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Herbal "Tea"

Herbal "Tea"

We know that tea has a long and storied history and is traced back to China from dates close to 3000 BC. And around here, we tend to talk about “tea” as the product of steeping the leaves of Camellia sinensis, which include the main varieties we’re familiar with, namely, black, green, white, and oolong.

But what if we extended our pedestrian understanding of “making tea” to brewing items that have tea-like properties once steeped (called “infusions”) but didn’t come from actual tea-leaves? We can learn much from cultures outside of English and American heritages and how they used infusions both medicinally and for enjoyment. While these teas are more properly called tisanes, for the sake of this blog, we’ll call them herbal “teas”.

If your feet and hands are cold all the time, it’s said that you can boil 2 cinnamon sticks and 1 teaspoon of whole cloves in 3 cups of water for approximately 15 minutes. Once strained, those who use this tea say if you consume 3 cups per day, you’ll warm up. I’m pretty sure my husband just perked up at the potential of having me be less-ice-cube-like when we climb in to bed at night.

If you’d like to combat a cold, traditional Chinese medicine says that making a tea from boiling a minced garlic clove, three slices of fresh ginger, a minced scallion, about 1 teaspoon of basil and a pinch of cinnamon (powder) in 3 cups of water for 5 minutes. When you drink the tea, prepare for bed and cover up. Chinese medicine says that this tea will make you sweat, which is the way to release the pathogens that are making you ill. The prescription is to drink 3 cups per day until your symptoms subside.

If you have ear-problems, Chinese medicine also has a cure: boil 4 cups of water with 1 tablespoon each of the following spices: oregano, cilantro, rosemary, cinnamon, and sage. Add to that 3 slices of fresh ginger and drink three cups per day to enhance your hearing.

Most of us recognize that ginger is good for settling upset tummies – we drink ginger ale ourselves and give it to our children when nausea hits. But more potent than a commercially-available ginger ale is making real ginger tea. Slice (or grate, if you keep your ginger root in the freezer like I do) two inches of ginger root in to one cup of water and boil it for 5 minutes. Strain out the ginger and sip the tea slowly – sweetening it with honey or agave nectar also makes it easier for children to consume.

While these herbal cures and teas aren’t exactly what most of us think of when we think of infusions and teas, they do have history and efficacy behind them. And since I’ve been battling a wicked cold, I think I might try the traditional Chinese tea with garlic, ginger, and the rest to see if I can get back to my normal self that much more quickly.

To read more of Sue’s great writing, head over to her blog, A Mother’s Heart!

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or 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.

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Tea

Tea

So the past few days have had me feeling under the weather, and I’m still not out of the woods yet. But one thing I discovered is that hovering my face over a hot cuppa tea is almost as healing as consuming a bowl of chicken soup. Being the ever-curious woman I am, I found myself researching to find out why this is.

Chicken soup, say the doctors, has healing properties. So your mom and grandma were right – when you’re sick, eat some chicken soup. While professionals are divided on why it’s healing, the majority agree on one thing: sipping it from a mug is more beneficial than eating it from a bowl, largely because the steam and moisture is concentrated in your face.

But this isn’t a post about chicken soup; it’s a post about tea. So how does it all apply?

Doctors have often said that keeping hydrated is important when fighting a cold, and if the steam and moisture from chicken soup is good for us, then the steam and moisture from tea is also good for us. It’s not so much what creates the steam as much as it is the principle of being in the steam. This is why you feel better after a hot shower; the steam helps to loosen chest and nasal congestion, allowing you to breathe more freely.

I like all sorts of tea when I’m sick; sometimes I focus on green teas, simply for their increased levels of antioxidants and polyphenols, but this time I’ve been reaching for my black tea. My tastebuds are not functioning as they normally do, and the fruit-infused Twinings teas I have on hand are more pleasant to me right now.

Put your tea in a mug and as it steeps, hold the mug in your hands, under your nose. Inhale the steam as it steeps and every time you take a sip, hold it in your mouth and keep your nose in your mug to get the most of the moisture. The antioxidants in the tea will help to boost your fighting immune system, and the steam and moisture will help your mucous membranes heal more quickly.

