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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

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!

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(c) Julia Briggs for The English Tea Store, all rights reserved.

Are your cakes always sad in the middle? Do you despair of making a good cake that rises? Well fear not, this cake is supposed to be sad in the middle and it never rises  that much either! On the other hand it does taste delicious whether hot or cold!

 

 

 

 

You will need:

Oven 180 C, 350 F or gas mark 4

4 oz butter
3 oz golden or soft brown sugar
2 eggs
5 oz Self Raising Flour
A few drops of Vanilla essence

Approx two or three tablespoons of runny honey.

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(c) Julia Briggs for The English Tea Store, all rights reserved.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the vanilla essence and then the eggs and one spoonful of flour with each egg. Fold in the flour and the honey until well mixed and put the mixture into a greased 1lb loaf tin and bake for 35-40 mins until firm. Allow to cool on a wire rack and enjoy a small piece whilst slightly warm with a cup of strong Ceylon tea to counterbalance the sweet.

peachBoth of our teas this month are fruity, just right for the fresh blossoms of spring here in the states. Peach apricot is our first choice for the month, being a Ceylon black flavored with real papaya, apricot, and peach fruit. I love peaches. Chambersburg is a drive to the east from where we live in PA, and the peaches you get there are unrivaled: big enough to be a full meal for two, sweet, and so juicy you need a knife and fork to eat them. Families make a day of going for Chambersburg peaches just like they do Bedford apples in the fall.

According to the peach apricotAlmanac, peaches ripen faster in a closed paper bag at room temperature. If you are a gardener like me, you are familiar with this principal. I remember weekend fall days in the garden, picking all the green tomatoes that were healthy, hoping to get them in before the cold snap ruined them. We’d wrap the tomatoes in newspaper and pack them in paper bags to store in the basement until we were ready for them. They ripened this way and we were able to extend our growing season. When you live in the Laurel Highlands of PA, the growing season is short and anything to extend it is appreciated!

Until the Chambersburg peaches are ready, this tea is the next best thing, with a very heady aroma. This tea is steeped 3-5 minutes for best body and just a smidge of sugar really makes it come alive. At 15% all month, it’s all the sweeter.

~Your Editor

Ceylon greenOur first February tea of the month is ceylon green. Imported from Sri Lanka, our Ceylon Green is characterized as smooth and subtle. According to wikipedia, tea production is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. Originally known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean. Great Britain occupied the coastal areas during the Napoleonic Wars to prevent France gaining control. In 1972 Ceylon’s name was changed to Sri Lanka when it became a republic. Currently, tea accounts for 2% of Sri Lanka’s GDP, generating roughly $700 million annually to the economy of Sri Lanka. It employs, directly or indirectly over 1 million people. Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth largest producer of tea. With all of these amazing stats, Ceylon Green is still one of the unsung heroes. Most of Sri Lanka’s tea exported is black, and green tea is typically imported from Asian countries.

Ceylon in tea refers to a location, not a type of leaf. Ceylon Green tea is prepared from the fresh leaves of the tea plant, unlike Ceylon Black, which is made from the aged stems and leaves. Ceylon Green is often described as “full bodied and pungent, with a malty or nutty flavor.” Whether you go with that or “smooth and subtle,” you will get 15% off if you purchase it now! I have no doubt our readers will weigh in with their own adjectives.

~Your Editor

blueberry-sweet-fruitOne thing I love the smell of in the morning, is blueberries. Blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, and now blueberry tea. Recently I tried out the English Tea Store’s Blueberry Green and it’s one of my new go-to teas – refreshing enough to wake me up but also somewhat calming. Good for a weekend morning where you can relax. I gave this tea to my dad, one of the most wound-up people in the world and HE enjoyed it!

This tea is good either sweetened or unsweetened, hot or iced. The smell is very heavenly and pairs well with breakfast, but of course you can also have it whenever you feel like it. A wonderful tea time drink, it pairs well with a delicious blueberry scone or scone with blueberry jam (I’m going crazy with blueberries here).

