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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

Simnel cake is a traditional Easter treat but some time ago it was made for Mothering Sunday so you can make it then if you like.  It has almond paste baked into the middle of it and also almond paste made into balls and placed on top of the cake for decoration. You can make your own almond paste or use bought.

For the almond paste you will need:

9 oz Caster sugar
9 oz ground almonds
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp almond essence

Place the sugar and ground almonds into a bowl and add the beaten eggs to a soft consistency, add almond essence and knead well.  Roll out a third of the paste into a 7 ” circle. Put the rest on one side.

For the cake you will need:

6 oz butter
6 oz soft brown sugar
3 eggs
6 oz plain flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice (optional)
12 oz mixed dried fruits
2 oz chopped mixed peel
1/2 lemon, grated zest only.

1 egg beaten for glazing plus 1 or 2 tablespoons apricot jam.

Grease and line a 7″ cake tin and set the oven to 140 C, 275 F or gas mark 1

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs and beat well. Fold in the flour, salt, mixed spices if using and finally add the mixed dried fruit, candied peel and lemon zest. Put half the mixture into the tin and smooth the top. Cover with the circle of almond paste and add the remaining cake mixture, smooth the top but add a slight dip in the centre to allow the cake to rise. Bake for 1 3/4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

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

Brush the top of the cake with the warmed apricot jam, divide the remaining almond paste into two and roll a circle for the top of the cake. Place this circle on the top of the cake.  Make 11 small balls with the remaining paste and place in a circle on top of the cake. Put the whole cake back into a hot oven for 10 mins or under the grill for 1 or 2 mins to brown the almond paste balls.

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

Easter is just around the corner and the Lent period will be over, however, although chocolate and all things nice are not really supposed to be eaten until Easter Sunday. On Good Friday though it is traditional to eat Hot Cross Buns.  They are not difficult to make but as with any ‘bread’ based product they need time to rise, fortunately only once with this recipe.

Oven 425 F.  220 C,  Gas mark 7

1 lb 4 oz Strong White or brown bread flour
2 heaped tsp mixed spice (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 oz butter
8 oz mixed dried fruits
2 oz caster sugar
One 7 g sachet of dried easy blend yeast
6 1/2 fluid ounces milk
2 eggs

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

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

Place the flour, salt, mixed spice (if using) and sugar into a bowl. Rub in the butter and then stir in the dried fruits. I used cherries, raisins, sultanas and candied peel.  Sprinkle the yeast over and stir in. Gently warm the milk until it is tepid and beat the eggs into this. Make a small well in the flour and pour in the milk/egg mixture and mix to a soft dough. Leave this for five mins. Meanwhile prepare your baking sheets by lining with baking parchment. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and divide into 8, or if you want smaller buns, 16. knead slightly and make into a bun shape and put onto your baking sheets with plenty of room for expansion.  Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave somewhere warm for about 45 mins to 1 hour. They should have increased in size. Either make a cross with a sharp knife on top or make a flour and water paste and pipe a cross on top or if you are really ambitious use some pastry to make the cross but only if you have some handy! Bake for 12-15 mins until well risen and golden. Leave to cool and then warm a little honey or golden syrup and brush the the tops. They will keep fresh for a day but they are best eaten quickly or toasted.  Enjoy with butter, jam, honey or cheese and a nice cup of tea.

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(C) Julia Briggs for the English Tea Store. All rights reserved.

With the end of Lent we have Easter eggs and other such niceties and one of our favourites at this time of the year is Easter nests.  They are so easy to make you can even get the children involved, although watch out for things being popped into mouths!  My daughter loves to help with these but she like licking the bowls out best of all!

You will need:

8 oz Cadbury’s milk or plain chocolate bar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
2 oz butter
3 ozs cornflakes or rice crispies
36 mini chocolate eggs (plus extra for eating whilst making!)
12 paper cases.

No baking is required; they are just chilled in the ‘fridge when done.

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(C) Julia Briggs for the English Tea Store. All rights reserved.

Break the chocolate into pieces and melt together with the golden syrup and butter, either in the microwave or over a pan of hot water.  Stir until smooth, be careful not to get the chocolate too hot!  Stir the cornflakes in until they are all coated in chocolate and divide the mixture between the 12 paper cases.  Put the paper cases into bun tins otherwise they spread too much.  Press three chocolate eggs into the centre of each nest (always assuming there are 36 eggs left!)  They should resemble bird’s nests with eggs in.  Chill in the ‘fridge for about an hour or until set.  They keep well in an airtight tin but only if you hide the tin away from prying eyes and fingers – otherwise they will all be eaten on the same day that you make them!

~JB

Easter is a time of rebirth and renewal, when we know that the dormant world around us is reviving and once again budding. Reflecting that at tea time is easy to do with a few key ingredients.

