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Julia Briggs (c)

Is it OK to say I do not like chocolate cake?  I do make chocolate cakes and I do eat some chocolates, like Maltesers but I have never been a fan of rich chocolate cakes so I make this orange flavour cake and put chocolate chips in and it is good.

You can of course use cocoa powder in place of some of the flour if you want a chocolate colour, you can also use milk, plain or white chocolate chips, I only had white chocolate in stock.  I filled half with orange marmalade and half with lemon curd and butter icing to satisfy the whole family!

You will need: Two 8″ cake tins well greased or one well greased 10″ cake tin. Oven 180 C  350 F  Gas Mark 4

  • 8 oz Butter
  • 8 oz Caster Sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • A few drops of orange essence
  • 8 oz Self Raising flour
  • Grated rind of an orange
  • juice of half an orange
  • 4 oz chocolate chips
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Julia Briggs (c)

Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy then add the beaten eggs with a spoonful of flour and the vanilla and orange essence.  Fold in the flour, grated rind, juice and chocolate chips.  Pour into two 8″ cake tins or one 10″ tin.  Cook for 35 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch.  Leave in the tin to cool slightly, using a cake tester or needle prick all over the top of the cake and then mix the other half of the orange juice with a little hot water and pour onto the cake. When slightly cool take from the tin and place on a wire rack until completely cold.

Slice the cake, or not if you have made two!  Spread orange marmalade or lemon cheese on the bottom half then cream or butter icing onto the underside of the top half of the cake.  Sandwich them together and enjoy a piece with a cup of tea.

 

–  JAB

Smack dab in the middle of winter, it’s hard to keep up hope for Spring. Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and the excitement has sadly worn off from it. With all the winter storms and blizzards coming and going, the world outside the window becomes white and colorless and the only reason to come outside is to dig yourself out of the snow.

When I visited my fiance in January 2016, we were hit by Winter Storm Jonas out on the East Coast of the United States. It was my first ever blizzard, being a California girl. For me, it was fascinating to watch the wind blow the snow that was falling but the aftermath was just atrocious! But during the storm, all I had to enjoy was my Yorkshire Tea, which I thankfully packed from home. While I love my Yorkshire, it got to be very boring when it was all the tea I had to drink while being snowed in since I love variety. Since I was away from home, I did not have access to my tea collection from home, which has green, white, herbal, and rooibos teas along with black.

Here are some good teas to help get you through a blustery blizzard:

tolsl16_orgcher_-00_bulk-loose-tea-organic-sencha-kyoto-cherry-rose-festival-green-tea-16ozOrganic Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose Festival Green Tea -This green tea, which is most often used during Japanese tea ceremonies, is flavored with sweet Montmorency Cherries. The taste is light, fruity, and smooth and can be enjoyed iced or hot. The caffeine content of this tea is low and is considered to be a good source of antioxidants This tea is sold in loose leaf form.

French Blend Tea – This one is truly a treat. If you want to escape or just have something a bit different but still enjoy black tea, then this one is just right. This tea is inspired by Britain’s neighbor, France, it is fragrantly noted by Earl Grey, Lavender, and Jasmine, while blended with Ceylon, Nilgiris, Assams, and Kenya tea. The lavender in this tea is from Provence along witTOLSLL_GRNLIS_-Long-Island-Strawberry-green-loose-leaf-teah some beautiful rose petals to add its romantic charm. The color when brewed is a nice, rosy color, helping to make you blush!

Long Island Strawberry Green TeaFinally, to help make you think of more summery days, this tea has summer written all over it. Another one of our Sencha green teas, this tea is grown in the Hunan Province of China. Strawberry is not only the key fruit but dried papaya pieces help boost it’s sunny flavor! Try it hot or iced with some strawberries in the glass!

These teas are also good pick-me-ups when you’re a weary traveler. I will know next time I head out on a trip (or as the British say, on holiday), to pack more types and flavors of tea!

-CD

It’s almost Christmas! The mad dash to get last minute preparations, gifts, and stocking stuffers for loved ones will only get even madder! Many of us still have to get a Christmas tree, wrap gifts, and buy some stocking stuffers!

teasxgs1000033169_-00_stash-christmas-tea-and-mug-gift-setIn my family, gifts are mostly for the children but if there is enough in the person’s budget, then the adults will get gifts, too. My dad is the grandpa so he hangs stockings for my niece and two of my nephews who live with us. We always have fun picking out stocking stuffers and buying treats for them. Our stockings contain treats, toys, sweets, sometimes a gift card or two, and other things, depending on the person’s liking.

