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Valentine’s Day is well known for celebrating love between two people. I feel Valentine’s Day isn’t just for lovers, but for friends and family, as well. After all, these are people you love and cherish. Why not show your love and appreciation for them? Try our selection of Valentine’s Day gifts that are sure to brighten up everyone you love!teagsmg1000037835_-00_a-stash-of-love-gift-set

If you have a tea loving friend or family member, while tea is a good gift, but why not an accessory or an essential? By essential, try a tea kettle or a teapot. One can never have too many of those? If one ever breaks, you can always have extra! As always, our English Tea Store teapots come in many colors and you can choose from 2 cup or 6 cup teapot!

Perhaps the person you love is from the other side of the Pond? Wouldn’t you like to give them a taste of Home? We’ve got our selection of British sweets and chocolate to start off with. Some of our most popular candies include the world famous melt-in-your-mouth Cadbury Dairy Milk and the gooey but heavenly sweet Walkers Toffee. Let your love show their patriotism with their favorite items featuring the Union Jack. Give them a travel mug to sip their tea from or let the world know where they’re from with they’re shopping bag. Or surprise your Across the Pond Honey with a flag of Home! Great Britain, Scotland, and plenty more! Hang it in the kitchen or living room, it will bring a smile!

You can always put a steasvbf1000033494_-00_the-romance-of-tea-valentine-gift-basket_2urprise package together but if you’re strapped for time, try our gift baskets. They’re easy, convenient, and best of all, there’s just about one for everyone! If you know someone who is a fan of mint, we have a mint tea time basket featuring chamomile tea, or someone who is just getting into tea, there is the English Tea Store basket, and then the Deluxe Afternoon Tea for the full English tea experience!

There’s just about something for everyone. Take a look around our site and check out all of our categories!

-CD

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

 

chinese-new-year-card

As many of us go back to normal life from the hustle and bustle of the holidays passed. Meanwhile, in China, the party’s just getting started! Chinese New Year brings hope and excitement to the people of China but it is very  special. For fifteen days each year based on the lunar calendar, Chinese people all over the world celebrate, wishing for luck and prosperi20170120_140654ty while relaxing and spending time with friends and family.

Chinese New Year (also known as the Lunar New Year) also celebrates the arrival of a new zodiac animal. There are 12 animals: dragon, snake, tiger, snake, pig, ox, monkey, horse, rabbit, goat, dog, and rooster. Every 12 years, these animals were used to date the years. 2017 happens to be the year of the rooster, 20170120_151524but 12 years ago (as of this writing) the year of the rooster was previously in 2005, then 1993, and so forth.

Some Chinese New Year traditions and rituals include cleaning up the house to sweep out any bad luck and welcome good luck into their sparkling clean homes. Other traditions include red envelopes with money inside, parades, and best of all, food! Many people eat foods like mooncakes, dumplings, and tea eggs! What are tea eggs? Tea eggs are simply hard boiled eggs that are cracked to make a marbled effect and then re-boiled in a tea and soy sauce mix. These are some of the most popular New Year foods for Chinese New Year. The best part is that these are easy to make at home and inexpensive!

 

Below is a recipe that is based from other tea egg recipes in my research:

Chinese tea eggs

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 2 bags of black tea, any kind you like. Pu-erh is traditionally used, but for my recipe/experiment I used Yorkshire Gold since gold is very symbolic in Chinese culture. It is a symbol of good luck and a color of the emperors.
  • Soy Sauce, about ½ cup or ounces
  • Dried orange or mandarin peel (optional)

First thing to do would be to hard boil the eggs like you normally would. Once the eggs are cooled, tap on the eggs with the back of a spoon, creating nice, intricate cracks for the tea and soy sauce to seep through.20170120_190031

With the water that you boiled the eggs in place the teabags, soy sauce, anise, and cinnamon in the pan along with the now cracked eggs. Let the eggs boil in this mixture for about 20-40 minutes, or however you feel is best. Turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the mixture for at least an hour so they can “steep”. The longer the eggs steep, the darker your marbled eggs will be.

