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(c) Julia Briggs for use by English Tea Store, all rights reserved.

Eclairs are made from Choux (shoo) pastry and are not the easiest thing in the world to make, do not keep well unless you freeze them but, taste amazing! You will need to start these early because the pastry needs to cool down half way through. Trust me, though – the wait will be worth it! Maybe you could make some for Mothering Sunday (here in the UK it is 15th March) or afternoon tea with a friend or two.

Oven 220 C, 425 F, Gas mark 7, put a dish of water in the base of the oven and grease a baking sheet or line it with baking parchment, then run under the tap to leave a film of water on the sheet.

Make your Choux pastry :

2 oz butter
1/4 pint water
4 oz plain flour
3 medium eggs lightly beaten

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(c) Julia Briggs for use by English Tea Store, all rights reserved.

Put the butter and water in a pan and over a gentle heat bring to the boil. Make sure the water is boiling before adding the flour. Remove from the heat and shoot the flour into the pan and stir thoroughly. Return to the hob and stir until the mixture forms a ball. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool before adding the eggs otherwise you could end up with a lump of pastry and scrambled egg! When cool add the beaten egg a little at a time, beating or whisking thoroughly.

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(c) Julia Briggs for use by English Tea Store, all rights reserved.

Now you are ready to pipe. Place your pastry into a piping bag with a half inch nozzle and pipe 3 inch lengths onto your baking sheet, using a knife to cut off the pastry and the end of each eclair.

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(c) Julia Briggs for use by English Tea Store, all rights reserved.

Bake for about 20 mins until risen and light brown in colour. Immediately make a slit down one side of each eclair and pop back in the oven for one minute. Then place on a cooling rack.

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(c) Julia Briggs for use by English Tea Store, all rights reserved.

Whip 1/4 pint of whipping or double cream and add a few drops of vanilla essence and two tablespoons of icing sugar.  Pipe this cream into each eclair. For the chocolate topping I used Cadbury’s milk just melted but you can use chocolate glace icing if you want. This should make about 18 eclairs and you can freeze them (without cream or icing) on the day if you are not wanting to use them all. If frozen just refresh them in the oven slightly before filling and decorating.

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TOLSLL_CHM_-00_loose-leaf-tea-chocolate-mintWhat do you give a tea lover for Valentine’s Day? Chocolates. Chocolate Mint Tea, that is, and it happens to be our other Tea of the Month for February.

The Chocolate Mint Flavored Black Tea blend from English Tea Store is the delectable paring of chocolate and mint. This tea delivers a bright and coppery infusion and a chocolatey mint flavor that is especially prominent when milk and sugar are added. We find this tea tastes best when served hot, but it can also be enjoyed over ice. Using flavoring oils, not crystals, gives the tea drinker an olfactory holiday before indulging in a liquid tea treat.graphics-chocolate-975107

Rather than write more about the traditional chocolate Valentine gift, I’d like to point out a new feature on our site that starts with this tea. It will be slow in coming, as all good things are, but you will no doubt find it helpful. One by one your tea merchandiser Tammy is added very detailed information on each of our teas. Here is what she is presenting for the Chocolate Mint:

Cup Characteristics: Fresh lovely mint combined with full flavored chocolate tea that is wonderfully reminiscent of an after-dinner mint
Infusion: Bright and coppery
3d-graphics-teaIngredients: Black tea, Blackberry and Peppermint leaves, and Natural flavors
Caffeine/Antioxidant Level: Medium/High
Grade(s): OP (Orange Pekoe)
Manufacture Type(s): Orthodox (Traditional leafy)
Region: Nuwara Eliya + Dimbula + Uva
Growing Altitudes: 4000-8500 feet above sea level
Shipping Port(s): Colombo

~Your Editor

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(c) Julia Briggs for use by English Tea Store.

With St. Valentine’s day approaching I thought you might like to try some sweets.  These are so easy to make but look good especially if given as a present in a nice box.  You will need:

2 medium eggs (whites only)
1 lb icing sugar
a few drops of peppermint oil
green food colouring (optional)

This is a basic fondant mixture and you can leave them as they are or cover some with chocolate, in which case you will also need a bar of chocolate!