If you plan to fill a stocking, put in a tangerine! In my research, St. Nicholas was someone who dedicated his life to giving, as he gave gold to the poor. He left stockings full of fruit and nuts at the houses of the less fortunate. The toe would often have an apple inside and the heel a satsuma since they were hard to come by and when they were found, they were expensive in the old days.

For a tea loving stocking recipient, tea is always the best! Our holiday spiced tea leaves a personal touch with the sweet aroma of cinnamon, orange, and clove. Or dottwn20b_winsp_-00_twinings-winter-spice-tea they favor a specific brand? Twinings Christmas Tea and their Winter Spice make excellent stocking stuffers, especially for a Twinings fan. Twinings Christmas is a black tea with cinnamon and cloves (My suggestion: try it with milk! You’ll be in the holiday spirit as you bake Christmas Cookies!) while Winter Spice is a caffeine free chamomile apple tea spiced with fragrant cardamom, cinnamon, and clove. For something different but seeking holiday magic, Harney and Sons has even rolled out their own holiday blend, the White Christmas tea. In a festive tin, it’s 30 teabags of white chamomile accented by vanilla, almond, and cardamom.

Always feel free to check out our festive holiday range!

July has arrived! It may seem like the past few months have been flying by, but we’re here to give you a little bit of tea encouragement. The teas listed below offer special pricing that will last all month long (no code needed.)

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(c) English Tea Store – Earl Grey Teabags

The first tea is our Regular Earl Grey Tea in Fine Loose Leaf or Teabags. The Earl Grey Tea blend from English Tea Store is a blend of Ceylon and Indian teas. The tea receives its unusual and unique flavor from oil of Bergamot – which is a small acidic orange. The Bergamot orange is a cross between the sweet or pear lemon (Citrus Limetta) and the Seville or sour orange (Citrus Aurantium). The sour orange is native to Southern Vietnam. The Earl Grey Fine Loose Tea is available in 4 different sizes: 4 ounces, 8 ounces, 15 ounces, or 80 ounces. The Earl Grey Teabags are available in a 25 pouch, 25 tin, 50 pouch, 100 bulk, or 500 bulk.

Curious about the benefits of drinking Earl Grey Tea?

  • Good for your teeth – That’s right! Tea contains very high levels of catechin, which is an antioxidant that fights oral infection. Flouride is a naturally occurring component in Earl Grey.
  • Promotes good digestion – Earl Grey can aid and relieve painful digestion, colic, and nausea.
  • Fights anxiety and depression – Unfortunately, in today’s world many people suffer from anxiety, depression, or both. Maybe you’re looking for other routes instead of medicine? The Bergamot in Earl Grey has a calming effect and has natural aromatherapy qualities.
  • Weight loss – Like most teas citrus teas, Earl Grey an induce weight loss. It is thought that calories are broken down into food for your muscles or released through the metabolic process. Try adding some extra citrus like lemon!
  • Hydration (It’s Key!) – Hydration is so important for your body…and it’s not just because tea is made with water. Earl Grey has a high potassium content so it keeps your fluids in check.
TOLSLL_DRJMIM_-Mim-Estate-tea-loose-leaf

(c) English Tea Store – Mim Estate Loose Leaf

Moving on to our next July tea – Mim Estate in Loose Leaf. The Mim Estate blend from the English Tea Store has a distinctive “Muscatel” character with a hint of currant. This tea is a 2nd flush Darjeeling and comes from the Mim Estate in Northern India. The genus of the Darjeeling tea bush is the Chinese Jat, which gives it the distinctive muscatel character. The fragrance and taste is a complex bouquet that travels right out of the cup. Some may describe the taste as nutty, black currant, or muscat grape-like.

The final tea of the month is actually multiple teas in a sampler (What more could you ask for?!) – The Fruit Kick – Loose Leaf Sampler. This is great if you’re looking to try something new and adventure out of your safe zone. Each sampler pack comes with 1 ounce of each of our favorite fruit flavored loose leaf teas: Apple Spice Black Tea, Blackcurrant Black Tea, Pomegranate Lemon Black Tea, Wild Blueberry Organic Tea, and Florida Orange Rooibos Tea. We recommend brewing in water, that has been brought to a boil, for 3-5 minutes.

Okay – I think we’ve given you a lot to think about. Tell us your favorite flavored tea!

