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Subscriptions! They’ve been around for many years but just recently, subscriptions have been taking on new forms and increasing in popularity. From movies to even dinner kits, you can get just about anything through a subscription. So when you hear about subscribing to tea, is it truly a surprise?

The answer is yes! Introducing English Tea Store’s Tea of the Month Subscription! Each month presents an opportunity to try new teas at an unbeatable price. How does it work? You can either try the:

Loose or Tea Bag Month-to-Month Subscription: For $13.95 a month, you can choose between loose leaf tea or tea bags! Loose leaf comes in 4oz and tea bags are in packs of 25. If loose leaf is chosen, two of the 4oz packs are sent or if you prefer tea bags, you will get two packs of 25 teabags. You can also choose to get one loose leaf and one tea bag! Also included are 5 tea bag samples or a 1oz loose tea sample. This subscription is billed monthly and you can cancel at any time.

Tea of the Month, Loose Leaf Yearly Subscription: As previously described above, you will get two 4oz packs of loose leaf tea, plus a 1oz loose tea sample. However, with this subscription, you must prepay a lump sum once a year. For purchasing the yearly subscription, you get to save an extra 20%, bringing your monthly total down from $13.95 to $11.17.

Tea of the Month, Tea Bag Yearly Subscription: This subscription has the same terms as the Loose Leaf Yearly Subscription, only you get to choose the two packs of 25 tea bags per month for a prepaid annual price (same as the Loose Leaf Yearly Subscription), billed once a year when you begin your subscription. A sample pack of 5 tea bags is also included!

The boxes ship out the first week of each month for our subscribers. Tea samples are selected by our own tea enthusiasts, ensuring you will get to try the best teas! You can subscribe to these services for yourself, or you can give one as a gift! Every month will feature new teas to try and you may find a new favorite. Give us a try!

-CD

 

 


*MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTIONS

By purchasing a Monthly Subscription, you agree and acknowledge that your subscription has an initial and recurring payment charge at the then-current subscription rate and you accept responsibility for all recurring charges prior to cancellation, including any charges processed by Englishteastore.com after the expiration date of your payment card.

*ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS

By purchasing an Annual Subscription, you agree and acknowledge that your subscription has an initial pre-payment feature for 12 months of service without a recurring Annual Subscription renewal. Including any charges processed by Englishteastore.com after the expiration date of your payment card.

Orders placed on or after the 1st of the month will ship the 1st business day of the following month.

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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

Options abound!

Options abound!

Whether you call them “flavored,” “scented,” “crafted,” or just plain “modified,” these teas offer you something extra. For almost as long as man has been drinking tea, he has been adding that additional touch. Some of these have come about by accident, but many are the result of dedicated tea professionals trying different combinations to entice your tastebuds.

Teas with Flavors Added

Fruits, herbs, and spices are all commonly-used flavorings. Lemon is a popular fruit to add to tea, whether hot or cold. Teas that are “pre-lemoned” are readily available, too. Some use lemon juice and others contain zest (finely grated rind). Apples, blueberries, cranberries, apricots, cherries, peaches, oranges, coconut, guavas, lichees, raspberries, and blackcurrants are just some of the other fruits used. Some tea vendors use oils with these flavorings in them while other vendors use actual pieces of fruits. As for herbs and spices, there’s mint, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cumin, vanilla, and cloves, to name a few. Let’s not forget caramel and chocolate, too!

Teas with Scents Added

Scented teas are usually florals. Jasmine teas have been around for centuries and are usually green teas. Lavender is also quite popular, both as a tisane and added to teas. French Blend contains both. Then, there is the smoky flavoring of Lapsang Souchong that comes from how the tea leaves are dried. Oil of bergamot is the secret to the scent of Earl Grey teas. While it comes from a fruit (bergamot is a type of citrus), it is so aromatic that it is more of a scent than a flavoring. Which reminds me that since taste and smell are so closely aligned, it hardly makes sense to divide flavored from scented teas.

Crafted Teas

The kind of teas I’ve usually seen in this category are blooming teas. Nimble-fingered and well-trained tea workers take tea leaves and “sew” them together with flower petals into a ball or mushroom shape. These are show teas that are best steeped in glass teapots so you can watch the changing display. White, green, and even oolong teas are used, and jasmine, chrysanthemum, hibiscus, lavender, osmanthus, and lily are some of the flowers used.