Of course, colds are a part of life. For me, I try to make sure they don’t go in to bronchitis or pneumonia, as I’m prone to those more serious illnesses. But if I can make the symptoms of a cold a little more tenable and shorter-lived by sipping tea and burying my nose in my mug, you’d better believe I’m going to do it.

Sue also blogs at A Mother’s Heart. Stop by and give ‘er a read today!

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or 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.

My grandfather came to the US via port-of-call in Boston. He left Birmingham as a young man and sailed to America to find a better life. When he came to the US, the tea he knew was loose, despite the fact that teabags were invented in 1907.

Teabags were initially made from Chinese silk and had a drawstring – to contain the loose tea that the world was familiar with. Teabags didn’t catch on until after World War II, when tea was rationed and the idea of having a set amount of tea from which one could obtain multiple infusions seemed like a smashing idea. Tetley launched the first “tea bag” in Britain in 1953 and it was immediately successful.

Teabags consist of either paper or a fine mesh fabric that permits tea leaves to be packed in and then infused with little fuss, no measuring, and disposed of with ease after use.

But teabags have gotten a bad name among tea connoisseurs – the tea used in some bags is considered to be “dust” (properly called “fannings”), and comes from the sorting of high-quality tea leaves for other packages. This trend may hold true in some lines of tea, but in others (Harney & Sons, for example), the tea is a high-quality, full-leaf like I see in my Twinings tins.

Some also complain of the process the paper teabag goes through to make it white – that the bleaching of the paper can taint the taste of the tea as it infuses. Others think that because bagged teas often have smaller pieces of large tea leaves (to provide a greater surface area for infusing), they become stale more quickly. Presumably, this is why Stash and Twinings teas individually-wrap their teabags – although I’ve always enjoyed the individual wrapping so I can drop them in my purse or bag.

Pyramid teabags are another newer creation – Lipton & PG Tips first introduced them, and then gourmet tea brands adopted them as well. The shape of the pyramid bags allows more of the tea to float during infusion, avoiding the compacted “lump of tea” in a tightly-packed teabag and providing a better cuppa all the way around.

Will I ever give up my infuser in my teapot? Probably not – there are too many delicious teas to try that don’t come in teabags. But I still love adore my Twinings teabags and carry them with me when I’m out and about.

Sue blogs regularly at A Mother’s Heart. Check her out today!

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or 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.

Are you in hot water? By that, I mean, “How do you heat your water for making tea?” Tea experts have told us that boiling water is the best way to get the richest, most flavourful tea, and that piping hot water is the way to rapidly infuse the tea leaves with moisture so as to coax them to release their hidden flavours.

We’re all familiar with the ubiquitous stove-top water kettle; these devices can be an inexpensive aluminum vessel with or without a whistle that activates when the steam pours forth from the spout where the whistle lives, or they can be expensive, stainless-steel and copper kettles that look beautiful on the stove in between times of boiling water. The one down-side to using a stovetop kettle is that you’re limited by the heat your stove burner produces and how rapidly your burner heats up. I recently boiled a tea kettle at a friend’s home on the stovetop and was amazed at how LONG it took to make my cuppa – and according to her husband, I chose the burner that was “super-quick.”

Another option is the electric kettle. I had a small, inexpensive electric kettle for several years and although it lacked any bells and whistles, it sufficed to boil water. I didn’t realize exactly how Stone Age it was until my parents visited and declared our kettle to be “substandard and worthy of being replaced.” They promptly purchased us an electric kettle that is now the standard by how we judge other means of boiling water.

One feature to look for is an auto-shut-off. Our kettle has this feature and it prevents several things – over-boiling the water, potentially forgetting about the kettle and allowing it to run dry (and thus destroying the kettle or starting a fire), or causing it to bubble over, spill water on the counter by the electrical outlet where the kettle is plugged in. I consider the auto-shut-off to be a non-negotiable in electric kettles at this point.

