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As many of us go back to normal life from the hustle and bustle of the holidays passed. Meanwhile, in China, the party’s just getting started! Chinese New Year brings hope and excitement to the people of China but it is very  special. For fifteen days each year based on the lunar calendar, Chinese people all over the world celebrate, wishing for luck and prosperi20170120_140654ty while relaxing and spending time with friends and family.

Chinese New Year (also known as the Lunar New Year) also celebrates the arrival of a new zodiac animal. There are 12 animals: dragon, snake, tiger, snake, pig, ox, monkey, horse, rabbit, goat, dog, and rooster. Every 12 years, these animals were used to date the years. 2017 happens to be the year of the rooster, 20170120_151524but 12 years ago (as of this writing) the year of the rooster was previously in 2005, then 1993, and so forth.

Some Chinese New Year traditions and rituals include cleaning up the house to sweep out any bad luck and welcome good luck into their sparkling clean homes. Other traditions include red envelopes with money inside, parades, and best of all, food! Many people eat foods like mooncakes, dumplings, and tea eggs! What are tea eggs? Tea eggs are simply hard boiled eggs that are cracked to make a marbled effect and then re-boiled in a tea and soy sauce mix. These are some of the most popular New Year foods for Chinese New Year. The best part is that these are easy to make at home and inexpensive!

 

Below is a recipe that is based from other tea egg recipes in my research:

Chinese tea eggs

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 2 bags of black tea, any kind you like. Pu-erh is traditionally used, but for my recipe/experiment I used Yorkshire Gold since gold is very symbolic in Chinese culture. It is a symbol of good luck and a color of the emperors.
  • Soy Sauce, about ½ cup or ounces
  • Dried orange or mandarin peel (optional)

First thing to do would be to hard boil the eggs like you normally would. Once the eggs are cooled, tap on the eggs with the back of a spoon, creating nice, intricate cracks for the tea and soy sauce to seep through.20170120_190031

With the water that you boiled the eggs in place the teabags, soy sauce, anise, and cinnamon in the pan along with the now cracked eggs. Let the eggs boil in this mixture for about 20-40 minutes, or however you feel is best. Turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the mixture for at least an hour so they can “steep”. The longer the eggs steep, the darker your marbled eggs will be.

My eggs did not come out very dark since I had only let them sit there to steep for an hour. Pretty good for such little time.

Enjoy these with traditional Chinese New Year foods or on their own for breakfast. They are excellent!

-CD

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Christmas is a magical time for everyone but for the children, it’s especially magical. School is out, snow is falling, and presents are unwrapped under a beautifully decorated tree with loved ones. The most important memories are developed during childhood, so it is key to make the holidays special for them. Tradition is taught early on and it sticks with children for years to come. They learn of old family traditions, like bringing out an old family heirloom to hang on the Christmas tree, baking Christmas cookies, or decorating the house, especially hanging Christmas stockings.teatssc1000021391_-00_mars-and-friends-medium-selection-box-181g

teatssc1000015115_-00_cadbury-selection-pack-medium-81g_1Now, about those stockings: they’re usually left empty right up until Christmas, when they’re filled to the brim with goodies and toys! For children, sweets are a big deal, so when shopping for their stockings this holiday season, why not try a candy tube like Maltesers, Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles, Pink Smarties, or Cadbury Buttons? They’re narrow enough to fit in the stocking and no one will ever see them! Candy tubes are popular during the holidays in the UK and nearly every confection company makes them!

Another popular candy creation in the UK are selection boxes. They range from small to large and they come with all sorts of chocolate. Milkybar and Galaxy also make variously sized selection boxes if you or your loved one fancies these more. Each box comes with a preselected mix of candy bars loved by fans. The hardest part is which one to eat first!

Now I know candy is not entirely good for children, but it’s the holidays and they only come once a year! Let them enjoy themselves before they go back to school and homework!

-CD

 

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(c) Crystal Derma – English Tea Store

We are in well into the beginning of summer and in the end of Iced Tea Month. The weather has already warmed up and many have switched from their standard hot tea to iced tea. Independence Day (also known as Fourth of July) is upon us and so many us of are either preparing for a big barbecue or are going to one. Others are just trying to escape the unbearable summer heat.