Modified Teas

In a broad sense, all of the above count as modified teas. Come to think of it, “modified” can apply to all teas, since they are modified by being harvested, withered, dried, oxidized, fermented, steamed, baked, pressed into cakes, etc. In the narrower sense, though, “modified” usually refers to teas that are compressed, ground, or made into extract granules. Pu-erhs are certainly in this category, since the majority of them are pressed into large cakes, tuo-chas (small cakes that look like tiny bird nests), etc. (loose pu-erhs are becoming more popular, however, since they can be bought by the pouch or tin in smaller quantities than those large cakes). Then, there’s matcha which is ground to a fine powder. And don’t forget the abundance of bottled teas.

Are your eyeballs spinning yet? Sorry, but the world of tea is rife with complexity. Just have a nice cuppa tea and maybe a bit of fresh fruit to get your senses straight again!

© 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.

Flowering Tea - 3 Flower Burst - Green Tea

Flowering Tea - 3 Flower Burst - Green Tea

The last chorus of “Auld Lang Syne” has drifted off into the night air, the last balloon inscribed with “Happy New Year” has popped, the confetti has been swept up, and Dick Clark has been put back in cold storage for next year’s dropping of the big ball in Times Square. Time to close the door on the old year and start off the new year with a new tea!

“New” is a pretty relative term. For many people in their 30s, 20s, and teens, the music of The Beatles is “new” since they weren’t around when “Hard Days Night” and “8 Days a Week” were first performed to a large crowd of screaming adolescent females. To me, watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on cable TV is new, but not to my parents who grew up going on dates to the cinema to see this star couple glide gracefully through their routines. Thus it is for tea.

The New Year is a great excuse to shake things up a bit, so why not with tea? We tend to be creatures of habit, and thus can slide into ruts both in our lives in general and in such things as our tea enjoyment. So, we need to make the effort to pick something new.

Jasmine Delight Bubble Tea

Jasmine Delight Bubble Tea

A few options:

  • 100 Monkeys White Tea — A nice way to take the plunge away from black and green teas into the wonderful world of white teas. This is a premium grade, loose leaf white tea from China, and a best-seller. Prepare with care, though. This tea needs water that is heated to about 170-185° F but a longer steeping time of 15 minutes is recommended to let the flavor fully develop.
  • Bubble tea — A treat with its origins in Taiwan, where some of the world’s high-end green and oolong teas are grown. This beverage mixes tea, milk, and tapioca balls into something quite unique and very popular in many countries.
  • Oolong Orange Blossom Estate tea — A “twofer” that’s great to get you to try oolong and also get a refreshing burst of fruity jasmine notes. Perfect for those who like jasmine but want to explore oolongs.
  • Flowering Tea – 3 Flower Burst – Green Tea — A “threefer” not only by design but by effect. The dry tea “bud” contains lily, osmanthus, and jasmine blooms, and is tied together with steamed full leaves of Yunnan green tea. As it unfolds, you will see an impression of the Yunnan Province countryside in China, with its perfect climate for growing flowers. You get a full green taste with peach, lily and jasmine notes. Use boiling water and infuse about 5 minutes.
  • Izu Matcha — Powdered green tea from Japan with a bright Spring green color and a rich planty aroma. Go all the way and prepare it in true Japanese fashion, complete with bamboo whisk.

The bottom line is to get out of your tea “comfort zone” and go for something completely new. Who knows, you could like that new flavor so much that it’ll become your new daily cuppa!

© 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.

Longing Heart Flowering Tea

Longing Heart Flowering Tea

If you’ve ever tried a flowering tea, you know there’s more to the experience than just the end result. A flowering tea is crafted as a beginning-to-finale art form. A tight little ball of mystery is dropped into a warm bath, and a breath of anticipation is held. Then, slowly and deliberately, petals of green tea unfurl, revealing carefully chosen blooms and herbals for more color and taste than first hinted at.

English Tea Store’s Longing Heart Flowering Tea comes from the Anhui Province of China, created by a tea master to ease his longing heart on difficult journeys to Beijing. And it is a perfect example of art-meets-flavor. Gentle green tea effortlessly mingles with jasmine and a plume of amaranth (another name for the plant called Love Lies Bleeding), producing a mild but satisfying botanical finish.

Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding

It’s the ideal sipping companion to Jess McConkey’s paranormal mystery Love Lies Bleeding. In McConkey’s novel, Samantha Moore awakens from a coma to find herself enwrapped in a life of pain and dependency. She is at the beginning of her difficult journey to recovery; not only from the injuries she sustained in a brutal attack, but from the emotional aftermath. Her father and her fiancé agree to send her to recuperate in a remote cabin in an isolated town in Minnesota. A town that is a tight little ball of mystery, much like Sam herself. She resents her loss of freedom, both because of the way her family controls her decisions, and the way her fear controls her mind.

