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Valentine’s Day is well known for celebrating love between two people. I feel Valentine’s Day isn’t just for lovers, but for friends and family, as well. After all, these are people you love and cherish. Why not show your love and appreciation for them? Try our selection of Valentine’s Day gifts that are sure to brighten up everyone you love!teagsmg1000037835_-00_a-stash-of-love-gift-set

If you have a tea loving friend or family member, while tea is a good gift, but why not an accessory or an essential? By essential, try a tea kettle or a teapot. One can never have too many of those? If one ever breaks, you can always have extra! As always, our English Tea Store teapots come in many colors and you can choose from 2 cup or 6 cup teapot!

Perhaps the person you love is from the other side of the Pond? Wouldn’t you like to give them a taste of Home? We’ve got our selection of British sweets and chocolate to start off with. Some of our most popular candies include the world famous melt-in-your-mouth Cadbury Dairy Milk and the gooey but heavenly sweet Walkers Toffee. Let your love show their patriotism with their favorite items featuring the Union Jack. Give them a travel mug to sip their tea from or let the world know where they’re from with they’re shopping bag. Or surprise your Across the Pond Honey with a flag of Home! Great Britain, Scotland, and plenty more! Hang it in the kitchen or living room, it will bring a smile!

You can always put a steasvbf1000033494_-00_the-romance-of-tea-valentine-gift-basket_2urprise package together but if you’re strapped for time, try our gift baskets. They’re easy, convenient, and best of all, there’s just about one for everyone! If you know someone who is a fan of mint, we have a mint tea time basket featuring chamomile tea, or someone who is just getting into tea, there is the English Tea Store basket, and then the Deluxe Afternoon Tea for the full English tea experience!

There’s just about something for everyone. Take a look around our site and check out all of our categories!

-CD

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

 

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We all know and love Queen Elizabeth for her remarkable reign over Great Britain and the Commonwealth Realms. The world has watched her grow up from a graceful young princess to a strong and devoted Queen, leading her nation through the greatest and the most dreadful of times. On April 21, 2016, Queen Elizabeth II will reach yet another milestone: Her 90th birthday.

The Queen recently became the longest reigning monarch in 2015, ruling for over 63 years! Her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has been by her side for her entire reign which began in 1952 after having been married since 1947. Not only is she a ruler of a kingdom but she’s also the ruler of a proud and growing family! She is the mother of four children, 8 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren as of this writing.

For her 90th birthday this year in 2016, it will go as normally planned with a few special additions. Her birthday is normally celebrated throughout the months of April, May, and June. For her official birthday on April 21st, the Queen usually spends her birthday in privacy but there are several gun salutes to mark the special day at noon. There are a few special engagements in April but in May, a major celebration will be held for the Queen. From May 12-15 will be celebrations every night featuring an over 90 minute joyous event that will celebrate her life, her love of horses, and her dedication to the Commonwealth and other international affairs. The event will feature over 900 horses and 1500 performers from all over the UK and the world! It will take place on the private grounds of Windsor Castle (this is the only the time the general public are allowed on the grounds) in a custom built arena! The Queen will attend on the final evening, May 15th.

In June, there will be more events marking the celebration. The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will also celebrate his 95th birthday on June 10th but on that day, there will be a special Thanksgiving service held in St. Paul’s Cathedral where invited guests will only be allowed. The next day is the Trooping of the Colour, which is known as the THE official celebration of the Queen’s birthday. A parade celebrating the Queen’s birthday is held, and she will stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, where many will try to catch a glimpse of her. On June 12, about 10,000 guests will attend the Patron’s Lunch at the Mall in London. This is to celebrate the many charities in which the Queen is patron of.

If you want to celebrate your own way, you can always enjoy a slice of cake or two, some scones with a bit of jam, or raise a cup of tea, possibly a good Buckingham Palace Garden Party, and enjoy it like how the Queen enjoys it: Milk, no sugar!

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!

