Teatime in London

scone_tesco

teatime in london

Teatime in London Like The Natives – On The Top of A Double Decker Bus (while moving!)

The sun was partially shining through a range of menacing clouds in the distant sky.  “Welcome to London in winter,” I thought, wrapping my scarf an additional time around my neck.   We had just emerged from the underground tube station at Earl’s Court and were busily dragging our luggage behind us.  Over the years, I have gotten quite good at maneuvering luggage and today was no different.  I grasped my carry ons and hoisted them, up, up, up the six flight of stairs, into our tiny room.  “We are here.  Finally.”  I tore off my damp coat and kicked off my boots.  I was ready for a nap and then of course, a cup of tea.

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scone_tesco

If you search the web you will find dozens of articles about teatime in London.  Most focus on an elegant affair with three tiered trays in lavish hotels.  My post won’t talk about the Ritz, the Savoy or the Dorchester. (though I like all of those), today’s post is about teatime in London, native style.

From the moment you step foot in the U.K. you are surrounded with tea.  Hot tea is on every menu whether you are eating at a small Greek food stall or a traditional fish n chips galley.  Tea is on every menu but you may be surprised to note that tea is usually second to coffee, in nearly every food establishment.  Costa Coffee and Starbucks are located everywhere, and while they serve tea, coffee is their focus.  So how do the British drink tea? 

First off, the British drink tea, white!  That is, they drink a strong black tea with a good portion of milk on top, blended with a spoon with or without the addition of sugar.  If you do not want “white tea” you will have to let them know when you order.  Also, be aware that the tea is very strong and thus blended specifically for the addition of milk.  Drinking the tea without milk could curl your hair!

Museum

Secondly, the British drink tea from a bag and rarely use loose leaf.  You will probably be served Twinings or P.G. Tips.  In some cases, you might be served “Tea Pigs” an up and coming specialty tea brand served at a variety of Tesco’s throughout the city.  Tea Pigs offers higher quality tea in pyramid shaped bags and was a welcome change to Twinings.

Thirdly, the baked goods in London have improved immeasurably in the last few years.  I was pleased to be offered fresh baked scones, tea cakes and even donuts all over the city.  These treats provide a quick burst of energy after hours of walking in the rain and are a welcome accompaniment to a cup of white tea.

Food in London is astronomically expensive.   The average cup of tea will cost you approximately $3-$4 for a paper cup and a teabag.  Elegant hotel teas now range from $40-$99 per person so taking tea like the native’s has the distinct advantage of saving your wallet.

muffin man

Cream Tea – a small pot of tea and a scone or piece of cake is readily available after 2 pm for around $10.  I purchased a small bag of almonds and carried it in my pocket to add a bit of protein into my afternoon repose which worked quite well.

Here is a list of great places to grab an affordable and delicious Cream Tea in London.  Go Native!  Save money and savor the atmosphere of real life in this bustling city.

The Muffin Man Teashop

 

Museum of London

St Martin in the Fields

 

The National Gallery

Tesco Euphorium Bakery

Kensington Palace Orangery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tea and Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookie Tea Party

 

Christmas Cookie Tea Party

 

Tea parties and Christmas go hand in hand.  The Joy of Baking is a great resource for holiday cookie recipes and I have chosen a few of their videos to share with you today.  Under each video I have given a suggestion for the type of tea that might pair well with the featured cookie.

Sugar cookies pair will with a variety of teas.  Many people enjoy a spicy tea during the holidays.  If that is you consider serving Market Spice Tea (from Market Spice)  or Christmas Cookie Tea (from Tea Source).  Sugar cookies also go well with a Golden Yunnan (try Rishi Tea ).

 

The sweet almond taste of the Candy Cane cookie pairs well with a hearty Assam or Keemun black tea.  These teas can be purchased from a variety of purveyors.  ( I suggest Teas Etc or Tea Source)

 

These mini whoopie pies are sweet and creamy.  They will pair well with an English Afternoon or English Breakfast tea with its robust flavor.  (again I suggest Tea Etc. or Tea Source)

Gluten Free Scones

Gluten Free Scone Recipe

 

Gluten Free Scone Recipe

Are you one of millions of Americans who are challenged to live a gluten free existence?   If so, this article will help you discover how to make delicious gluten free scones.  There are many gluten free afternoon tea adaptations for a variety of favorite foods.  In this article I have included two of my favorite scone recipes.  The first is from King Arthur Flour and includes a recipe for creating your own multi-purpose gluten free baking mix.  The second comes from an extensive source of gluten free recipes… GlutenFreeGirl.com  

 

King Arthur Flour ‘s   Gluten-Free Scones

These moist scones have delicately crunchy, golden-brown tops. We like to add dried fruit to these, but leave it out if you prefer.

*Note: thanks to some of your comments below, we’ve adjusted the amount of the brown rice flour blend, to make a firmer dough.

