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Is it grey, or is it green? Our second Tea of the Month for May is both! Enjoy 15% off the forever favoriteTOLSLL_GRNEGR-16oz_-00_Earl-Grey-Green-Tea-Loose-Leaf-16oz made fresh with bergamot and green tea. Bergamot is a small citrus orange that blossoms in winter.

Tea was originally flavoured with bergamot to imitate the more expensive types of Chinese tea. This practice dates back to the 1820’s in the UK. In 1837 there is a record of a lawsuit against a tea maker who was found to have supplied tea “artificially scented, and, drugged with bergamot in this country.”

The Earl Grey blend, or “Earl Grey’s Mixture,” is assumed to be named after The 2nd Earl Grey, British Prime Minister in the 1830s and author of the Reform Bill of 1832. Lord Grey reputedly received a gift, probably a diplomatic perquisite, of tea flavoured with bergamot oil. The English Tea Store is one of few who takes this original Earl Grey blend and surprises you with a base of green tea.

Editor’s note – I love the word perquisite – so much nicer than today’s “perk.”

We’re finally in the month of May, and we’re in the middle of Spring. This means more outings, more time outside, and more time spent with family, especially mothers. Mother’s Day is celebrated in May in the United States.

Mothers-Day-11For the US, mothers have been celebrated and thanked for about a hundred years. All mothers, young and old, are celebrated by their children everywhere. They are often taken on special breakfasts, meals (as long as they do not have to cook on their special holiday), given bouquets of flowers, cakes, cards, or their favorite personal gift. This was all made possible thanks to Anna Jarvis, who wanted to honor not just her own mother, but all mothers. In 1907 she began campaigning for a National Mother’s Day in the United States; she struggled for many years until 1914. It was that year when President Woodrow Wilson designated Mother’s Day as the second Sunday in May by signing a Joint Resolution.

Although Miss Jarvis is known as the Mother of all Mother’s Day, the idea of Mother’s Day was first noted by a poet by the name of Julia Ward Howe in 1872. She is also known for famously penning the Civil War song “Battle Hymn of the Republic” in 1870.

While Mother’s Day is considered a major holiday for many, for the British, Mother’s Day came and went much earlier. It is actually celebrated on the fourth Sunday during Lent. Since the days of Lent are different each year, this would make Mother’s Day in the UK fall on different dates, as well.

British Mother’s Day was originally known as Mothering Sunday as early as the 1600s. It was a time when people returned to the original church they went to or where they were baptized when they were younger. Young people who were working as servants were given the holiday off on Mothering Sunday, so they took the day to visit their mums and brought gifts to her. Girls baked Simnel Cakes, a light fruit cake covered in marzipan and another layer of marzipan baked into the cake along with 11 or 12 balls of marzipan on top. The balls of marzipan represent the disciples of Jesus Christ and sometimes Jesus Christ himself.  Today it is celebrated in the similar fashion of the United States in which children celebrate and give gifts to their mothers (or mums) with the addition of their mums being taken to high tea.

There are various ways of celebrating Mother’s Day with your mother. If your mother is a tea lover, tea always makes a perfect gift for her! A fruity tea like Lady Londonderry is wonderful iced. Flavorful hints of strawberry and lemon make it perfect for a good afternoon drink! Or is your mom a morning person? Maybe a good Irish Breakfast would suit her just well!

And to nibble on? Perhaps some basic Digestives plain or the added bonus of chocolate? Then there’s Tunnock’s Caramel biscuits in which you can’t go wrong. Only problem is that there’s only four in the pack! They are that tasty!

However you choose to celebrate, your mother is the most important person in your life. Give her the best or give her a call!

How to make tea latte

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

I recently made a visit to the Washington DC area to visit my fiance. Now, I am engaged to a wonderful man. He makes me coffee and cups of tea whether I want it or not and I always want to return the favor. So when I was out there, I offered to make him a cup of tea. However, he was surprised when I brought him his cup of Lover’s Leap with just milk and sweetener in it. “I thought you were going to steam the milk,” He said. “Like make it a latte.” It made me raise an eyebrow. The people in Britain do not take their tea in latte form. I take my tea with a simple milk and sweetener. I’m still trying to pick up the habit of drinking it more than once a day.

What exactly is a tea latte? It’s just like a latte made with coffee or espresso. It has steamed milk but instead of the eye-opening java, it’s tea! My fiance works for a certain coffee shop that makes a very popular kind of tea latte. Actually, two types. Green tea and chai tea are very popular among the masses but it can also be made with other kinds of tea like black.

In order to make a tea latte, one would need a steaming wand to froth the milk. I know that not everyone possesses that type of equipment. However, my fiance told me that I could make it at home by using a whisk while heating up some milk. So I brewed some Yorkshire Tea just like I normally would and added my homemade whisked milk. The addition of sweetener made things even better. The result? Very creamy and delicious! The latte stays hot with the addition of hot milk rather than cold milk when making a British style cup of tea.

The most popular types of tea lattes are chai and green tea. The one I made was pretty much considered a “London Fog” with the latte being made with black tea. I enjoyed the one I made so I can’t wait to make one for my loving fiance next time I see him. I can show him my latte making skills!

Simple Tea Latte

Teabag
8oz water
8oz milk (either dairy or non)
Whisk or fork

Boil the water and steep your teabag like you normally would, discard teabag. Then, using a saucepan over low heat, heat the milk and whisk/stir with fork until the milk becomes hot and/or frothy. Pour into tea, and sweetener or syrup. Enjoy!

~CD

Editor’s note: I used to be a barista, and am a bit of a snob. I have the Brevelle machine in my kitchen to prove it. :) I highly recommend using a steaming wand. A note on steamed milk, regardless, is that when it reaches the proper temperature (130-160 degrees F) the natural sugars are brought out and it is the sweetest – too hot you scald; not hot enough you do not draw out the natural sugar. The steaming also stretches the milk – expands it – and you want about 30% stretching or you end up with a cappuccino consistency. One final note – you do not want to add too much air when you whisk, or you can destroy the smooth consistency of the milk.

© 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

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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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