Here’s a bit of fun trivia about Queen Elizabeth for you:

  • Queen Elizabeth was affectionately called Lilibet by her family as a little girl.
  • She is a big fan of the Corgi dog. She has had over 30 of them as pets throughout her reign.
  • The Queen is an avid photographer, taking photos with her cameras over the decades. She has even photobombed someone’s selfie!
  • One big surprising fact about the Queen is that she served in the military during World War 2. She was 2nd Lieutenant Elizabeth Windsor. She even knows how to change spark plugs and flats tires (and the only member in the British Royal Family to do so).

-CD

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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

Well over here we are still on Easter holidays and the Easter eggs are half price!  The kids are still away from school and bored so having bought some little Easter eggs cheap I thought we could make some Easter Nests which, because it is after Easter, we will call Spring treats.

It is a macaroon mix and filled with chocolate spread and small egg.  The mixture makes about 16 nests.

You will need:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
  • 4 oz caster sugar
  • 6 oz coconut
  • 2 oz ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of chocolate spread and three little eggs for each nest
  • Oven 160 C  325 F Gs Mark 3
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(c) Julia Briggs – English Tea Store

Whisk the egg whites until stiff then add the lemon/lime juice and a little sugar and keep whisking.  Gradually add the remaining sugar and whisk until the mixture is shiny.  Fold in the coconut, almonds and vanilla.  Spoon the mixture into paper cases and make a small depression in each one.

Bake for 12 minute until set.  Cool on a wire rack and when slightly cool add a teaspoon of chocolate spread and three eggs to each.  The children had one still hot from the oven with a glass of milk but they go equally well with tea.

– JAB

What makes Great Britain so intriguing is not just the tea, but the food. Not only do they have an excellent taste for chocolate, desserts, and cooking, but they also have a great taste for snacks! One of the most popular snack foods in Britain is the crisp. What’s a crisp? It’s the familiar potato chip! Just don’t call them (potato) chips or you might be referring to the fried potatoes we Americans know as fries!

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(c) Crystal Derma – English Tea Store

Britain’s largest crisp manufacturer and the most popular brand is Walkers. The logo looks strikingly similar to the Lay’s Potato Chips logo (they are both owned by Pepsico) but the huge difference is the flavor variety! The United States has flavors like sour cream and onion, barbecue, and cheddar while Great Britain has Prawn Cocktail, Worcester Sauce, and Cheese and Onion. Wait, Worcester Sauce? Prawn Cocktail? Yes, you read it correctly! These are among some of the traditional flavors that also include Ready Salted and Salt and Vinegar.

Along with the standard potato crisp, there are other kinds like the Monster Munch! A baked corn snack flavored with Pickled Onion, I was a bit nervous but adventurous when I obtained a bag! My sister, who was over at my house when I opened the Monster Munch, wrinkled her nose. You see, us Americans are not used to pickled onions, so it sounded a bit odd. Then, we tried them. We were completely surprised! The texture is similar to the onion ring-like chips we grew up with called FunYuns, but the taste is completely different! These Monster Munches are tangy and mouthwatering! My sister was even taking the bag and running around the house, getting our family members to try it before telling them it was pickled onion!

Crisps have been in homes both British and American for generations, on lunch plates, in children’s lunch boxes, and even alongside soldiers during World War II. If you go anywhere in the UK, crisps are sold nearly everywhere as much as you see tea. Millions of packets of crisps are sold every year in the UK, and its popularity does not seem to be faltering.

And if you do end up in an English crisp section, do try Walkers Tomato Ketchup crisps! You would be surprised at how delicious those are!

Tea still supreme in the UK?

Tea still supreme in the UK? (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Nobody knows anything. Screenwriter William Goldman probably wasn’t the first person to use that phrase but when he applied it to the movie business, it caught on and has become something of a pop culture catchphrase. One that could apply to the state of tea drinking in the UK, now that you mention it.

If you wanted to find a study that bemoans the demise of British tea drinking, whether it be from the onslaught of coffee culture or for whatever other reason, you won’t have to look too hard. If memory serves, I’ve commented on several such studies and reports in these very pages. Here’s an article I wrote about a year ago on the alleged decline of tea in the UK and China.

You might have to look a little harder to find reports that all is well and good with tea drinking in the UK, but they’re out there. Take a study that was cited repeatedly in the British press not so long ago. As one article triumphantly noted, Still a Nation of Tea Drinkers: More Brits Enjoy a Cuppa than a Coffee.

