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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

If you know me, one of my favorite brands of tea to brew is PG Tips. It is usually my go-to tea for whenever I feel like I need a good pick-me-up or something to warm me up in the cold days of winter. It was one of the first British teas I tasted before I really began to dive into British food and culture and I introduced it to my young nephew, keeping the love for PG Tips well into the next generation.

teatpgt1000031917_-00_pg-tips-juicy-raspberry-green-tea-bags-20-count teatpgt1000032454_-00_pg-tips-red-bush-vanilla-herbal_1While plain black tea is what they started with, PG tips recently began to expand their tea line from beyond the standard black tea. While there is loose leaf and decaf, PG Tips has ventured into the world of green, herbal, and fruit teas. Five varieties of green tea have been produced by PG, Pure Green, Juicy Raspberry, Fragrant Jasmine, Vibrant Mandarin Orange, and Zesty Lemon. Each box of green tea has 20 bags and is a fine blend from Indonesia and Kenya. All but the Pure Green are infused with a floral or fruity flavor.

Perhaps you fancy a more lighter taste and less caffeine? That’s where the herbal teas come in. Delicate Camomile, Refreshing Peppermint, Smooth Redbush and Vanilla, and Aromatic Spices and Mint are all here to soothe you. Camomile is infused with delicate flowers, Peppermint is a clean and refreshing minty goodness, Redbush and Vanilla is a mixture of South African Rooibos, vanilla flavor, hibiscus flowers, and cranberry, and finally Spices and Mint is a combination of familiar spices like cinnamon, mint, and a bit of orange.

Still prefer black tea? There are some new varieties that PG tips has in store such as the Strong One and the Fresh One. The Strong One has a bright red color when brewed, a malty aroma, and a bold tea character. This tea is blended from teas grown in Kenya and other African nations. The Fresh One is also red when brewed, and this tea is a Breakfast Blend plus English Breakfast, all blended from tea grown in Kenya.

It is hard to choose from all these varieties! I like to expand my horizons and try new tea but if you’re a tea lover like myself, you might have a large cupboard full of tea! Have you tried any of these flavors? Let us know!

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!

Decaf Irish Breakfast Tea

Decaf Irish Breakfast Tea

Unfortunately for many tea lovers, the truth is that there is no real way to escape caffeine in tea. As this post notes, the claim that one can “self-decaffeinate” tea by steeping it briefly, throwing out the water, then reinfusing simply isn’t true. Plus, there is no way to remove all the caffeine in tea, even through effective, industrial methods; even decaf tea has some caffeine, albeit very little. So, for those who want to avoid caffeine, or sharply restrict it, options include drinking herbals (though some herbals, such as yerba mate, also contain caffeine) or consuming decaffeinated tea.  For those that love the taste of true tea, the notion of decaf may have some appeal.

Davidsons Decaf Spiced Raspberry Loose Leaf Tea - 2oz

Davidsons Decaf Spiced Raspberry Loose Leaf Tea

The problem is that a lot of decaffeinated teas simply don’t taste that good. They aren’t necessarily bland, but they do lack the delightful intensity of flavors that makes tea so wonderful to drink. Some are considerably better than others, though, and many people do manage to find a decaf tea that they like. If you really crave tea and herbals won’t do, you should at least try the various loose and bagged decaf teas available to see if any suit your preferences.  You may find that decaf tea tastes best with additives such as lemon (which can supply a nice, refreshing “kick”) or even milk and sugar.

Personally, I’ve found that flavored decaf teas can often be much tastier than their non-flavored counterparts. The other ingredients help boost the flavor of the tea, while the tea provides some body and additional flavor to the blend. Another option is to use decaf tea for making iced tea: As the flavor of cold/iced tea is often blunted anyway, you may not miss the nuance of flavor that decaf tea lacks. Use a generous amount of leaf to prepare the iced tea and, if possible, flavor it with some fresh lemon slices to produce a tasty, refreshing drink.

More great tea info on Lainie’s blog, Lainie Sips!

© 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.

Stash Decaf Chocolate Hazlenut TeaName: Chocolate Hazelnut Decaf Tea

Brand: Stash Tea

Type: Black tea, decaffeinated, flavored

Form: Paper-bagged tea

Review: It’s 3:00pm at the office. You last ate about three hours ago, and you have a few more hours of work before you can leave. In the break room is a vending machine full of chocolaty snacks. Around your hips are three extra inches that you’ve been trying to get rid of.

What to do?

Tear open a foil-wrapped pouch of Stash’s Chocolate Hazelnut Decaf Tea.

