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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!
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 surprise 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!
Happy Valentine’s Day!!
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!
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
You 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 Bramley (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!
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 regular 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!
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!
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.
Now 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 Christmas 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.
Finally, 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!
I admit that summer is not my favorite season of the year. It’s too hot, too bright, and nearly everyone I know goes away on vacation. While I am stuck at home, there isn’t much to watch on TV, either. I’m stuck watching a bunch of reruns until they come back with new episodes…until late September or early October.
But for some, August is the best time of the year for television! Why? Because it’s The Great British Bake Off! Viewed by millions in the UK, it’s one of the most anticipated TV events of the year! In the US, the show is known as The Great British Baking Show. The premise of the show is to find the best amateur baker in all of Great Britain. At the beginning of each season, there are ten bakers who are to bake a Signature Challenge, a Technical Challenge, and a Showstopper Challenge. These are each judged on appearance and taste. The show is run for ten weeks, ten episodes, and each episode has a theme, like pastry, bread, or even gluten free. The bake-off takes place in a tent, most recently in Berkshire.
Watching this show inspires me to unleash my inner baker. Many of the recipes the competitors make all look so delicious and easy, but looks can be deceiving! I have tried for several years to make a perfect Victoria Sponge and it has been so difficult! It has taken a lot of training and patience! So, for the next few posts, I will explain how baking products are a bit different in the UK, baking temperatures, measuring, and more about the Great British Bake Off.
Put on the kettle, it’s going to be fun!
We are in well into the beginning of summer and in the end of Iced Tea Month. The weather has already warmed up and many have switched from their standard hot tea to iced tea. Independence Day (also known as Fourth of July) is upon us and so many us of are either preparing for a big barbecue or are going to one. Others are just trying to escape the unbearable summer heat.
What other way to escape the heat than ice pops? What if I said you could use tea in your ice pops? It may sound crazy but it’s a very refreshing idea. You could use tea alone or you could add whatever else you want, like fruit or juice. All you simply need is a mold (and a few popsicle sticks if your ice mold is like mine). Simply brew your tea, any kind you like, and just let it cool. Once you are finished brewing and cooling, fill the molds so they don’t overflow and freeze. Every ice pop mold varies, so your ice mold may come with sticks or you may have to buy them separately. Once filled, freeze overnight for best results. To release from the molds, fill a bowl, pan, or container that is at least as tall as your mold with warm water and dip ice mold with pops in for about 20-30 seconds until the pops loosen. If you still have a bit of trouble getting them loose, dip them again. They should come out. Serve and enjoy!
For just a few of my flavors, I used a few flavors like Tangiers Lemon White Tea mixed with Lemonade, Pomegranate Hibiscus Green mixed with Pomegranate juice, Hawaiian Colada Rooibos with some fresh cut pineapple, and Bingo Blueberry with fresh cherries. It’s perfect for everyone, including children!
Bonus idea! Freeze tea so you can add it to your iced tea instead of plain ice without watering it down! Perfect for enjoying in the shade with family and friends or by the poolside.
- Oven 190 C, 375 F, Gas mark 5
- A greased two pound loaf tin
- 6 oz butter
- 6 oz caster sugar
- 3 medium eggs or 2 eggs and the whites from another recipe
- 4 oz self raising flour
- 2 oz ground almonds ( for a different texture, you can use all flour though)
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- Icing (of your choice) I used:
- a 7 oz block of dark chocolate and
- 3 oz butter melted together then poured of the finished cake
Cream the butter and sugar together then add the eggs and beat hard. Slowly add the flour, milk and ground almonds if using and combine well. Now divide your mixture into two and add the cocoa powder to one half. Spoon the two mixtures alternatively into the tin and tap down to rid the mixture of any air pockets.
Now with a thin knife blade or a skewer draw through the mixture to mix slightly and produce a marbled effect. Bake for 40-45 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch. Test with a cake test or skewer. Leave to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.
Place a plate under the rack to catch any drips then make up the icing and pour over the cake. Enjoy a thick slice with any tea you like. -JAB