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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!
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 surprise 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!
Happy Valentine’s Day!!
Nearly everyone loves pie, so when you hear about having pie during the holidays, it turns some heads. While beloved pies like apple and pumpkin are served during the holidays, mince pies are the true holiday crowd pleaser. Mince pies have been around since the 1600s and believe it or not, they were originally filled with actual meat! Love them or hate them, it’s not Christmas to many without a mince pie! In the US, not too many people have heard of mince pies or even know that they are a major part of the holidays but in the UK, it’s not Christmas without them. The mince (or mincemeat) is made of dried fruits, peels, bits of apple, along with distilled spirits like brandy, and spices.
In the UK, mince pies come in bite size and usually in packs of 6, 9 or 12. Sometimes the pies are decorated beautifully in pastry, with shapes like stars or holly cut into them. In the US, some markets sell what are dubbed as “mini” pies, because mincemeat pies are sold as a whole entire pie to cut and share. Suet, which is a type of animal fat, is also commonly used in many made-from-scratch mincemeat recipes.
When it comes to getting a mince pie fix, some simply go to the grocery store to pick up their mince pies. Others like to make their own by using either homemade or jarred mincemeat, and using either store bought pastry or pastry made from scratch. To make mini pies, some use muffin tins and for a large pie, others use a whole pie plate. Add just a dusting of powdered sugar and you’ve got yourself a nice holiday treat!
However, when it comes to popularity, mince pies are not too common in the United States. You won’t find them as easily as you would in the UK. It’s not a common part of the holiday tradition here as it is on the other side of the pond but you can always keep it going or even start it if you have not had them before!
I admit that summer is not my favorite season of the year. It’s too hot, too bright, and nearly everyone I know goes away on vacation. While I am stuck at home, there isn’t much to watch on TV, either. I’m stuck watching a bunch of reruns until they come back with new episodes…until late September or early October.
But for some, August is the best time of the year for television! Why? Because it’s The Great British Bake Off! Viewed by millions in the UK, it’s one of the most anticipated TV events of the year! In the US, the show is known as The Great British Baking Show. The premise of the show is to find the best amateur baker in all of Great Britain. At the beginning of each season, there are ten bakers who are to bake a Signature Challenge, a Technical Challenge, and a Showstopper Challenge. These are each judged on appearance and taste. The show is run for ten weeks, ten episodes, and each episode has a theme, like pastry, bread, or even gluten free. The bake-off takes place in a tent, most recently in Berkshire.
Watching this show inspires me to unleash my inner baker. Many of the recipes the competitors make all look so delicious and easy, but looks can be deceiving! I have tried for several years to make a perfect Victoria Sponge and it has been so difficult! It has taken a lot of training and patience! So, for the next few posts, I will explain how baking products are a bit different in the UK, baking temperatures, measuring, and more about the Great British Bake Off.
Put on the kettle, it’s going to be fun!
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).
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
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.
Savoy Biscuits or Lady Finger cakes can be eaten alone – with a cup of tea – or used as the sponge in a trifle. Remember we made a trifle with trifle sponges broken into pieces well you can use these if you like instead. There are softer and soak up the alcohol better or you can just eat them as a little cake. Either way they are quick to make and tasty. The recipe is a fatless sponge one.
You will need:
- Two baking sheets lined with parchment. Set the oven at 190 C Gas Mark 5 375 F
- 2 eggs
- 3 oz caster sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- 3 oz Plain Flour
- A little icing sugar for dusting
You can use a piping bag with the end cut off and a plain nozzle in or you can just make them round by dropping a teaspoonful of the mixture onto the baking sheets.
We are using plain flour so we need to get as much air into the mixture as we can so start by separating the eggs and put the yolks and half the sugar in a mixer and beat well. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and then gradually and carefully add the remaining sugar. Now put everything together and fold in the sieved flour. Taking care not to knock the air out. Put the mixture into a piping bag and pipe fingers onto your baking sheets. Cook for only 15 minutes until firm to the touch and a nice colour, not too pale and not too brown. Dust with the icing sugar and then place on a wire rack to cool completely. They can be frozen for later use or stored in an airtight tin for a dew days.
Enjoy fresh from the oven with a cup of tea from our new English Tea Store sampler packs!
For all you British people out there and those who like British food, we have here a traditional dish. Toad in the Hole is Yorkshire pudding batter poured round sausages, baked in the oven and usually served with an onion gravy. It uses a Yorkshire Pudding batter and you can use any sausages you like but I prefer it with skinless ones.
Make the batter and leave for half an hour before using for best results. The oven needs to be very high, gas mark 8 or 230 C or 450 F. You will need a suitable shallow metal tin.
