Yes, the calendar has rolled around once again, and that means it’s Autumn Teatime! Time to spice it up!
Living the “tea life” (where tea isn’t just a beverage but a way of life) means that I am always looking for new ways to indulge and new pairings of food with teas. Autumn being my favorite time of year, my brain really starts firing on all cylinders (that’s “carspeak”) with all sorts of ideas, some silly and some downright good. I’ll stick to that last group for this article.
Cinnamon and Orange Black Tea — Pick your favorite black tea (I’d go with a Ceylon or a Darjeeling here). Then add some dried and diced orange rind (about 1 tablespoon per ounce of tea) and some ground cinnamon (I use about a teaspoon per ounce of tea). As an alternative, you could use dried apple pieces instead of or in addition to the orange rind. Steep as you would any black tea (boiling water, 3 to 5 minutes), strain, enjoy as is or with a touch of your favorite sweetener.
Any Kind of Latté Tea — Add some steamed or hot milk to your tea (CTC Assam, Keemun, Kenyan, a black Darjeeling or Ceylonian), along with some seasonal flavorings such as nutmeg, cinnamon, honey, sugar (or sweetener), etc. Top it with a dollop of whipped cream (fresh, not canned) and another sprinkle of nutmeg or even some chocolate sprinkles!
Spicy (Masala) Chai — Make your own on the stovetop or buy it pre-made (Stash, Twinings, Indian Spice Chai blend, and many more). Your own can be adjusted to suit your taste, or find a pre-made that has the right mix to suit you and your teatime guests. If you steep the pre-made kind lightly, you can enjoy it without milk. Steep longer if you intend to add milk. Either way, you will probably need some kind of sweetener (sugar and honey are most often used).
Ginger Tisane — Lots of health claims are made about ginger tea, but it also tastes great, especially as we head into cooler weather. You can make it fresh. A simple recipe: peel and grate ginger root, put it in a pot of boiling water and simmer for 15-20 minutes (the longer, the stronger). A more creative recipe: cardamom, cinnamon, fennel (just a pinch), ginger root, honey, lemon, and sugar in water brought to a boil and then simmered 20 minutes. You can also buy it in a pre-made form, such as Stash Lemon Ginger Herbal, Twinings Lemon & Ginger Tea, Twinings Citrus, Cinnamon, Spices (includes ginger), and Golden Moon White Ginger.
American foods that are so natural for this time of year are anything with pumpkin in it (pies, tarts, breads, etc.), dishes containing apples and cranberries (dumplings, warm fruit compotes, pies, tarts, breads, etc.), and just about anything that would taste good with cinnamon mixed in or sprinkled on.
Of course, I like to add a British flair to my teatimes for the most part. That means such treats as Toffee Sponge Pudding from Heinz (a name we know here in the States for such things as ketchup) and Aunty’s Sticky Toffee Pudding (steamed sponge cake with dates — yum!). We’ve probably all heard of (and snickered at) Spotted Dick Pudding (the “spots” are from sultanas and raisins) so including this as part of the teatime is a natural.
Fruit cake is one of those treats that is popular both in the UK and the US (not to mention with most stand-up comedians and hack comedy writers). It can be quite tasty and add a fruity “kick” to your autumn teatime, so don’t leave it out. I find that serving it slightly warmed is a real taste enhancer.
Scented candles are always a great spice adder. Don’t light so many that they overpower the aroma of your tea and the flavors of the teatime treats, though. Let all those wonderful flavors and aromas shine through. Enjoy!
Stop by A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill, for more advice on spicing up that tea life of yours!