My eggs did not come out very dark since I had only let them sit there to steep for an hour. Pretty good for such little time.

Enjoy these with traditional Chinese New Year foods or on their own for breakfast. They are excellent!

-CD

 

Burns Night is an annual celebration of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns (January 25, 1759-July 21, 1796). Burns Night takes place on the poet’s birthday when many Scottish people celebrate the life of Robert Burns by holding a scrumptious dinner known as Burns Supper. How it came to be was back in 1801 when his friends came together to mark the fifth anniversary of the great Bard’s death. There was a lovely meal, speeches, and fond memories were shared of their dear friend. It was then decided that there should be a feast held in honor of Robert Burns every year since then.

Who was Robert Burns? For those of us who are unfamiliar with the Scottish poet, he was well known for many of his acclaimed works, like My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose, Ae Fond Kiss, and of course, Auld Lang Syne. That’s right, that song we all sing at New Year’s was written by Burns!

If you would like to join in on the Burns Night celebrations, it’s very simple and every bit enjoyable. Many go to poetry readings and dance, but it’s never Burns Night without the traditional Burns Supper. Supper is the traditional Scottish haggis, served with neeps and tatties, or turnips and potatoes, mashed up to accompany the haggis. Haggis is considered to be Scotland’s national dish and it was the main dish during the first Burns Supper. Haggis is a savory dumpling which is made with offal, or animal entrails and cooked in a sheep’s stomach. Unfortunately, it’s ruled as a no-no food here in the US* and has been banned since 1971. You can get modified versions of it here in the States but many say it’s just not the same.

For dessert, it’s clootie dumpling pudding along with some Cranachan. Clootie Dumpling pudding is a delicious spicy pudding, named for the cloth it’s boiled in, or “cloot” in Scots. Cranachan is another traditional Scottish dessert made with oats, whisky, honey, and raspberries to help conclude the night.

Finally, the perfect end to the night would be with some whisky and music from the bagpipes! We can see why the Scots celebrate Burns Night every year. Poetry, food, and music. You can’t help but smile and join in!

-CD

*As of this writing, January 2017

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Recently my family and I had to pack up and move to a new house. While I was sorting through my things, I came across some of my tea sets. I noticed that I had several tea-for-one sets. My fiance saw them and immediately wanted to try them out. Then I remembered that National Hot Tea Month was coming up again so now is a good time to delve into tea-for-one sets!

teapchn1000029112_-00_rose-porcelain-tea-for-oneIf you are unfamiliar with these unique tea sets, many of them are usually made of ceramic, porcelain, or bone china. Each set comes with a small teapot to brew a teabag or two in, depending on how strong you like your tea, a cup, and a saucer. Stack the teapot on top of the cup and set it all on the saucer and voila! These nifty sets look great on any counter, cupboard, or table, and they fit nearly anywhere.

English Tea Store carries our very own brand of tea-for-one sets, much like our own regular teapots. These are made of ceramic and carry up to 16 ounces of delicious tea along with a 10 ounce cup. They are touched with a beautiful glossy finish and come in a range of lively colors, from blue to lime green. You may end up teadt1p1000031882_-00_shabby-rose-porcelain-tea-for-onestarting a collection!

But if you want to explore the more exotic versions, we carry an excellent variety. There is the beautiful Shabby Rose Turquoise Porcelain set, which is a pleasing look for the eyes, or the Rose Porcelain set. This one features a beautiful gold trim* and a more traditional teapot look and very charming. One of our best selling sets is the Irish Claddagh, beautifully decorated with creamy colors and Celtic knotwork and patterns. A Claddagh is embellished in the stoneware, symbolizing love, friendship, and loyalty.

These tea sets are very ideal to give to someone who fancies a quick cup of tea but doesn’t want to pull out the entire tea set. I had received my tea-for-one sets as gifts and they are the best ever. These are sure to wow and you will enjoy using your tea set.

-CD

 

*For tea sets with gold trim, these are not recommended for microwave use.

