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

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving is here and you probably have a lot on your plate already. Who is coming to dinner? Should I bring out the good china? What kind of snacks should I serve? Fear not, here are just a few ideas on how to spruce up your Thanksgiving!

Snacks: Before the big meal of turkey and stuffing, everyone is always looking for something to nibble on. If you have guests, it’s sometimes best to have a small spread for everyone to munch on,teatssc1000025103_-00_jacobs-mini-twiglets-caddy-7-05oz-200g_1 just to tide them over until dinner. That’s when you break out the cheese and crackers. Most people love cheese and it can go very fast, especially with some Jacob’s Biscuits for cheese. The best cheeses to try these savory biscuits with would be brie, English cheddar, or even your own special cheese dip. These go with just about anything and they’re well worth it! Another savory snack that is a hit among snackers are the Twiglets. These crunchy little sticks are Marmite flavored, so some may love them, and some may not but they do cause some conversation at the snack table.

teatssc1000015134_-00_mcvities-biscuits-victoria-carton-10-58oz-300g_1Cookies: If your guests fancy cookies as much as crackers, then cookie varieties are a must! McVitie’s makes a variety box called Family Circle which features some of their best cookies (like digestives, bourbon creams, and jammy cookies) all in one box so there’s something for everyone! Or more in the mood for chocolate? Try the Victoria selection box. There’s lots of chocolatey cookies in this beautiful box but be careful, this could be gone very quickly!

Tea: If you plan to serve tea at your Thanksgiving feast, it may be a bit hard sometimes as you may not know what type of tea to serve since there are guests who have different preferences. Luckily, there are English Tea Store Samplers, which provide everyone a type and flavor for everyone. Not sure which sampler? There’s the Tea for Any Occasion. Perfect for parties, dinners, or desserts, it’s literally perfect for any time! This loose leaf sampler includes Pumpkin Spice, Godiva Roche, English Breakfast 2, and along with 5 other teas.

What are some of your favorite things to serve at a Thanksgiving dinner? Any ideas of your own? Let us know!

-CD

 

 

There aren’t that many opportunities in the year to have a large meal and just go all out. For Americans, there is Thanksgiving, which is held on the last Thursday of November each year. Relatives from far and wide typically come to visit so they can enjoy the annual dinner with the ones they love. There is also a parade filled with giant balloons of cartoon characters many of us know and love, followed by a football game. Once the dinner concludes, dessert of pumpkin or apple pie is served.

The UK is an entirely different story, however. Each Sunday (yes, every Sunday), many Britons make a dinner consisting of meat (usually  beef, pork, chicken, or lamb) that is roasted, potatoes, which are also usually roasted, vegetables, stuffing, Yorkshire puddings, and who can forget, the gravy?

The history of a Sunday Roast (or Sunday Dinner) started very simply: many people did not eat meat on Fridays since they were following their religion so it was usually eaten after church when families would whip up a nice Sunday dinner. This has been a tradition since around the 1700s and is a very hearty one, still going strong today. People always make sure they’re home for Sunday dinner!

If you have never made a Sunday Roast, what goes in one? Of course, the standard roast but it’s your choice of what kind of roast. Fancy beef or chicken? Roast it! And the most popular vegetables used to help make up the Sunday Roast range from carrots, to broccoli, to even parsnips. Potatoes are sometimes boiled but are most commonly roasted to be perfectly crispy. Then there’s the stuffing. Now, this isn’t the Thanksgiving stuffing you’re used to. This is stuffing rolled into balls but sometimes it is also made into a dish like traditional American stuffing. There’s also the Yorkshire puddings, which are baked in a special pan (or in a muffin pan) with hot oil until they just pop up! Don’t forget the gravy!

Just describing this makes me hungry! Now I can see why everyone goes home for Sunday Dinner! Do you have your own Sunday Dinner traditions or ones from Home? Do you plan to start new ones?

Enjoy with a nice hot brew. Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

-CD

 

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Trick or Treat! While children and teens dress up and go out for Halloween festivities, the adults are busy helping the youngsters prepare for one of the biggest nights of the year (next to Christmas). What kind of treat do the ones not trick-or-treating deserve? Maybe a warm cup of tea along with some scones or toast with jam or a nice sandwich with tangy mustard? You’ll be surprised to find all sorts of treats for the tea time fan.