IcedTeaDid you know that June is Iced Tea Month in the United States? While millions of people drink it all year long, it is widely celebrated during this early summer month on June 10th. It’s a good time, too, since iced tea is a very popular drink among Americans, especially in the summer months! About 80 to 85 percent of tea that is consumed in the United States is taken iced. While my palate is adapted to the British style of tea, who could blame my fellow Americans for liking iced tea? It’s refreshing, especially since a large amount of the U.S. is overrun by humidity during the summer months. Iced tea is dated all the way back to at least the 19th century, however, it was not made popular until the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.

The best thing about iced tea is that just about anyone can make it! You can make it to however you fancy. You could take it sweetened or unsweetened, add a bit of lemon, or garnish it with a nice piece of fruit. While iced teas consumed in the U.S. are usually ready to drink, many use teabags to make it themselves. However, another method of iced tea brewing is growing in popularity. The Keurig brewing system is already synonymous with coffeTEATTWN1000028259_-00_Twinings-Pomegranate-and-Raspberry-Iced-Tea-K-Cups-12-counte brewing and many are using it to brew iced coffee.

With more households owning Keurig brewers, many of the owners like tea. So to settle the growing demand, many tea companies began to make k-cup versions of their teas. Twinings has recently made some delicious varieties like:

Prefer a simple black tea? Not to worry! There’s a pure black tea as well!

If you still prefer to make it the old-fashioned way, there’s always the regular Twinings TeabagsShangri La which steeps a total of 12 quarts per packet, or even our English Tea Store brand. I have previously mentioned Lady Londonderry as one of my personal favorites since it tastes tsl5059d_pjg_-00_iced-tea-by-shangri-la-organic-tropic-green-brew-bagslike summer, with notes of strawberry and lemon in there. If caffeine is not your fancy, then the Casablanca is a brilliant tea that goes well iced! A bright red color when brewed, it is not too strongly scented before it is brewed. Once you taste it, it is a light fruit medley. Great for kids, too!

Iced Tea Day is a great day to kick off a summer of iced tea, picnics, and barbecues. Bring family and friends around for a nice cup or pitcher of iced tea and watch some fireworks. Happy summer!

tolsll_roobou_-bourbon-st-vanilla-rooibos-caffeine-free-loose-leaf-tea.I am wondering why we chose Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos for one of our March Teas of the Month. For St. Patrick’s Day I am thinking Scotch (by association), Irish Whisky, green beer. But Bourbon? Ok. Let’s think this through another way – Bourbon Street, Mardi Gras. But that was in February this year. So I’m trying real hard to tie it in to March without questioning your merchandiser, Tammy, because she is a sweetheart and so good at her job.

bourbon streetOur website espouses, “The Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos Caffeine Free Tea blend from English Tea Store has a cinnamon spice flavor that gives this Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos a wonderful vanilla n’ jazz character. Terrific served hot and sensational served iced, you can also make rooibos lattes for a super taste (and if you listen carefully you will hear the riverboat steam whistles and wailing of a saxophone along the Mississippi).”

logo4After searching “Bourbon March” I came up with the only thing that makes sense – there is a bourbon and bacon festival in March this year. DelRay Beach in Florida sponsors three different food events throughout the year – garlic, bourbon and bacon, and wine and seafood. At the bourbon and bacon festival, attendees can expect seminars and tastings, as well as pork recipes of all kinds set to the soundtrack of live blues musicians. I doubt anyone will be sipping our Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos but a town that loves bacon, garlic, and music is ok with me.

And it’s actually probably much safer. Except for your heart.

TOLSLL_CHM_-00_loose-leaf-tea-chocolate-mintWhat do you give a tea lover for Valentine’s Day? Chocolates. Chocolate Mint Tea, that is, and it happens to be our other Tea of the Month for February.