 

(c) Food Network

(c) Food Network

Winter has finally arrived and that means colder days and longer nights. While many dread winter, some enjoy it because of some of the activities one can do. Some of the best wintertime activities include bundling up in a blanket, listening to a fire in the fireplace, and drinking hot beverages. For most of us, tea and hot chocolate are the most common hot beverages but another popular hot drink during the winter is taken in the form of a hot apple drink: mulled apple cider!

Mulled apple cider is a warm and cheerful fruit drink that has been enjoyed by millions for generations. Mulled drinks go as far back as the 18th century. At first, a red hot poker was originally used to add sugar and cloves to alcoholic drinks like beer or cider. Nowadays, mulled drinks can be made non-alcoholic with just plain apple cider (apple juice that is technically “raw”).

Allspice, anise (usually star anise), cloves, citrus peels, and cinnamon are the most common ingredients used as mulling spices to help bring out the warm flavor of the apple cider. You can add other spices like peppercorns or nutmeg, it’s totally up to you! But the spices are usually ground together and steeped using cheesecloth, muslin, or empty teabags. Some people make little baggies of these mulling spices and give them away as gifts or simply use them in cakes or other baked goods.

Mulled cider is usually popular during the fall and wintertime. Once the holiday season passes, people still enjoy the drink all the way until at least spring or summer. The smell of the spices always signify the start of colder weather and of better times. Enjoy a warm cup along with a few biscuits or cake and curl up with a good book!

-CD

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Christmas time is a favorite for many, meaning yummy food, delicious drinks, and of course, gifts! I find that tea can be a delicious drink and a gift rolled into one because it’s warm, cozy, and it’s something that can btolsll_-swscho_-00_swiss-hot-chocolatee given or received. I have given and received tea for Christmas and it’s always been quickly opened up and brewed so we could sample the never-before-tasted tea. This holiday season, English Tea Store has some new holiday flavors that will keep you from ripping these open before giving them away (or saving them until brewing for Christmas)!

Swiss Hot Chocolate Black Tea This is a surprising blend of Ceylon tea grown in Sri Lanka mixed with cocoa beans and white chamomile petals for a nice floral lift. You can’t even tell this is a tea! Add a splash of milk for a creamy effect.

Vienna Egg Nog For those who are fans of egg nog, this is a real treat! This is another Sri Lankan grown Ceylon tea but with delightful hints of ginger, cinnamon, and caramel. Try with or without milk!tolsll_eggnog_-00_vienna-egg-nog

Peppermint Matcha Green Tea – Our delicate matcha powder but with a refreshing peppermint flavor. This matcha powder can be drank in its simple form brewed with hot water or you can make Peppermint Matcha Green Tea Lattes oreven  in desserts such as cheesecake. Be creative!

Whether you give these teas as a gift or buy them for yourself, be sure to share with a friend or a loved one. After all, it is the season of giving and one of the best parts of tea is being able to share it with someone.

Have a Merry Christmas!

-CD

 

mince-pies

Nearly everyone loves pie, so when you hear about having pie during the holidays, it turns some heads. While beloved pies like apple and pumpkin are served during the holidays, mince pies are the true holiday crowd pleaser. Mince pies have been around since the 1600s and believe it or not, they were originally filled with actual meat! Love them or hate them, it’s not Christmas to many without a mince pie! In the US, not too many people have heard of mince pies or even know that they are a major part of the holidays but in the UK, it’s not Christmas without them. The mince (or mincemeat) is made of dried fruits, peels, bits of apple, along with distilled spirits like brandy, and spices.

In the UK, mince pies come in bite size and usually in packs of 6, 9 or 12. Sometimes the pies are decorated beautifully in pastry, with shapes like stars or holly cut into them. In the US, some markets sell what are dubbed as “mini” pies, because mincemeat pies are sold as a whole entire pie to cut and share. Suet, which is a type of animal fat, is also commonly used in many made-from-scratch mincemeat recipes.