An outdoor setting is best, if possible. (From Yahoo! Images)

An outdoor setting is best, if possible. (From Yahoo! Images)

Here’s how to set the perfect Easter tea table:

Pastel Colors

Just about any color is appropriate here, but it should be in a pastel shade. The lighter color conveys the more bright and sunny days of Spring after the gray days of Winter. You can pick 2 or 3 colors for a scheme here. Pink and green are one option. Blue and yellow are another. Lilac goes with a variety of colors: green, yellow, and orange. Or you can go all out and have all of these colors together, just like the flowers blooming around you.

Traditional Symbols

Symbols of the season reflect that sense of rebirth. Bunnies, chicks, lambs, lilies, daffodils, tulips, and eggs are the common ones. Having plenty of these in ample supply on your tea table will be an assurance of the occasion being celebrated. They can be in the form of statues, pictures, the real thing, or (my personal favorite) made of chocolate!

Location, Location, Location

Just as in real estate, when it comes to tea time, location matters. Weather permitting, try to set up your tea time outdoors. If the forecast shows that this would not be a good idea, be sure the location indoors is well-lit and near windows if possible. Even a rainy day (as long as it’s not too wild and woolly out there) will add a nice air to your Easter tea time since there will be more greenery and floral colors outside this time of year than in Winter (assuming you live in an area where all four seasons are evident).

Setting the Table

Tablecloths and napkins set a tone that says the occasion is a bit extra special. Matching seat cushions or chair covers will enhance that feeling. A centerpiece using some of those traditional symbols above will also set a tone, either more adult or more geared toward younger guests (for example, realistic bunnies versus more cartoon-like bunnies). A plate, teacup, saucer, and water glass at each guest place will be very welcoming. Don’t forget forks, spoons, and knives (depending on what foods you’re serving).

Don’t forget the most important ingredient: a sunny disposition!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© 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.

Less than a month to go before those egg hunts and chocolate candies in egg, squirrel, bunny, and other shapes are unwrapped and gobbled. Better be sure to stock up now so there’s no shortage when that time comes!

Cadbury Crème Eggs with that eggy-looking center! (From Yahoo! Images)

Cadbury Crème Eggs with that eggy-looking center! (From Yahoo! Images)

Some of the most popular British candies for Easter are Cadbury crème eggs and their Mini Eggs, both of which are only produced around Easter. They’re so delicious, though, that they could be enjoyed all year round. The Cadbury’s Mini Eggs have a crisp sugar-coated shell and their famous Cadbury chocolate centers, and the Cadbury Crème Eggs have a thick chocolate shell with a gooey fondant crème center that looks like a real egg with a yellow “yolk” and bright “white” part. The crème eggs are now the biggest selling confectionery in the UK between New Year and Easter, selling around 200 million, and the Mini Eggs, originating in 1967, are usually sold around Christmas and Easter, but available in Canada year round.

Bunny Fun Easter Gift Basket (ETS image)

Bunny Fun Easter Gift Basket (ETS image)

Gift baskets with cute stuffed bunnies in them are always pleasing, too! The Bunny Fun Easter Gift Basket is a great example and includes a 12-inch Plush Bunny, a Whoppers Milk Carton, 2 Toasted chocolate covered marshmallows, Sugar coated sour patch gummy worms, Marshmallow Peeps, a cotton candy tub, edible fruit Easter grass, milk chocolate foil wrapped Easter bunny, all in a white Easter basket.

Chocolate bunnies seem as popular on both sides of “the pond” (aka the Atlantic Ocean). My siblings and I would share a large one and get into quite a row over who would get the head, which we all considered the best part. My mom wised up in subsequent years and got each of us smaller ones so we could each nibble on those ears!

My sister and I would fight over who got the head! (From Yahoo! Images)

My sister and I would fight over who got the head! (From Yahoo! Images)

Whatever your preference, keep your indulgences to a sensible level – only a dozen or so of those crème eggs at a time – hee!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© 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.

Daffodils or other fresh Springtime flowers are essential! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Daffodils or other fresh Springtime flowers are essential! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

The date on the calendar may change from year to year, but Easter remains the same, that is, a time of renewal and for observing the coming back to life of the world around us. Flowers bloom, birds sing, and the Sun is higher in the sky, giving us all a feeling of waking from a long, deep rest. Or switching from watching a black-and-white movie to a color movie. Well, you get the idea.

Your Easter tea time needs to reflect that sense of renewal and awakening, and I have five items essential to doing just that.

An adorable 14" stuffed bunny that sings "Little Bunny Foo Foo" while his ears wiggle and his head sways side to side. (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

“Little Bunny Foo Foo” (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

1 Fresh Flowers

Lilies are the traditional choice here, but daffodils are in bloom and tulips are another option.