But as the novel unfolds, Samantha grows and unfurls, slowly and deliberately, to reveal more strength than first hinted at. At Elk Horn Lake, hidden secrets effortlessly mingle with danger, haunting, and romance, and author McConkey navigates these treacherous waters to produce a mild but satisfying literary finish.

If you choose to sweeten the tea, don’t add much! This tea, and this story, are artfully understated. But one thing is strongly clear: sipping English Tea Store’s Longing Heart Flowering Tea while reading McConkey’s “Love Lies Bleeding” (with a bloom of the title-worthy plant) is a literal taste of real mystery.

© 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.

Trying a tea for the first time is a true adventure. There’s an excitement in the air that’s hard to describe, accompanied by a dozen questions running through your mind. How do you properly brew it? Is it good quality? Will you like it? It costs how much? They’re kidding, right? And so on. Thus was my mind whirling as I sat down to try, for the first time ever, an exotic flowering tea.

The first step, though, before embarking on this tea adventure, is to get an answer to the question: “What is flowering tea?” According to my research, it’s a bunch of hand-picked tea leaves and flower petals sewn together with delicate string (more like thick thread). Flowers commonly used in the designs are chrysanthemum, jasmine, globe amaranth, hibiscus, osmanthus, and lily. Teas used are fine whites, greens, and blacks, such as Lily Fairy Black, Jasmine Pu-Erh, and Lychee Nut flower.

The flower petals are an important part of the tea. They add scent and flavor — the tea flavor dances in your nose and on your palate along with the floral notes. But that’s not why it’s called flowering tea. The explanation is in the brewing, as my tea adventure was about to show.

Armed with at least this modicum of knowledge, I confidently headed out, hubby by my side, to a local restaurant with the goal of having a true tea adventure. My level of expectation was high and, once we were seated at our table, I focused on the task at hand.

Step one in the process of preparing a flowering tea is selecting one (okay, so that’s obvious!). Taking extra care in making this selection will make your tea adventure truly special. The best method to me seemed to be smelling the teaballs when they were still dry. The server was very understanding and brought the two I requested:

  • “Spirituality” — White Tea and Tea Tree Flower (on the left in the photo)
  • “Loyalty” — White Tea and Jasmine (on the right in the photo)
The Teaballs

The Teaballs

The first one was in the shape of a mushroom and the second one in the shape of a ball, the two typical shapes used. I chose “Loyalty” — jasmine is a flower that has always enthralled (but not overwhelmed) me with its intoxicating scent. The flavor of white tea was so delicate as to be a perfect accompaniment with that floral fragrance.

Step two is the actual steeping. An essential tool in this step is a glass teapot, for the experience is highly visual. The best method is to put the water, heated to the proper temperature, in the teapot first, and then add the teaball.

Flowering Tea "Blooming" in Glass Teapot

Flowering Tea "Blooming" in Glass Teapot

Step three is the most important: enjoying the show! The teaball will start to open shortly after being put in the water. In a couple of minutes (three, at most), the “flower” will be blooming. The tugging of those tiny water molecules at the tea leaves and then the flower petals will be relentless until the goal is achieved. At this point, you can pour the tea and decide if you want to leave the “bloom” in the teapot and add more water, or remove it. If you don’t do one or the other, the tea could get overly strong, even bitter. I know this first hand, having chosen to leave the “bloom” in place. (The tea was still great. I just added some more warmed water to it.) To me, this is the one drawback. You lose that visual experience by having to remove the bloom once it has reached peak brewing.

Resulting Cup of Tea

Resulting Cup of Tea

Don’t forget the finger foods to go with your tea. Surprisingly, despite their size, they can be quite filling.

Having had a truly adventurous teatime, hubby and I sat back awhile, waiting for our meal to settle and enjoying the architectural splendor of our surroundings, luxurious yet comfortable and showing a strong Art Deco influence, especially in the furnishings. Finally, we roused ourselves and, with some reluctance, headed home.

Of course, now I must have a glass teapot and some flowering teaballs. Santa, are you listening? Enjoy your own tea adventure soon!

If you’re interested in going on the greatest “tea adventure” of them all – that of living what A.C. calls the “tea life” – make sure to visit her blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill, today!

Flowering Tea

Flowering Tea

For many tea drinkers, one of the best parts of the tea drinking process is when they can put life on hold for a short time and watch as the hot water causes the tea leaves to unfurl, a process this is greatly enhanced by the use of glass teaware. Check out this article for more on the spiritual and contemplative aspects of tea.

