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A little bit of French today because we are making ham and cheese pastries and as you probably know a chicken breast stuffed with ham and cheese is called Chicken Cordon Bleu!

They are very simple to make ifIMG_4742 you can buy the ready-made puff pastry, you will also need some nice cooked ham and some very strong cheese.  We have made cheese pasties before and they are similar but the ham just adds that little bit extra taste and also they can be used as a main course if you make them big enough.

Roll out your pastry and place a slice of ham on, then some thick slices of a nice strong Cheddar cheese on top of the ham.  Fold the whole thing up and crimp the edges with a fork and brush with beaten egg.

Bake in a very hot oven for 20 minutes until puffed up and golden brown.  Serve straight from the oven as a main course, I served mine with some oven roasted tomatoes, or if you want you can make smaller versions and allow to cool slightly before serving as a snack with a cup of your favorite English Tea Store tea!

July has arrived! It may seem like the past few months have been flying by, but we’re here to give you a little bit of tea encouragement. The teas listed below offer special pricing that will last all month long (no code needed.)

tolstb_egrreg-25p_earl-grey

(c) English Tea Store – Earl Grey Teabags

The first tea is our Regular Earl Grey Tea in Fine Loose Leaf or Teabags. The Earl Grey Tea blend from English Tea Store is a blend of Ceylon and Indian teas. The tea receives its unusual and unique flavor from oil of Bergamot – which is a small acidic orange. The Bergamot orange is a cross between the sweet or pear lemon (Citrus Limetta) and the Seville or sour orange (Citrus Aurantium). The sour orange is native to Southern Vietnam. The Earl Grey Fine Loose Tea is available in 4 different sizes: 4 ounces, 8 ounces, 15 ounces, or 80 ounces. The Earl Grey Teabags are available in a 25 pouch, 25 tin, 50 pouch, 100 bulk, or 500 bulk.

Curious about the benefits of drinking Earl Grey Tea?

  • Good for your teeth – That’s right! Tea contains very high levels of catechin, which is an antioxidant that fights oral infection. Flouride is a naturally occurring component in Earl Grey.
  • Promotes good digestion – Earl Grey can aid and relieve painful digestion, colic, and nausea.
  • Fights anxiety and depression – Unfortunately, in today’s world many people suffer from anxiety, depression, or both. Maybe you’re looking for other routes instead of medicine? The Bergamot in Earl Grey has a calming effect and has natural aromatherapy qualities.
  • Weight loss – Like most teas citrus teas, Earl Grey an induce weight loss. It is thought that calories are broken down into food for your muscles or released through the metabolic process. Try adding some extra citrus like lemon!
  • Hydration (It’s Key!) – Hydration is so important for your body…and it’s not just because tea is made with water. Earl Grey has a high potassium content so it keeps your fluids in check.
TOLSLL_DRJMIM_-Mim-Estate-tea-loose-leaf

(c) English Tea Store – Mim Estate Loose Leaf

Moving on to our next July tea – Mim Estate in Loose Leaf. The Mim Estate blend from the English Tea Store has a distinctive “Muscatel” character with a hint of currant. This tea is a 2nd flush Darjeeling and comes from the Mim Estate in Northern India. The genus of the Darjeeling tea bush is the Chinese Jat, which gives it the distinctive muscatel character. The fragrance and taste is a complex bouquet that travels right out of the cup. Some may describe the taste as nutty, black currant, or muscat grape-like.

The final tea of the month is actually multiple teas in a sampler (What more could you ask for?!) – The Fruit Kick – Loose Leaf Sampler. This is great if you’re looking to try something new and adventure out of your safe zone. Each sampler pack comes with 1 ounce of each of our favorite fruit flavored loose leaf teas: Apple Spice Black Tea, Blackcurrant Black Tea, Pomegranate Lemon Black Tea, Wild Blueberry Organic Tea, and Florida Orange Rooibos Tea. We recommend brewing in water, that has been brought to a boil, for 3-5 minutes.

Okay – I think we’ve given you a lot to think about. Tell us your favorite flavored tea!

When someone asked me to think back to when I first started drinking tea, I had to think. It was in my teen years, but I’m not sure what led me into drinking tea back then. Maybe it was my introduction to “white tea” and “green tea” that tantalized my taste buds. It took me a while to adapt to these, but I didn’t really explore tea until I got older.

tolsll_hblbbl_bingo-blueberry-herbal-loose-leaf-teaChildren in the United Kingdom are usually introduced to home-brewed tea at a young age. Cups of black tea are incorporated into everyday life and are later introduced to other types of teas like darjeeling and oolong. They learn to become little connoisseurs! American children do drink tea but not as much as their English counterparts. One thing they do have in common is the tea sets! Many children have tea sets and love to throw tea parties! They can invite friends or family to join them for tea time (I would have tea with my dolls and stuffed animals). Having tea together encourages play time, imagination, and social skills.