While our shop sells rfcrm_cc_3pk_clotted_cream_and_jamsegular sized jams and jellies, these tiny jars of fruity goodness are just too cute to pass up! We are proud suppliers of Bonne Maman, a French jam company specializing in scrumptious flavors like fig, cherry, and strawberry and jarring them up with their trademark gingham lids. These jams are popular regular sized, so when they’re tiny, they’re even more irresistible. The smaller size makes it a lot easier to sample flavors you may not have tasted before or just simply spice things up by mixing up your favorite flavors. Try these jams on some bread, crumpets, or an English muffin! If you enjoy Bonne Maman’s jam, we carry larger sizes!teafcsc1000036761_-00_maille-honey-dijon-mustard-1-4oz

For those who are not a fan of sweet or just like a little savory (or tangy) before jam, there is a treat for you, too! Just like Bonne Maman, Maille Mustards come in a tiny jar, so you can treat yourself with a little dijon or whole grain and have a lot of flavor. Try these on a sandwich, with a fresh soft pretzel, or even in recipes! Just a few teaspoons or tablespoons and your dish will have a lovely zing to it! Maille Mustards are a well trusted brand, as they have been making mustards, vinegars, and other products for over 250 years.

Now, call these fun size, if you like! These may be tiny but you will get big taste and excellent quality from both Maille and Bonne Maman. And these treat sized jars are perfect year round, as you can get them for birthday parties (who wants a tea time themed birthday party? I sure do!), weddings, or baby showers. These are available for multiple jar purchase. Simply specify how many you need and we will do the best we can to work with you so you will be able to charm your guests!

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

-CD

yogi-tea-1

Recently we became purveyors of Yogi Teas, a brand of herbal and spicy teas that originally started being sold in natural food stores but are now growing in popularity. Each box comes with 16 tea bags and help support either mind or body.*

How Yogi Teas got started is a very inspiring story. Back in 1969, a man named Yogi Bhajan came to the US from India to teach yoga. Many said he was a very inspiring man, one who shared his knowledge, wisdom, and teas with his students. He made his teas using only five traditional Ayurvedic spices: cardamom, cinnamon bark, black pepper, ginger root, and clove bud. The tea he served to his students after his yoga classes was described to be aromatic and soothing, and so it was nicknamed “Yogi Tea”.

20161030_204421Now Yogi’s teas have blossomed into more than 60 blends, many of them carrying the five spices in them and many herbal. One noticeable thing about the teabags, which have strings, is that they have inspiring messages written on the tea tags. It’s a nice little surprise and it makes tea time just a bit more fun that it already is. The one I got when opening my teabag of BerryDeTox said: “People who love are happy”. Each teabag is different so prepare to be surprised.

We carry 18 blends so it’s very tempting not to buy all of them and try them at once! My own personal favorite is the Echinacea Immune Support. It’s a nice blend of soothing herbs and it’s perfect for bedtime. Try a Yogi tea today!

-CD

 

*Please note: While these teas are advertised to help relieve an ailment like tension or stress, each box states that these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and the products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

Come October, most love to say that these last three months of the year are the best. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are some of the best times for celebrating. What better way to celebrate the upcoming holidays than with chocolate and who doesn’t love chocolate? Starting with Halloween, the sweet celebrations begin. As soon as October approaches, stores begin to not only sell Halloween candy but also Christmas decorations and a few sweets. You may say it’s too early but if you live in the UK and are a fan of chocolate, then it is tradition. This is because chocolate boxes and tins go on sale, and they are some of the most anticipated sweets of the holidays.

teatssc1000015120_-00_nestle-quality-street-tin-820-grams-2016Now these are no ordinary chocolates. These beautiful sweets are colorfully wrapped and in random shapes and sizes. Much like a box of standard chocolates, each package will tell you what to expect in each chocolate, except you can pick whichever ones you like!

Quality Street is made by Nestle, identifiable by the purple box or tub. Quality Street was created after a man named Harold Mackintosh inherited his father John’s toffee factory after his death in 1936 and Harold revolutionized Christmas chocolates. In the early days, only the wealthy could originally afford Christmas chocolates since they were made with imported ingredients but with Mackintosh’s plan to use local ingredients, it lowered the prices of his chocolate and made Chhxm_08_c133_-00_cadbury-roses-tub-2016ristmas chocolate affordable to everyone. His invention, Quality Street, is made in the original factory from 1936. In 1988, Nestle purchased the brand and has owned it ever since. In previous holiday seasons, Nestle has released entire single serve chocolate bars devoted to favorite flavors of Quality Street (like honeycomb crunch and even chocolate green triangle). There has even been a giant strawberry! Quality Street was named after a play written by Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie, who was mostly known for writing Peter Pan.