2 Stuffed Bunnies

Well, actually, bunnies and chicks and baby ducks are appropriate here since they all symbolize new life. Some are even quite musical, such as this bunny that sings “Little Bunny Foo Foo” while his ears wiggle and his head sways side to side. Be warned, though, that the song will get stuck in your head just like that “Barney” song.

Pile it on! (chocolate, that is) (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Pile it on! (chocolate, that is) (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

3 Lots of Chocolate

By “lots” I mean a TON! And in any and all of the traditional Easter-time shapes: eggs, bunnies, squirrels. Throw in some chocolate chips and nutty chocolate candy bars for good measure. Lots more options here.

4 Colorful Teawares

Having a tea time at Easter gives you the opportunity to sport light and bright colors, and a pastel-colored teapot is very much the thing here! They come in a variety of hues and can match those eggs you dye. Crisp, white table linens will be the perfect backdrop. And pastel cups and saucers like these will make your tea time seem all a-bloom!

Light, bright colors are a good change after the dark colors of Winter! (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Light, bright colors are a good change after the dark colors of Winter! (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

5 Fresh, Light-Tasting Teas

Let’s now focus on the key ingredient here: tea! Start with these straight teas:

  • Spring Pouchong Tea — From an area of Taiwan with pristine waterways and thick forests. After plucking, the leaves are only allowed to oxidize for a limited amount of time before they are wrapped in paper and dried. The liquid has fragrances of flowers and melon and a rich, yet mild flavor.
  • Dragon Pearls Green Tea — The top two leaves and bud of new season growth are hand rolled into small pearls. Infuse in a cup and watch the pearls unfurl, showing those leaves and buds. The aroma of the pale green liquid is sweet and floral, like spring meadows or cool forests.
A bit of a light tea like Dragon Pearls will put a lift in your Easter tea time! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

A bit of a light tea like Dragon Pearls will put a lift in your Easter tea time! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

  • White Monkey Paw Green Tea — Made from the top two leaves and the bud of new season growth (late March /early April). A very delicate but intense full green tea flavor. Even though this is a green tea, the visual appearance and cup liquor is so delicate that it can also be considered a white tea.

Give good consideration to some of these fruity and floral flavored teas:

  • Lemon Green Tea — A blend of tart lemon and sweet green tea. Very refreshing over ice!
  • Mango Mist Black Tea — Naturally flavored Ceylon black tea.
  • Peach Apricot White — A paradise of fruit flavor with a base of delicious white tea enhanced with peach and apricot.

Time to get hopping and prepare the best Easter tea time ever!

See also:
Tea Tale — Yellow Bunny’s Easter Teatime
Easter Teatime Hop-Along
Colorful Teawares for Your Easter Teatime
Cadbury — The Easter Bunny’s Friend
Cadbury Easter Candy: A Holiday Treat by Lainie Petersen
Hot Cross Buns by Jess Hodges

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© 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.

There are few things that I enjoy more than hunting for Easter treats, particularly when the treats include a little (or a lot) of chocolate. Even better is when the treats are something that I can’t get at my corner grocery store, but are best classified as a “special delivery”. Fortunately for those of us in the United States, Easter Bunny doesn’t have to hop too far to get his paws on some Cadbury candies, imported from the United Kingdom by the English Tea Store.

Now many of you are probably thinking that I’m being silly: Most grocery stores in the United States have plenty of Cadbury products (including those marvelous Cadbury cream eggs with the yellow yolks). This is true, you can get Cadbury candies in the United States.

But they aren’t the same as those you get in Great Britain.

Most of the Cadbury chocolates sold in the United States are actually manufactured here by Hershey’s. If you want the same Cadbury chocolates that folks in the UK get, you have to either visit the UK or source them from a store that specializes in British imports. Many people, including myself, notice a real difference between Cadbury chocolates made in the UK and those made over here. While everyone’s tastes are different, I personally prefer the UK versions.

So what does the English Tea Store have for you to try? Well, in addition to the classic Cadbury egg, you can also try the wonderful and buttery Cadbury caramel-filled egg. Another great option is the Cadbury Flake egg set, which includes a large hollow egg, and three “Flake” bars, which are crumbly textured little chocolate logs, unlike anything sold here in the United States, strangely addictive, and great on ice cream. If you like a bit of crunch with your chocolate, try the Cadbury Mini Eggs, which are small chocolate eggs covered in a hard shell.

Now if you are thinking about what tea you want to drink in order to wash down your Cadbury candy, here are a few suggestions:  Keemun Panda is a strong, smokey blend that is a good foil to sweet chocolate. Another option would be a stout Assam, which can usually stand up to just about anything. On the other hand, if you get some warm weather at Eastertime, try Nonsuch Estate Nilgiri as an iced tea: Rich, clean tasting and resistant to getting cloudy, Nonsuch Estate produces one of the best “iced-tea teas” around.