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(c) Julia Briggs for use by The English Tea Store

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(c) Julia Briggs for use by The English Tea Store

Beat the egg whites with a hand or electric mixer then add the sieved icing sugar gradually; when the paste becomes too stiff to use a mixer, change to a wooden spoon.  Add about three drops of peppermint oil and knead well in with your hands.  I decided to make some green ones too so I divided the mixture and added a few drops of green colouring into about one third of the paste.  Taste your paste and if necessary add more peppermint oil. Roll out on an icing-sugar-sprinkled table to about a quarter inch thick, and cut rounds with a very small cutter (heart shaped one if you have one!). Dip the cutter into some icing sugar  between each cutting. Leave somewhere cool to harden. When crisp on the outside cover some with chocolate and leave them to set on an oiled tray. It is a messy job to coat with chocolate but when it is done you can lick your fingers! These go very well with champagne but equally well with a light fruit  or mint tea. They keep quite a long time in an airtight tin and this should make about 24.

The egg yolks can be used to make an egg custard, recipe for that coming this spring!

~JB

Ceylon greenOur first February tea of the month is ceylon green. Imported from Sri Lanka, our Ceylon Green is characterized as smooth and subtle. According to wikipedia, tea production is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. Originally known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean. Great Britain occupied the coastal areas during the Napoleonic Wars to prevent France gaining control. In 1972 Ceylon’s name was changed to Sri Lanka when it became a republic. Currently, tea accounts for 2% of Sri Lanka’s GDP, generating roughly $700 million annually to the economy of Sri Lanka. It employs, directly or indirectly over 1 million people. Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth largest producer of tea. With all of these amazing stats, Ceylon Green is still one of the unsung heroes. Most of Sri Lanka’s tea exported is black, and green tea is typically imported from Asian countries.

Ceylon in tea refers to a location, not a type of leaf. Ceylon Green tea is prepared from the fresh leaves of the tea plant, unlike Ceylon Black, which is made from the aged stems and leaves. Ceylon Green is often described as “full bodied and pungent, with a malty or nutty flavor.” Whether you go with that or “smooth and subtle,” you will get 15% off if you purchase it now! I have no doubt our readers will weigh in with their own adjectives.

~Your Editor

Flapjacks are easy to make and last a while in an airtight tin.  I sometimes double up the recipe and hide half of them to make them last longer!

Flap jack

(c) Julia Briggs for use by The English Tea Store

250 g (2 sticks) butter
250 g sugar (1 cup) (either caster of a mixture of brown sugar and caster)
4 tablespoons of Golden Syrup
500 g Porridge oats
pinch of salt
250 g (9 oz) Cadbury’s milk chocolate

Heat the oven to 375 F, 180 C or gas mark 4-5

Grease a swiss roll tin, Melt the butter in a large pan and stir in the sugar stirring all the time.  Add the syrup and salt and combine the oats thoroughly.  Press into the tin and cook for 15 mins.  Then turn down the oven a little and cover the tin with foil to prevent burning and cook for a further 10 mins.  Leave in the tin and mark into squares or fingers and allow to cool.  Melt the chocolate and use to cover the top either in one piece or individually.  If you cover the whole thing cut through the chocolate before it cools.  Fork the top to make a pretty pattern!

~JB

For the shortbread:
170g plain flour
60g caster sugar
120g unsalted butter

For the caramel:
1 tin of condensed milk (397g)
2tbsp golden syrup
60g caster sugar
1 cup of soft brown sugar
120g butter
1 tbsp vanilla essence

For topping:
1 (100g) bar of milk chocolate melted

chocolate caramel shortbread

(c) Julia Briggs for use by The English Tea Store

Method:
Preheat oven to 170 deg C or gas mark 4, lightly grease or line a 8″ square cake tin.

For shortbread, sieve flour and sugar together into a large bowl. With clean hands, rub the butter into the mixture until it comes together as a dough (if squeezed in hand should keep its shape) then press it into the bottom of the prepared tin spreading it evenly and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 15-20 mins or until golden brown.