No, it isn’t quite the same as a candy bar, but it does a darn good job of helping you to cope with those chocolate cravings. Plus, since its decaf, it won’t get you too wired and unable to sleep later on in the evening. Stash blended decaffeinated black tea, vanilla nut, and hazelnut to make this blend. The hazelnut flavoring helps to keep this tea interesting: Decaf tea isn’t so much bad as it is boring. The hazelnut and vanilla notes work to combat the inherent flatness of the black tea used in this blend. Stash Chocolate Hazelnut Decaf isn’t a Belgian chocolate bar, nor is it a sublime tea. But it does a dandy job of getting some chocolate into your mouth without it landing on your hips.

(And sometimes, that’s all that matters.)

Stash recommends adding a bit of milk and sweetener to the hot tea to bring out the hazelnut flavor, though I find that it is quite obvious without any additives. A bit of milk and sugar does work if you are looking for a decent hot chocolate substitute, but I don’t think that either are necessary to make this tea work as a snack/desert tea.

Recommendations: Try serving it with an assortment of other teas at holiday parties. Makes a great tea for the office as well. Try tucking it into your purse in case of chocolate-related emergencies.

[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.

Stash Decaf Raspberry & White TeaName: Raspberry & White Decaf

Brand: Stash Tea

Type: White tea, decaffeinated, flavored

Form: Paper tea bags, individually wrapped in foil

Review: Subtlety can be a good thing. Many flavored white teas are a joke. The “manufacturers” simply blend a cheap, flavorless white tea with a whole lot of artificial flavorings. The result is something that tastes like the flavorings, but not like the tea. The tea is a marketing gimmick, added to create the illusion of a “healthy” beverage with all those wondrous antioxidants.

Peh.

But sometimes, a bagged-tea blender gets it right: Stash’s Raspberry & White Decaf is a nifty blend of a decaf white tea and a light touch of raspberry flavoring. Does it compare to a delicious, whole-leaf white tea prepared in a gaiwan? Certainly not. But it is delicious, with clean, crisp, yet gentle flavors. The raspberry isn’t overdone, and the tea has a nice sweetness and gives the cup some balance and body.

About the decaf bit: You may have heard that white tea has less caffeine than other types of tea. This isn’t true, so if you’ve been drinking white tea in hopes of avoiding caffeine, you’ve been getting a lot more caffeine than you bargained for. Decaf tea itself does have some caffeine, so if you avoid caffeine for health reasons, talk to your doctor before drinking even decaffeinated teas and coffees.

Recommendation: Weirdly enough, I sometimes like a white tea first thing in the morning. I know this is decaf and all that, but when you want to wake up slowly, this tea does the trick. The hint of fruit flavoring perks up the tastebuds, which is just enough to get me going on a day when there is nothing pressing in my schedule. Lovely on ice, very refreshing. Try making a tea spritzer with it: Pour some soda water over ice, and then some cold Raspberry & White Decaf over it. Add a slice of fresh lemon to liven it up a bit. Tasty and refreshing.

Preparation Tips: Bring the water temperature down to 180F or so, and only let this tea infuse for about a minute.

[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.

Stash Decaf Pumpkin SpiceName: Decaf Pumpkin Spice

Brand: Stash Tea

Type: Black tea, flavored, decaffeinated

Form: Paper tea bags, individually wrapped

Review: Pumpkin Spice flavored teas and coffees are always a big hit this time of year, and Stash’s version brews up hot and spicy. Even better, it’s decaf so it won’t add to your pre-holiday jitters.

While I am no fan of decaf tea, and the black tea used in this blend is fairly weak, the other flavors, including nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, clove, and pumpkin spice flavor definitely make their presence known. The clove, not unexpectedly, dominates the blend, though it is easy enough to discern the other flavors. The body of this tea is very light, probably due to the decaf tea, so while this can make a nice pick-me-up in the afternoon or at the end of the day, it may not satisfy your need for a rich, creamy drink, unless you decide to add milk.

Pumpkin Spice decaf would make a great hostess gift or addition to your holiday tea selection: It’s included in Stash’s Gold Box Gift Set, a beautifully packaged set of nine different flavored teas that could also make an awesome Secret Santa gift.

Preparation Tips: Use boiling water for this tea, and give it a fairly long steep: Check it at 3 minutes and take it up to 5 if you have to. Decaf tea, sadly, isn’t the most flavorful tea, so you’ll want to give the other flavors awhile to develop. Try some honey and milk for a creamy pumpkin pie flavor.

Caffeine Tip: This is a decaffeinated tea, not a caffeine free tisane. The amount of caffeine in “decaffeinated” coffee and tea varies from brand to brand and batch to batch, so if you are medically restricted from using caffeine, talk to your doctor about whether drinking decaf tea is a good idea.

[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.