1 3/4 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour or 2 1/4 cups brown rice flour blend*

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, optional

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter

3/4 cup diced dried apricots, raisins, or cherries

2 large eggs

1/3 cup cold milk

1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract

Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a divided scone pan, or grease (or line with parchment) a baking sheet.

2) Whisk together the flour or flour blend, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and nutmeg.

3) Work in the cold butter till the mixture is crumbly.

4) Stir in the dried fruit.

5) Whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla till frothy.

6) Add to the dry ingredients, stirring till well blended. The dough should be cohesive and very sticky.

7) Drop dough by the 1/3-cupful into the scone pan or onto the baking sheet; if you haven’t added dried fruit, use a slightly smaller amount of dough, about 1/4 cup. Let the scones rest for 15 minutes.

8) Sprinkle the scones with sparkling sugar or cinnamon sugar, if desired. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, till golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes or so before serving. Best enjoyed warm, with butter and jam. Yield: 8 scones.

 

*Make your own blend:  Many of our gluten-free recipes use our King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour, which includes ingredients that reduce the grittiness sometimes found in gluten-free baked goods. Our flour also increases the shelf life of your treats, keeping them fresh longer.The following make-at-home blend, featuring stabilized brown rice flour, works pretty well when substituted; and it tastes better than a homemade blend using regular brown rice flour.Whisk together 6 cups (32 ounces) King Arthur stabilized brown rice flour; 2 cups (10 3/4 ounces) potato starch; and 1 cup (4 ounces) tapioca flour or tapioca starch. Store airtight at room temperature. Note: You can substitute white rice flour for the brown rice flour if you like; it’ll make your baked goods grittier (unless you manage to find a finely ground version).
Recipe summary

Tips from our bakers

Note: For a dairy-free version of these scones, substitute margarine for the butter; and soy milk, almond milk, or rice milk for the milk called for in the recipe. Results may vary from the original.

 

Gluten Free Scone

 

Gluten Free Girl’s  CURRANT  SCONES

Scones seem intimidating at first. However, once you have made them a couple of times, you’ll see there’s a rhythm to them. Combine the dry ingredients and the butter. Freeze. Break up the butter, a bit. Combine the liquids. Add the liquids until a dough forms. Pat it down, cut wedges, do an egg wash. Bake. Cool. Eat.

You’ll see directions to put flours and doughs into the freezer. Don’t skip this step. Working with everything cold means you’ll have flaky layers and a light dough instead of the hardened clumps so often sold as scones in coffee shops.

390 grams whole-grain gluten-free mix

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda¼ teaspoon kosher salt

(1/3 cup) sucanat

(1/2 cup) currants

(1/2 cup or 1 US stick) cold butter, cut into 8 to 10 pieces

(1/2 cup) thick Greek yogurt or crème fraiche

1 cold egg1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons raw sugar

Preparing to bake. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Or, if you want your scones to puff up higher, grease a 9-inch pie pan (preferably not glass). Preheat the oven to 350°.Mixing the dry ingredients. Pour the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sucanat, and currants into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix them together on low speed until they are well combined.Add the pieces of butter. Put the entire mixing bowl into the freezer for at least 5 minutes and no longer than 15 minutes.Mixing the liquids.

While the bowl is chilling, combine the buttermilk, yogurt, and egg. Whisk them together well.Making the scone dough. Put the bowl back on the stand mixer. Mix on the lowest speed until the butter has broken down a bit. The pieces of butter should be the size of lima beans.Slowly, pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour-butter mixture with the mixer running on low speed. As soon as the dough comes together — with loose flour remaining on the bottom of the bowl — turn off the mixer.Forming the scones. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Turn over the dough with your hands. It will be a bit wet, with the loose flour at the bottom. Gently, turn the dough in the loose flour until all the flour is mixed in. Do not over-mix.

You want to keep the buttery layers in the dough.Dump the dough onto the baking sheet (or in the pie pan). Pat the dough into a 7-inch circle about 1 inch thick. Brush the egg yolk over the top, then sprinkle with the raw sugar. Cut the circle of dough into 8 wedges. Put the dough into the freezer for 15 minutes.Baking the scones. Slide the dough into the oven. Bake until the entire circle of dough is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 50 minutes. Allow the scones to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then slice the wedges.Serve.Makes 8 scones.
A few notes:

If you want to make cheddar chive scones, take out the sucanat and currants. Replace them with 84 grams of cheddar cheese, diced into ¼-inch cubes, ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika, and a good handful (about ½ cup) fine-diced chives. Use about 100 grams of cornmeal and 290 grams of whole-grain flours. Brush the top with the egg yolk and a pinch of coarse sea salt. All the rest is the same.

