(c) BBC, all rights reserved.

It’s a girl! The second Royal Baby is here and she’s a princess! Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge! Royal fans all across the globe who were waiting for this little bundle of joy to arrive are rejoicing! On the night of her birth, Britain’s most famous landmarks, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge, and Jubilee Bridge all glowed pink for the new princess. Even the Queen herself was all decked out in pink and in all smiles for her new great-granddaughter!

Princess Charlotte’s birth marks the first Princess to be born in direct line to the throne since her great aunt Princess Anne (styled as Anne, Princess Royal) in 1950. The new princess is the first British princess to be born under the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013. According to the law, succession no longer depends on gender, so if Kate were to have another son after Princess Charlotte, her little brother would be fifth in line to the throne after her. Thus, the Princess is fourth in line to succeed her great grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II after her older brother Prince George.

Now how shall one celebrate this joyous occasion? Why, toasting a good cuppa, of course! What better way to toast the new princess than the English Tea Store’s Buckingham Palace Garden Party? Every May, the Queen holds a garden party at Buckingham Palace which inspired this blend of Earl Grey, Jasmine, and English Afternoon Tea. Pairs perfectly with some delicious tea sandwiches (my personal favorite tea sandwich to make is cream cheese, turkey, and fresh basil). Like bolder tea? Why not try English Breakfast Blend No. 2! This tea is full bodied and just perfect with milk (and sweetener if you please). Goes quite well with a slice of soft, delicious cake from O’Haras Farmhouse Fruit Cake!

Don’t forget about Mother’s Day. While Mother’s Day in Britain is celebrated in March, it is not celebrated in the United States until May. Toast your mom (or share a cuppa with her) as well!


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

Ivy is a very good plant for growing over things that you want to hide. Unfortunately it can get very out of hand as I found out last year. We have a brick wall in our garden that acts as a boundary with the field next door and last year I looked at it and thought “Where is it?” The whole wall was covered in so much ivy all I could see was green! The garden is quite large so I have a friend who comes along once a week to help out and she and I started to tear it down. We gave the eviction notice to all the spiders and insects that live in the ivy and prepared to do battle. Oh my goodness, it took us two days, we used a saw! We were covered in bits and itched all over! We both spent time under the shower those two days (separately I might add!). However, the wall came out of it ok and the ivy was burnt to a cinder! Before and after photos here.


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

The ivy is down but oh it is not dead I assure you. It has started to grow back already but we are keeping it in check and also we have planted roses and honeysuckle along the edge of the wall so that they can grow up and produce some colour with their flowers. This Summer is going to be colourful I am sure and you will be amazed by the photos, I hope!

Don’t you just love the Spring time with all the buds and the bulbs sprouting? We have a lot of colour in the garden just now but unfortunately Spring bulbs do not last all year so the garden is an ongoing project that needs re-planting all the time. To this end we have sown seeds of annuals to give us some colour all Summer long. These seeds are now coming along nicely and this week I will be busy pricking out the seedlings into trays and pots and then the perennial problem of where to keep them until they are big enough and the weather is good enough to plant them out. Every spare place in the greenhouse and conservatory is put into use for bringing on seedlings and hopefully we will succeed in keeping everything healthy before planting time is here! Planting time here in the UK  will be the end of May, when all fear of frost is gone. Watch this space!

Editor’s Note: while Julia works on her garden, enjoy one of our Organic Tea Samplers in honour of last month’s Earth Day! We have an Organic Loose Leaf Sampler and Organic Favorites Loose Leaf Sampler – Cheers!


Daily Mail UK has a delicious-looking recipe here!

What do you think of when someone says “pudding?” If you’re like me who was born and raised in the United States, you would think of the creamy sweet stuff that comes from a box that you can make at home or comes in cup form in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. If you are British, however, it’s an entirely different story! The British pudding is a part of everyday life in Great Britain. It can be sweet or savory and can be used for just plain dinner or even to celebrate a holiday. Otherwise, it’s another term for dessert. They can be steamed, baked, or boiled.

