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You love your tea kettle. It is there for you when you are happy, sad, angry, or need a good pick-me-up. It brews the hot water for your tea, coffee, cocoa, and many other things to make that special drink for you. But sometimes, your tea kettle may need a bit of love and care itself.
Over time, your tea kettle may develop limescale, mineral deposits, and hard water residue. If you see any buildup in your tea kettle, whether it’s electric or standard stove top, don’t worry! It can easily be fixed with something that might be sitting right in your cupboard!
- White Vinegar
Warning: Be sure to UNPLUG your electric tea kettle and let it cool before cleaning! Safety is always a must when handling electric appliances.
- Fill your kettle with equal parts (about 1 cup of both) white vinegar and water, then let it soak for about an hour.
- Turn on the kettle and let the solution boil up until it’s at a rolling boil or the kettle shuts off. After that, pour out the solution and rinse thoroughly with water, about once or twice.
- Fill with water and boil again to clear out the vinegar from the kettle. It should be ready to use once you have boiled water in it once or twice, to be safe.
For Range-Top Kettles:
- Fill your kettle with equal parts (about 1 cup of both) white vinegar and water, then let it soak for about an hour.
- Set the kettle onto the stove, turn it on, and let the kettle get to a rolling boil. Turn off the stove and pour out the solution. Rinse thoroughly with water, about once or twice. Like with the electric kettle, fill with water and boil about one or two times.
- If there is still a little bit of residue left, try wiping with a damp sponge.
If you look at my pictures, I admit I did not wait an hour because I was too excited to try this experiment out and it did work on my Ovente kettle! So if your kettle is not brewing the best water for your tea and other drinks, try this method before going out and buying a special cleaner. It’s cheap and it’s a “life hack” that you have mastered.
With the year nearly half over, it’s already time to think about our mothers. We owe our lives to her, so it’s a must that she deserves a lot of spoiling! Mother’s Day is celebrated in both the United States and the United Kingdom, only the UK celebrates Mother’s Day on the fourth Sunday during Lent and the US celebrates on the second Sunday in May. For more information on the history of Mother’s Day, take a peek at my post from last May.
But what to get for mum? My own mother was a fan of the Cadbury chocolate. She loved the Cadbury Dairy Milk with the Fruit and Nut. She loved it so much that she would NEVER share it with us! She had every right not to. There were six of us children who put her through so much! So every mother deserves some of her favorite things on her day. Here are a few things that are sure to please your mom (or mum).
If your mother is from the UK, some Union Jack gifts are sure to please her. If you frequently visit her at home, a Union Jack doormat is one of the best ways of expressing yourself just outside your house. Perhaps a lovely tea cosy for her best teapot when stopping by for tea? And if she loves to go shopping, a shopping bag adorned with Union Jacks to show the world that she is a Brit and proud! Another good idea is to also fill the bag with a few goodies, as well!
As always, there are many varieties of gift baskets. Nowadays, there’s a gift basket for just about anything! Ranging from relaxing spa to even tea! Pick one full of goodies out and your mom will be delighted!
However you express your love and appreciation for your mother, always do so! She’s the most important person in your life and you only get one! Spend the day with her or if you can’t, give her a call!
Whether it’s boiling water in a kettle on the stove-top or in an electric kettle, tea lovers have a favorite way of brewing their tea. Some prefer to brew theirs in a glass tea pot. When I first heard of a glass tea pot, I merely thought that was impossible, since they could break very easily. Yes, they are very delicate, but they are handled in a much different way, especially if handled properly and carefully, they are one of the best vessels to be used in tea brewing.
There are many benefits to having a glass tea pot. One of the best benefits is visual, allowing you watch your tea leaves unfurl or even bloom, allowing you to fully appreciate the beauty of tea brewing. I have always wondered what tea has looked like while it was brewing, and it’s hard when trying to see through a teabag or mesh infuser, so this would be a perfect item for those filled with wonder such as myself. Plus, with a blooming tea, you can watch the tea bloom and then have it as a centerpiece along with being the tea!
Glass tea pots are smooth in texture, when brewing teas, it is said that it does not affect the taste or flavor of tea once brewed. To brew up a glass tea pot, it is best use water freshly boiled from a regular kettle, and fill up the glass tea pot with as much as you need. To keep the tea warm, it is best to use a tea warmer in which you use a small tea light.