There’s never a shortage of news reports about the assorted and sundry health benefits tea can provide. Many such reports have appeared in these very pages. And while it’s a good idea to take the sometimes miraculous health claims many merchants make for tea with a grain of salt, there’s also good reason to believe that tea can actually be good for you.

With cooler weather afoot in much of the Northern Hemisphere it’s probably not a time that many of us are thinking of hydration. But with the cool dry air of winter siphoning off our body’s moisture, it’s still something to keep in mind. We reported on the links between tea and hydration in this previous English Tea Blog article. Since then the UK Tea Council has reported on the results of a study by the Tea Advisory Panel that suggests that caffeinated beverages such as tea can be just as good as water when it comes to hydration.

Speaking of the UK Tea Council, here’s yet another report they’ve put together on the links between tea, caffeine and health. It suggests that, contrary to what many people believe, caffeinated beverages like tea “can make an important contribution to good health.”

According to Dr. Carrie Ruxton, who conducted a research review on the health aspects of caffeine-containing beverages, such as green tea, optimal intake of some caffeinated drinks deliver key benefits in terms of mental function and heart health.

Among the findings Ruxton uncovered, “caffeinated drinks in appropriate amounts contribute to healthy hydration” and “provide a range of compounds, such as polyphenols which are associated with health benefits.” As to the recommended limits for daily caffeine intake, results of the study suggested, that about 400mg a day, or about eight cups of tea, maximizes “the likelihood of health benefits,” while caffeine intakes of 600mg a day or more might result in adverse consequences.

Don’t forget to check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!

Blue Eye Herbal

Blue Eye Herbal

All this talk about how tea gets decaffeinated got me to wondering what all the flap was about. In Part I, I looked at methods people recommend for removing caffeine from tea. Now, let’s look at why anyone might want to do this.

One thing I found out about caffeine makes me glad I’m not a bug. Caffeine is a substance made by some plants to cause paralysis and death in any bug silly enough to start chomping on them. Ok, so we’re a bit more complicated physiologically than a bug (boy, is that ever an understatement!). So, how does it affect us?

First, as with anything, it’s too much caffeine that is the problem. It can cause (in layman’s terms):

  • more than usual visits to the bathroom to relieve yourself of excess fluids
  • that “on a ship during a storm at sea” feeling in your tummy that could result in an upheaval (and even more visits to the bathroom)
  • rapid heart rate (sort of like you experienced in high school when that totally cute and awesome boy or girl happened to glance your way when you were walking past them in the hallway)
  • nervous conditions including anxiety, depression, restlessness, and tremors
  • inability to slip off smoothly into the Land of Nod and dream sweet dreams

Second, regular consumption of high levels of caffeine seems to create a tolerance that lessens the above effects. However, if you cut back suddenly, you can then have withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, low energy, a less-than-genial disposition, the “blues,” and what I call “foggy brain” where concentrating takes effort. Gender, height, weight, smoking, and pregnancy are also contributing factors. Generally, women are advised to refrain from caffeine during pregnancy to keep it from affecting their baby. What the mother eats, the child does, too, sooner or later.

The next question is: “What constitutes ‘too much caffeine’?” According to one site, 600 milligrams can induce some of the above effects as well as increasing medication side effects, which could be a health risk. The good news is that an article from WebMD shows that U.S. adults average only 170-300 milligrams per day. Based on this, I have to wonder what all the fuss is about (among those of us not pregnant, that is).

Here is a list from the USDA of caffeine amounts (milligrams) in some foods and beverages:

  • Espresso coffee, brewed, 8 fluid ounces — 502
  • Coffee, brewed, 8 fluid ounces — 85
  • Tea, brewed, 8 fluid ounces — 47
  • Cola, 12 ounce can — 37
  • Cola, with higher caffeine, 12 ounce can — 100
  • Cola or pepper-type, diet, 12 ounce can — 49
  • Lemon-lime soda, with caffeine, 12 ounce can — 55
  • Milk chocolate bar, 1.55 ounces — 9
  • Dark chocolate, semisweet, 1 ounce — 20

Note that the amount shown above for tea is an average. Tea actually varies due to how the leaves are plucked and other factors too detailed to list here. According to the above list, though, it would take 12 cups of tea a day to consume a risky amount for the average person.

My personal conclusion from all this is that it is a proverbial tempest over nothing. If caffeine is an issue for you, there are many caffeine-free tisanes/herbals. (Some companies specialize in them.) However, if you have been drinking coffee and then switch to tea, you may find that the much lower level of caffeine in a cup of tea is not enough to affect you. Try a cupful or two or three and see how it goes. Of course, when in doubt, consult your doctor, especially if you are planning a “blessed event.”

Enjoy!

[A list of references for this post.]

Make sure to stop A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!

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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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