I enjoy tea and wish I made more time for a proper tea party. I don’t like it to the exclusion of coffee, I find I’m firmly addicted to my 2 cups of coffee every day, but Mr. B and I enjoy tea after dinner. This time of year I could drink tea most any time of the day or evening.
A friend of mine buys all of her loose tea from France. She recently introduced me to Mariage Freres of Paris, and Fauchon tea and I think she may be on to something, it was truly delicious. I’m not above using a tea bag in a pinch, but if you have the time loose tea tastes so much better.
One of the best things about tea, for me, is the array of possibilities it offers for a) table settings, even a table for 2 with special mugs or cup and saucer, AND b) the snacks that can accompany a tea break. Those Brits know what they’re doing about taking time for tea.
Who does’t love nibbles? I have often thought I could graze for each meal, you know, sample a bite of this and taste of that. Tea seems the ideal opportunity to delight the senses with both sweet and savory.
If you’d like help with ideas for the menu when hosting a tea party, here’s a book that comes highly recommended.
Although the U.K. has always been the country I think of when I think of tea, there are countries all over the globe that specialize in growing fine tea. I have a neighbor from India who wholesales premium teas from her homeland. Alton Brown, the scientist/chef from Food TV has listed his recipe for the perfect cup of tea. This is the technique Mr. B. and I follow when we brew a cup of tea.
4 heaping teaspoons loose tea
4 cups water
Place loose tea leaves into a warmed tea kettle. Pour heated water over loose tea leaves. Let steep. Strain tea and serve.
*Note: For Oolong and Green tea, water should simmer at 200 degrees F. and 180 degrees F.
*For Irish and English tea bring water to a full boil.
*Black tea should soak for 3 to 5 minutes. Oolong tea should soak for 4 to 7 minutes. Green Tea should soak for 2 to 3 minutes.
Years ago, when I was a stay-at-home-mom, Linda, Gretchen (two of my oldest and dearest friends) and I would have tea at one another’s home at least once or twice a month. The kids would play and we’d drink tea, munch on goodies and compare notes on parenting and such. Today we continue the tradition when Linda visits from her Bainbridge Island home. We alternate between Gretchen’s home and mine and most of our teas are morning teas so we always include homemade scones. My first post about my scone recipe, and how I came to obtain it can be found HERE.
Here is my recipe for scones. No, they aren’t health food scones.
English Scones – Cranberry Orange Glazed
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup butter (melted)
1½ cup Craisins or raisins (or diced pecans if making Maple scones)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoon orange juice (or maple syrup for maple glaze)
½ teaspoon orange oil (or maple extract for maple glaze)
¼ cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons milk (more if necessary to make liquid spread easily)
Preheat oven to 375° Mix dry ingredients. Add butter, buttermilk and *Craisins and mix until incorporated. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1″ thickness. Cut to desired size with cutter or knife. Sprinkle with coarse sugar (if using glaze, omit this step). Lay on parchment paper, Silpat or lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
Top with Orange glaze or omit the Craisins and substitute maple extract for the vanilla and add Maple glaze
Do you enjoy tea? Do you fuss with loose tea or throw a tea bag in a cup of hot water. I do that sometimes and it’s okay. Let me know of any specialty teas that you are fond of, I’m always interested in trying new things.