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http://www.nationalteaday.co.uk/ April 21st, 2017

National Tea Day is celebrated in April in the UK. While tea is the most popular beverage in the UK, this is its official day. This day is entirely different from National Hot Tea Day in the US, which is celebrated each January. This day celebrates all aspects of tea, including Afternoon Tea, one of the most popular times to enjoy tea.

Whether you have a full on English Afternoon Tea with some friends or just a cup while curling up on the couch, take the time to treat yourself to a fine brew. It’s always completely up to you if you want to go to with a familiar favorite like PG Tips or Typhoo or go with something new and different like Taylor’s of Harrogate. Have some English Breakfast, Green Tea, or how about something unfamiliar? Try a few of these teas that are becoming popular all over the world:

Darjeeling: Known as the “Champagne of Teas”, this reigns one of the best in its class. Darjeeling is grown in India, in the Darjeeling district, which is where it gets its name. Brands to try: English Tea Store, Twinings, Harney and Sons, and Taylors of Harrogate.

Oolong: A popular Chinese tea, this distinctive tea is just a bit fermented and oxidized for a perfect balance of green and black tea. Brands to try: English Tea Store Orange Blossom Oolong, Twinings China Oolong.

Assam: Assam tea was named after the region in which it was grown in India. It is a black tea with a strong malty flavor and deep bronze color. It is perfect for breakfast or any other time of day with a little sugar and milk. Brands to try: English Tea Store and Taylors of Harrogate.

What kind of tea would you celebrate National Tea Day with and who would you share your cup with? If you are a tea lover, then National Tea Day is every day!

 

-CD

 

One of the benefits of tea is that it can be paired with many foods. Scones are just the tip of the iceberg. There are cakes, cookies (or biscuits), sandwiches, and today’s topic, crumpets. You can either purchase them or make them yourself at home.

You may be surprised to find that crumpets are not actually baked. They’re cooked on a griddle, usually cast iron, although some people like myself don’t own one, so a regular griddle is just fine. Crumpets originated back in the Anglo-Saxon times, and they were much different than the ones we are used to now. They were originally made with buckwheat flour and they were hard pancakes cooked on the griddle. The well-known holes on top were added thanks to extra baking powder by crumpet makers from the British Midlands and London.

In the modern times, the recipe itself is very easy, just preparing and cooking them takes a bit of time. Crumpets are commonly made with flour, milk, salt, and yeast. The trick is HOW to prepare it just right! The first time I made crumpets, I read a recipe online and it called for something called “crumpet rings” or washed out tuna cans (tins). The tuna cans were out of the question for me because I don’t like canned tuna. So I went about and tried to use cookie cutters. The ones I used, red and pink hearts, did NOT make good crumpet rings. They turned the sides of my “crumpets” pink so I had to throw them away and I just had to wing the rest of the batter. They ended up looking like little blobby pancakes.

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photo courtesy King Arthur Flour

The second time, I actually ordered the crumpet rings online and used them. I had a MUCH easier time working with these. I simply used kitchen tongs to lift them off on the griddle and just flipped them! They came out PERFECTLY! I made a lot of them and my sisters, niece, and nephews like them although my sisters called them pancakes anyway, so they ate them with syrup (icky, maple syrup. I am the weirdest. I DO NOT like syrup. I WILL eat my pancakes dry). I, on the other hand, spread some Hartley’s Blackcurrant Jam, one of my favorite jams, on it and it was delicious! A nice cup of Yorkshire Tea by Taylors of Harrogate also makes a great pairing with this tasty bite.

I like to make some crumpets during the colder months because it gives me a nice cozy feeling. Unfortunately, I can’t enjoy crumpets when I’m the only person in the family who eats them. It’s very hard to live in a house where eyebrows are raised when trying to introduce new foods and traditions from other countries.

Did you know? If you find crumpets in New Zealand and Australia, you will notice they are square. That is because they’re made to fit the standard toaster.

~CD

Note from your editor – Julia will be presenting her Crumpet recipe this Wednesday!

Nothing says the holidays like gold. It’s everywhere — tinsel, garlands, ornaments on those highly-decorated trees, candles, and of course those serving platters. So why not serve up your Yorkshire Tea on one of these gold platters? No reason why not, so let’s do just that, starting with these two loose leaf teas!