1445443_96433729If you’re not much of a blueberry fan as I am, you can always go for plain green tea or even our bolder green tea with ceylonCeylon is a black tea and helps add smoothness. Both teas are very good choices for a relaxing morning or a tea time.

~CD

© 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 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.

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

Ceylon Tea (ETS image)

Ceylon Tea (ETS image)

Once upon a time the country off the southeastern coast of India that we now know as Sri Lanka had another name. It was called Ceylon and though the name would eventually change the tea that is grown there still bears the old one. Ceylon tea is a relatively new development, coming to the island only about a century and a half ago after the coffee crops there were severely damaged by disease.

It was in 1907, just a few decades after tea growing got underway there, that a publication called The Tropical Agriculturist and Magazine of the Ceylon Agricultural Society featured an article called “The Leading Teas of the World – Ceylon.” It was written by a gentleman identified as “the late Herbert Compton” and it’s perhaps just a bit on the dry side, with plenty of facts and figures, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Compton opens with a reference to the island’s “nine (commercial) lives,” which also included such commodities as spices, pepper, and cocoa, but stresses that tea “still holds current pride of place as the staple crop of the Colony.” He summarizes the fall of coffee and the rise of tea and notes that about 160 million pounds of the latter was being produced annually at the time.

The majority of this ended up in the United Kingdom, not surprisingly, but substantial quantities ended up in Australasia, North America, and Russia. Next up is a description of Ceylon teas, which he likens to “a blend of Indian and China leaf,” and remarks that it is “silky and smooth to the palate.” From there it’s on to intricacies of pricing and whatnot that are more geared to professional tea buyers followed by a summary of some of the notable tea growing regions there.

Compton closes things by noting that Ceylon growers were beginning to turn their efforts from producing mostly black teas and including more green tea, the latter of which was designed to appeal to the American markets.

See more of William I. Lengeman’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.

Map of Sri Lanka.

Map of Sri Lanka.

A vendor posted on Twitter that they carried in their product line a sencha that was grown and processed in Sri Lanka. Needless to say, that raised a few eyebrows, especially among those carrying and selling sencha from Japan. Time to take a closer look.

First, what is “sencha”? Some sources say it simply means “common tea.” It’s a staple in many Japanese households, a favorite due to its tang, freshness, high uniformity of the leaves, and deep emerald hue. Once roasted as part of the preliminary processing, it is now steam treated, processed further, and finally pan-fried. So, can you get this type of tea with the same quality (or even higher) from leaves grown elsewhere? It seems so. But that’s not the only question here.

Why even bother? Apparently, there are still folks out there who are concerned with radiation in tea leaves from Japan. Whether that concern has merit or not I cannot address here, and it’s immaterial except to explain the mushrooming of Ceylon Sencha options now available. Those who are really into sencha and feel that radiation is still an issue need an alternative to the Japanese sencha. They are, in essence, creating a demand in the tea market. The producers seem to have heard them.

An online search for “Ceylon Sencha” turned up page after page of results. The typical description was:

Delicate, sencha-like green tea from Sri Lanka. Naturally sweet taste, best steeped for no more than 2 minutes at about 180 degrees F.

Reviews range from raves to revulsion. Not surprising. There are those who drink sencha as their daily cuppa green tea and accept a level of quality that may be a bit more ordinary. And then there are those for whom sencha is almost sacred, that the quality and flavor are almost more important to them than the grades their kids get in school, being promoted at work, or having their IRA actually grow in value. For them, this green tea being touted as “sencha” is high blasphemy. Thus it is with tea, no matter what type you are talking about. There are teas that get popular and then get “copied” to take advantage of that, and there are tea terms that get used in a more general way than some of us think they should be. (See my article on Silver Needles posted recently.)

Here, it seems to be the tea growers in Sri Lanka and the vendors who are both addressing a demand in the tea market, using “sencha” as the draw among green tea lovers. You, the tea drinker, will be the one to determine if they have been successful. Based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews out there, I would say they have been.

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, 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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