in an airtight tin but they are very moreish so hide them away if they are for a special occasion.

~JB

My 4 cup Brown Betty arrived today. I requested it after receiving questions like, “how do I season this?” “What’s the difference between the older Brown Betties and the newer?” Our blog has some information on the humble Brown Betty but is lacking so far.20150227_082316

I am reminded of the customer who ordered a simple, inexpensive English Tea Store tea pot in the color brown for less than $6 and was sorely disappointed it was not an authentic Brown Betty. I must caution you here that to receive a genuine Brown Betty, you must actually purchase one.

I unpacked this teapot slowly. It was delivered in much bubble wrap and packaging that could weather any storm on its way to me. The bottom (backstamp) is marked, “Original Betty – Adderley Ceramics, Made in England.”

I had done some reading about the early Brown Betty, with a tea strainer built into the pot and the spout attached from a second piece of clay. This pot has no strainer built in and the spout is formed as part of the pot’s main unit.

20150227_082659The tag reads, “Adderley Ceramics, Manufacturers of the Traditional Brown Betty Teapot in Red Terracotta Clay and Rockingham Brown Glaze. Had made in England. a 100% British Product.” On the back we have the following story:

During Queen Victoria’s reign, tea became a symbol of Britain’s greatest period of expansion and stability. Every  home owned a teapot, even if it was a basic “Brown Betty.” Tea was no longer a refined, upper class beverage but a basis of a whole meal.

While Charleston dancers and many Victorian glamours have disappeared from the scene, the humble “Brown Betty” teapot has still remained a firm favourite. Its origins go back to the end of the 17th century and to the birth of the British ceramic teapot, although in 1700 an ordinary small unglazed teapot made of Red Clay from the Bradwell Woods area in Stoke-on-Trent was a luxury item costing about 12 shillings.

Our “Brown Betty” Teapots are still made from Terracotta as used by the Elder Brothers in 1695. Their method of making was by ‘jolleying’ but in later years it became ‘slip casting’ giving a smooth finish and even thickness.

Succeeding generations of Englishmen have proved that the Brown Betty, as these red ware teapots are affectionately known, make the best pot of tea in the world! The shape of the pot causes the tea leaves to be gently swirled around as the boiling water is added, thus producing an exquisite infusion. The Red Terracotta Clay with its Rockingham Glaze, coddles the brew and gives the perfect cup of tea.

Wow.

Adderley Ceramic’s website states, “A considerable amount of time has been spent researching the Brown Betty teapot. We have found the original recipe as used by the Elder Brothers in 1695, for Red Terracotta Clay and Rockingham Brown Glaze and sourced the raw materials from the UK, which we use in the manufacturing of our products today.”

Jolly good, but what is jollying vs. slip casting? How do you season and otherwise care for the pot? How does the Adderley version differ from the Cauldon and where does Staffordshire come in (I expect I will be also be getting a geography lesson!)? Please join me this month as I research to answer these questions. Of course, as I write, I will be experiencing tea from my very own Brown Betty!

~Your Editor

quiche lorraine

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

This is one of my favourite flans, you can eat it hot with a cheese sauce or cold with salad or on its own. The base is short crust pastry and you can use bought and line a 7 inch flan dish or you can buy a pastry case and just fill it. I like to do the whole thing so the ingredients are:

4 oz Short crust pastry – made with 4 oz flour, 2 oz butter and some cold water.

For the filling:
4 oz streaky bacon
4 oz grated cheese
3 medium eggs
half a leek or onion
double (heavy) cream

Heat the oven to 190 C, 375 F or gas mark 5

Make the pastry by rubbing the butter into the flour until it resembles fine bread crumbs. (At this stage you can add 2 oz grated cheese if liked)  Then a tablespoon of cold water, stir round with a knife and add more water if necessary.  Bring together with your hand until you leave the bowl clean. Turn onto a floured board and roll out to fit your flan dish. Cover the base of the pastry with baking parchment and add some baking beans (dried peas, dried beans or some dried pasta will do) Blind bake the pastry case for 10 mins. Meanwhile fry the bacon until soft, remove from the pan and chop up, fry the leek or onion in the same pan until brown. Beat the eggs with about a quarter of a pint of cream (this depends on the size of your eggs)  add the bacon, cheese and leek and mix together. Pour into the flan case and add more grated cheese on top if required. Bake for approx 20 mins until set and firm to the touch. This is very good, when it has cooled slightly, with a nice cup of black tea.