Sweet puddings are popular, served with sauces like custard, lemon, and chocolate. There is the spotted dick, bursting with currants and raisins, usually served with a delicious custard. Next we have sticky toffee, which may look a bit ordinary from the outside but inside has dates and nuts! Of course, never forget the delicious sticky toffee! And my personal favorite, chocolate. You can either have it plain or with a nice hot chocolate sauce.

Savory puddings include Yorkshire puddings, which are made along with the Sunday roast, usually drizzled in gravy. Pease puddings are made with split peas and steams very nicely. There are even puddings with bacon – Mrs. Banyard’s Bacon pudding is a totally savory pudding. There are a surprising amount of puddings you can make.

TEAHHIT1000017504_-04_Group_Mason-Cash-Pudding-BasinIf you ever want to make these scrummy little treasures, one would need something called a pudding basin. These bowls are very deep, are made with earthenware, and come in various sizes. When you use these, it’s best to cover your pudding bowl with greaseproof paper.

However, if you do not have time to be making puddings from scratch, you can always buy premade. They come in cans or even in little pots that are microwaveable. These can be enjoyed with homemade custard, from a mix, or one from a can as well. And always enjoy these with a nice cup of tea! Perhaps Nonsuch Estate or a good organic Darjeeling?



(c) Julia Briggs for the English Tea Store, all rights reserved

Well the Summer weather is on its way here in the UK and I have had the painter here doing the outside of the house and, of course, he needs to be kept watered and fed. So to that end this week I have been making Lemon Drizzle cakes. Plural because they seem to be going down well! This is a cake you can make by hand or use a machine; I tried both methods and the opinion was that there really was no difference.

Oven 180 C, 350 F or Gas mark 4
two greased one pound loaf tins.
8 oz butter
8 oz caster sugar
4 eggs
9 oz Self Raising Flour
the grated rind and juice of one large lemon or two small ones.


(c) Julia Briggs for the English Tea Store, all rights reserved

For the icing:
4 oz icing sugar
1 tablespoon water or lemon juice.


(c) Julia Briggs for the English Tea Store, all rights reserved

Just a reminder that it is always better to use eggs at room temperature when making a cake than straight from the ‘fridge.  Beat the butter and sugar together well until light and fluffy, or put them in the mixer. Add the eggs one at a time with a little flour to prevent the mixture curdling and beat well. Add the grated lemon rind and the juice of half a lemon. Fold in the flour by hand, or if using a mixer, use the slowest speed. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for about 40 mins until golden brown and firm to the touch. Leave the cakes in the tins to cool slightly whilst you mix the other half of the lemon juice with a teaspoon of sugar. Make holes in the tops of the cakes and pour the sweetened lemon juice all over. When cool remove from the tins and place on plates. Mix icing sugar with lemon juice or water to a thin paste and pour over the cool cakes, allowing the icing to run down the sides of the cakes.

Steve, the painter, tells me it goes nicely with tea or coffee!!



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

Your typical Englishman thinks his home is his castle and woe betide anyone who crosses him!  An Englishman’s garden, however is something else. Most men cut the lawn and leave the other stuff to the wife but occasionally you see the odd man weeding, mostly they like growing vegetables and flowers for showing. The English love their gardens and take great pride in having a postage stamp size lawn with flower beds either side at the front of their houses. Back gardens, or yards as you may call them, are more for fruit and veg and maybe a greenhouse. Sitting out in the garden is something that does not come easily to most British people and BBQ’s, whilst gaining in popularity, are still not the first thing that comes to mind when we see a bit of sunshine.


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


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

My own garden is a bit different to the norm: I do not have a front garden as such, because we have a long driveway and that has flower beds on either side but there is no lawn at the front, no, that is round the back. The back garden has a lawn and flower beds, a greenhouse, and spectacular views of the distant moorland. When I moved here in 1999, the lawn was there but a bit tired looking, and the flowers beds a bit bare – but the view was great. Since then I have tried to re-vamp the garden somewhat and now we have a beautiful lawn with full flowers beds, a small pond at the base of a rockery, one or two huts, and a greenhouse where I can bring seedlings on. It has been a labour of love for me and also my friend Erica who has helped a lot this year. Spring has now arrived here and we have so many bulbs in flower that the garden is awash with colour!  I have quite a few seedlings coming on for the Summer months so I will keep you all up-to-date on progress in my very English garden.


