© Julia Briggs for use by ETS, all rights reserved

© Julia Briggs for use by ETS, all rights reserved

Well, I received my crumpet rings. They are very light aluminum, I think, and have a non-stick coating on them but you still need to grease them really well before you fill them with your batter.  A hot plate is good but a large frying pan will also suffice.

You will need:

8 oz sieved strong bread flour
2 oz plain flour
1 quarter-ounce packet (7 grams) of dried active yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 fluid ounces or 1/4 cup of water
11 fluid ounces or 1 1/3 cups of milk

You need to start this process early because like baking bread you need to leave the batter for one hour in a warm place.

Heat the water and milk until lukewarm (I used the microwave). Sieve the flour into a large bowl and add the yeast, baking powder, sugar and salt.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the liquid, mix with a wooden spoon and then using an electric mixer whisk until a good batter is formed. Cover the bowl with a damp tea cloth and place somewhere warm for one hour. The batter will have risen well and have bubbles on top.

© Julia Briggs for use by ETS, all rights reserved

© Julia Briggs for use by ETS, all rights reserved

Heat the frying pan or griddle and then add a knob of butter, make sure the inside of the crumpet rings are well buttered and place in the pan or on the griddle.

Now add about 2 tablespoons of the mixture to each crumpet ring. The mixture is very ‘gloopy’ so it is not easy to place the batter in. I put a little more than 2 tablespoons in at times but this just meant I had thicker crumpets!

© Julia Briggs for use by ETS, all rights reserved

© Julia Briggs for use by ETS, all rights reserved

Cook on a medium to low heat for about ten minutes. The surface will bubble and form holes and basically start to  look a lot like a crumpet!  The top will dry out and the crumpet will shrink away from the sides of the ring. At this point you need to take the rings off and flip the crumpet over to brown on the other side. Be very careful – the rings will be HOT! If you have not greased your ring properly it will stick and you will not be able to get the ring off!

You can serve immediately with butter and jam or a savoury topping like scrambled egg but you can also store them and then pop them in the toaster.

© Julia Briggs for use by ETS, all rights reserved

© Julia Briggs for use by ETS, all rights reserved

If you are going to eat them with a sweet topping then you can increase the sugar to 1 tablespoon.


 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.

One of the benefits of tea is that it can be paired with many foods. Scones are just the tip of the iceberg. There are cakes, cookies (or biscuits), sandwiches, and today’s topic, crumpets. You can either purchase them or make them yourself at home.

You may be surprised to find that crumpets are not actually baked. They’re cooked on a griddle, usually cast iron, although some people like myself don’t own one, so a regular griddle is just fine. Crumpets originated back in the Anglo-Saxon times, and they were much different than the ones we are used to now. They were originally made with buckwheat flour and they were hard pancakes cooked on the griddle. The well-known holes on top were added thanks to extra baking powder by crumpet makers from the British Midlands and London.

In the modern times, the recipe itself is very easy, just preparing and cooking them takes a bit of time. Crumpets are commonly made with flour, milk, salt, and yeast. The trick is HOW to prepare it just right! The first time I made crumpets, I read a recipe online and it called for something called “crumpet rings” or washed out tuna cans (tins). The tuna cans were out of the question for me because I don’t like canned tuna. So I went about and tried to use cookie cutters. The ones I used, red and pink hearts, did NOT make good crumpet rings. They turned the sides of my “crumpets” pink so I had to throw them away and I just had to wing the rest of the batter. They ended up looking like little blobby pancakes.


photo courtesy King Arthur Flour

The second time, I actually ordered the crumpet rings online and used them. I had a MUCH easier time working with these. I simply used kitchen tongs to lift them off on the griddle and just flipped them! They came out PERFECTLY! I made a lot of them and my sisters, niece, and nephews like them although my sisters called them pancakes anyway, so they ate them with syrup (icky, maple syrup. I am the weirdest. I DO NOT like syrup. I WILL eat my pancakes dry). I, on the other hand, spread some Hartley’s Blackcurrant Jam, one of my favorite jams, on it and it was delicious! A nice cup of Yorkshire Tea by Taylors of Harrogate also makes a great pairing with this tasty bite.