What other way to escape the heat than ice pops? What if I said you could use tea in your ice pops? It may sound crazy but it’s a very refreshing idea. You could use tea alone or you could add whatever else you want, like fruit or juice. All you simply need is a mold (and a few popsicle sticks if your ice mold is like mine). Simply brew your tea, any kind you like, and just let it cool. Once you are finished brewing and cooling, fill the molds so they don’t overflow and freeze. Every ice pop mold varies, so your ice mold may come with sticks or you may have to buy them separately. Once filled, freeze overnight for best results. To release from the molds, fill a bowl, pan, or container that is at least as tall as your mold with warm water and dip ice mold with pops in for about 20-30 seconds until the pops loosen. If you still have a bit of trouble getting them loose, dip them again. They should come out. Serve and enjoy!

For just a few of my flavors, I used a few flavors like Tangiers Lemon White Tea mixed with Lemonade, Pomegranate Hibiscus Green mixed with Pomegranate juice, Hawaiian Colada Rooibos with some fresh cut pineapple, and Bingo Blueberry with fresh cherries. It’s perfect for everyone, including children!

Bonus idea! Freeze tea so you can add it to your iced tea instead of plain ice without watering it down! Perfect for enjoying in the shade with family and friends or by the poolside.

-CD

 

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With Memorial Day come and gone and summer just around the corner, I realize that I still haven’t gotten any of my spring cleaning done. There are several rooms in my house and spaces like closets, pantries, and cupboards that need to be taken care of. One cupboard I have is a tea cupboard. Now, I admit that I have a LOT of boxes and pouches of tea. My tea cupboard is where, unfortunately, tea bags, boxes, and pouches like to tumble out and fall on me like an avalanche. I have this bad habit of seeing a tea I want to try and/or like and I buy it, storing it in the cupboard for when I’m craving a certain type of tea (has anyone ever craved a Twinings Mixed Berries tea in the middle of the day?).

IMG_20160530_1310372_rewindA certain retro video game that involves stacking boxes comes to use at a time like this. If you take the time to think strategically, you canIMG_20160530_1329211_rewind fit the boxes of tea in just the right spots, stacking and organizing. However, while cleaning out your tea cupboard, box, basket, or however you keep your tea collection in, you may come across some old, expired tea. I’ve done this many times, where I have had old tea, lost and forgotten. If you have a lot of individually wrapped tea bags in boxes, you can take them and put them in a tea chest. You can take your tea bags, organize them by either flavor or type, however you want to do it, and put them in eight separate compartments. You can display them or keep it anywhere you want, like on a counter in the kitchen.

If you have a lot of loose tea or just have a lot of loose tea bags that are not individually wrapped, like Yorkshire Tea or Typhoo, then tea tins might be your answer. Our English Tea Store Tea Tins come with their own labels It is also a great way to save space in your cupboardIMG_20160530_1320181_rewind and makes a very nice display for your countertop or table to have your tea tins within reach. The labels come pre-printed so if you have English Breakfast, Assam, or if you have another type like decaf, you can write on the blank ones. For mine, I used Bingo Blueberry since I have tons of it and my nephews are always asking for a cup. These tins also make an excellent gift to give to someone, just add a little treat in there.

IMG_20160530_1328225_rewindIn addition to the tea tins, it’s not just for saving space, but it is also good for keeping tea fresher for just a bit longer. If you really want no air to get in, however, these air locking canisters are your best bet. It holds up to 16 ounces of tea and the cliplock latches closed so it helps keep air out. Plus, it comes with a tea scoop so you can be able to measure tea a bit better. Did I mention this canister has a little tea shaped window so you can identify which tea is in the canister?

It took me a bit of time to get my tea cupboard more organized but it’s finally done. Now that I have my tea all in order, that’s one thing off my list! Now onto the next thing on my late-spring cleaning…the rest of the house.

Happy Summer

-CD

 

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(c) Julia Briggs

Who likes anything with lemon in it?  Most of you I am guessing.  Even my hubby likes these biscuits and he does not like lemon!

The recipe for these biscuits is very old and I can no longer read the name but I know it was from an old Italian lady and began with B.

 

If anybody knows these biscuits then please let me know.

You will need:

  • 2 greased baking sheets
  • Oven 180 C  350 F  Gas Mark 4
  • 8 oz flour
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 4 oz butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • Zest and some juice of half a lemon
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(c) Julia Briggs

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the sugar.  Cube the butter and rub it into the flour and sugar until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Whisk the egg yolks,then add the  vanilla essence, lemon zest and a small amount of lemon juice and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix well until the dough comes together.  Shape the dough into a sausage and wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Then remove the dough and divide into approximately 12 pieces, use your hand to shape the biscuits into either rounds, circles or S shapes.