It’s not clear when the phrase “the agony of the leaves” first came into use, but it appears in the title of a 1996 book by Helen Gustafson called The Agony of the Leaves: The Ecstasy of My Life with Tea. It’s a phrase that refers to the process tea leaves undergo as they are steeped in hot water.

This is a process that helps contribute to the popularity of a tea called flowering tea, blooming tea or display tea, to name a few. Flowering tea, which can be made from different types of tea, is made by hand in various shapes and sizes but usually consists of a bunch of tea leaves tied tightly together.

As these blooms are steeped they begin to open up, which is dramatic and often reveals one or more flowers in its insides. Flowering teas are becoming increasingly popular these days and for a while could even be found in some Target stores.

For an informative look at tea growing and production refer to Journey Into Flowering Tea, a short video that recounts a trip to the tea-growing parts of China’s Yunnan province. The end of this video provides a good look at the labor intensive art of tying flowering teas by hand and also shows a flowering tea bloom unfolding.

For a variety of reviews of blooming teas – 16 in all – refer to the Teaviews Web site.

Want to try something special? How about a flowering tea?

Flowering Tea

A flowering tea is made of tea buds and various flowers, hand sewn together and folded into a bulb. When infused in hot water, the bulb unfolds, creating a marvelous bouquet. Children love flowering teas (also called “blooming teas” and “performance teas”) and adults are rather fond of them as well!

Flowering Tea Tips

1.  You will need a glass teapot for your flowering teas, obviously, so that you can see the flowering tea “bloom”.

2. Get the most out of your flowering tea by giving them plenty of room to grow. Many blooming teas will grow several inches, so make sure that your glass teapot is a tall one.

3. When preparing a performance tea, make sure that your teapot is sparkling clean. Pour some hot water into the teapot to warm it, pour that water out, and then place the tea bulb in the pot. Don’t worry about where it lands in the pot: The tea will eventually position itself properly.

4. Pour the hot water into the pot (water should be heated to whatever temperature the manufacturer suggests). The flowering tea will begin to open almost immediately, though it might take as long as a minute for it to fully “bloom”.

5. Now here is the tricky part: Many blooming teas contain flowers, and as I have noted in the past, floral teas can become bitter and disagreeable if allowed to steep too long.  So after you watch the tea bloom, decant the tea to preserve its flavor.

(To be fair, some performance teas continue to taste just great, even if they are kept steeping in the cup from which you are drinking. Experiment!)

6. These teas are often good for several steeps, so do add more water if you wish. Use a long-handled wooden spoon to reorient the tea-flower if necessary.

Keeping Your Tea Flower

The tea flowers are so pretty, it’s a shame to throw them away. You can keep your flowering tea for several days by pouring out the old water and adding cold, fresh water daily. Again, use a long handled wooden spoon to reposition the tea flower in the pot.

[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.

The way the tea leaves open up, unfurl, and move with the eddys and currents in your brewing vessel is known as the dance of the leaves. This is something you cannot truly appreciate when brewing with a tea bag, but the next time you are making a nice loose leaf green or white, watch the leaves and simply… relax.Brewing Tea
To experience the dance in its full effect, brew your next cup of tea in a glass teacup.  If you do not have glass teacups, you’d likely want to use a nice sturdy glass with no blemishes or imperfections  (which may lead to breakage) instead. Now add the desired amount of loose leaf tea to the bottom of the glass (green or white), and add water at around a 170 degree Fahrenheit temperature to the glass and enjoy the show.

You will see a secret life take place in your cup. The leaves perform their own ballet while they unfurl and steep. With glass brewing I’ve noticed, depending on how thin your glass is, you might wish to add some ice after a few minutes of steeping, or else wait quite awhile for the tea to cool down. Simply blow away the leaves remaining on top and filter them with your upper lip while sipping from the cup and you will have enjoyed the dance of the leaves, while making yourself a nice strong cup of tea.

Flowering Green TeaNow if you’re a bit squeamish about having loose leaves floating around in your glass, you can glass brew with a flowering tea. Flowering teas are even more of a show; they are simply an artisan produced ball of tea flowers that turn into a work of art in your glass. Flowering teas are great for parties, or just to have on display.When brewing a flowering tea, treat it like any other tea of that category. For instance, if you have a flowering green tea, brew it like any other loose leaf green tea, and so on.

Whether using loose leaf tea or flowering tea, the transformation the leaves undergo while brewing leads to a wholly enjoyable experience. Next time when you aren’t in a rush- sit back, relax,  and enjoy the dance of the leaves.

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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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