All scones are best the day they are made, but they will keep in an airtight container for 3 days. After a day, heat them in a 300° oven for 8 minutes or so. You can also freeze these — plastic wrap works best — for up to 1 week. A scone a day!

 

Gluten Free Girl is a great source for recipes and basic understanding of the gluten free lifestyle.  Here is a helpful article on their website to help you get going:  http://glutenfreegirl.com/new-to-gluten-free/

 

Tea Party Girl asks:  Do you have a Gluten Free Scone recipe to share?  Place it in our comments box!

Afternoon Tea Recipes For Fall

afternoon tea recipes

 

afternoon tea recipes

 

It’s fall once again. (how did that happen?)  Fall is the perfect time for cozy tea parties devoted to harvest related foods.  This post is dedicated to afternoon tea recipes that work with a simple fall tea party menu.  Below is my suggestion for an easy to follow menu.  In addition to the afternoon tea menu I give you full access to the afternoon tea recipes and suggestions on activities.  Pour yourself a cup of harvest tea and let’s dig in!

Menu Suggestions:

Tea Recommendations: British Bliss

Harvest House Salad with Gorgonzola

Classic Cream Scone with Apple Butter

Roasted Butternut Squash Tea Sandwiches

Pumpkin Pie Tarts

 

 

British Bliss Tea:

 

British Bliss by 10 Ten Living is a black Keemun that is a perfect companion to nearly all afternoon tea recipes.  The rich tea can be served straight or with milk or lemon depending on your guest preferences.  Want to add a little pizzaz during the dessert course?  Add some French Vanilla syrup to the tea served with the Pumpkin Pie tarts.  Yum.  You can buy British Bliss here.  Vanilla syrup is available here.  (sugar free is at this link)

 

Harvest House Salad with Gorgonzola

 

This is one unusual salad that will have your guests raving for days!  It combines the beauty of fall with the taste of fresh, crisp greens.  The recipe is available on the Taste of Home site (you will find the link HERE).  I would adapt this when using it for an afternoon tea recipe.  Here’s how:  First, if you are in a hurry you can find prepared beets in many areas at your produce section near lettuce.  Check it out.  Not everyone will have an hour to cook the beets prior to the gathering.  (it is pretty easy though).  Second, if you are not a fan of any one of the ingredients you can replace it with something else fall related.  Herbed Feta would be a great replacement for Gorgonzola.  Romain could replace Spring Salad.  Customize to your guests tastes! Third, this is a recipe for 6.  Don’t forget to cut it down if you are doing a tea for two!

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Tea Sandwiches

 

When I originally thought about this idea I decided to search Google for ideas.  I ran into a great recipe that combines roasted butternut with avocado and the recipe is a real winner.   The blog post (you will find link HERE) features a full size sandwich which I would adapt into tea sandwiches with a few simple changes.  First off, cut off the crusts of the bread before toasting.  Second, when creating the sandwich cut the bread (after you have filled it) in diagonal so that you get 4 small triangles.  Garnish and serve on the plate with your Harvest House salad.  You can place a triangle on each corner of the plate.  Super cute and super easy!

 

Classic Cream Scone with Apple Butter

There are a million recipes for cream scones.  Below I have included a step by step video I really like.  I also include how to make a simple apple butter in your crockpot (oh yah!).  If you don’t have time for either I recommend using Iveta scone mix available on Amazon (here).  Simply add cream.  Also, apple butter is available in a jar (click here)

 

Pumpkin Pie Tarts

 

Last but not least (and most important to afternoon tea) is dessert.  Today I am featuring an easy pumpkin pie tart.  Pumpkin can’t be beat in the harvest season but if you are like me, simple is best because I am very busy.  I was pleased to see that the blog, Spoonful, features a variation on one of my favorite crispy tart recipes.  You can find the recipe here.  Afternoon tea recipe adaptation: avoid cool whip when possible and use real heavy whipping cream.  The final taste will be so much better and your body will thank you.  If low calorie is a priority or there are dairy issues then stick to the cool whip. 

 

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What are your favorite fall afternoon tea recipes?  Please share.

5 Ways To Use British Bliss Tea For Your Next Afternon Tea Party

British Bliss Tea

British Bliss Tea

Afternoon tea parties require a full bodied black tea which will stand up to both sweet and savory fare.  Tea Party Girl recommends British Bliss by 10 Ten Living.  British Bliss is 100% pure Keemun tea which pairs well with nearly every food.  You will love it with cheese, salmon or quiche as well as chocolate, brown sugar or lemon flavors.  What else can you do with it?  I am glad you asked.  British Bliss Tea is a great base for a variety of creative recipes.  Here are my top 5.

British Bliss Iced Tea

#1  Classic Iced Tea – British Bliss Tea makes fantastic classic iced tea.  If you haven’t read our past articleon sweet tea here is the link Big Ole’ Sweet Iced Tea  .

