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(c) Julia Briggs

Looking through an old recipe book of my Mother’s for something tasty to make I came across these biscuits.  They always looked impressive after they had been wrapped round the rolling pin and they do taste nice.

You will need:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 4 oz icing sugar
  • 4 oz plain flour
  • Finely grated zest of one large orange
  • 3 oz butter (melted)

You need to make up the mixture and leave it for 30 minutes so no need to put the oven on until after that unless you are cooking other things.  Next week’s recipes is for a marbled cake and I used the three egg yolks left over from this recipe in that.

Whisk the icing sugar with the egg whites lightly and then stir in the flour orange zest and melted butter until well combined.  Leave the mixture in the bowl covered with a tea towel for half an hour. Set the oven to 200 C, 400 F gas mark 6.

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(c) Julia Briggs

Grease or line some baking sheets, then place three teaspoons of mixture on one baking sheet spread apart and stretch each spoonful into a larger, thinner circle.  Continue with the other sheets and bake for about 10-12 minutes until just starting to go brown around the edges.

 

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(c) Julia Briggs

Whilst still hot from the oven wrap each biscuit around a rolling pin to curl and then leave to set.  Just as with brandy snaps, if they go too cold they will break rather than curl, in this case you can just put them back into the oven for a minute or two to soften again then they will curl nicely.  Continue with until you have used up all the mixture and then leave them all to go cold.

They will store for up to one week in an airtight tin.  Serve with a good cup of mint tea and your guests will be most impressed.

-JAB

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What comes to mind when you think of drinking tea probably has a lot to do with how and where you were brought up. For those of us here in the United States “tea” is as likely as not to conjure up an image of a sweetened black preparation in a tall glass with ice cubes. If you’re from the United Kingdom, then tea is likely to be the black stuff again, but served hot and in a proper tea cup with sugar and milk or cream. If you’re from China then your preferred way of consuming tea may be a green, oolong or puerh variety prepared gongfu style in a gaiwan and served in little wee cups.

Moroccan Madness Tea

Moroccan Madness Tea

If you’re unfamiliar with the notion of drinking a cup of hot tea — often of the gunpowder variety of green — heavily sweetened with sugar and spiced up with a healthy dose of fresh mint leaves, then chances are you’ve never taken your tea in the style preferred in some parts of northern Africa.

According to one reliable source tea probably came to Morocco (and presumably other parts of north Africa) in the late seventeenth century, around the same time or not long after it was introduced to Europe. By the end of the eighteenth century it was still considered to be a rather rare luxury item there.

In 1793, William Lempriere, an English traveler to Morocco described tea preparation and consumption there as something that doesn’t differ appreciably from contemporary practice. His account found the native tea drinkers mixing green tea and mint with an herb called “tansey” and “a large portion of sugar.” All of this was steeped together in the pot and then decanted in “remarkably small cups of the best India china.”

Moroccan mint tea served in a tall glass cup

Moroccan mint tea served in a tall glass cup

Tea drinking in Morocco was a leisurely affair, according to Lempriere, with a session rarely wrapping up in less than two hours. He made several other references to tea in the course of his book and even noted that the “Emperor” of Morocco had a designated person whose responsibility it was to prepare him tea.

Nowadays Morocco is run by a king and prime minister rather than an “Emperor” or sultan, but a little bit of research is sufficient to reveal that the traditional style of tea preparation there and elsewhere in north Africa hasn’t changed much over the past few centuries.

© 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.

Many years ago I had one of the most memorable dining experiences of my life and one that, as a tea drinker, has stayed with me decades past. It was a Moroccan restaurant serving up delicious foods. The most impressive thing, though, was the serving of the tea, so every once in a while I try pouring tea like a Moroccan waiter. The results are usually rather mixed.

Marrakesh Restaurant tea service – note that the teapot has no lid, all the better to pour from on high

Marrakesh Restaurant tea service – note that the teapot has no lid, all the better to pour from on high

Watching tea being poured can be a fairly wondrous sight. It is even taken to seemingly impossible heights, literally and figuratively, by professional tea pourers in Malaysia, Tunis, China, etc., who seek to amaze and entertain. The Moroccan waiter who poured my tea that evening long ago held the gleaming silver teapot up above his head and poured a thin stream of tea flawlessly from spout to tea glass with nary a drop going astray.

Okay, let’s see if I can do that. No silver teapots in this house, but plenty of others from which to choose. No Moroccan tea glasses, either, but we’ll make do with a couple of tall mugs that can take the heat, not to mention the force of the tea hitting them from on high. Now to make some authentic Moroccan style tea, starting with a nice green tea (one recipe I’ve seen calls for something named “Temple of Heaven,” a high-grade Chinese green tea). Optional additives are mint and sugar — you can leave them out, but the taste won’t be as authentic.

The process of making the tea is a bit complex. One method I’ve seen calls for three “washes” of the tea leaves. The first “wash” is kept aside and the 2nd and 3rd are thrown out. Then, that first “wash” is poured into a pot that can sit on the stove) with the “washed” tea leaves; then sugar and boiling water are added to the pot (sometimes the sugar is served on the side instead). This sits on the stove burner on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. At this point, you can either add the mint to the tea in the pot or into the glasses before you pour in the tea.

So, my Moroccan style tea is ready and goes into the teapot. Time to pour. A Moroccan style teapot usually has — in addition to a long, curved spout — a hinged lid so that you don’t have this sudden “PLOP! CRASH!” as you are pouring the tea (somewhat nerve racking to say the least) or no lid at all. Not having such a hinged lid on my pot, I have to hold on the lid (porcelain/stoneware/glass, etc. are not tasty tea additives). Being rather new to this, I start out close to the glass and raise up the teapot, continuing to pour, as high as I can. Up…up…up…ah, all done! And no puddles on the counter or elsewhere.