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Left: Yorkshire Red Loose Leaf Tea — A blend of the very best of teas from India, Africa and Sri Lanka to create an unmistakable character — strong aroma, rich color, and satisfying flavor.

Right: Taylors of Harrogate Pure Assam Leaf Tea — The first “Empire Tea” grown from Chinese seeds planted alongside indigenous tea bushes in the 1830s. Taylors of Harrogate’s Assam is grown in the lower Brahmaputra Valley in northeast India and has been specially selected for its superior quality. Powerful, full-bodied, malty tea with a brisk and invigorating nature that makes it ideal for breakfast especially when served with milk.

According the to company’s Web site: “At Yorkshire Tea, we know how to make a proper brew. Our tea buyers travel the world’s best tea gardens and estates. They taste hundreds of teas every day to select the quality of tea that’s perfect for our blends and your teapot.”

Harrogate is one of the towns in Britain that was known for its spas where people would flock to “take the waters” that were supposed to have great health benefits. Charles Edward Taylor, co-founder of the company along with his brother Llewellyn in 1886, saw an opportunity here to promote their products and so they set up kiosk-style tea and coffee shops with tasting rooms. They also blended teas to steep well using the local water and sold it to the Harrogate guesthouse owners. In 1962 the company became part of Betty’s Cafés. And the company gained a high honor when the Prince of Wales granted them the Royal Warrant of Appointment for supplying Clarence House (his London residence) for over five years with fabulous tea.

Sounds like this is a tea that really deserves that golden platter presentation!

Time to get steeping and have a great Holiday Tea Time.

See also:
Yorkshire Tea from Taylors of Harrogate
Review — Yorkshire Harrogate from The English Tea Store
Review — Yorkshire Harrogate by the English Tea Store
Yorkshire Gold and “The Island of Dr. Moreau”
Taylors of Harrogate Know Tea
Ntingwe Kwazulu Tea from Taylors of Harrogate
Yorkshire Harrogate by the English Tea Store
Remembering That Experience at Bettys Café Tea Room in York, UK

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.

Different regions have different types of water. This may be an obvious thing to point out, but since water is essential to drinking tea, this simple statement has implications for tea lovers everywhere. As our editor pointed out in a recent article, your water could be the reason that your tea didn’t taste quite like you expected it to. An earlier article on this blog gets into more detail, examining why it is that water types affect the way tea brews. But what does this mean for different tea blenders in different regions? And how does this affect the cup of tea that you brew up?

Yorkshire Tea for Hard Water (Photo source: screen capture from site)

Yorkshire Tea for Hard Water (Photo source: screen capture from site)

Water types, according to the classification system used by the United States Geological Survey, range from “very hard” to “soft” depending on the amount and type of minerals present in the water. The water for most households in the United States is classed as “hard”, although if you live in New England, the Pacific Northwest, or the South Atlantic-Gulf region your water will be a little softer. In most parts of England, the water is classed as “very hard”, but softer water is found in the west of the country. Continuing further west, in Ireland the water is even softer. Consequently, Irish companies such Lyons and Barry’s blend their teas specifically for soft water; as such, you might find they do not taste as good when brewed using hard water.

In recognition of the effect that water can have on tea, Yorkshire Tea by Taylor’s and Harrogate created a brew specifically designed for hard water. They do not give away the details of the blend, but their product description states that it is “a special blend of teas that work brilliantly in hard water, so you get a proper brew, no matter where you live.” Although they claim that they are the only company to blend for specific water types, the difference in water types is part of the reason why many tea companies market slightly different blends in different countries. The problem with this, of course, is that the distribution of water types is not necessarily consistent with modern nation states…

It is worth finding out what type of water you have access to. Soft water is generally considered to produce a better brew, and if you agree, there are steps you can take to remove some of the minerals in your water and make it softer. One suggestion is to use a water filter (this is preferable to using bottled water as it is a cheaper option). [Ed. note: these filters do not remove chlorine, only the taste and smell, so if you are sensitive to it, you may want to go with bottled water.]  However, if you have grown up in an area with hard water, you may be used to the way it affects your tea, and you might actually prefer it. Either way, it is good to be aware of the water type in your area so that you can approach your tea drinking armed with this knowledge. In your enlightened state, you might decide to take action and tailor your tea to your water.

© 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.