For the caramel, while shortbread is baking, pour the condensed milk syrup, sugars, butter and vanilla into a saucepan and cook over a medium heat. Note: You must continue to stir once the mixture heats up! I did turn mine up more but it is important to keep stirring (do not allow the mixture to burn and stick). This step takes awhile – be prepared! The mixture will eventually thicken and become a deep caramel colour. Once thick enough, pour on top of the shortbread base, then put into fridge to chill for 30 mins or so.

Melt chocolate using a Bain Marie method (a inch or so or boiling water in a saucepan and a glass bowl placed over the top to allow the steam to melt the chocolate without curdling it). Pour chocolate over set caramel and return to fridge to set for 30 minutes. Cut into desired squares, then return to fridge to set completely (mine took an hour or so).

These will keep for 5 days in an airtight container, refrigerated

Tip…..use a mixture of different chocolate if you like-try mixing dark/milk/white and swirl together when pouring over caramel set in fridge.

~JB

With December coming to a close, the frantic holiday rush picks up and it’s hard to find a good time to wind down and relax with a good cup of tea. My seasonal picks for the month of December from the English Tea Store are sure to delight and soothe even some of the most frazzled holiday preppers.

For a good holiday tea to entertain your guests who enjoy tea, English Tea Store’s Holiday Spice is a must. The spicy flavors and a hint of orange will take you into the spirit of the holidays along with a burst of energy to keep you going. I enjoy my cup without milk and a hint of sweet.

(c) Crystal Derma for ETS use, all rights reserved.

(c) Crystal Derma for ETS use, all rights reserved.

For those in the mood for some mint flavor, you are in for a treat! The English Tea Store chocolate mint tea is a good pick-me-up. At first, I thought chocolate tea was not my thing and I am a huge chocolate lover but I felt not in tea. Once I opened up my bag, however, I was in heaven. A minty chocolate scent burst up to my nose and I thought to myself, This is tea? I immediately brewed my cup in anticipation, sweetener and milk nearby. I expected it to taste a little bit like a peppermint mocha and it does, but not as strong as I thought it would be. Milk made the flavors more subtle yet. Delicious.

Finally, my favorite is the peppermint tea. If you have never tried peppermint tea, you must. Fine tea leaves allow room for minty flavor in your cup. It’s good any time of day, even before bed since it’s caffeine free! Plain sweetener is just fine but some honey is also good for more natural sweetness. I like to mix both. If you like peppermint with a caffeinated kick, I would suggest the Stash White Christmas tea if you order it before it’s gone. It has not only peppermint but a bit of ginger in it.

I hope you join me again next month for January’s tea roundup. In the meantime, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings!

~CD

Bellagio Mocha Kiss Kit (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Bellagio Mocha Kiss Kit (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Tea and water may be the top two beverages on the planet, but cocoa is definitely on the top ten list. And during the holiday season here in the U.S., it climbs into the top five. Having some cocoa and chocolate drinks on hand is a great way to prep for those holiday visitors. And for yourself!

Basically, you have two choices: something pre-made (either as an instant that you add hot water or milk to, or as already all mixed up that you just heat at home) or made from scratch. Of course, that applies to a lot of things, not just cocoa. But I digress. When gifting, you obviously need to pick the former, preferably the instant kind. There are hordes of options from which to choose, from simple to gourmet.

Here’s where you may want to “go Hollywood” and have an “A” list and a “B” list. The “A” list are those giftees who deserve the gourmet cocoas and… well, need I say what those “B” list giftees get? Just kidding. After all, dividing up family and friends in this Hollywood-esque fashion would be just plain unkind and unfeeling. Doesn’t everyone deserve an equal share? Especially when it comes to cocoa. Of course, no one said you can’t set aside some of the really special cocoas for yourself!

Some to Include in that Gift Basket:

The Noelle Collection Mint Chocolate Gourmet Cocoa (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

The Noelle Collection Mint Chocolate Gourmet Cocoa (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

All “A” list and all sure to please!