The Chocolate Mint Flavored Black Tea blend from English Tea Store is the delectable paring of chocolate and mint. This tea delivers a bright and coppery infusion and a chocolatey mint flavor that is especially prominent when milk and sugar are added. We find this tea tastes best when served hot, but it can also be enjoyed over ice. Using flavoring oils, not crystals, gives the tea drinker an olfactory holiday before indulging in a liquid tea treat.graphics-chocolate-975107

Rather than write more about the traditional chocolate Valentine gift, I’d like to point out a new feature on our site that starts with this tea. It will be slow in coming, as all good things are, but you will no doubt find it helpful. One by one your tea merchandiser Tammy is added very detailed information on each of our teas. Here is what she is presenting for the Chocolate Mint:

Cup Characteristics: Fresh lovely mint combined with full flavored chocolate tea that is wonderfully reminiscent of an after-dinner mint
Infusion: Bright and coppery
3d-graphics-teaIngredients: Black tea, Blackberry and Peppermint leaves, and Natural flavors
Caffeine/Antioxidant Level: Medium/High
Grade(s): OP (Orange Pekoe)
Manufacture Type(s): Orthodox (Traditional leafy)
Region: Nuwara Eliya + Dimbula + Uva
Growing Altitudes: 4000-8500 feet above sea level
Shipping Port(s): Colombo

~Your Editor

One of my favorite ways of enjoying tea may not be familiar among the British but it is beginning to sweep the United States by storm. Bubble Tea, or Pearl Tea and Boba Tea (boba is what bubble tea is called in the area I live in), is a Taiwanese variant of milk and tea but with an added twist of little black bubbles. The term bubble comes from the little black “bubbles” or “pearls”* on the bottom of the cup. But what are they?

The little bubbles are actually a form of tapioca. The tapioca comes from the cassava root. Americans make tapioca pudding from this but the Taiwanese use this to make their little pearls. They make them small or large. In addition to the tapioca pearls, they add other things like pudding (not the British pudding!), aloe, and flavored jellies like lychee or mango. This can be added to the milk teas, clear teas, and even the slushies they make!

Boba

(c) Crystal Derma for use by The English Tea Store

The tea used to make the bubble tea are simple black, green, oolong, and ceylon teas. They are mixed with milk or made iced. Another type of drink that is made by bubble tea shops is called a snow, which is LITERALLY like snow! Just be warned, they’re very hard to drink. The fun part of bubble tea is that the milk tea can be made in many flavors, like coffee, chocolate, taro, red bean, or fruity flavors. The plain teas like black, green, oolong, and ceylon can also be flavored as such. Of course, the MOST fun part is drinking the pearls through a straw. Usually a large, wide straw is given so the pearls can travel up and be chewed (yes, I eat the pearls).

Unfortunately, there is a debate among my fiance and I. Where I come from in California, there is a competition for bubble tea. I like to get the “Tapioca Milk Tea” which is made with black tea and milk and I consider it to be the basic flavor but when I visit my fiance out in Virginia, there isn’t such a flavor. I tried to order it out there and everyone gave me funny looks, including the fiance. The closest thing I had to get was coffee/mocha and it just wasn’t the same.

I have been a fan of bubble tea since about 2001 or 2002 as a teenager and it’s an undying love for me. The local specialty stores are finally stocking the pearls to make my own bubble tea. You need to take the pearls and cook them. Once I obtain these next time I go, I hope to tell you all how to make them! I have also been told it is just black tea that is used to make the original milk tea. However it is made, bubble tea is delicious!

*When consuming these pearls, they CAN be a choking hazard. Do be careful and supervise a young child if they are enjoying one!

~CD

With December coming to a close, the frantic holiday rush picks up and it’s hard to find a good time to wind down and relax with a good cup of tea. My seasonal picks for the month of December from the English Tea Store are sure to delight and soothe even some of the most frazzled holiday preppers.

For a good holiday tea to entertain your guests who enjoy tea, English Tea Store’s Holiday Spice is a must. The spicy flavors and a hint of orange will take you into the spirit of the holidays along with a burst of energy to keep you going. I enjoy my cup without milk and a hint of sweet.

(c) Crystal Derma for ETS use, all rights reserved.

(c) Crystal Derma for ETS use, all rights reserved.

For those in the mood for some mint flavor, you are in for a treat! The English Tea Store chocolate mint tea is a good pick-me-up. At first, I thought chocolate tea was not my thing and I am a huge chocolate lover but I felt not in tea. Once I opened up my bag, however, I was in heaven. A minty chocolate scent burst up to my nose and I thought to myself, This is tea? I immediately brewed my cup in anticipation, sweetener and milk nearby. I expected it to taste a little bit like a peppermint mocha and it does, but not as strong as I thought it would be. Milk made the flavors more subtle yet. Delicious.

Finally, my favorite is the peppermint tea. If you have never tried peppermint tea, you must. Fine tea leaves allow room for minty flavor in your cup. It’s good any time of day, even before bed since it’s caffeine free! Plain sweetener is just fine but some honey is also good for more natural sweetness. I like to mix both. If you like peppermint with a caffeinated kick, I would suggest the Stash White Christmas tea if you order it before it’s gone. It has not only peppermint but a bit of ginger in it.