Why go to all this trouble? First, because it’s just fun to try new things, especially related to tea. Second, because pouring from on high adds air into the tea and a bit of “foam” (just air bubbles) on the liquid’s surface, which looks attractive. Give it a try and serve up that foamy, minty tea with some Moroccan-style dishes such as couscous and spicy lamb with prunes and apricots. Dishes made with eggplant, lentils, tomatoes, and lemons are also Moroccan favorites and will go well with this tea. Enjoy!

Check out the Marrakesh Restaurant in Washington, D.C., to experience a tea pouring wonder.

© 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.

What is Mint? Mint is a flowering plant that grows in many areas of the world, its leaves are often prized for their sweet and cooling scent and flavor.  Mint leaves are often infused in boiling water to produce a flavorful drink known as a tisane, or are added to tea leaves to produce a flavored tea.

Mint Tisane vs Mint Tea: People often use the term “mint tea” to describe two very different beverages. Many “mint teas” actually have no tea in them at all, but are instead an infusion of mint leaves. In the tea industry, an herbal infusion such as this is more properly called a “tisane”.

On the other hand, true tea (made from the camellia sinensis plant) is often blended with mint to create a refreshing beverage. The best-known mint tea is probably “Moroccan Mint” which is made from blending spearmint (usually) leaves with gunpowder green tea from China.

Why the Distinction is Important: The first reason is an aesthetic one: Mint tisane and mint tea are two very different beverages, each with their own flavor characteristics. The second reason has to do with health: All tea, even “decaf” tea, has caffeine. If a person must avoid caffeine for health reasons, they absolutely need to know whether the beverage they are drinking has caffeine in it.

Types of Mint: While there are several types of mint, the mints that most often end up in a tea or tisane are peppermint and spearmint. Peppermint has a decidedly “sharp” taste, as its name suggests, and works very well in blends that include chocolate flavoring. Spearmint has a smoother, more herbal flavor, and blends well with green tea and lemon flavoring.

Using Mint in Blends: When using mint in your own blends, be careful! Mint does tend to dominate and overwhelm other flavors, so add just a little at a time. Mint is very good in iced tea blends.

Cautions: Some people are allergic to mint, and others may find that it exacerbates symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn. For mint cautions, check out this page on Medline.

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© 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.

Life may be cheap, and so is this tea. Not in a bad way at all, just very reasonably priced at $2.50 for four ounces of delicious tea. I’m talking about Moroccan Madness from the English Tea Store, the fine sponsors of this blog.

Moroccan Madness

Moroccan Madness

Usually, Moroccan mint teas are a blend of mint and gunpowder green tea. If you aren’t familiar with gunpowder, it’s a dark green tea rolled up into tiny balls that reminded the first Englishmen who saw it of gunpowder. Thus, the name.

Europeans introduced tea to Morocco sometime during the 18th century, and since then, Moroccans have imported most of their tea from China. Along with drinking large amounts of tea, Moroccans and other cultures in North Africa have developed their own ceremonies around this tea. The head of the household is responsible for preparing and serving the tea, which is poured from a great height to create a layer of foam on the top of the drink. The tea is steeped three successive times, which led to the following proverb:

Le premier verre est aussi amer que la vie,
le deuxième est aussi fort que l’amour,
le troisième est aussi doux que la mort.

The first glass is as bitter as life,
the second glass is as strong as love,
the third glass is as gentle as death.

Moroccan mint tea

Moroccan mint tea

Like many teas, the flavor changes in subtle ways after each steeping, and I don’t know that I have ever heard such poetic similes for these changes. In Moroccan Madness, however, the English Tea Store breaks tradition by pairing the mint with bolder black teas from Assam and Sri Lanka. A move perhaps as bold as the black Indian teas that replaced the more traditional Chinese greens. Is it indeed madness?

As a matter of fact, I have always thought that black tea stood up well to peppermint, and the Assam handles the job quite handily in this tea. While not the traditional Moroccan mint, Moroccan Madness makes quite a pleasant brew. The bold black tea is a nice late afternoon pick me up to get through the rest of the day, while the peppermint assists digestion and relaxes me.

Who knows, perhaps if Rick Blaine had been able to drink this, he would have handled Ilsa showing up a little better, and perhaps even enjoyed hearing Sam play it again.

Get the scoop on all things tea from Stephanie’s blog, The Tea Scoop!

by Lisa Richardson [reposted from our sister blog]

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint tea is a refreshing drink that many tea lovers adore. It is made a variety of ways, including from peppermint leaves or from blending peppermint with traditional tea blends. Sometimes, spearmint is also used, giving a different minty taste to the tea. Peppermint tea is sometimes just called mint tea. However, there is also a blend of mint tea that is made from mint, not peppermint.

Peppermint tea is most popular during the winter months, especially during the holidays. With a weaker taste than candy canes but still with a wintry bite, peppermint tea is a great holiday choice. The taste of peppermint tea is refreshing and renewing, much like the taste of peppermint alone. Most often when something is peppermint flavored, it is much stronger than the tea would be, because tea blends tend to have less artificial flavoring.

Many people who do not generally enjoy the taste of peppermint like peppermint tea. There are a number of theories as to why this is the case, but it may be because the strength of the tea can be adjusted based on steeping times while brewing, and a cup of peppermint tea can even be sweetened with sugar. There are also a number of tea lovers who say that peppermint tea does not actually taste like peppermint. It is true that depending on the blend you select, the flavor can seem similar or different than what you recognize as peppermint. Additionally, many tea lovers believe that peppermint tea offers even more health benefits than a regular cup of tea, which makes this great blend even more popular.

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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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