  • Cherry Chocolate Gourmet Cocoa — Two flavors that go together well, this cherry chocolate version of cocoa is sure to be a taste sensation. Perfect for the discriminating cocoa lover on your list. Three scrumptious servings of cocoa in each box.
  • Christmas Bells Peppermint Chocolate Gourmet Cocoa — For many of us, the scent of peppermint brings back childhood memories. Peppermint candy canes are a favorite holiday treat. Take a whiff of this cocoa mix and get that feeling all over again. The package is pretty enough to give as is, especially when stuffing those Christmas stockings “hung by the chimney with care” (as the famous poem goes). Three scrumptious servings of cocoa in each box.
  • The Noelle Collection Mint Chocolate Gourmet Cocoa
    Another classic flavor pairing, mint and chocolate make this a stand-out cocoa mix. Just the scent of that hot beverage will clear any stuffy nose around — another benefit to this yummy cocoa. The box is all ready with a bow to be gifted as is. Just stuff it into that loved one’s stocking (the one hung in front of the fireplace, that is) when he/she isn’t looking. Contains three individual sealed bags of Chocolate Mint Cocoa. From the Noelle Gift Collection.

The Good Stuff to Keep to Yourself:

Bwahahaha! Who says you can’t put your own name on that list of giftees? And you are definitely on that “A” portion.

  • Bellagio Candy Cane Cocoa Kit — More peppermint, this time combined with bittersweet chocolate and chocolate shavings. A cup of this cocoa will relieve frazzled nerves after a long day of shopping, wrapping, and hiding gifts, and then decorating the house. You might even skip those preliminaries and go straight for the cocoa. Kit includes (1) 7.5 ounce Bellagio Candy Cane Cocoa and (1) 2 ounce Crushed Candy Cane packets and makes 6 (8 ounce) candy cane cocoas.
  • Bellagio Mocha Kiss Kit — Go European with your cocoa. Bittersweet chocolate and espresso combine to give you a flavor found in the cafés of Paris or Brussels. This kit includes (1) .32 ounce packet of freeze dried espresso and (1) 6 ounce packet of Bellagio sipping chocolate and will make 6 (6 ounce) cups.

Making Yours from Scratch:

Hey if the ancient Mayans and Aztecs could do it, so can you. That way you can tweak the flavor any way you want. Lots of recipes are online, but here’s a nice place to start.

Happy cocoa-ing!

© 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 other day I was drinking tea (as always) and thinking of chocolate (also as always). Then, I had some chocolate and started thinking about tea! It seems to be a fairly common occurrence, as a bit of online searching revealed.

See the article about my great tea and sea salt chocolate experiment for an explanation of the above.

See the article about my great tea and sea salt chocolate experiment for an explanation of the above.

Awhile back, Lainie Petersen, well known to readers of this blog, had a chocothon all by herself. She tried three versions of chocolate (dark, white, and milk) with a hojicha green tea. The results were quite revealing. She also recently stated that chocolate with jasmine tea is a favorite combo. Being a great sipper of tea, she is certainly one who knows!

Another blogger tried several teas paired with several chocolates and had more revelations. These pairings all worked well:

  • white tea with milk chocolate
  • green tea with milk chocolate
  • scented floral tea with ginger flavored dark chocolate
  • oolong tea with green and black dark chocolate
  • oolong tea with bittersweet dark chocolate
  • black huckleberry tea with white chocolate
  • black huckleberry tea with milk chocolate

A couple of years ago Tea Consultant Lisa Boalt Richardson had mouths watering at the America’s Mart International Gift Show when she and tea company owner Beth Johnston showed how tea and chocolate paired together. There is such an interest in the subject that she conducts Tea and Chocolate Pairing Seminars and gives presentations on the subject at the World Tea Expo.

Yours truly did my own mini tea and chocolate pairing taste test to find what tea went best with salt chocolate. (See photo above.)

Lots of information is out there in cyberspace about what tea goes with what chocolate. You could spend hours going through it all, or you can read my handy compilation of the pairings that I spent hours looking up (does not include tea-infused chocolates):

Milk Chocolate

  • Black teas that can take milk, such as Assam, English Breakfast Blend, Earl Grey, Yunnan
  • Oolongs
  • Darjeelings (the flush and garden were not specified)
  • Green teas, such as Gen Mai Cha, Dragonwell, Sencha, Jasmine Green, Matcha
  • Teas with a roasted or “toasty” quality, such as Houjicha Green Tea or Wu Yi Oolong
  • Masala chai (strong black tea blended with mixed spices) traditionally simmered directly in milk
  • White Peony (Pai Mu Tan, Bai Mu Dan)
  • Some flavored teas such as Black Huckleberry (full leaf blended with raspberry, cornflower and rose hip, citrus note, full body, sweet under tone, coppery liquid)
  • Herbal infusions
  • Organic spicy ginger yerba maté