Cadbury Roses are the Cadbury equivalent of Quality Street, launched in 1938 to compete with the main brand of Christmas chocolate. The Roses name apparently comes from “Rose Brothers”. Cadbury Roses have only 10 varieties of chocolates.

teatssc1000020922_-00_cadbury-heroes-11-39oz-323g_1Finally, another hit among chocolate lovers is the Cadbury Heroes. This is a mixture of Cadbury favorites like Dairy Milk, Fudge, Wispa, Dairy Milk Caramel, Twirl, Eclair, and Creme Egg Twisted. The best part of this is that they are all miniatures! These “fun sized” treats come in a range of sizes from small bags, to boxes, to large tubs.

All of these wonderful sweets are delicious and are enjoyed throughout generations. Their popularity is growing throughout the world so it’s no wonder it’s gaining attention here in the States. The tradition of Christmas chocolates have been well-established with British families and now American families can create new traditions with them. Try some today. You will wonder how your holidays ever did without!

-CD

 

As soon as summer is over, pumpkin spice and cinnamon begin to fill the shelves of stores faster than you can say “Halloween”, boots replace flip flops, and coats are brought out from dark closets and into the bright orange sunshine. The cooler weather is finally upon us for a short time, and you can finally enjoy tea hot once again! What better way to celebrate Fall than with tolsll_psp_-00_loose-leaf-tea-pumpkin-spiceour Fall flavored tea?

tolstb_cran_-00_cranberry-pouchOur refreshing Cranberry Black Tea is a good way to transition to fall but still have a sweet fruity flavor. The black tea is grown in the high districts of Sri Lanka: Nuwara Eliya, Uva, and Dimbula. This tea is flavored using oils and not flavoring crystals, which give the tea a more brighter taste. Try it iced for a cool, refreshing experience!

Or are you a huge fan of pumpkin? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Twinings Pumpkin Spice Chai is perfect for your pumpkin fix without having to get a latte. Twinings is one of Britain’s best known tea brands, using quality black tea along with the finest spices for their chai teas. Add milk once your cup of pumpkin chai is ready and you will be taken to a spicy heaven! Not a fan of chai? Try our English Tea Store Pumpkin Spice, a blend of black tea and South African Rooibos, creating a medium caffeinated tea to give you a lovely balance of flavor. We also have Stash’s Pumpkin Spice, which is a decaf blend and is in a small 10 pack.tolsll_meraps_-mercedes-apple-spice-herbal-loose-leaf-tea

For the apple lovers, we have our very own Mercedes Apple Spice Tea. It’s a crisp and spicy blend of apple, hibiscus, cardamom, cloves, pepper, and cinnamon. It’s caffeine free and it’s loaded with Vitamin C! Need more of a spicy kick? Try Twinings Apple Chai, a sweet chai equivalent to the Pumpkin Chai but with apple flavor. It is a one of a kind tea experience that will leave you wanting more!

 

-CD

 

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(c) English Tea Store – Crystal Derma

There is a huge difference when it comes to baking in the United States versus the rest of the world and that is weight versus volume. Americans measure using the US Standard while everyone else measures using weight. If you have tried to make a recipe straight from a British or European cookbook or baking mixes, you will notice that their recipes are laid out in grams (g) and fluid ounces (oz). In American recipes and baking mixes, it’s completely different. Everything is measured out in cups, both wet and dry. Teaspoons and tablespoons are used in both measuring systems but they are actually completely different when it comes to the actual measurement of the teaspoon or tablespoon.

The British measure their baking ingredients by using a kitchen scale. Many years ago, kitchen scales were standard and had to be manually calibrated. In recent years, people have been converting to digital kitchen scales because they are much easier to work with than standard. The only downside to owning a digital kitchen scale is that the batteries will occasionally run low or die and so you will have to replace the batteries every now and then. The perks of owning a kitchen scale are much better, as you can use one bowl to measure everything instead of having to use cup after cup like we do here in America. It saves a lot of mess.

It also very important to weigh EACH ingredient as you work with a kitchen scale since every ingredient is different. If you were to weigh about 200 grams of all purpose (also known as plain) flour and then need caster sugar afterwards, do not assume that they are the same amount. Every ingredient weighs differently. Get the scale and weigh the caster sugar. It may take a little more or a little less. For the US measures, weight is no difference. Amounts are exactly how they are measured. For one US cup (dry) to be measured, it is best to level off the excess with a butter knife for exact measurements.