The study of hot beverage drinking habits was conducted with the help of some 5,000 British consumers. Though a little more than a third of the aforementioned prefer a cup of coffee in the morning, more than half of those surveyed said that they like to get things underway in the veddy British way, with a cup of tea. The Brits drink more than 78 million cups of tea every day though the study also found that 46 percent preferred to take their tea from a mug.

As other reports have indicated over the years, the tea bag reigns supreme in the UK nowadays. Only 20 percent of survey respondents said that they bothered to make tea in a teapot. Of those who drank tea from a bag about 40 percent said that they only managed to steep the tea for a minute or less. More details about the study here.

All of which sounds promising for the British tea scene, though it undoubtedly won’t be too long before another report moaning about the demise of British tea culture. Which brings to mind Mark Twain’s often requited quote, the one about “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

PG Tips - a return to loose tea? (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

PG Tips – a return to loose tea? (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

In other British tea news, here’s word on an initiative to reduce the environmental impact from all of those used tea bags being tossed in the bin. Tea bags are said to be the number one source of food-related waste and PG Tips, who are said to have introduced the tea bag there in 1960, are part of an effort to reduce this impact.

See also:
Joining the “Save the Teapot” Campaign

© 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.

Thomas Twining

Thomas Twining

The British were not the first people to drink tea and they were not even the first Europeans to do so. They have never grown tea on their own soil, except in very modest amounts at one or two plantations, nor do they drink the most tea on a per capita basis. And yet when we think of great tea-drinking nations Great Britain is probably one of the first ones that will spring to mind. It would be beyond the scope of an article like this one to list all of the great British tea pioneers responsible for this state of affairs, but here are a few noteworthy ones.

Catherine of Braganza
It’s not completely certain when tea first appeared in England. It may have been a decade or more before the marriage of Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza to Englishman Charles II, in 1662, but it’s Catherine who’s typically credited with popularizing the drink among English royalty and upper classes.

Charles Bruce/Robert Bruce/Robert Fortune
While the British could supply their need for tea by dealing with the Chinese as time passed it became more and more to their advantage not to do so. In the early nineteenth century, the British decided to grow their own supplies in India and it was largely thanks to the efforts of Fortune and Scottish brothers Robert and Charles Bruce that it all came to pass. Read more about Fortune’s exploits in China, here.

Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford
It may be one of the many myths and legends of tea or it might just be true, but it’s the Duchess of Bedford who’s credited with coming up with the distinctively British custom known as afternoon tea.

Thomas Twining
While there were undoubtedly British tea merchants doing business before Thomas Twining started a tea shop in 1706, it’s probably a good bet that none of the companies they started have survived and thrived to this day, as is the case with Twinings of London. (See products.)

Thomas Lipton
Arguably one of the most recognizable names in the tea business, the man who lent his name to Lipton tea was a relative latecomer to tea selling. Read a brief overview of his exploits here and get more on the whole thrilling saga in his most recent biography, A Full Cup: Sir Thomas Lipton’s Extraordinary Life and His Quest for the America’s Cup.

© 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.

Twinings Royal Wedding Tea Blend

Twinings Royal Wedding Tea Blend

Everyone loves a Royal Wedding.  Especially one like this, between a Prince and a commoner. It’s literally the stuff fairytales are made of. The big day will have everything Walt Disney could have asked for, from the trumpeters to the eighteen-horse carriage procession to the evening of dancing in the great ballroom of Buckingham Palace.

I’m sure this will all be very nice but, more importantly, there will be tea. Around 660 people will be sitting down to tea, champagne and canapés at a reception hosted by the Queen. There will be the classic designer wedding cake, of course, but, in an endearing move, William has requested that there also be one of his childhood favourites, a chocolate biscuit cake. It isn’t really a cake but a gooey mixture of melted chocolate, dried fruit and crushed biscuits and, while it may not perfectly complement a glass of champagne, there is no better accompaniment to a cup of tea.