Dark Chocolate

  • Black teas that can take milk: Assam, Keemun, Earl Grey
  • Lapsang Souchong and similar smoked teas
  • Darjeelings (the flush and garden were not specified)
  • Bai Hao Oolong rich in Honey notes
  • Really floral oolongs such as Ti Kuan Yin Oolong
  • Both plain and scented green teas: Gyokuro, Matcha, Hojicha, Jasmine Green Tea, Jasmine-scented Pouchong
  • Pu-erh (again, the specific type was not named)
  • White teas including White Peony (Pai Mu Tan, Bai Mu Dan)
  • Some flavored teas such as Vanilla Cream Tea and Black Huckleberry (full leaf blended with raspberry, cornflower and rose hip, citrus note, full body, sweet under tone, coppery liquid)

White Chocolate

  • Black teas that can take milk, such as Assam and Yunnan
  • Spicy teas, such as Masala Chai Black Tea
  • Darjeelings (the flush and garden were not specified)
  • Oolong such as Dung Ti
  • Green teas: Sencha, Matcha, Gen Mai Cha, Dragonwell, Hojicha
  • White teas, such as White Peony (Pai Mu Tan, Bai Mu Dan) and Silver Needle
  • Black Huckleberry Tea (full leaf blended with raspberry, cornflower and rose hip, citrus note, full body, sweet under tone, coppery liquid.)
  • Herbal infusions

Flavored/Filled Chocolates

  • Green teas such as Sencha, Gyokuro, Jasmine Green, Hojicha
  • Oolongs
  • Earl Grey
  • Lapsang Souchong
  • Citrus flavored tea paired with citrus flavored chocolate
  • Fruit flavored tea paired with fruit flavored chocolate
  • Floral scented tea paired with floral flavored chocolate
  • Unflavored tea, naturally reveals flavor notes to similar filling in chocolate
  • Flavored teas such as masala chai, almond cookies green tea, and strawberry black tea

Simple, eh? Now, uncross your eyes and head out to buy some chocolate, then rush home and steep some tea to enjoy with it. At least, that’s what I’m gonna do!

© 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.

Godiva Roche Rooibos

Godiva Roche Rooibos

Name: Godiva Roche Rooibos

Brand: English Tea Store

Type: Herbal Tisane, Rooibos

Form: Loose leaf

Review: Looking for a chocolate rooibos? Godiva Roche Rooibos is a good one. Made from rooibos, cacao beans and peels, vanilla and what appears to be a handful of calandula petals, this is certainly a rich treat for chocolate fans.

Chocolate and rooibos actually go together quite well: The sweetness of the chocolate meshes with the earthy characteristics of the rooibos nicely, creating a soothing, yet also elegant drink. The English Tea Store was wise to add a strong dose of vanilla to this brew, as vanilla enhances the sweetness of chocolate and is a natural pairing with rooibos.

One Warning: Many people find themselves initially disappointed by chocolate-flavored rooibos because it isn’t as sweet as they expect it to be. Keep in mind that Godiva Roche Rooibos isn’t sweetened, so if you are used to drinking beverages that contain sugar, this tisane may seem somewhat austere at first. That said, I don’t normally use sweetener in my teas or tisanes and I find this rooibos to be sweet enough on its own. If you are hoping to drink something that tastes like a chocolate bar, be prepared to add some sugar or honey to your cup.

Preparation Tips: If you like a very rich chocolate flavor, use 2 tablespoons of dry leaf to 8 ounces of water when preparing Godiva Roche Rooibos and allow to steep for about eight minutes. If you prefer a more subtle cup, reduce the steep time to five minutes and adjust the leaf amount to taste. Add milk and sweetener for a lower-calorie alternative to hot chocolate.

Serving Tips: Drink Godiva Roche Rooibos on its own as a snack or liquid dessert. If you really want to pair it with food, choose plain butter or sugar cookies.

© 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.

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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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