- 4 oz plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 pint of cold water (or a mixture of milk and water)
Mix all the ingredients together either by hand or with a machine and then leave to rest for half an hour whilst you prepare some potatoes and/or vegetables and the gravy to serve with it. The mixture should resemble single cream.
Dripping or lard for the tin
1 lb sausages
Place the sausage in the tin with some dripping or lard and cook for about 10 minutes. It is very important to keep the tin and the oven hot so take the partly cooked sausages out of the oven (closing the oven door) but not too far away and very quickly pour the batter onto the sausages in the tin and replace the tin in the oven immediately. Cook for a further 20 – 30 minutes depending on your oven. Serve immediately with a brown onion gravy and lots of fresh veg.
Have you ever heard of a superfood? Every year, there seems to be a new trend of “superfoods” that becomes a craze amongst the masses. These superfoods are super because there is a health benefit to them, such as protein, antioxidants, or probiotics, only in large quantities. In a world of acai berries, quinoa, and kale, I was surprised to learn earlier this month that black pudding was now considered a superfood.
Now what exactly is black pudding? It is generally a sausage, made with pork, onions, herbs, spices, barley, oats, and here’s the twist, pig’s blood. I know, it sounds very…off…but it has been a part of the British breakfast for centuries. What’s it’s super benefit? It is said to have both high iron and protein, plus low in carbohydrates. There is also white pudding, which is almost the same as black pudding but omits the pig blood.
While most Americans are just hearing of blood pudding, the British eat it in their everyday lives. It’s role is very essential in a traditional full English breakfast. Eggs, sausages (and not the little breakfast sausages we’re used to, we’re talking about bangers!), bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread, and beans, usually the baked beans from Heinz. Sometimes kippers, a type of fish, is also added. A nickname for this breakfast is also a Fry-Up. While this breakfast sounds a bit much, it’s typically not eaten every day. It’s usually reserved for weekends or special occasions.
Not only is black pudding eaten in Britain, Ireland (where it is known as drisheen), and Scotland, but it is also eaten in other countries. It is eaten as blood sausage in Eastern Europe, Sweden, France, and Italy. As someone who has tried blood sausage (Polish version), I am hoping for blood pudding’s debut in the United States as a regular staple in supermarkets.
Now for the next superfood trend, let’s hope blackcurrants become the next “IT” food!
Is it grey, or is it green? Our second Tea of the Month for May is both! Enjoy 15% off the forever favorite made fresh with bergamot and green tea. Bergamot is a small citrus orange that blossoms in winter.
Tea was originally flavoured with bergamot to imitate the more expensive types of Chinese tea. This practice dates back to the 1820’s in the UK. In 1837 there is a record of a lawsuit against a tea maker who was found to have supplied tea “artificially scented, and, drugged with bergamot in this country.”
The Earl Grey blend, or “Earl Grey’s Mixture,” is assumed to be named after The 2nd Earl Grey, British Prime Minister in the 1830s and author of the Reform Bill of 1832. Lord Grey reputedly received a gift, probably a diplomatic perquisite, of tea flavoured with bergamot oil. The English Tea Store is one of few who takes this original Earl Grey blend and surprises you with a base of green tea.
Editor’s note – I love the word perquisite – so much nicer than today’s “perk.”
It’s a girl! The second Royal Baby is here and she’s a princess! Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge! Royal fans all across the globe who were waiting for this little bundle of joy to arrive are rejoicing! On the night of her birth, Britain’s most famous landmarks, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge, and Jubilee Bridge all glowed pink for the new princess. Even the Queen herself was all decked out in pink and in all smiles for her new great-granddaughter!
Princess Charlotte’s birth marks the first Princess to be born in direct line to the throne since her great aunt Princess Anne (styled as Anne, Princess Royal) in 1950. The new princess is the first British princess to be born under the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013. According to the law, succession no longer depends on gender, so if Kate were to have another son after Princess Charlotte, her little brother would be fifth in line to the throne after her. Thus, the Princess is fourth in line to succeed her great grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II after her older brother Prince George.
Now how shall one celebrate this joyous occasion? Why, toasting a good cuppa, of course! What better way to toast the new princess than the English Tea Store’s Buckingham Palace Garden Party? Every May, the Queen holds a garden party at Buckingham Palace which inspired this blend of Earl Grey, Jasmine, and English Afternoon Tea. Pairs perfectly with some delicious tea sandwiches (my personal favorite tea sandwich to make is cream cheese, turkey, and fresh basil). Like bolder tea? Why not try English Breakfast Blend No. 2! This tea is full bodied and just perfect with milk (and sweetener if you please). Goes quite well with a slice of soft, delicious cake from O’Haras Farmhouse Fruit Cake!
Don’t forget about Mother’s Day. While Mother’s Day in Britain is celebrated in March, it is not celebrated in the United States until May. Toast your mom (or share a cuppa with her) as well!