The downsides of glass tea pots are that they are VERY delicate. They MUST be handled properly to avoid breakage and burns (when handling hot temperatures). They are also meant to be used according to their instructions. They cannot be used like the standard tea pot or kettle, so follow all safety precautions when handling a glass tea pot.
Despite being very delicate, glass tea pots have generally received positive reception over its existence. Many actually prefer to brew their cups of tea in glass! While they are a bit high in price, it is well worth the value and quality.
After months of waiting, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is finally going to be released onto DVD! Many of their fans can now own a piece of the most recent movie in the well-loved Star Wars trilogy. To celebrate the release of The Force Awakens, English Tea Store is proud to present a range of Star Wars themed tea ware!
Starting off with characters we all know like Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers, these 12 ounce mugs are the perfect gift for anyone who’s a fan of the Dark Side. Perhaps you REALLY want to wow them with a sculpted mug of Darth Vader? Him and the Stormtrooper both hold 18 ounces of pure dark (or light) tea. Then there are some new characters in the film like Captain Phasma and Kylo Ren.
Perhaps you are a fan of the Light Side and not afraid to show it? This travel mug features the iconic poster of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Darth Vader. Finally, the coolest and cutest item in the Star Wars range is the R2-D2 tea kettle. This is sure to please ANY Star Wars fan! You can’t go wrong with this beautifully made ceramic kettle with a 36 ounce capability! The brew is strong with this one!
Dish towels, dish rags, kitchen towels, or tea towels but either way, they all have the same function and everyone seems to have at least one. If you have one of these little cloths, you might have a different idea of how to use them. Tea towels are usually made of terrycloth, the same material that is used for regular towels. Sometimes they come in plain colors or have designs on them. They are often times bought as souvenirs or used for expression, like showing one’s patriotism for their country.
Tea towels were originally used in the 18th Century during the Victorian era to dry or clean their expensive pieces of china and silverware. The ladies who used these tea towels would use these themselves as they did not want to run the risk of their house staff breaking them. People to this day still use tea towels for cleaning china, mugs, dishes, or counter tops, but there are now more uses for them.
Here are few uses for tea towels:
- Cover up freshly baked scones or other baked goodies to keep them warm!
- Dampen up the towel with water and cover up bread dough so it can rise in a warm place. It helps keep the bread dough moist so it will help it rise.
- Makeshift tea cosy (but be very careful!)
- Frame them! Sometimes you may find a tea towel you love so much but you don’t want anything to happen to it! It’s also a great way to display them in your home/office/work.
- Cleaning rag-if it’s an old tea towel, sometimes they can be used to wipe down stoves, counter tops, or other household items. Recently my niece used an old one to clean her bike!
How do you use tea towels? Let us know, we’d love to hear it!
With the colder weather beginning to fall upon us, it’s becoming a bit harder to keep our tea hot. Not just in our teacups but in our teapots! Not only is it important to keep yourself warm but your tea as well! And how do we keep our tea warm outside the kettle? Tea cozies!
The first known use of tea cozies date back to as far as the 19th century, in the 1800s around the time the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Russel popularized Afternoon Tea. With the tea parties always in full swing, it becomes easy to forget about the hot pot of tea. By the time someone went to pour another cup, it had already gone cold. And when tea has to be reheated, it’s just not the same.
Tea cozies were purchased in shops but over the years, people have begun to craft their own. The tea cozy is usually made with cloth, usually wool, although some have been made with recyclable materials in recent years. Patterns to make your own tea cozy are sold in sewing and knitting shops in many locations. Tutorials to make your own cozy are often given online or in person.
There are many kinds of tea cozies. There are the dome styles that you must remove in order to use the teapot, and then the snuggie ones that are made more intricately. They have a drawstring and have two slots, one for the handle and the other for the spout. This makes it convenient for the user to be able to use the teapot without having to remove the cozy. The knitted cozies also have the same holes for the spout and handle.
Yes, tea cozies come in many shapes and sizes! While they come in a more traditional form, there have been ones that are customized to look like characters, animals, or items like houses or beehives! It’s all up to you! As long as the tea stays warm.
What kind of tea cozy do you have? Are there ones you collect? Much like teapots and teacups (or in my case, mugs), people have collections of cozies. The hardest part is deciding which one to use.
For quite some time now, tea drinkers have been able to purchase electric kettles and boil their water using electricity, saving on their gas bills. Electric tea kettles have added extra convenience to the tea drinker’s life, adding space on the range top (or stove). The advantage to an electric kettle is that it helps boil water in a faster amount of time than done on a stove. They also usually come with the feature of automatically shutting off when it reaches the proper temperature.