At just about a century and a quarter, British tea company Taylors of Harrogate could be considered a relative youngster, especially when you consider that there are British tea merchants who have been doing their thing for more than 300 years. Things got underway for Taylors of Harrogate in 1886, when brothers Charles and Llewellyn Taylor went into the business of importing coffee and tea. The popular Yorkshire Tea brand came along in the 1970s, and these days the company claims that British tea drinkers consume more than ten million cups of that beloved brand daily.

Yorkshire Gold Tea from Taylors of Harrogate

Yorkshire Gold Tea from Taylors of Harrogate

As a recent article in the company’s hometown paper noted, Yorkshire Tea has been around for a while but it could hardly be accused of being set in its ways. As the article reports, the company has wholeheartedly embraced social media, particularly Twitter and YouTube, and is said to be the beverage of choice of a number of pop music luminaries, including such mega-stars as Madonna and Ozzy Osbourne.

Yorkshire Tea is one of a number of much loved and rather iconic British tea brands but here on the other side of the Atlantic it’s not nearly so well-known. Which is a situation the company is working hard to resolve. One of their strategies for drumming up interest among us Yanks was to send out a converted ice cream van last year, which traveled the country, dispensing tea and good cheer and promoting brand awareness. The Little Urn served up a river of tea and racked up nearly 5,000 miles before it was all said and done. While it may not have come to your town, you can recreate some of those moments in videos featured at the company’s YouTube channel.

If you need any more proof that Yorkshire Tea is a distinguished brand, consider that, in 2009, as the company points out, “The Prince of Wales granted us the Royal Warrant of Appointment for supplying Clarence House – his London residence – for over five years.” In this matter they join other such tea-related Royal warrant holders as Twinings of London.

While it’s not directly related to the matter at hand, here’s an interesting snippet from a 1901 edition of The Smart Set magazine. It notes that the menu for a Yorkshire tea (the meal, not the brand), is to “Put everything eatable in the house on the table.”

See also:
Taylors of Harrogate Know 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.

Yorkshire Green TeaI have in the past few years been enjoying widening my tea horizons. But I continue, like an old lover, to return time and again to the Taylors of Harrogate brand.

Taylors of Harrogate is one of Britain’s, and the world’s, leading merchants of tea, not surprising since they have been blending and selling it for almost 125 years. Founded by Charles Taylor, the company still bills itself as independently family owned, which is the reason for the s without the apostrophe on the end of Taylors. I imagine many Taylors down through the decades, buying and blending tea with great concentration. It gives one a bit of envy.

I first encountered the company by their Yorkshire Tea, their proprietary blend. There are five—one being Yorkshire Tea for Hard Water, the idea that set Charles Taylor in business in the first place. It was reported in 2003 that nine million cups of Taylors’ Yorkshire Tea were drunk each day in Britain.

Give yourself a treat and visit the delightful Yorkshire Tea site to see their offerings, as well as the cute little brewing teapot. There is also Yorkshire Tea cakes and biscuits. Little Shorties shortbread biscuits are in the shape of a T. Unfortunately they do not have any gluten-free tea cakes, however, I give them high marks for posting allergen information. My favorite thing on the site is the down-loadable sign that reads: Sorry, I’m having a cup of tea.

Taylors of Harrogate tea does not stop there. You can see the full range at their main company site. A sampling available: Assam estate tea, Afternoon Darjeeling (a staple in my house), English Breakfast. Loose tea and bagged, the list is long.

Over their 125 year history, Taylors of Harrogate grew and diversified. They entered the coffee trade, and, in the 1960s, they joined with the famous Betty’s Café and Tea Rooms to become officially the corporation of Bettys and Taylors. In 2000, Bettys and Taylors was named to the United Kingdom’s first list of Britain’s Best Companies to Work For and also won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development. In 2004, the Taylors of Harrogate side of the company became the first to import tea from China, blend and package it, and sell it back to the Chinese market.

These people know tea. And all this talk about it sends me off to have a cup of Yorkshire. I just need me one of those signs.

If you thought this blog post was great, read one of CurtissAnn’s novels. Visit her site, CurtissAnnMatlock.com, to learn more.

© 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.

Ntingwe KwazuluLet me say instantly, for those who like to get to the point: I really like Ntingwe Kwazulu tea from Taylors of Harrogate and recommend it highly. The blurb on the package says: “This tea has a fresh, brisk flavor and a bright liquor.” I say yes to the fresh and bright liquor, however I found the taste more deep and smooth, with absolutely no bitterness, even when I brewed it longer than the required 4–5 minutes. The taste reminds me of sitting in the patterned shadows beneath tall cypress trees of a swampy river on a hot spring afternoon. I could sit there forever.