Editor’s Note: We carry two English Garden teapots. Julia, would you take these out to the garden for tea?


(c) Crystal Derma for The English Tea Store, all rights reserved.

As a tea lover, I can’t go a day without at least one cup of tea. I brew my tea either using teabags, self-made teabags with loose leaf tea, or loose leaf in a strainer. Lately in my efforts to go green, I have begun to use the strainer as much as I possibly can. I find it fun and easy to use and it’s very interesting to open the strainer after brewing to see the steeped tea leaves. I have noticed that the tea leaves expand in the hot water, so it’s very important for the tea to have much room to brew as it can. If you have seen advertisements for tea (at least in Britain), you will notice they boast how much room the teas will have to brew. So far, PG Tips is a game changer with their pyramid tea bags, while Yorkshire comes square and Typhoo is round and flat. The teabags also do not have tags or strings. Many tea companies have eliminated the use of these due to their efforts to reduce paper and other material waste that would affect the earth.


(c) Crystal Derma for The English Tea Store, all rights reserved.

The teabag came to be entirely by accident! In 1908, a tea merchant named Sir Thomas Sullivan sent packets of loose tea to potential buyers in silk-muslin sachets. The buyers took this as a new way of brewing tea by simply tossing the bags into boiling hot water to brew and enjoyed it. Sullivan was confused and surprised when his customers began to ask for “tea bags” but was unable to continue his silk-muslin combination due to high costs of silk. To combat this issue, Sullivan adopted the use of gauze sacks.

Since then, tea has been sold in bags but before the teabag, it was sold loose and brewed in infusers and strainers. In 19th and 20th century England, however, tea was brewed in silvery tea balls (also called tea eggs). Some are made with mesh so the tea leaves have a harder time escaping, while others are metal with tiny perforations. These have been making a comeback lately since many people are trying to make efforts to go green. It is good to use larger-leafed teas like Organic Pearl River Green Tea to steep inside an infuser. If you have a tea with tinier leaves, like Organic Peppermint Tea, it is probably a better idea to use a paper filter so the tea leaves do not seep through the strainer and float throughout your tea. However, everyone’s tastes are different. Either way, brew green!


Empire Bisc

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

Last year The English Tea Store mentioned that I would be writing a blog of recipes and also trying those recipes out. Penny Shiel asked for a good recipe for Empire biscuits and I have now found one. The basic biscuits are shortbread and two biscuits are sandwiched together with jam and then icing put on top plus a glace cherry if liked.  You will need;

12 oz butter
4 oz sugar
12 oz plain flour
4 oz cornstarch
a few drops of vanilla essence

a small amount of jam
4 oz icing sugar

Oven 180 C, 350 F or gas mark 4


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

2 baking sheets with baking parchment.


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

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and add the vanilla essence, then beat in the flour and cornstarch until everything is combined. Turn out onto a floured board and roll out to 1/2 inch thick, cut out 48 rounds using a small plain scone/biscuit cutter and place on the baking sheets, not too close together. Bake for about 20-25 mins until golden but not brown; if necessary cover the biscuits with foil after 10 mins to stop the biscuits from browning too much. Allow to cool on the baking sheets and then transfer to a cooling rack.  When cold place one teaspoon of jam on one biscuit and put another biscuit on top.  Then make your icing with icing sugar and water, not too runny though! Ice each biscuit top and if liked place a small piece of glace cherry on top.  This makes about 24 completed biscuits which will keep in an airtight tin. I ate mine with some lemon tea.