~JB

tolsll_roobou_-bourbon-st-vanilla-rooibos-caffeine-free-loose-leaf-tea.I am wondering why we chose Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos for one of our March Teas of the Month. For St. Patrick’s Day I am thinking Scotch (by association), Irish Whisky, green beer. But Bourbon? Ok. Let’s think this through another way – Bourbon Street, Mardi Gras. But that was in February this year. So I’m trying real hard to tie it in to March without questioning your merchandiser, Tammy, because she is a sweetheart and so good at her job.

bourbon streetOur website espouses, “The Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos Caffeine Free Tea blend from English Tea Store has a cinnamon spice flavor that gives this Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos a wonderful vanilla n’ jazz character. Terrific served hot and sensational served iced, you can also make rooibos lattes for a super taste (and if you listen carefully you will hear the riverboat steam whistles and wailing of a saxophone along the Mississippi).”

logo4After searching “Bourbon March” I came up with the only thing that makes sense – there is a bourbon and bacon festival in March this year. DelRay Beach in Florida sponsors three different food events throughout the year – garlic, bourbon and bacon, and wine and seafood. At the bourbon and bacon festival, attendees can expect seminars and tastings, as well as pork recipes of all kinds set to the soundtrack of live blues musicians. I doubt anyone will be sipping our Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos but a town that loves bacon, garlic, and music is ok with me.

And it’s actually probably much safer. Except for your heart.

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!

TOLSLL_ESTNON_-Nonsuch-Estate-tea-loose-leafFor 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.

~CD

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

This is one of my favourite recipes, my Mother made 24 of these most Fridays and they were all gone by Monday!  On her 90th Birthday we had a party with a buffet, games and music, and then supper.  My husband and I made 94 of these for the supper and although there were only about 60 people there, they all went!  They are not difficult to make but do take some time although you can speed things up by using ready-made pastry.

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

Heat the oven to 200 C 400 F or gas mark 6

grease two 12 hole patty tins

8 oz short crust pastry (ready-made or made with 8 oz flour and 4 oz butter)

Jam or jelly in a flavour of your choice

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

6 oz butter
6 ozs caster sugar
3 eggs
6 ozs self raising flour

Make the pastry and roll out quite thinly and cut into 24  3 inch rounds.  Line the patty tins with the pastry and place a small teaspoon of jam in the base.

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

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then add the eggs and combine together.

This is what happens when you add too much cake mixture!

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

Fold in the flour in a figure of eight movement then put a teaspoon of this mixture into each case.  Do not put too much mixture in otherwise it spills over as in the photo.  Bake for 20 mins until golden brown.  Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  They will keep in an airtight tin for about a week or so but I cannot be accurate as mine disappear very quickly!!  Make small buns with any left over cake mixture and reward yourself with a nice cup of tea.

~JB

ETS EG Cream Metro

(c) Crystal Derma for English Tea Store. All rights reserved.

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.

~CD

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

These are so easy to make, do not take very long and go nicely with a cup of mint tea or hot chocolate.

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

Grease two baking trays or use baking parchment

4 ozs butter
3 ozs soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
6 ozs Self Raising Flour
4 ozs chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cold milk

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

Beat the butter until soft and then add the sugar and cream together until light and fluffy.  Stir in the syrup, flour, milk and chocolate chips. (I used milk and white chocolate chips but you can use anything you like).  Place small spoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared trays and bake for 8-10 mins. Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to a wire rack to cool and crisp up.  My daughter likes to eat them when they are still warm and always asks for large ones not  small ones!  Hers is the one on the plate.

