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© 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.

~JB

 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.

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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.

~CD

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

Image courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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!

Image courtesy of zole4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of zole4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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!

~CD

TOLSLL_CHM_-00_loose-leaf-tea-chocolate-mintWhat do you give a tea lover for Valentine’s Day? Chocolates. Chocolate Mint Tea, that is, and it happens to be our other Tea of the Month for February.

The Chocolate Mint Flavored Black Tea blend from English Tea Store is the delectable paring of chocolate and mint. This tea delivers a bright and coppery infusion and a chocolatey mint flavor that is especially prominent when milk and sugar are added. We find this tea tastes best when served hot, but it can also be enjoyed over ice. Using flavoring oils, not crystals, gives the tea drinker an olfactory holiday before indulging in a liquid tea treat.graphics-chocolate-975107

Rather than write more about the traditional chocolate Valentine gift, I’d like to point out a new feature on our site that starts with this tea. It will be slow in coming, as all good things are, but you will no doubt find it helpful. One by one your tea merchandiser Tammy is added very detailed information on each of our teas. Here is what she is presenting for the Chocolate Mint:

Cup Characteristics: Fresh lovely mint combined with full flavored chocolate tea that is wonderfully reminiscent of an after-dinner mint
Infusion: Bright and coppery
3d-graphics-teaIngredients: Black tea, Blackberry and Peppermint leaves, and Natural flavors
Caffeine/Antioxidant Level: Medium/High
Grade(s): OP (Orange Pekoe)
Manufacture Type(s): Orthodox (Traditional leafy)
Region: Nuwara Eliya + Dimbula + Uva
Growing Altitudes: 4000-8500 feet above sea level
Shipping Port(s): Colombo

~Your Editor

Ceylon greenOur first February tea of the month is ceylon green. Imported from Sri Lanka, our Ceylon Green is characterized as smooth and subtle. According to wikipedia, tea production is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. Originally known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean. Great Britain occupied the coastal areas during the Napoleonic Wars to prevent France gaining control. In 1972 Ceylon’s name was changed to Sri Lanka when it became a republic. Currently, tea accounts for 2% of Sri Lanka’s GDP, generating roughly $700 million annually to the economy of Sri Lanka. It employs, directly or indirectly over 1 million people. Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth largest producer of tea. With all of these amazing stats, Ceylon Green is still one of the unsung heroes. Most of Sri Lanka’s tea exported is black, and green tea is typically imported from Asian countries.

Ceylon in tea refers to a location, not a type of leaf. Ceylon Green tea is prepared from the fresh leaves of the tea plant, unlike Ceylon Black, which is made from the aged stems and leaves. Ceylon Green is often described as “full bodied and pungent, with a malty or nutty flavor.” Whether you go with that or “smooth and subtle,” you will get 15% off if you purchase it now! I have no doubt our readers will weigh in with their own adjectives.

~Your Editor

 

PG Tips Chimpanzee

While searching online for tea I found the history of PG Tips. It is not everyday that a product such as tea has a unique story behind it. I do not know about you, but I find the history of how a business came about to be quite fascinating.

You see PG Tips began with an entrepreneur who opened his first shop in Manchester, United Kingdom in 1869. Mr. Arthur Brooke opened what we would call a modern day coffee house selling coffee, tea, and sugar. He had the fantastic idea to break the mold of other tea companies who were producing blended teas. Mr. Brooke produced pure, high-quality teas from India and China making his brand quite popular. Who would have thought being different and innovative could work?

Following Arthur Brooke’s influence of innovation and creativity, PG Tips launched a novel advertising campaign involving chimpanzees. At this time there were not many commercials aired in the United Kingdom. PG Tips hit gold with the campaign for the chimpanzees to be one of the longest running characters in British television advertising.

Another bit of the story is PG Tips produced the most expensive tea bag ever made. The tea bag was covered in 280 diamonds raffled off to raise money for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Okay, okay, I know-do not give away the entire story. Sit down with a cup of tea and check out the rest of PG Tips’ history.

© 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.

A classic entry originally published 01.23.2009

I like both Redbush (Rooibos) and Honeybush teas, though both are actually the leaves of flowering legumes, and not really tea at all. Neither has caffeine, both are low in tannin, and both come from Africa. Both are rich sources of antioxidants. Both have naturally sweet undertones. Close cousins, both these herbs require a longer-than-Ceylon steeping, of 5-7 minutes. Because of the low tannin, the “tea” will tolerate this length without becoming bitter. Rooibos is only grown in South Africa, and Honeybush is rarer still, relegated to only the eastern and western cape regions of South Africa. Both are harvested by cutting and bruising, oxidizing (fermenting), then drying. Given the similarities, why choose one over the other?