Another aspect we like is that our kettle pops off its heating-base to pour – we don’t drag the cord with us and battle it as we attempt to pour the hot water.

Some electric kettles also have water-filtration devices inside of them; this is useful for us because we have a well. And our area is notorious for having iron-and-mineral-rich water (i.e., very hard water), so filtering out more of those compounds is useful.

You might think that an electric kettle uses much more electricity than boiling a kettle of water on the stove; we have an electric range, and it takes much longer to boil water that way than via the electric kettle. My friend, whom I mentioned earlier, has a gas stove and my kettle is faster, as well. I’m convinced our kettle saves money by how rapidly it boils water and by virtue of its auto-shut-off.

We truly enjoy the convenience of our electric kettle, and although much of what I do in the kitchen is a bit “old school,” I don’t want to go back to stovetop-kettles. I love that I can hit a button on my electric kettle and go about my business, knowing it will shut off when the water has boiled, and my tea will be delicious from the proper water-temperature infusion.

Check out Sue’s blog, A Mother’s Heart, to read more of her great writing!

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or 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.

English Breakfast

English Breakfast

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on February 9, 2010. The decaffeination process described here has since been shown not to be effective. My thanks to Nigel Melican of Teacraft.com for his note on this.

It’s the long , cold days of winter where I live, and tea is something I drink for taste, but also for warmth & alertness. But in my former days of more-coffee-drinking-than-tea-drinking, I was hooked on the caffeine levels in coffee vs. tea.

If you’re new to tea-drinking or are interested in keeping yourself alert with a drink that’s more natural than soda and gentler to your system than coffee, read on, McDuff. I’ve got the caffeinated scoop for you here.

Black teas definitely have the highest caffeine content of any tea leaves, but how much is “the highest”?

Black tea generally ranks as The Most Caffeinated with anywhere from 23mg to 110mg per cup. Oolong comes in second with 12-55mg per cup, and Green & White teas are at the bottom. Green tea has anywhere from 8-36mg per serving, and White tea has even less: 6-25mg per cup.

Of course, the length of steep, the temperature of the water, and the amount of tea leaves (and the size of the cut of the leaves) also affects how much caffeine makes it in to a cup of tea; leaves that are steeped in hot water for a long time release more caffeine than the same leaves that are steeped in cooler water for a shorter period of time. This is part of the reason why green & white teas have a lower caffeine-content; they both benefit from a shorter steeping time at lower brewing temperatures.

Still, even at 110mg of caffeine per cup, black tea is close to rivaling coffee, but the roasted beans still have more “juice” at nearly 160mg per cup.

I’m very fortunate in that caffeine in tea doesn’t seem to affect me like caffeine in coffee or soda does. I can drink a cup of Irish Breakfast tea right before bed and still sleep soundly and fall asleep quickly.

But if you’re sensitive to caffeine, there are options – short of going the decaffeinated route. You can brew your tea leaves with water that is slightly cooler than you normally do; it’s reported that 80% of the caffeine is released by the leaves within 30 seconds of steeping. This means that you can brew your leaves at the normal temperature for 45 seconds and then discard what you’ve steeped. Most of the caffeine will be gone by that point. Then use the same leaves with slightly cooler water and steep for the directed-time; you’ll end up with virtually no caffeine in your teacup & all of the flavour that may not be available in decaffeinated teas.

If you like what you’ve read here, make sure to check out Sue’s blog, A Mother’s Heart!

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or 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.

Buckingham Palace Black Tea

Buckingham Palace Black Tea

Most of us know that tea-drinking, for us Americans, began somewhere in England. We know our history well enough to know that our founding fathers and their compatriots even threw their beloved tea leaves in the Boston Harbor in protest of the taxation that King George put on it.

But how do tea-drinking habits differ between America and England now? Sure, we consume more coffee and soda than the average Brit, but what about our tea styles?

Americans have “coffee breaks,” but Britons have “tea,” for short. Companies allow for these breaks to take place whether or not tea is actually consumed, and sometimes provide biscuits (not the fluffy kind we see at KFC and Cracker Barrel here, the semi-sweet “digestive” biscuits or cookies) to be served as well.