I live with my nine-year-old nephew and he has a budding interest in tea. When he learned I became a tea blogger and what I would be doing, he was very interested and tried a few brews with me. Now, I like to brew myself a cup of decaf tea at night to encourage sleep and my nephew will ask for a cup, which I will happily make for him. While he prefers his iced, he loves tea very much and we will drink together. Sometimes his oldeteatolp1000000819_-06_bella-coola-caffeine-free-tea-sampler-loose-herbal-teasr sister and younger brother will even join us! My nephew has even tasted PG Tips which he likes. While I have yet to teach him the winning combination of digestives and tea, he has expressed interest in not just trying teas alone but biscuits and cakes! I really enjoy teaching him about tea and English culture. I am so proud to be this young man’s aunt!

For the little tea drinker, a good fruit tea can be suitable for their young taste buds. A simply wonderful tea for children is our Bingo Blueberry. While it is good hot, it is refreshing as an iced tea. It is an herbal tea so it has no caffeine and has a strong blueberry flavor along with a dark purplish color. Another kid-approved tea is the Bella Coola, which has a citrusy pineapple flavor. The color for this one is a little bit orange-red. This one is good iced with a garnish of strawberry or pineapple. Since summer is almost here, another way to enjoy these teas is to make popsicles out of them (once they are sweetened to the child’s liking).

Warning: When brewing tea, make sure an adult is handling the hot water and enjoy under proper supervision.

If you know me, one of my favorite brands of tea to brew is PG Tips. It is usually my go-to tea for whenever I feel like I need a good pick-me-up or something to warm me up in the cold days of winter. It was one of the first British teas I tasted before I really began to dive into British food and culture and I introduced it to my young nephew, keeping the love for PG Tips well into the next generation.

teatpgt1000031917_-00_pg-tips-juicy-raspberry-green-tea-bags-20-count teatpgt1000032454_-00_pg-tips-red-bush-vanilla-herbal_1While plain black tea is what they started with, PG tips recently began to expand their tea line from beyond the standard black tea. While there is loose leaf and decaf, PG Tips has ventured into the world of green, herbal, and fruit teas. Five varieties of green tea have been produced by PG, Pure Green, Juicy Raspberry, Fragrant Jasmine, Vibrant Mandarin Orange, and Zesty Lemon. Each box of green tea has 20 bags and is a fine blend from Indonesia and Kenya. All but the Pure Green are infused with a floral or fruity flavor.

Perhaps you fancy a more lighter taste and less caffeine? That’s where the herbal teas come in. Delicate Camomile, Refreshing Peppermint, Smooth Redbush and Vanilla, and Aromatic Spices and Mint are all here to soothe you. Camomile is infused with delicate flowers, Peppermint is a clean and refreshing minty goodness, Redbush and Vanilla is a mixture of South African Rooibos, vanilla flavor, hibiscus flowers, and cranberry, and finally Spices and Mint is a combination of familiar spices like cinnamon, mint, and a bit of orange.

Still prefer black tea? There are some new varieties that PG tips has in store such as the Strong One and the Fresh One. The Strong One has a bright red color when brewed, a malty aroma, and a bold tea character. This tea is blended from teas grown in Kenya and other African nations. The Fresh One is also red when brewed, and this tea is a Breakfast Blend plus English Breakfast, all blended from tea grown in Kenya.

It is hard to choose from all these varieties! I like to expand my horizons and try new tea but if you’re a tea lover like myself, you might have a large cupboard full of tea! Have you tried any of these flavors? Let us know!

Quick Blurb: Sencha is Japan’s most popular type of tea.

Sencha is traditionally a Japanese green tea that is made from leaves of the Japanese tea bush. In recent years, Sencha teas have been known to be produced in China, South Korea, and other countries. In 1740, a Kyoto tea master named Soen Nagatani developed the method of steam processing green leaf resulting in a superb, fresh flavorful cup.

When Sencha is brewed it has a vibrant yellow color and light aroma. The taste can be described as both bitter and sweet – making this tea a very unique experience.

Health Benefits:

  • Fights against free radicals in the bodyTOLSLL_GRNSJP_-Sencha-Japanese-Green-Tea-loose-leaf-tea
  • Antioxidants can aid in preventing coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis
  • Absorbs extra cholesterol in the body
  • Can control blood sugar levels
  • Beneficial to the immune system
  • Helps aid osteoporosis
  • Burns calories and can help during weight loss
  • Helps retain youthful skin and reduce wrinkles by hydrating
  • Repairs damaged or inflamed skin
  • Natural relief for sore throat or cough
  • Tea extract can be used for aromatherapy

Caffeine Content: LOW

This tea contains natural caffeine found in the L.Camellia Sinensis family. A cup of green tea steeped in boiled water for 5 minutes will contain between 22-29 milligrams of caffeine. An equal sized cup of coffee will contains 80-100 milligrams of caffeine. Caffeine quickly becomes soluble in very hot water. If you want to reduce the caffeine level in this tea, briefly rinse the tea leaves in extremely hot water. The caffeine content will reduce 25-50% – this may have a minor effect on the taste of the tea.

Antioxidant Content: 7.5 -9.99% polyphenols by dry weight. The longer you steep your tea the more polyphenols will be extracted. Polyphenol percentages may fluctuate with lot, grade of tea, testing method, temperature of water, and freshness of tea. More antioxidants are extracted from tea the longer it is brewed. The more that the tea is used the greater the antioxidant benefits.

During the month of June, try Sencha Japanese Green Tea at 15% off the original price! It’s available in loose leaf or bags.

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!

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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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