I like to make some crumpets during the colder months because it gives me a nice cozy feeling. Unfortunately, I can’t enjoy crumpets when I’m the only person in the family who eats them. It’s very hard to live in a house where eyebrows are raised when trying to introduce new foods and traditions from other countries.

Did you know? If you find crumpets in New Zealand and Australia, you will notice they are square. That is because they’re made to fit the standard toaster.


Note from your editor – Julia will be presenting her Crumpet recipe this Wednesday!

jollyingIn the ceramics world, jolleying is a method of shaping the inside of a plate or pot – the inner shape of the ware is made with a cutting material (metal or rigid plastic), and the clay is placed on the pottery wheel. As the clay spins, the cutters shave and shape the ware. In this case, into a Brown Betty. It is very similar to hand-throwing a pot and using your left hand to hold the pot centered and your right hand to create the depths of the pot by pressing down against the wheel and out against your left hand. Your right hand is acting as the jolley (your left hand is doing the jiggering but that’s another topic altogether!). Originally the Brown Betty was made this way and the spout attached separately. Because there is shrinkage during the firing of the clay, creating a lid that nests properly can be a challenge if the thickness of the walls of either the pot or the lid is not standardized.

mouldCurrently, the Brown Betty employs the slip casting method. Not only does this take less time, but it offers more consistent and precise results. The spout is an integral part of the pot, making it sturdier.20150227_082316 Slip casting involves creating the mould, mixing the original red terra cotta clay with the secret ingredients to make the Brown Betty “slip,” smoothing the unfired pot, firing the pot to set the clay, dipping in the secret-ingredient glaze, wiping the excess to give you that plain little ring on the underside of the teapot that I love, and refiring to set it all for generations to come. The lid has a mould that allows the finished lid and pot to settle into one another perfectly.

kilnMy first degree was in art, and I have taken ceramics classes. I know how to fire, how to wedge the slip by hand, and how much damage a mechanized pottery wheel does after a night of partying when you aren’t paying attention. Ask my friend Raychel. :) I also believe that hand-throwing a pot adds sensuality and uniqueness to a piece, which is invaluable if the recipient is connected to the potter, or wants a unique piece with unique blemishes and characteristics. If the recipient wants a piece (s)he can count on to be of a certain standard, size, durability, and thickness for heat transfer without relying on the whims of the wheel, slip casting is the way to go.

~Your editor


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

I have a dentist appointment coming up and the receptionist always telephones beforehand to remind me about it and put her order in for cake or biscuits! So it was Emma’s turn this time and she wanted coconut macaroons which I have not made for years but I have not forgotten the recipe. The only problem was finding edible rice paper to cook them on! I did not find any locally but I have to order some online. In the meantime I have used some greased baking parchment to stop the macaroons sticking to the paper. If they stick to the paper you end up with a cup shaped biscuit and the inside of the biscuit left on the paper!  You will need:

3 egg whites (I know egg white again!)
10 oz Caster Sugar
10 oz ground almonds or desiccated coconut or a mixture of both which is what I do
2 dessertspoons of cornstarch
a few drops of almond essence

Oven at 160 C Fan oven  or 180 C /350 F electric,  or gas mark 4.


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

If you have rice paper then line your baking sheets with it if not grease well baking parchment and use to line the baking sheet.


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

Whisk the egg white lightly then add half the sugar and continue whisking. Then with a spoon stir in the remaining sugar, ground almonds, coconut, cornstarch and almond essence, mix to a soft dropping consistency. If you use large eggs then you may need extra ground almonds. With wet hands take spoonfuls of the mixture and roll into balls and place on the paper. Flatten down a little but leave some space for expansion although they do come apart when cooked.


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

You can make them any size you like but this amount of mixture should make about 20 medium sized ones or a dozen large ones.  Bake for 20 mins until pale brown. spread out and cracked on top.  Allow to cool before lifting onto a cooling rack.  If you have used rice paper then cut round the macaroons before lifting them on to the cooling rack.  These are, of course, very sweet and a fairly strong black Assam tea would work best with these.