Place on the greased baking sheets and bake for about 10-15 minutes until the biscuits are pale golden and firm to the touch.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.  If you like you can make some icing with icing sugar and the rest of the lemon juice for some of the biscuits.  They do go down well with a nice cup of tea.

-JAB

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!

-CD

 

IMG_5682Just after Christmas I had a lot of bread left over so I decided to make a treacle tart which was a favorite at home when I was young but I have not tasted it in years.  I had some ready made pastry so it was an easy recipe to make.

You will need:

  • 8 oz  Short Crust Pastry
  • 10 oz  Golden Syrup or maple syrup
  • 4 oz soft white breadcrumbs
  • the grated rind and juice of  a lemon, if you have one
  • Oven 200 C  400 F  or gas mark 6

Roll out the pastry and use to line an 8 inch pie dish taking care not to stretch and break the pastry. Warm the syrup and mix with the breadcrumbs, adding the lemon juice and rind if using.IMG_5688

Allow to cool slightly before pouring into the pastry case and if you have any pastry left over use this to decorate the top.  Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Be very careful taking this out of the oven and  leave to cool in the tin, the filling is very hot!  It is delicious served warm with custard or cream but also nice cold.  Either way you will need a cup of tea with this. – JAB

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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

This is an old Welsh recipe that people still make.  My grand-daughter made one just after Christmas and it was delicious and full of fruit.

I particularly liked it sliced and buttered with a mug of tea.  You can use any dried fruit you like but we used currants and sultanas, it does not use any butter in the cake.

 

You will need:

  • 8 oz Dried fruit soaked overnight in 8 fluid ounces of warm tea.
  • 9 oz Dark Brown Sugar
  • 8 oz  Self Raising Flour
  • 1 Egg beaten

Greased 1 lb loaf tin.  Oven 150 C 300 F  or gas mark 2

Soak the fruit overnight and combine all the dry ingredients together with the fruit and the well beaten egg.  Pour into the loaf tin and bake for approx 1 and a half hours.  Leave to cool in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack.

Store in an airtight tin when cold and enjoy a slice whenever you feel like it.   – JAB

IMG_5491 (2)Whilst the children are at home on holiday from school get them baking these domino chocolate biscuits, which are quite easy to do especially if you have a rectangle cutter.

I do not have one so had to do it by hand!  You can make about 24-30 biscuits with this mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Oven 180 C 350 F  gas mark 4
  • Two or three greased baking sheets
  • 5 oz butter
  • 5 oz caster sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 8 oz plain flour
  • 2 oz ground almonds
  • 1 oz cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Either melted white chocolate for the dots or icing made with icing sugar and water

Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy the add the egg and continue to beat well.  Sift the flour, baking powder IMG_5490and cocoa together and add to the bowl with the ground almonds, mix together until you have a stiff dough.

Roll out to a rectangle and cut into domino sized oblongs.  Leave a little space between them on the baking sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes until firm.  ​

Leave to cool on the sheets and then transfer to a wire rack.  Use either the icing or the melted white chocolate and pipe lines and spots on the biscuits to look like domino’s.  They will keep in an air-tight tin for a week unless they are all eaten on the same day! – JAB

IMG_5489This is so easy to do and taste really good with tea.  It makes about 10 if you cut them big and more of course if you cut them up smaller.

Oven  180 C  350 F  Gas mark 4

 

  • A greased or lined baking sheet
  • 8 oz Self Raising flour
  • 4 oz butter
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 oz caster sugar
  • 1 egg and milk if required  ( my egg was large so I did not need the milk)
  • About 3 tablespoons of jam (your choice)
  • Caster sugar for dredging

Put the flour aIMG_5487nd salt into a bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs then stir in the sugar.  Mix to a stiff dough with the egg and milk if required and turn out onto a floured worktop.

Divide the dough in half and roll both halves out to the same thickness and a nice rectangle.​

Place one piece of dough onto the sheet and spread warmed jam over then cover with the other piece of dough.  Pinch the edges together fork over the top and dredge with caster sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until it is golden brown.  Cool in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack and when cool cut into squares or triangles and enjoy.  –  JAB

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