That said, you might like to know a bit more about who is doing the recommending and the tea itself.

I come at this tea-choosing business from the eye of a seasoned woman who wants, quite simply, a good cup of tea that will not break the bank. I prefer black tea, straight and pure, enjoying sweetener and lemon on rare occasions, milk or flavorings rarer still. I want to be able to easily purchase the tea. I can be mildly influenced by tins and fancy packaging, but I have learned the truth of the old saying, “One man’s tea is another’s poison.” It really is opinion, and opinions, to put it politely, are a penny a dozen in this modern world of social media.

The Ntingwe Kwazulu tea is grown in Kwazulu Natal province of South Africa, a land often called the garden province, where the tea industry has been on the rise for the past ten years. The Ntingwe estate tea has been called, “One of the five finest teas in the world,” but from what I was able to discover, this claim was first made by the buyer from Taylors and Harrogate, who certainly has a vested interest, then picked up and used for promotion all over the place. Still, the tea has taken off in popularity in Britain and around the world, so many people share a favorable opinion of it.

Ntingwe also met a supreme and unexpected personal test. I had just come in from an hour of running around a play-park with my three year old grandson, when I found the delivery of my tea on my front porch. I was exhausted and expected dear grandson to at least have his energy trimmed and be ready to play with Thomas the Train long enough for me to enjoy a sit-down and cuppa of the new tea.

I eagerly opened the package, and was met by what appeared to be grounds. It is that fine. This caused my heart to sink. But keeping an open mind, I brewed a mug full, too tired to go for my little pot.

I was just inspecting the lovely color—rich and tending to red—when I heard, “Nana…what’cha doin’? Come play train…put my track back to-geth-er.”

Thinking I surely had chosen a poor time for tea tasting, I lifted the cup and took a sip. My eyes flew wide. I took another sip and let the tea linger on my tongue. I looked at my dear grandson looking back up at me, and grinned.

I finished the tea while answering a dozen questions and demands of a small boy, which continued as I brewed another cup in my small pot. Later, I savored an after dinner cup sweetened with a bit of honey. I found the tea both relaxing and reviving to keep me going until said small boy went home.

Ntingwe Kwazulu tea passed a very unique and important test, and for me, it is one of the five finest teas of the world.

It may be hard to pronounce the name “Ntingwe Kwazulu,” but it’s certainly not hard to enjoy one of CurtissAnn’s novels! Visit her site, CurtissAnnMatlock.com, to learn more!

© 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 recently attended a tea bag tasting, as you may have realized from my article about how to do so. I found it interesting that I was the only tea blogger to attend. The other bloggers were more general foodies. Now, I did not have access to the invitation list. But I had a theory that perhaps some tea bloggers considered themselves above this company, a humble company with tea bags on grocery store shelves. But I call on tea people to not neglect such brands. For example, Stash, available in the English Tea Store. Or Taylor’s of Harrogate. I think people should not get so caught up in loose leaf tea, or even in fancy whole leaf tea bags.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love loose leaf tea, and when I am home, I hardly ever use a tea bag. And I do try to find high quality teas. On the other hand, at the risk of losing my street cred as a tea blogger, I don’t turn up my nose at tea bags either. I look for flavorful teas that are pleasing to drink. End of criteria.

I’m not suggesting that people drink whatever they can find. There are certain prevalent American brands of tea that I never drink. And I would never go for grocery store-brand tea. I’m just suggesting that tea doesn’t always have to break the bank or be complicated. It can come in a box of tea bags with no pretentions. Stash is a great example. Their green tea is very traditional, and they do a great job of packaging. On a scale of 0-10 of effectiveness, their wrappers are rated 10 for keeping tea fresh. The president of a competing tea company told me that at Stash, “They are tea people. I have a lot of respect for what they do.” What an endorsement! Taylor’s of Harrogate doesn’t individually wrap their teas, but don’t let that turn you off. Their customer base, largely British, goes through a box of tea far more quickly than the American customer. The emphasis for Taylor’s is quality of what’s in the box instead of the quality of the packaging.

So go ahead, use that tea bag, and be proud!

Get more advice on drinking tea by reading Stephanie’s blog, The Tea Scoop!

[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.

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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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