~JB

Today is Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday and we all traditionally make pancakes at home. Shrove Tuesday is 47 days before Easter Sunday and marks the beginning, the next day, of Lent. We mostly make  sweet pancakes. Shrove Tuesday was traditionally the day that you used up all your eggs and fats etc., before Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the Lent season, a time of fasting. So, before we give up chocolate for Lent let us make pancakes. You will need:

4 oz plain flour
a pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 pint milk or water
2 oz caster sugar
olive oil
Butter for frying.

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(c) by Julia Briggs for use by English Tea Store. All rights reserved.

Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt, make a well and break the egg into this well. Now add a little milk/water and beat thoroughly, adding the milk/water as you go until half the milk/water has been combined. Leave the mixture in a cool place now for about half an hour and if you want to cook a few pancakes and keep them warm then prepare some baking sheets and a hot plate to keep them on in a warm oven.

Add the rest of the milk/water to the mixture and beat well to incorporate plenty of air, add the sugar and a couple of drops of olive oil beating all the time. Place a knob of butter into your pancake pan and heat until a blue haze comes off the pan.  Do not put too much batter into the pan – just a thin layer on the bottom of the pan is good. You may find it easier to use a jug or a ladle to put the batter into the pan. Cook for 2 mins on a medium heat and then toss! If you are not good at tossing flip it over with a spatula and cook for a further 2 mins  Cook each pancake and place on the hot  plate, cover with baking paper and put the next pancake on top and so on keeping them in the oven until you are ready to eat. We then put honey and lemon on and roll it up then add some fresh pouring cream and serve.  You can flambe them with brandy if you have some.  Enjoy!

~JB

Don’t know what to get for your tea lover or sweet-eating sweetheart? With Valentine’s Day already here, I have a few picks here that will surprise and wow your sweetheart.

For Valentine’s this year, I gave my sweetie some English Tea Store matcha powder. Since he works at a coffee shop, one of his favorite things is matcha green tea. Very smooth and fine, this powder is very versatile. He admitted that he didn’t think he made it right the first time, so researched it for him and saw that there are directions and various ways to use it right on the ETS page. My fiance wanted to make a green tea matcha latte, so I found these directions:

Use 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) per 8 ounce (225 milliliter) serving. Add 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) to base of cup and add 2 ounces of hot water & mix vigorously to make a smooth paste-like liquid. Top with freshly steamed milk (or substitute like soy) and sweeten to taste. Maple syrup or honey are good sweetener suggestions.

There are also the traditional green tea ceremony style method and to make an iced green tea latte.

Wonka Randoms

Wonka Randoms

British Randoms 2

Roundtree Randoms

Along with the matcha powder, I also gave the fiance some Rowntree’s Randoms. One of my favorite things from English Tea Store, I knew I HAD to send him some of these! Now, these sweets are very different. It is an endless gummy variety. Each pack is different, so you never know what you will get. You may get a smiley face or even a tractor! The first item I ever got when I had my first pack was, ironically, a teapot! There is an American version made by Wonka but it does not have blackcurrant flavor (boo!) nor the foamy sweets! I love the Rowntree’s version because the foamy sweets! British RandomsThey are incredibly different from what I’m used to. It’s like a marshmallow but much sturdier. These are pastel colored and they come in shapes like a padlock or an ice cream cone. You will have lots of fun eating these!

Wonka RandomsI was lucky to receive a box of Cadbury Roses from my sweetheart, and these are the kind of Roses I prefer! Like Cadbury Heroes, it’s a variety box but unlike Heroes, Roses has a very unique variety of sweets. I was surprised to find not ALL the sweets in this box are Rose shaped. Instead, there are various shapes and sizes, not to mention flavors, ranging from the standard Rose truffle, Hazelnut Whirl, and even a surprise favorite, Strawberry Dream! Each sweet is individually wrapped in brightly colored paper. The next time someone asks you what kind of Roses you want for Valentine’s Day (or whenever, really), ask for Cadbury Roses.

~CD

Editor’s Note – I also prefer the Rowntrees for the same reasons. Foamy, blackcurrent.

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