The British are the second-largest tea-consumers in the world, falling slightly behind Turkey. The Brits consume 2.1 kg of tea per person, and Turkey consumes 2.2 kg of tea per person, a statistic which surprised me, as I expected China to be ahead of England in tea consumption, if only because China is so large and its population so immense.

Regardless, Brits tend to drink their tea with milk and a bit of sugar, if required. There is a drink that’s called “builder’s tea,” but that contains tea, a good portion of milk, and two (or more) teaspoons of sugar, often served in a “beaker” (mug) and not a teacup.

Americans, if they opt to drink tea instead of coffee, often “pollute” (according to my English-descendant father) their tea with half & half or cream, and may include any variety of sweeteners.

Most Britons will consume an average of 5 cups per day, but as in any culture, there are some who simply aren’t satisfied with the “norm” and go far beyond. Just as there are Starbucks addicts in major cities all around the US, there are English tea-drinkers who will consume 15-20 cups per day.

The English definitely have a different method of preparing their tea, often called a “tea ritual,” and they tend to stick to it. The kettle is put on to boil and then a bit is added to the teapot in order to warm the pot. The water in the teapot is swirled around a bit and then poured out; loose tea or tea bags are then added to the pot. My grandfather always said, “one for each person and one for the pot,” but it was never clear to me if he meant full teaspoons, tablespoons, or some other quantity. After putting the tea in the teapot, the rest of the boiled water is added and the tea is permitted to steep.

Interestingly, there are now widgets for iPhones and Macs that are called “tea timers” so your tea doesn’t steep too long and become bitter – they count down and alert you when to drink your tea. In America, we tend to have infusers in teapots to contain the leaves; in England, it’s more common to put loose leaves in the pot and then use a small strainer over the cup to catch the leaves as one pours the tea. Milk is added either before or after pouring the tea, and then sweetened to taste by the individual drinker. If there is tea left in the pot after serving, a tea cozy is used to maintain the temperature of the teapot and its contents.

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her “Pa” slurping his tea from his saucer, which I found to be odd when I read the books as a child; I simply couldn’t envision how to do that and not make a mess. Today, slurping from saucers is definitely considered a breach of etiquette, but fifty years ago (and more), it was commonplace.

One will rarely find any sort of tea ceremony in America, unless it is in an upscale hotel or restaurant that specializes in unique dining experiences altogether. We tend to drink much more bagged-tea and iced-tea than Brits do, but looking at the landscape of tea-producers in the US, it’s not surprising. There are several different types of tea sold in tea bags that are specifically for brewing sun-tea or iced-tea, and the herbal tea section of a supermarket often contains more boxes of infusions or teas with specific health-claims than simple varieties of black teas.

Regardless, if you’re a tea aficionado, the history of how your favourite beverage came to be and how you consume it is an interesting one to consider. Drink it with milk and sugar or without (I prefer without), in bone china or in a hand-thrown mug, pinkie-finger in or pinkie-finger out. But drink up, and enjoy the history & culture lesson.

Read more of Sue’s writing on her blog, A Mother’s Heart.

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or 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.

What do you drink your tea from? Do you use a clay mug? A Styrofoam cup? A bone-china teacup? There are almost as many different types of containers suited to drinking your tea from as there are types of tea!

Ceramic cups or mugs tend to be either hand-formed (thrown) from clay, dried, glazed, and then fired for strength & finish, or machine-formed. The process of drying, glazing, and firing tends to be the same in a factory-made cup or mug, but it is usually automated and done on conveyor belts and machines that make the process relatively no-touch from a human perspective.

Styrofoam, although the bane of the existence of environmentally-conscious people everywhere, is still used commonly today. It is an extruded polystyrene product that resists moisture and retains heat, making it perfect for housing hot beverages like tea. It is disposable, although not recyclable, and its presence in landfills and the landscape today is enough to raise the ire of those who prefer a “greener” type of warm-beverage container.