Along with measuring ingredients, there is also a different way to measuring temperatures. If you are reading a British recipe and it says to heat the oven to, let’s say, Gas Mark 4, it may baffle you if you are unfamiliar with using a certain type of British oven. Gas marks are how to heat up gas ovens in the UK. Other stoves are marked with temperatures in Celsius, which are also known as Centigrade. Ovens in the US use Fahrenheit, so always look for the C or the F when looking at temperatures. American gas ovens do not have gas marks and can be preheated to Fahrenheit (some ovens may even have Celsius on the knobs), even if the stove is electric.

While it is good to use the American measurements, it’s even better to know how to measure the British way. It may seem hard at first but it really is easy to master once you get it working! Plus, you won’t need to convert any recipes!

-CD

 

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(c) Good Housekeeping UK

If you miss custard creams or just crave them, then you can make them yourself with a few simple ingredients from your pantry and a little custard powder. This recipe for custard cream cookies is from Good Housekeeping UK. I first made this recipe before I had a kitchen scale (more on this later).

US Standard

  • For the cookie:
  • 2 cups All Purpose (plain) flour, plus extra to dust
  • 6 dry tablespoons Bird’s custard powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/8 cup or 7 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • Filling
  • 1/3 cup (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup icing/powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp Bird’s custard powder

Or

Metric

  • 200 g (7oz) All purpose (plain) flour, plus extra to dust
  • 50 g (2oz) Bird’s custard powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 75 g (3oz) caster sugar
  • 125 g (4oz) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • For the Filling
  • 75 g (3oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 125 g (4oz) icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp Bird’s custard powder
  • For the biscuits, put the flour, custard powder, baking powder, sugar and butter into a food processor, or use a fork and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Alternatively, rub the butter into the flour mixture using your fingertips.
  • Add the egg and milk and mix until the mixture just comes together. Tip onto a work surface, bring together with your hands, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 mins or up to 1 day.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out dough until 3mm (⅛in) thick. Cut it into an even number of 3cm x 4.5cm (1¼in x 1¾in) rectangles, re-rolling trimmings as needed. If you like, mark the rectangles with a diamond and a dot in each corner.
  • Put rectangles on prepared sheets and bake for 13-15 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on the sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, put the softened butter into a large bowl and sift over icing sugar and custard powder. Mix to combine (don’t add water as it needs to be fairly thick). Set aside.
  • When the biscuits are cool, sandwich together with some of the filling, using a knife, spatula, or a piping bag if you want a less messy finish.

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If you have seen an episode of the Great British Bake Off, you will notice some of the contestants explaining their ingredients. If you hear names like “caster sugar”, treacle, or “black treacle”, you may be familiar with it or it may leave you scratching your head, depending on which side of the pond you are from.

When I am not making or drinking tea, I am baking and I tend to bake A LOT. When I first started to bake British recipes, I noticed that in order to have the best results, British ingredients are the best. I tried to use American ingredients like granulated sugar in place of caster sugar and the difference is a huge one. The difference between caster sugar and granulated sugar is that caster sugar is much more fine than the granulated sugar. The crystals are much more easier to dissolve when being stirred in and baked. Demerara sugar is a much different story. Demerara is much more coarse than caster sugar and looks much similar to Turbinado sugar, a certain sugar that we in America see in a little brown packet. This sugar has a toffee/molasses-like flavor. Other popular sugars in the UK are Muscovado sugars. Much like the brown sugars we have here in the US, there are light and brown versions. Muscovado sugar is a naturally brown sugar while brown sugar has molasses added to it. Muscovado sugar usually gets its color from sugar cane juice

It is not just the traditional ingredients and flavors that the competitors have used. Contestants bring their own flavors from home, ones they or their family enjoy that bring them such sweet (or savory) memories. They have made their own flavors from simple fruits like Morello cherries to sweets like Pontefract Cakes, and even cola flavors. Some of these flavors are combined, such as mango, hazelnut, and rosemary and made into a sweet treat that you would not believe. These home cooks have such incredible skills that it is astonishing.

You can also add tea to your baking, wet or dry! Tea loaf cakes are a common bake in the UK, which involve actually BREWING tea, soaking dried fruits in it, and adding it to the batter! If you prefer to use dry tea leaves, Stash Tea has a recipe that you can use to make Earl Grey Tea Bag cookies!

-CD

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