© 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.

Easter time is now upon us and many of us will be decorating eggs with our families. This time honored tradition is always a lot of fun, whether you like the painting of the eggs, the hiding of the eggs, or the finding of the eggs.

However, in Chinese culture, they have an egg decorating tradition of their own, in which they prepare hard-boiled eggs in a mixture of black tea, soy sauce, and spices. I was first introduced to Tea Eggs last year, when I moved to my new home and was invited over to my neighbor’s house to celebrate Chinese New Year with her and her family.

To make Tea Eggs, eggs are first hard-boiled. Then the shells are cracked (but not removed) and then put into a marinade of black tea, soy sauce, water, and Chinese Five-Spice powder, which contains ground cinnamon, star anise, fennel, cloves and Szechuan peppercorns (although some recipes just call for star anise and cinnamon). The cracking of the shells produces a marbled look to the eggs after they have been dyed in the spiced-tea mixture.

Because of the tea, soy and spices, the taste of the egg is more flavorful than the standard hard-boiled variety. I have even read that a pinch of brown sugar to the mix will give it a sweeter taste, though that’s certainly a Western-sweet tooth version of the recipe.

I asked if the Tea Eggs were specific to Chinese New Year, and my friend told me that the recipe was not holiday-specific. In fact, when traveling in mainland China, you can find Tea Eggs sold on street-carts and grocery stores. Even the 7-11s in China sell Tea Eggs as an everyday snack!

Further research into this topic instructed that only black or Pu’erh teas be used. Green teas can be too bitter or astringent. Also, Tea Eggs are traditionally eaten cold – just like our Easter eggs.

So if you’re looking for something unique and exotic for your Easter baskets and egg hunts this year, or looking for a healthy, low-cost snack food, try a Chinese Tea Egg!

Madam Potts’ blog, Mad Pots of 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.

This is the tale of a yellow bunny and his Easter teatime. No, he’s not a live bunny. He’s stuffed and soft and plush and has a cute yellow ribbon bowtie. Even so, he loves having tea out in the sunshine. This is especially true at Easter time.

It’s the time of year when Spring has sprung. That means sleeping daffodils have awakened and stretched up their green arms and yellow and white bloom heads into the fresh Spring air. They’re always the early show offs, their bright petals dotting a landscape still hued with the dull browns and grays of Winter. It’s also when the cardinals, bluejays, and house wrens are flitting and singing, the males trying to attract a mate, the females scoping out the best nest sites. And the squirrels are running about to find the last of the nuts they buried during the past Fall and twigs to rebuild their nests ravaged by winds and storms.

Best of all, this is the time when tea growers are out in the fields gathering that first flush (the first harvest of the growing season). Those wonderful tea plants (Camellia Sinensis) slumber during the Winter, just as many of the plants in your yard and garden do. The very thought of this first harvest gets the yellow bunny all excited and starts him planning his tea party in the great outdoors.

The tea of choice: a first flush Darjeeling. It’s flavor is lighter and more delicate than the second and autumnal flushes, where more complex tastes have had time to develop. He steeps up a cupful and gets ready to head outside into the nearest flower bed, bringing along his favorite teatime treat (fresh, crispy carrot sticks of course!).

Settled in the flower bed next to a tall batch of bright yellow daffodils, like little suns bobbing in the light breeze on their bright green stems, the yellow bunny munched on his carrot sticks, sipped his Darjeeling tea, and watched the antics of “critters” in the garden. A ladybug or two came by, but they were shy and hurried on. A caterpillar inched across the flower bed edge but didn’t even stop to say “Hi!” in his search for tender green leaves to chomp on. The birds were too busy singing and flying from tree branch to tree branch. Only a neighborhood cat, hoping that the bunny was a real live rabbit, stopped by for a few moments. But the tea was too hot and didn’t have any milk in it and the carrots were too crispy and didn’t taste like bird or fish or rabbit and the bunny was all stuffing and velvet, so the cat went on his way.

When the tea was all gone and the carrots had all been munched into oblivion, the yellow bunny sat for awhile longer. He felt the breeze flopping his ears ever so gently. He watched a couple of fluffy clouds take the shape of fellow bunnies and then morph into dragons or grasshoppers or big cloud carrots. Eventually, he fell asleep and dreamed of verdant tea fields with crews of tea pluckers pulling off those tender first flush leaves from the tea bushes. Then, they processed the leaves and put some in a large teapot, filled it with hot water, steeped the tea, and poured a never ending stream into the bunny’s teacup. His whiskers quivered while he dreamed (some say it was just the breeze blowing them, but I know better).

Soon, the warmth of the afternoon sun faded away and the shadows grew longer. Time for the yellow bunny to head back indoors and have another hot cuppa tea. Until next time…

Read more great posts 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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