According to British history writers, afternoon tea was introduced in 1840 by Anna the seventh Duchess of Bedford. She became very hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon but dinner was not served until 8 in the evening – to her, a big gap between lunch and dinner. She asked for tea to be delivered to her room along with some bread and butter, the sandwich having been introduced in the 1760’s when the Earl of Sandwich asked for his meat to be put between two slices of bread so as not to interrupt his gambling game!

The Duchess decided to invite her friends along to join her in this little ritual and the afternoon tea increased to not only small sandwiches (cucumber sandwiches were popular then) but scones with clotted cream and jam and cakes too were added to this ‘small’ meal.

afternoon-teaThe tea was usually made in a silver teapot and the cup would normally have been bone china. Ceylon or Indian tea was popular then and was, of course, kept in a tea caddy.

Tea in Great Britain was very heavily taxed in the 18th Century and was therefore kept under lock and key! Silver tea caddies fell out of favour in the 19th Century and zinc lined wooden boxes were popular, still locked, usually with a matching spoon. Caddy spoons are very collectible in their own right as well as the tea caddies themselves.

Queen Anne, who reigned from 1702-1714, was a kind-hearted Queen, sister of Mary II, who really enjoyed drinking tea with her friends, Sarah Churchill in particular. Sarah Churchill’s husband of more than 40 years became the first Duke of Marlborough. So maybe afternoon tea was invented earlier than 1840 after all but just not called afternoon tea.

Arthurs_seat_edinburghNowadays afternoon tea at home is usually just a cup of tea from a tea bag and a biscuit, but one can still enjoy a real Afternoon Tea in some hotels and I for one am really looking forward to meeting our editor when we have Afternoon Tea in Edinburgh, the Capital of Scotland.


Editor’s note: I am also very much looking forward to meeting our UK recipe/blogging correspondent when I travel abroad!!

blueberry-sweet-fruitOur other Tea of the Month is Bingo Blueberry, a full flavored tea with a strong blueberry character. Enjoy 15% off this tea for the rest of the month. This particular tea was specially formulated to acknowledge the great taste and known health benefits of blueberries. In addition to the antioxidants in the blueberries, hibiscus brings the added benefits of Vitamin A and C to the blend. Bingo Blueberry will accommodate the tastes of people who want to experience a refreshing healthy new style drink without caffeine. It is excellent as a hot drink and simply dynamite as a cold drink. You will want to add a pinch of natural cane sugar as this accentuates the natural flavorings and brings out the subtle tastes of the dried

Ingredients in this tea are fruit pieces and flower petals. What better way to welcome spring?

Simnel cake is a traditional Easter treat but some time ago it was made for Mothering Sunday so you can make it then if you like.  It has almond paste baked into the middle of it and also almond paste made into balls and placed on top of the cake for decoration. You can make your own almond paste or use bought.

For the almond paste you will need:

9 oz Caster sugar
9 oz ground almonds
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp almond essence

Place the sugar and ground almonds into a bowl and add the beaten eggs to a soft consistency, add almond essence and knead well.  Roll out a third of the paste into a 7 ” circle. Put the rest on one side.

For the cake you will need:

6 oz butter
6 oz soft brown sugar
3 eggs
6 oz plain flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice (optional)
12 oz mixed dried fruits
2 oz chopped mixed peel
1/2 lemon, grated zest only.

1 egg beaten for glazing plus 1 or 2 tablespoons apricot jam.

Grease and line a 7″ cake tin and set the oven to 140 C, 275 F or gas mark 1

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs and beat well. Fold in the flour, salt, mixed spices if using and finally add the mixed dried fruit, candied peel and lemon zest. Put half the mixture into the tin and smooth the top. Cover with the circle of almond paste and add the remaining cake mixture, smooth the top but add a slight dip in the centre to allow the cake to rise. Bake for 1 3/4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

IMG_4169 (2)

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

Brush the top of the cake with the warmed apricot jam, divide the remaining almond paste into two and roll a circle for the top of the cake. Place this circle on the top of the cake.  Make 11 small balls with the remaining paste and place in a circle on top of the cake. Put the whole cake back into a hot oven for 10 mins or under the grill for 1 or 2 mins to brown the almond paste balls.


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