Easy Fridge Iced Tea:

3 TBS British Bliss Tea in disposable tea sock  (see example here)

1 pitcher of cold water

Place the tea in the pitcher of water or the large mason jar.  Put it in the fridge for 8-12 hours.  Remove the tea sock and enjoy the excellent iced tea! You can serve iced tea with lemon or with fruit.  Keemun will hold up to it.  Tip:  If your iced tea gets cloudy simply add a few drops of boiling water.  The tea will clear right up!

British Bliss Tea Smoothis

#2 Tea Smoothies – Tea Smoothies are the rage but few people talk about the need for a great tea at the base of the recipe.  A great smoothie requires a full bodied tea.  I suggest British Bliss Tea.  Here are a couple easy to use recipes:

Banana Chocolate Tea Smoothie:

2 cups British Bliss iced tea

1 banana

1/2 cup whipping cream or half and half

1/3 cup chocolate syrup

2 cups ice

Blend it all together until smooth.  If needed add stevia or honey for sweetness.  Top with chocolate syrup swirls and a bit of whipped cream!  YUM.  Pairs great with a banana cream tart.

British Tropical Smoothie:

2 Cups British Bliss Iced Tea

1 Cup Greek Yogurt (Vanilla or Plain)

1 Stevia Packet (or Honey)

1 Cup Frozen Tropical Fruit Mix

Blend it all together until smooth!  YUM.  Top with a piece of pineapple.  Delicious!  Serve with a mango tart.

British Bliss Tea Cake

#3 Tea Cake- Did you know you can bake with British Bliss Tea?  You can.

British Bliss Tea Cakes

    2 tsp British Bliss Tea
¼ cup boiling water
⅓ cup milk
4 oz unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 eggs
⅔ cup superfine sugar
1 ¼ cups self-raising flour
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ teaspoons orange marmalade
1 ½ teaspoons orange juice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 and grease muffin tins or a cake pan.  I suggest using the Bakers spray that mixes flour and oil in a can.   Place the tea leaves  into a cup and add the boiling water.  Steep for about 3 minutes then stir in the milk and pour the liquid into a larger bowl.  Add the butter, eggs, sugar and flour to the tea mixture.  Mix on low until fully combined.  Once combined increase speed and beat the mix until it is pale and creamy.  Spoon the mix into the pan.   Bake 20 minutes for cupcakes and 25-30 for cake.  Watch it from 18 minutes on.  You want the cake to be done in the middle but not overdone!  Remove cake from the oven and let it cool.  Pop the cupcakes out or turn the cake onto a wire rack after about 5 minutes.

While you are waiting for the cake to cool mix the marmalade and sugar in a small bowl.  Add juice slowly just until you get a paste consistency.  Dip a teaspoon in hot water and spread the icing over the tops of the cooled cakes.  Let the cakes rest for 20 minutes before serving with a cup of British Bliss tea!

Torani

#4 Vanilla, Caramel and Raspberry - British Bliss will stand up to flavorings hot or iced.  I suggest using Torani coffee flavoring as it comes in both sugar free and regular.  Torani is one of the highest quality flavors available dos not leave you with the “coffee syrup” after taste.  http://www.torani.com/

Here’s some great ones to try:

Gingerbread

Hazelnut

Caramel

Vanilla

Raspberry

Mint

Pumpkin Pie

Mango

English Toffee

fudge

#5 Cocoa Fudge - Let’s make fudge using tea!  Yep, British Bliss is a great base for fudge as well.  To brew the tea for this recipe use about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of tea steeped for 3 minutes in only 1 cup of boiled water.  This should give you a strong liquid which will stand up to the cocoa fudge.

    First Step Ingredients:

3 Cups Granulated Sugar

3/4 Cup Milk
3/4 Cup British Bliss, brewed strong
3/4 Cup Cocoa, sifted

   pinch salt.

    Second Step Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Butter, cubed (1/2 cube) – won’t work with margarine!

  1 1/2 Tbsp Real Vanilla
1/2 Cup Walnuts or Sliced Almonds (if desired)
1/2 Cup Milk Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Mini Marshmallows

Directions:

Prepare all the ingredients on your counter for quick and easy access when making the fudge.  Use a 9 by 9 glass pan and line it with parchment paper.
Place the ingredients for the first step into a large pan (2 gallon size) and beat them with a whisk till smooth. Cook on Medium heat until it reaches soft ball stage, 234°. Remove from heat and sit on the counter with a pad under it. Stir in immediately after taking off heat, the second step ingredients, one at a time, stirring each one till mixed thoroughly. Beat the mixture vigorously until it thickens. As soon as that starts to happen, immediately put mixture into your pan quickly. This recipe sets very fast and you could have a big ball of fudge on your hands. Smooth out fudge in your 9 X 9 pan and sprinkle with a few chopped walnuts. ENJOY after it cools…. with a cup of British Bliss Tea.

 

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