Bone china, as the name might suggest, contains bone, or rather calcined cattle bone, which is a fancy way of saying bone ash from cremation of cattle remains. While that may not be the most glamorous way of discussing cattle-remains, the bone ash is characterized by strength, translucency, and a white-colour when fired into china. Unlike many clay or ceramic pieces that are first air-dried and then fired after glazing, bone china undergoes a two-stage firing. The first firing is done without a glaze at temperatures of 1280°C (which is 2336°F), and then fired again at a lower temperature (1080°C/1976°F) after glazing. Bone china is often hand-painted in the glazing stage as well, employing the fine art of those skilled with a brush & paints to create unique, hand-crafted pieces. The resulting china is not only beautiful, but is strong and resistant to wear, although most people I know who own bone china do not wash their teacups, saucers, or dishes in automatic dishwashers with a desire to prevent microscopic scratches that can occur from the abrasives in dishwasher detergent.

No matter how you drink your tea or what you drink it from, cheers! Enjoy the sippable warmth and flavour that comes from your tea, regardless of the container.

Check Sue out on her blog, A Mother’s Heart.

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or 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.

Loose Leaf Herbal

Loose Leaf Herbal

If you’re a parent and a tea-drinker, no doubt you’ve had your children ask for sips of tea and denied them. While most of us don’t know the half-life of caffeine (the time it takes for the body to rid itself of half of the caffeine consumed) is 4.9 hours, we do know what happens when our kids consume it and don’t appreciate the challenge it creates for them when they try to lay down to sleep.

We found ourselves in a similar position, but as we re-acclimated to Michigan winters after living out of state for a dozen years, dinner was simply cozier and more enjoyable when all of us could partake in tea with supper.

We started out with herbals — I discovered the joy of a lemongrass herbal that literally made my mouth water and our son enjoyed the same herbal immensely. And because it was caffeine-free, I didn’t worry that he would be too wired to sleep properly that night. Our son still enjoys “his tea,” which is generally some type of herbal or decaffeinated tea.

But what to do if you don’t want to drink herbals? What if your children are old enough to handle small amounts of caffeine and you’d like them to develop a taste for tea?

Cambric tea is an easy solution to that. Much as the French add water and small amounts of wine to a glass for a 10 year old child at dinner, cambric tea is mostly milk, sugar, hot water, and splash of black tea. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her mother making cambric tea for Carrie (one of her younger sisters), and how it was more milk than anything else. But served in a teacup and warm, it can make a child feel “grown up” and encourage the child’s tastes to grow as well.

Simply put a lump (or teaspoon) of sugar in a teacup, add milk to bring the level to about half in the teacup, and fill the rest with piping hot water alone or hot water and a splash of black tea. Stir and present as the treat it is, knowing that eventually, the child will likely move out of the sweet-aspect of cambric tea and desire the stronger flavour of brewed tealeaves themselves.

Whether you choose herbals or cambric tea for your children, you’re sure to create a family tradition that the child will look fondly on for years to come. Passing on our love of All Things Tea is a worthy pursuit, at least in my book.

Stop by a pay Sue a visit at her blog, A Mother’s Heart.

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or 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.

Cinnamon Sibu Tea

Cinnamon Sibu Tea

Have you ever considered blending teas on your own? What about mixing favourite flavours to come up with something new and yet familiar to your tastebuds?

We began doing just that in our home when our son began drinking tea. Albeit, he was drinking herbal tea with us at dinner, mostly because we didn’t want him consuming quantities of caffeine before bed, but it made our hot beverages that much tastier and more enjoyable.

And it has carried over in to our black-tea drinking, as well. It’s not that we don’t think the blends that are widely available aren’t tasty. It’s not that we want to make more work for ourselves by blending teas on our own.

It has more to do with depth of flavour, depth of brew, and an innate drive towards creativity – both in and out of the kitchen.