Barry's TeaEveryone associates St. Patrick’s Day with wearing green but it’s much more than that. Over the years, I have learned there are more ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s. Being an American, I have only seen people wear green, go to parties, and hold parades in the news. It wasn’t until recent years I found out that people made a tasty dish called Corned Beef and Cabbage (even if it’s just in the States). While I spent my St. Patrick’s Days at school growing up, it was still more fun to wear green and watch everyone else doll themselves up in wacky getups, wigs, jewelry, etc (plus all the kids got a green shamrock cookie at lunch)! We would read stories about Ireland and learn more about their culture. When I learned St. Patrick’s Day was also about feasting, I was very excited since my interest in UK and Irish culture has increased over the years and I love food. I have tried soda bread which is delicious but I have yet to try boxty (Irish potato pancake).

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland who was known for bringing Christianity to Ireland. He was originally from Britain but later came to Ireland to live. It is said March 17th is the day Saint Patrick died. St. Patrick’s Day was created as a religious holiday meant to celebrate his life and work but has become a public holiday in Ireland since 1903.

St. Patrick’s Day is more important on the other side of the pond. While March 17th is a normal day for people in the United States with the addition of green to our wardrobes, it is actually considered a public holiday in Ireland, so places like banks, government offices, and even schools are closed. Since it is Ireland’s national holiday, it is a day for families to observe. Families will attend mass while wearing their best clothes to honor Saint Patrick while parades are held celebrating Irish culture. Once mass is complete, they usually join together for a feast though not with corned beef and cabbage, but rather bacon and cabbage. This dish is enjoyed with some parsley sauce, maybe with a bit of mustard and some potatoes.

While people are drowning shamrocks and toasting a certain beverage that is sometimes dyed green for the occasion, I will be St. Patrick’s Day with some Barry’s Tea imported from Ireland. Pairs up very well with a nice soda bread (especially a freshly baked one that’s buttered up while it’s nice and hot. You can also celebrate with Bewley’s, Twinings, or even our very own blend.

And so I raise my teacup in honor of Saint Patrick saying this old saying, “May your blessings outnumber, the shamrocks that grow, And may trouble avoid you wherever you go.” Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

A few random St. Paddy’s facts:IMG_20150310_141024_498

  • Pubs weren’t actually allowed to open on St. Patrick’s Day until the 1970s!
  • The color of St. Patrick was not originally green but instead was blue! That changed in the 19th century when green became a more official color for Ireland.
  • Saint Patrick’s given name was Maewyn Succat. He adopted the name Patrick once he became a priest.
  • The first American St. Patrick’s Day celebration took place in Boston, Massachusetts in 1737

~ CD

Editor’s Note: Green is typically for the Catholics on St. Patrick’s Day. As a Protestant, it is appropriate for me to wear orange. But since that is not commonly known, I typically don’t. :)

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.).

GOC-hand-scrub-photo4I’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.

snowman-graphicsfairy004pl-1024x671I’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.

Our vanilla tea is available in bags, loose form, and as a variety in our flavored tea sampler, all at a 15% discount this month. If that doesn’t lift your spirits, I’m out.

~Your editor

brown-betty-teapotIn the beginning, there was a teapot. It arrived with the familiar sticker on the side and the lid taped to the pot. I had received a few messages asking what to do before you ever enjoy tea in a Brown Betty. Our site explains the clay, from whence the pot hails, and how to care for it between uses. But nowhere does it state what you should do with it right out of the box.

Remove your tea pot gently and inspect it carefully for any damage during shipping. If you’ve ordered from us, your pot will be thoroughly wrapped in bubble wrap, tape, and other insulated packaging. You will, most likely, need scissors to free your new purchase from its bindings. Peel all labels, stickers, and tape from the pot. To remove the residue and any remaining paper backing, try a bit of rubbing alcohol or olive oil. Dab it onto the sticker, let it rest for a few minutes, then rub with a cloth or scrape gently with a fingernail.

BBBefore using the pot for the first time, I simply rinsed the pot in warm tap water. Then I was eager to try it out. Rumor has it the Brown Betty is the best for brewing due to the specific clay and shape, facilitating heat retention, as well as the roomy area for the leaves to swirl to release flavor without bitterness. The dark color of the Brown Betty hides the tea stains and the shape is also easiest to clean. When done cleaning, I leave the lid off the pot overnight to allow for faster drying, then put it on to protect the pot from dust.

To brew tea:

  1. Run warm water in the pot and empty it, to pre-heat.
  2. Add slightly less than one teaspoon of tea per cup, or to taste.
  3. Draw fresh, cold water in the kettle and heat it just to the boil.
  4. Pour the water carefully from the kettle into the teapot.
  5. Steep for three minutes, or to taste.
  6. Pour the tea through a strainer into warmed cups. If you have one of the older Brown Betties there is a built-in strainer where the spout was attached to the pot during crafting.
  7. Enjoy!