As always, wedding souvenirs are being produced in impressive volumes with crockery and tea sets being the most popular designs. Collectible royal wedding memorabilia is an old tradition in Britain and, with the huge array of mugs cups and saucers available, it is a neat way to combine two quintessentially English things: tea and the monarchy. The Royal family will be drinking their tea on the day from a tea set specifically designed for the happy couple by Zhu Xiaoju. The unique set is named Dian Xi and is decorated with a blue and white floral design.

The select few with royal invitations won’t be celebrating, or enjoying their tea, alone. Tea parties and street parties are planned throughout the country in celebration of the wedding and also of the free day off from work that a lot of us are getting. British troops in Afghanistan will be celebrating along with the rest of the country and people all over the world will be watching live. There are few couples who can claim to have been the cause of so many boiling kettles!

So let’s raise a cup of tea to William and Kate and wish them well on their wedding day.

© 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.

I realise I am a little biased, but for me there is more to the joy of tea than just drinking it. I like the whole process of boiling, brewing and pouring. I think there is something very relaxing in the magic of turning dry, dead looking leaves into the warming, invigorating drink that we all know and love.

Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey Tea

It turns out that I am not alone in this opinion, I am in the auspicious company of none other than Elizabeth II, the Queen of England. Whilst her majesty enjoys a fairly hectic and changeable daily routine apparently there is one tradition to which she strictly adheres. Everyday at 5 o’clock in the afternoon she pours herself a cup of Earl Grey tea. If you were lucky enough to be a guest at the royal tea table at this time of day you would have the rather strange experience of the Queen pouring your tea for you, as this is one daily ritual in which her servants are not allowed to play any part. Personally, I have gone a step further and dismissed the servant entirely. I know it’s extreme, but, really, if the Queen can do it, then I’m sure I can get by somehow!

Morning Meadows Teapot

Morning Meadows Teapot

I know that pouring your own tea is hardly a crowning achievement, but I love the idea of this one special cup of tea providing a few minutes of treasured normalcy in an otherwise fairly odd life. It is in the nature of tea drinking that people so often have their own personal rituals associated with it. It is nice to know that even the most privileged are not immune to these simplest of pleasures.

So if you feel like a bit of regal solidarity then all you need is a pot of Earl Grey ready to go at 5pm GMT and not a butler in sight. If it’s good enough for the Queen of England, then it’s surely worth a try.

Check out the history of Earl Grey tea.

© 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.

Buckingham Palace Tea

Buckingham Palace Tea

Ever fantasized about a “royal teatime” at Buckingham Palace? Me, too, so I checked it out and found that the idea is not as fantastical as it sounds. It’s an annual event attended by over 24,000 lovers of tea time— wow!

Of course, my fantasy was for something a bit more intimate. Afternoon tea is usually for smaller groups of family and friends, usually up to about 10 people. More than that is not really conducive to meaningful conversation, just a lot of chatter. While this type of tea time was originally intended as a filler between the usual two-meals-a-day diet (breakfast and dinner), it soon became quite the social event, thanks to people like Anna Maria Stanhope, the Duchess of Bedford (1783-1857). Legend has it that she couldn’t quite last between those two meals, especially since fashion decreed that dinner be served later and later, so she began having tea and tidbits in her private chambers at Belvoir Castle and then inviting friends. It soon became the thing among others of her social class. As the price of tea became more affordable, afternoon tea was enjoyed by the “lower classes.”

Three years after the Duchess’ death, Queen Victoria elevated the event started by her lady-in-waiting to a grand afternoon tea party in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. It has been an annual tradition up to this day, with Queen Elizabeth II hosting as many as three parties with around 8,000 attendees each. That’s a lot of tea!

Those attendees come from all walks of life, making this a very egalitarian tea time. However, you can’t just show up and take part. Invitations are sent out, some directly and some through a Palace approved sponsor. If you receive such an invitation and accept it, come properly attired. For men, that means a suit, uniform, traditional dress (such as a Scottish kilt), or morning dress. Women wear a dress suitable for an afternoon event (other than a rock concert) with hat and/or gloves or their traditional dress (such as a sari, worn in India). You Red Hat Ladies would be real stand-outs here!