I hope you join me again next month for January’s tea roundup. In the meantime, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings!

~CD

You see tea blends all over the place (for purposes of this article, I will include those “blends” that include non-tea substances). There are ones with marigold petals and ones with peppermint. There are some with dried pieces of apples and berries. Some have spices added such as cinnamon, black pepper, and cardamom. There are also blends that are all tea, mixing the right balance of a rich black tea from Sri Lanka with a milder black tea from Kenya or Nilgiri. But it’s pretty easy to create some of your own custom blends (believe it or not, in spite of the wide array of choices, you may not find a blend that suits you – sort of like shopping for shoes, neckties, hats, etc.).

All set to blend! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

All set to blend! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

1 Select Your Base Carefully

Your base will be a single tea, a blend of teas, or even herbals such as Rooibos and chamomile. And just like when you want to select the main color of your palette before painting a room, you want to select the basic tone of your blend. A green tea sets a different tone (often grassy, a bit bitter, and possibly flowery or nutty) than a black tea does (richer, astringent, malty, raisiny, etc.), and herbals are a whole different experience.

2 Select the Proper Flavors to Blend

This applies even if you are blending several teas together and not including any non-tea items. Blend the right teas together. Or blend in the proper flavorings. Part of being “proper” means being top quality. Part means being good flavor pairings. You can blend a milder flavored black tea with a stronger flavored one, a green tea having a more grassy taste with one that is more nutty, and some even say you can blend together different styles of tea (green with black or oolong).

3 Give Them Some Time

I find it’s good to let the blend sit a day or two. You might even want to shake the container once or twice during that time to make sure the flavorings affect things evenly. Of course, you can also do some ad hoc blending. We do this at home all the time. We’ll cut open some bags of Typhoo, for example, and dump the contents in a small bowl and then add a teaspoon of another tea, stirring them together and them pouring into the teapot. We find that English Breakfast Blend No. 1 is a great flavor enhancer, adding its bold bright taste to the Typhoo.

Some Blend Suggestions

  • Black tea with any of these: true cinnamon from Sri Lanka, cardamom seeds (crack their shell open slightly), freshly crushed black peppercorns, vanilla (slice the bean pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the blend), cocoa (or even cacao), rose petals, dried berries.
  • Green tea (other than matcha) with any of these: citrus in either dried peel form or zest (grated fresh peel), lemongrass (gives that citrusy quality in a milder form and imparts a full mouthfeel – very pleasant), mint (preferably in the form of fresh leaves that you slightly crush), ginger (preferably in the form of fresh gratings off of ginger root), fennel seeds and licorice (don’t overdo unless you are a real ouzo fan), and jasmine petals (this is one item, though, that is better in the versions you buy ready made since the process of scenting the tea with the jasmine imparts a floral flavor that is more infused into the tea leaves than when you just throw some in with them at home).
  • Rooibos, an herbal, is good with any of these: cocoa (a personal favorite pairing), ginger root, peppermint (in oil form), coconut (shredded), saffron, and rose petals.
  • Tea Blend with Orange and Cinnamon: start with a top quality black Ceylon tea (about 4 ounces), add some diced orange peel (well dried) to suit your taste, and add in a half ounce of ground cinnamon, mix together, put into a storage jar, and let sit a day or two. Steep as you would any black tea.
  • Blend with Rose Hips and Lemon: put some crushed dried rosehips (that bulbous shape that forms after the bloom has died and the petals have all dropped – if you have roses at home, you can gather these after the bushes have finished blooming, or else you can get them at a store selling fresh herbs) and some dried lemon peel into a container, shake a bit to blend, and let it sit for a day or two. Infuse in boiling water for about 8 minutes. Full of vitamin C. You could have some as a nice non-alcoholic hot toddy.
  • Classic Masala Chai (Spiced Tea) Blend: the idea here is to start with a strong black tea (typically a lower quality tea in CTC form) so it will still taste like tea with the spices and milk added in, then add in various spices (typically cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, cardamom, cumin seeds, allspice, and nutmeg – each is best if you use the whole ones slightly crushed). Let the mix sit in its container a day or two, shaking it once or twice. Steep in boiling water in a saucepan for about 5 minutes, then add milk to the pan and let it simmer, strain into cups.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© 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, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2015. 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, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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