When looking for an electric kettle, there is a great variety, so choose according to your needs. Electric kettles come with many features. Some allow you to control the temperature. Rather than guesstimating or sticking a thermometer in the water with a traditional kettle, you can change the setting to a certain temperature. This is especially beneficial when boiling water for a certain kind of tea (i.e., green tea, white tea, or darjeeling), since in order to bring out the best flavor is to steep them at specific temperatures. Some kettles are also marked with milliliters (ml) so measuring water is easy! Making a cuppa for one or six? No problem! Simply measure and pour the water in and switch on the kettle! Safety First: Be sure the electric kettle is unplugged when not in use!
There are several types of electric kettles, ones with and without cords. The ones with cords simply have a cord running from the back and plug into an outlet into the wall, while the cordless ones have a base, allowing the user to pick it up and go wherever the user chooses to. In my research, I was unable to find out the origins of the electric kettle and there are a vast amount of manufacturers who make electric kettles.
And did you know that electric kettles are not just for tea and coffee? Any food that involves hot water like oatmeal, instant soup, or hot chocolate can be made using an electric kettle.
One of the few downfalls to having an electric kettle is that would not work if the electricity shuts off or goes out. If you must have tea, then keep a stovetop kettle as a backup, unless you have my current stove. It’s electric AND gas! It needs electricity to bake in addition to starting up the stove but runs on gas. But definitely keep a regular kettle in case of emergency!
As for picking out a good electric kettle, it’s hard to choose. If you’re like me and just want the basics, then the Ovente kettle is a good choice. You can choose from three colors (green, white , or brown, and they all brew very nicely. The green one has a pretty blue glow when it’s on and even automatically shuts off when the water is hot enough! Best of all, with colors like these, they blend in perfectly with your kitchen!
Do you fancy a bit more of a chrome look? There are ones like the Ovente Stainless Steel! This kettle has a more sleek design than their standard plastic kettle. Or perhaps you enjoy watching the water boil? Some electric kettles are made with the combination of glass, so you can watch the water gently boil!
Sometimes extra money in the budget could allow for a more high tech but well worth the money, kettle, such as the Chef’s Choice 677 model. 1500 watts of heating power add to this kettle compared to the standard plastic Ovente’s 1100 watt. Finally, if you want to add some high tech to tea preparation, you can always go for the Chef’s Choice Electric 688 Smart Kettle. Now what makes it a smart kettle? It has a feature that will allow it to remember the previous temperature setting that was selected in its last use! Plus many other wonderful features! Definitely worth the extra money on this one!
When you look for an electric kettle, remember that there is one for everyone!
How do you serve your tea? Do you simply brew a cup? Or do you serve from a teapot? Whether it is for two people or six, teapots have been around for centuries. Teapots come in many forms, sizes, and are made in several materials like ceramic, metal, silver, or even glass.
The earliest teapots were invented during the Yuan Dynasty in China but it was during the Tang Dynasty when tea became more popular. The earliest teapots were made from Yixing, a type of clay. By the end of the 17th Century, this teapot arrived in Europe and there was already a high demand for tea. However, tea was normally reserved for the wealthy since it was taxed so high, making it expensive at the time. Teapots produced back then were made of silver. Catherine of Braganza (the wife of Charles II) even enjoyed tea originally from Chinese porcelain, but later on switched to English silver.
In 1784, the taxes on tea were finally cut, thus greatly reducing in price and allowing more people to have access to the beverage. Tea’s popularity and consumption began to increase and tea eventually became the most popular drink in all of Britain. Many makers of British teaware became prominent and also competed against China’s teapots until British teapots became more standard. Today’s most popular teapots come from many British manufacturers, ranging from Wedgwood’s Bone China to the smash hit (I probably shouldn’t be saying that about teapots!) Brown Betty teapot.
Round-vesseled and beautiful, these teapots are tougher than you think! These teapots were made early on in the 1800s, with special red clay found in the Bradell Woods area located in Stoke-on-Trent and glazed with a Rockingham Glaze, helping it turn into its signature brown color. How the Brown Betty got its name is relatively unknown but what they are known for is their excellent quality since the tea leaves will have plenty of room to gently unfurl once hot water is poured in. Brown Betties are well known for retaining heat thanks to the ceramic and can stay warm for a long time (cozies also help)!