Be sure to arrive well before the 3 pm gate opening. You want to be close to the front to be sure you have plenty of time to stroll through the Royal Gardens (usually closed to the public). Then, at 4 pm you will hear the National Anthem, signaling the start of tea time and the arrival of your hosts, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, along with members of the Royal Family. They split into different paths so they can circulate among the guests, eventually ending in the Royal tent where they are joined by guests of high rank and others. The remaining guests take their tea and goodies from a buffet table that’s as long as about one and a third football fields.

What’s that table loaded with? Better question is: “What’s it not loaded with?” Here’s the menu (served by the thousands of cupfuls, glassfuls, slices, etc.):

  • hot tea (Maison Lyons tea — a special blend of Darjeeling and Assam by Twinings exclusively for these events)
  • chilled (iced) tea
  • fruit squash (sort of like lemonade but made from different fruits)
  • tea sandwiches of different kinds
  • bridge rolls
  • butter drop scones
  • fruit tartlets
  • butter cake fingers
  • cakes (chocolate/lemon, Dundee, Majorca)
  • chocolate/jam Swiss roll

Eat, drink, and be merry, for the fun ends at 6 pm when the National Anthem is played again while the Queen and Royal Family depart for the Palace and the tea party is therefore ended.

Not on the guest list? You may not be able to attend, but you can sure feel as if you were there by enjoying some Buckingham Palace Garden Party Tea, a special blend of Earl Grey and Jasmine (my review). You also don’t need to be this elaborate nor hire a staff of almost 450 to prepare and serve it all. Just steep the tea, hire a caterer or have the local bakery deliver, and wait for the guests.

Oh, yeah, don’t forget to mail the invitations!

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

Piccadilly

Teatime is a very British tradition, so a British themed teapot is a natural. Over the years, British style teapots from James Sadler have not only brought that theme to teatime tables everywhere, the teapots have become collectibles. Designs range from a wonderful racing car teapot to a teapot shaped like the head of King Henry VIII.

When you think of Britain, what images come to mind? Here are a few possibilities: Pomp, circumstance, the changing of the Palace Guard, kings, queens, London’s Big Ben and the Tower (there’s a restaurant near one of the entrances that serves a fabulous steak and kidney pie). Britain also has a varied and picturesque countryside where thatched roof cottages can be found in abundance. The famed Piccadilly Circus (a circular intersection in London with a very interesting atmosphere) also has worldwide fame. Let’s not forget the royal residences such as Windsor Castle. Of course, there is the Shakespeare Cottage, the birthplace of this famous playwright and poet and now a museum.

Air travel these days is a bit tricky and tests one’s willingness to undergo a few “procedures” that are intended to assure a safe journey. If you want to see these classic images of Britain first hand, you need to purchase your ticket, arrive at the airport two to three hours early (don’t forget your passport), endure the long flight in a cramped space in front of a young child kicking the back of your seat or next to someone coughing incessantly, land in Heathrow Airport and spend two or three more hours deboarding and going through Customs, then fight for a taxi to take you to your hotel where they claim they never heard of you and there is no comfy room awaiting you, then…

Oliver Twist

Sometimes, seeing things first hand can be overrated. Personally, I’d rather buy a James Sadler Collectible Teapot sporting a design of one of these well-known images. Some of the designs are so special that you almost hesitate to serve from them, but go ahead. These teapots relish the opportunity to steep up some fragrant Earl Grey or hearty Scottish Blend for the enjoyment of your guests.

You can add a bit of royal architectural flair with a teapot design inspired by Windsor Castle or the Tower of London. Rule the teatime with a design portraying Queen Elizabeth I, King Henry VIII, or Queen Victoria. Celebrate one of the great cities of our modern world with a Piccadilly design, or one portraying Big Ben, or the city of London itself. Prefer a cozy cottage or lodge? Sadler’s designs include several. There is even one celebrating one of the giants of 19th century English literature: Charles Dickens.

The teapots hold on average 20 ounces of delicious tea. Get a couple of teapots and steep up two different teas to give your guests a choice. Now, that’s a double delight!

One word of caution: these are very special teapots and not intended to be used in the microwave. You should also wash them by hand. Enjoy!

Read more great articles on 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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