honeybushHoneybush was one of the first black tea substitutes. There are 23 species, each with a slight varietal flavouring. Originally cultivated by hand in the mountainous regions of east coast South Africa, much honeybush is still hand picked today. However, in 1998, group of South African farmers formed the South African Honeybush Producers Organization (SAHPA), which promotes new growing and production techniques. As a result, two large Honeybush plantations have opened since 2001, as have many Honeybush research partnerships. If you have tasted this tea, more prolific Honeybush is a very good thing! This tea is usually composed simply of honeybush, which carries undertones of wood and honey. It is so aromatic that it can be steeped on the stove and left to scent a room. It is likened to a hot apricot or dried fruit mixture in taste and a bit of honey added while brewing enhances the natural flavour. It is said to have a stronger but more pleasant flavour, than Rooibos.

bourbonRooibos, Honeybush’s more robust cousin, has long been believed to alleviate headaches and stomach aches. It also answers to the name Red Tea, Bush Tea, and Red Bush Tea. It has an earthy, creamy, sweet flavour. Unlike most teas, there is nutrition information accompanying this herb. Though trace, a typical cup of Rooibos contains Iron, Potassium, Calcium, Copper, Zinc, Magnesium, Fluoride, and Manganese. Unlike plain honeybush, rooibos often comes flavoured: strawberries, lemon, orange, peach, pina colada, bourbon street vanilla, the list is endless. It is said to taste more “medicinal” and the flavoring helps cut down on that. Unlike honeybush, if you steep it a bit less than the 5-7 minutes, you will still get a full-bodied cup. The needle-like leaves are fermented, which gives the plant its reddish color and enhances flavor. Unoxidized Rooibos is available as “green” rooibos but is grassy, malty, and pricier than the red version.

Those who have tried both range from “very similar” to “distant cousins who don’t even talk and I much prefer…” I am drinking a porcelain cup of unadulterated, delicate honeybush right now and it suits me fine, just as a rich rooibos in a thick earthenware mug on a snowy day does.

~Your Editor

© 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

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

Christmas is almost here and that means fun and festive times with friends and family! Delicious food, the smell of the Christmas tree, decorations, the holiday specials on TV, and the arrival of loved ones. After the festivities comes everyone’s favorite activity: presents. Now, I love to receive gifts as much as the next person does, but I discovered as I got older that I love to give more than I love to receive. The exciting feeling of deciding what to give someone. If money is tight, I like to bake gifts. The best part, though, is seeing their faces light up when they unwrap the gifts.

Pat MugSo if you’re shopping for a tea lover (or even a coffee lover), mugs are some of the best gifts you can give. This past August, my oldest sister and I were shopping in a department store when we spotted the cutest mug for our stepmother. She isn’t much of a tea person but a huge coffee drinker and mugs are also her thing. She has a collection herself that I am not allowed to use (except for one mug that I love to use, hee hee). I knew I immediately had to purchase that mug for her (especially while I had some extra money. Never too early to start). It’s a cat that says, “I have an attitude and I know how to use it!” So I got this along with a bag of Minnie Mouse (she is a fan of her) jelly beans and that was the gift. I know she won’t eat the jelly beans but she will definitely use the mug.

I was lucky and picked this up in the summer when the holidays were 4 months away, but if you’re in a pinch for time this holiday season, just find a clever mug (Doctor Who, clever sayings, or whichever. There’s a mug for pretty much anyone) and fill it with some tea and honey sticks. A few envelopes of the Twinings Christmas Spice to warm up their holiday or the Twinings Winter Spice to soothe them into a crisp apple joy. Better yet, you could mix them both up and put a little ribbon or two. If tea is a little short, hot cocoa or sweets are always the best, especially chocolate!

Paperchase2Paperchase1One of the benefits of becoming older and wiser is that I am appreciating the simple things like tea and mugs and how big of a gift they are to me. I don’t need any fancy gifts as as long as I have tea and the comfort that comes from it along with my loved ones. The past two Christmases I received a mug each year. The first mug I received, I spotted it at Target while shopping with my oldest sister. That year I had become a self-proclaimed mug collector, so I told my my sister that I fancied that cup. It had some cute Japanese anime-like drawings of adorable little ladies on it from Paperchase Kishi Kishi (which was actually from the UK, as I read on the box) that was briefly sold at the big box store but sadly is no longer there. It was only about $5 so it didn’t cost very much but I didn’t think about buying it. I unwrapped it come Christmas and it was immediately one of my favorite gifts. The next year, my second older sister gave me a sock monkey mug with two handles on it that was also stuffed with hot cocoa mix and candy canes. It was another one of my favorite gifts of all time since I love sock monkeys and mugs and this was all in one!

Sock Monkey MugThat is one of my favorite things about mugs. It’s a pleasing feeling to learn your friends and family know you when they get you a mug with something you love on it (or in it. You might love giant mugs that are like soup bowls)! You get to express yourself and your loves/interests with them. Collecting mugs is a good hobby to take up. There’s a wide variety of mugs everywhere, so you can do a theme or mix and match. Just be careful because the collection does add up fast!

~CD

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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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