We start with piping hot tea from our electric kettle and the infuser in my tetsubin. We choose flavours that can be found in other foods, mostly fruit and/or desserts. Have you ever considered what a Peach Melba dessert is? It’s layers of vanilla ice cream, peaches, and raspberry (either fruit or sauce). There are varieties of this dessert in different areas of the US, but it’s generally accepted to be a mélange of peaches and raspberries. And so I began mixing our Arctic Raspberry and Peach black teas – both infusions that have marvelous flavour on their own, they blend together beautifully to create a new delight to sip.

What are other teas have we blended? We love cinnamon spice tea, mixed with a red roobiosand a bit of orange spice tea – most of these can be found in both black, green, or herbal varieties. Steep these teas for 5 minutes after introducing boiling water to your teapot, and then remove the infuser to prevent bitterness.

Other flavours that are great together include strawberry, lemon, and blackcurrant. If you enjoy spice teas, consider cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg-flavoured teas to combine. I generally consider a decent blend to be equal amounts of each tea, but in the case of my peach-melba blend, I put a little more Peach than Arctic Raspberry, because as much as I enjoy the Raspberry, it can be a bit overwhelming if I add too much.

Tea is one of those things that if you enjoy, you can expand your sipping options greatly by being a little creative. It doesn’t take much to add another dimension to your teacup, and if you don’t enjoy the blend, feel free to start from scratch and think about new mixtures that might better reflect your tastes.

Happy sipping!

Check out Sue’s blog, A Mother’s Heart!

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or 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.

If you ask our nearly 8-year-old son what his favourite part of Christmas was this year, he’s not going to list the fun toys (Lego, Playmobil) that he received, and he likely won’t remember the Angel Tree opportunities we had that made the Season special to my husband and me. He’s not even likely to remember the camera that we gave him, or The Big Gift (a snowblower) that my husband and I received from my parents.  He’s likely to say, “Spending time with my family,” and although we never coached him on that answer, we were pretty delighted that he chose it.

We did have a great time as a family – relaxed, enjoyable, in front of the fireplace, and quiet.  But we were also surprised by a secondary gift my parents sent us – a large box from EnglishTeaStore.com.

My mom had called me on the pretense of “being bored with her tea” (she drinks Lady Grey and a few others almost exclusively) and wanted to know what I enjoyed.  And so, being slightly naïve (and always assuming that what people say is what they mean), I deluged her for about 20 minutes on what we drink, what mixtures I enjoy creating, and all of the nuances of tea-drinking in our home. I put the pieces of the puzzle together when the box arrived – but we didn’t open it until Christmas morning.

The short of it was that my mom was taking notes for my dad, who promptly placed an order for us and included a bunch of British goodies.  We were so delighted when we opened it!

Of course, we found some of our favourite teas – Lady Londonderry, Irish Breakfast, Arctic Raspberry, and Peach, but also included was a delightful bag of Blackcurrant tea and a large variety of yummies.

We have long been fans of HP Sauce, and the HP sold in stores in the States includes high fructose corn syrup.  HFCS is my personal health-nutrition-nemesis and it lends an overly-sweet taste to items in which it’s used.  So our HP Sauce is the original – and comes either from Canada (we live about 45 minutes from Windsor, Ontario) or from ETS.  And so my parents included some HP Sauce in our package.  We use it on stews, pot pies, and other savoury meals and love the spice and enhancement it brings.  A1 Sauce simply doesn’t compare.

There is a variety of English candies, all of which are significantly less-sweet than their US counterparts (which was both a surprise and treat to our tastebuds).  And a jar of the famous Robertson’s Golden Shred Marmalade, which has turned out to be the first marmalade we’ve eaten that isn’t bitter or cloying.

We’ve been rationing out the Digestive Biscuits to go with our tea, and our son has been devouring the Planets – as rapidly as we permit him.

While a box from ETS won’t ever remove the snow from our long, rural driveway, it truly was a treat to open and explore on Christmas Day – and one that has been enjoyed by the whole family.

Sue’s blog, A Mother’s Heart, is a great place to pass the time reading.

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or 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.

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© Online Stores, LLC, and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2017. 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, LLC., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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