When it comes to getting a mince pie fix, some simply go to the grocery store to pick up their mince pies. Others like to make their own by using either homemade or jarred mincemeat, and using either store bought pastry or pastry made from scratch. To make mini pies, some use muffin tins and for a large pie, others use a whole pie plate. Add just a dusting of powdered sugar and you’ve got yourself a nice holiday treat!

However, when it comes to popularity, mince pies are not too common in the United States. You won’t find them as easily as you would in the UK. It’s not a common part of the holiday tradition here as it is on the other side of the pond but you can always keep it going or even start it if you have not had them before!

-CD

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holiday-candy-food-2016-long-feature

Christmas is a magical time for everyone but for the children, it’s especially magical. School is out, snow is falling, and presents are unwrapped under a beautifully decorated tree with loved ones. The most important memories are developed during childhood, so it is key to make the holidays special for them. Tradition is taught early on and it sticks with children for years to come. They learn of old family traditions, like bringing out an old family heirloom to hang on the Christmas tree, baking Christmas cookies, or decorating the house, especially hanging Christmas stockings.teatssc1000021391_-00_mars-and-friends-medium-selection-box-181g

teatssc1000015115_-00_cadbury-selection-pack-medium-81g_1Now, about those stockings: they’re usually left empty right up until Christmas, when they’re filled to the brim with goodies and toys! For children, sweets are a big deal, so when shopping for their stockings this holiday season, why not try a candy tube like Maltesers, Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles, Pink Smarties, or Cadbury Buttons? They’re narrow enough to fit in the stocking and no one will ever see them! Candy tubes are popular during the holidays in the UK and nearly every confection company makes them!

Another popular candy creation in the UK are selection boxes. They range from small to large and they come with all sorts of chocolate. Milkybar and Galaxy also make variously sized selection boxes if you or your loved one fancies these more. Each box comes with a preselected mix of candy bars loved by fans. The hardest part is which one to eat first!

Now I know candy is not entirely good for children, but it’s the holidays and they only come once a year! Let them enjoy themselves before they go back to school and homework!

-CD

 

At my house on Thanksgiving, there is always dessert: the standard pumpkin pie and an apple pie. Apple pies are at our Thanksgiving dessert menu because some of my family members are not too keen on pumpkin pie, and that is understandable. The idea of pumpkins in a pie do not sound too appealing for some

74627-0-1459502036You may have heard the old saying, “As American as apple pie”. It turns out that apple pies were actually in the UK before they were in the US. They were only brought to America from Britain where they became very popular and associated with American culture. Many Americans enjoy apple pie a la mode, which is vanilla ice cream on the side while the pie is still warm but it’s an entirely different thing in the UK. Go there and they enjoy their apple pie with a bit of custard, cream, or some cheddar cheese!

The types of apples are also very different. In the US, the most popular type of apple used is Granny Smith, a bright green, very tart apple that is used in nearly anything culinary that requires apples. The same goes for the British Bramley apple, the American counterpart to the Granny Smith. As a born and raised American who has never been to the other side of the Atlantic, I have never tasted a Bramley, but it is on my bucket list. I wish I could describe the taste of a 36452ba2-648c-4c67-90f7-3a1fc36cf6f4Bramley (but someday!). I do know that they are green with just a blush of red and very stout in their appearance. It’s the most popular cooking apple in the UK.

Both kinds of pies are prepared using a flaky pastry crust (or shortcrust) along with the apples and some sugar. The spices make all the difference. In the American apple pie, cinnamon is most commonly used, sometimes a bit of nutmeg or other choice spices. The British apple pie will sometimes use little to no spices. Sometimes mixed spice (more on that later) or a little cinnamon. It depends on the palate of the consumer.

American apple pies are usually plain apple but are sometimes made with cherries or made half and half (apple-cherry) to please the apple pie vs. cherry pie lovers. British apple pies take a walk on the wild side by adding dried fruits like sultanas (a type of raisin), figs, or even cheese!

Thanksgiving is definitely one of my favorite holidays but apple pies are enjoyed year round. They can be enjoyed with a nice cup of tea in the afternoon or in the evening with a cool glass of milk!

-CD

 

 

 

 

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