~Your editor


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

Eclairs are made from Choux (shoo) pastry and are not the easiest thing in the world to make, do not keep well unless you freeze them but, taste amazing! You will need to start these early because the pastry needs to cool down half way through. Trust me, though – the wait will be worth it! Maybe you could make some for Mothering Sunday (here in the UK it is 15th March) or afternoon tea with a friend or two.

Oven 220 C, 425 F, Gas mark 7, put a dish of water in the base of the oven and grease a baking sheet or line it with baking parchment, then run under the tap to leave a film of water on the sheet.

Make your Choux pastry :

2 oz butter
1/4 pint water
4 oz plain flour
3 medium eggs lightly beaten


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

Put the butter and water in a pan and over a gentle heat bring to the boil. Make sure the water is boiling before adding the flour. Remove from the heat and shoot the flour into the pan and stir thoroughly. Return to the hob and stir until the mixture forms a ball. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool before adding the eggs otherwise you could end up with a lump of pastry and scrambled egg! When cool add the beaten egg a little at a time, beating or whisking thoroughly.


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

Now you are ready to pipe. Place your pastry into a piping bag with a half inch nozzle and pipe 3 inch lengths onto your baking sheet, using a knife to cut off the pastry and the end of each eclair.


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

Bake for about 20 mins until risen and light brown in colour. Immediately make a slit down one side of each eclair and pop back in the oven for one minute. Then place on a cooling rack.


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

Whip 1/4 pint of whipping or double cream and add a few drops of vanilla essence and two tablespoons of icing sugar.  Pipe this cream into each eclair. For the chocolate topping I used Cadbury’s milk just melted but you can use chocolate glace icing if you want. This should make about 18 eclairs and you can freeze them (without cream or icing) on the day if you are not wanting to use them all. If frozen just refresh them in the oven slightly before filling and decorating.

PG Red Nose PG Red Nose 2If you have seen some of Britain’s greatest celebrities sporting bright red clown noses, you must be wondering why. It’s all for a good cause!

Every two years, an organization called Comic Relief puts on an event and it’s celebrated all over Britain. Comic Relief itself was created in 1985 by Richard Curtis after being inspired by Live Aid which addressed the Ethiopian famine. Mr. Curtis wanted to help people in both Africa and the UK, and thus Comic Relief was born. Live Aid used music to help people while Comic Relief uses comedy. The first Comic Relief was broadcast Christmas Day 1985, live from Sudan. Reception was well received, and donations came flooding in.

Three years later in 1988, the first Red Nose Day took place, raising a whopping £15 million thanks to 150 celebrities and comedians. Lenny Henry and a group of children in Ethiopia celebrated. The next year, another Red Nose Day took part and since then, Red Nose Day has taken place every two years. At first, there were just plain red noses being worn but over the years, there have been various versions of the red nose! Some of them have little faces, one has been fuzzy, one has even been a tomato!

The causes vary and so do the celebrities. The first time I heard of Comic Relief was when I was a teenager and was into Harry Potter. My sister bought me some books from a thrift store written by J.K. Rowling. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages were the books. The Comic Relief logo was plastered on them and I figured out it was a charity. I enjoyed the Quidditch book but I didn’t get a chance to read the fantastic beasts one because we were moving and it got lost.

Now why am I writing about Red Nose Day? It’s because the mascot of PG Tips, Monkey, is partnering up with the charity to take part! PG Tips is helping to raise up to £1 million by selling packs of tea. For every box of PG Tips sold in the UK, 8p will be donated from every specially marked pack. In addition to this, Monkey will be on a “monumental mission.” He is scaling the top of the shard!

For my British readers, if you drink PG Tips and are running low, do run to the shop and pick up a pack of PG! Help people all over the world and at home. And do something funny for Red Nose Day with your family and friends! Red Nose Day is not just for celebrities and big names, but also for the average person!

This year’s Red Nose Day is on March 13th, 2015. Don’t feel bad if you can’t donate from the States! There is a way Americans can help.




(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:


(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.


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


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


(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.



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© 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 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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