You can use whatever tea you fancy in any teapot, whether it’s for yourself or for a full table of guests. There are 2 cup, 4 cup, 6 cup, and even 8 cup teapots. Not into two cups of tea? Not a problem! There are tea for one sets like this one that even include a cup!
Did you know? Yixing teapots are known for “remembering” a type of tea. The clay in it makes it porous, so it helps remember the previous teas that were infused in them, thus earning the nickname “memory teapots”. It’s best to stick with one type of tea when infusing in this teapot.
In the beginning, there was a teapot. It arrived with the familiar sticker on the side and the lid taped to the pot. I had received a few messages asking what to do before you ever enjoy tea in a Brown Betty. Our site explains the clay, from whence the pot hails, and how to care for it between uses. But nowhere does it state what you should do with it right out of the box.
Remove your tea pot gently and inspect it carefully for any damage during shipping. If you’ve ordered from us, your pot will be thoroughly wrapped in bubble wrap, tape, and other insulated packaging. You will, most likely, need scissors to free your new purchase from its bindings. Peel all labels, stickers, and tape from the pot. To remove the residue and any remaining paper backing, try a bit of rubbing alcohol or olive oil. Dab it onto the sticker, let it rest for a few minutes, then rub with a cloth or scrape gently with a fingernail.
Before using the pot for the first time, I simply rinsed the pot in warm tap water. Then I was eager to try it out. Rumor has it the Brown Betty is the best for brewing due to the specific clay and shape, facilitating heat retention, as well as the roomy area for the leaves to swirl to release flavor without bitterness. The dark color of the Brown Betty hides the tea stains and the shape is also easiest to clean. When done cleaning, I leave the lid off the pot overnight to allow for faster drying, then put it on to protect the pot from dust.
To brew tea:
- Run warm water in the pot and empty it, to pre-heat.
- Add slightly less than one teaspoon of tea per cup, or to taste.
- Draw fresh, cold water in the kettle and heat it just to the boil.
- Pour the water carefully from the kettle into the teapot.
- Steep for three minutes, or to taste.
- Pour the tea through a strainer into warmed cups. If you have one of the older Brown Betties there is a built-in strainer where the spout was attached to the pot during crafting.
’Tis the season for those yummy holiday puddings – the British kind, that is. So out come the pudding bowls from the cupboard along with all the ingredients to make the perfect British-style pudding. But that’s not the only way these bowls can be used. Their size, shape, and even appearance makes them perfect for a number of different tasks in the kitchen and elsewhere. I’ve listed a few to get your brain firing on all cylinders. I’m sure you’ll come up with more.
First, a little bit about pudding bowls. Or more correctly, pudding basins. Unlike regular mixing bowls, pudding basins are used not only to mix the ingredients but to steam them. The basins have a raised rim that helps keep the covering of muslin or greaseproof paper in place (with the help of some kitchen twine). They come in different sizes, such as the 2-quart and 3-quart sizes shown at right. They are made of earthenware and are dishwasher safe.
As for the British pudding, there are sweet ones that are served mainly as deserts and savory ones that can be part of the meal. The closest thing we have in the U.S. to a savory pudding is bread stuffing, even though it is served loose as opposed to more firmly compacted during the steaming process. Favorite British puddings for Winter are Spotted Dick and baked fruit crumble, both sweet puddings usually served with a luscious custard (essentially a thick chilled cream).
Now to those alternate uses:
- Obviously, they can be used as mixing bowls for those breads, cakes, and other holiday treats.
- If you’re planning a big Jell-O dish, these bowls/basins can be good for that, too. You could use a gelatin mold, but if you’re expecting quite a horde, then that probably won’t do. The 3-quart size pudding bowl should be called into service here. You may need a bit more refrigeration time to be sure the gelatin solidifies all the way through, though. The tan bowls shown at right would be very attractive for serving this salad.
- They can be used to serve up other things, too, from other types of salads, to a huge amount of mashed potatoes (yum!), to Chex Mix (a holiday favorite).
- Food uses aren’t the limit here. Holders for potpourri, a flower arrangements, collection bowl for odds and ends (buttons, etc.) are just a few possibilities.
- They also make great gifts! In fact, you can put some pudding mix or fresh nuts or even fresh fruits or cookies in the smaller bowl, nested inside the bigger bowl and covered with some colorful plastic wrap and a nice bow.
Of course, you can buy the bowls, use them for some of the purposes above, and then buy ready-made puddings. What a plan!
See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.
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