Teatime in London

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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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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Thanksgiving Tea Party

thanksgiving tea party

Thanksgiving Tea Party

Thanksgiving Tea Party?  Am I crazy?

This article is a Tea Party 101.  It very simply shows you how inviting an unfussy tea party can be.  Thanksgiving and the weekend after can be a great time to gather those you love and unwind a bit.  Why not give it a go!  At the end of this article I have included a link to an awesome Crockpot Chai Tea recipe that I discovered on a recent blog search.  I think you will love it.

 

A Thanksgiving Tea Party : It’s All In The Details

When we think about tea parties, it is easy to imagine the British high society in a Victorian era setting, enjoying an elegant affair. For some, tea parties are a synonym for classy get-togethers. And, yes, with time, they evolved into more elegant, refined gatherings. However, in England (the birthplace of tea parties), tea time was made widely popular by the working class, that took a moment in the late afternoon to enjoy their evening supper. Tea parties can be as elegant as you want them to be, or as laid-back as you want them to be.  It’s all in the little details.

Tea just happens to be an extraordinary little detail.  (try the recipe link at the bottom of the page!)

When we think about Thanksgiving Day, a special occasion comes to mind. For tea enthusiasts, it is a perfect opportunity to host a tea party. A Thanksgiving tea party needn’t be an extremely elegant affair. Just the right amount of detail, can give your tea party the delicate touch to make it the memorable, special party you want for an important holiday.

The Thanksgiving Day tea party should be scheduled, as other formal afternoon tea parties, between 2PM and 6PM. After the invitations are sent, purchase the tea and related accessories you’ll need for your celebration. As tea party meals are usually light, afternoon snacks; you can choose to make bite-sized versions of traditional favorites, remembering to include the classic desserts! When the food is ready, remember to decorate your tables with your best table cloths, pretty flowers, and your china or silver tea pots and accessories.

Placing a variety of teas in a tea chest is an elegant and practical way to offer options to your guests when serving tea. It is important to include different tea flavors, and popular choices for afternoon tea are: Earl Grey (a classic favorite), mint (a refreshing flavor), raspberry (or other berries), and lemon. Nevertheless, some tea brands offer special, seasonal treats; a popular autumn flavor is pumpkin spice tea, that can blend in perfectly with your Thanksgiving Day tea party!

A Thanksgiving tea party is a great, unique way to celebrate. You don’t need much to prepare it, as it is all in the little details you want to share with your guests. Tea is one of those little details that can make the celebration a special one.

thanksgiving tea party

 

http://www.barnsandnoodles.com/crockpot-pumpkin-chai-tea/

History of Tea – Taxes and Smuggling In 18th Century England

Tea and Taxes

Tea and TaxesSince its introduction into the Western world, tea has grown in popularity and is now the second most popular beverage in the world after water. Throughout its history tea demand has dramatically increased as a result of its good taste, health and medicinal properties and increasingly efficient channels of production and distribution.

Perhaps the most important benefit for the consummate tea drinker is the aura of good feeling and stress reduction.

Tea production and distribution became big business throughout the world as enterprising individuals and companies invested in tea plantations and distribution assets to meet the growing demand for tea. As the business expanded, national governments began to view tea as a valuable source of revenue. Government regulation and taxation often had a detrimental effect on free commerce and customer satisfaction however.

The popularity growth of tea in a country such as England, a country whose tea culture is well established, provides for a viable case study on the social and fiscal influences on the consumption of tea.

During the sixteenth century in England, tea became a popular beverage mainly for the upper classes. Based on a unique taste and realization of tea health benefits, more efficient channels of distribution opened. Although the imports were initially slow, a growing understanding of the lifestyle benefits of tea accelerated this growth into the 18th century.

During this time, taxation, smuggling and adulteration of tea became significant factors in the English tea culture.

Considering tea a tropical luxury, the English government saw revenue-raising opportunities in tea to fund a military buildup that supported expansion of the British Empire. By the 18th Century, tea was a hugely popular drink in Britain but, to the everyday consumer, it was also prohibitively expensive. Tea smuggling became a growth industry in England as smugglers profited as they met the demand for lower cost tea by ignoring oppressive customs duties.

This created a demand among the British population for cheaper tea; when that demand could not be met by legal means, a great opportunity was presented to those people who were less than concerned about breaking the law. From the beginning of the 18th Century, the trade in smuggled tea flourished.

Smuggled tea was that which was brought into the country illegally – it was not imported by the East India Company and it did not pass through customs. Being light and easy to transport, tea was a very profitable smuggling commodity – even more so than alcohol in which there was also a healthy smuggling trade.

The State Needs Money

Like any state, 18th Century England was no exception to the need to raise revenue. Mercantilism was the English policy and a military presence was required to support the English role in overseas colonies and possessions. Expansion of world interests requires two things: a strong military and funds to support military activities.

The state sought to import duties and excise taxes as a way to raise the necessary funds; these taxes soon became excessive. The Government had to legitimize the tax and did so by treating tea initially as a “luxury” that could support high duties in the eyes of the public. Later, however, tea was correctly classified as a “necessity” that would only support lower levels of taxation. Before the Tax Reform Act of 1784 for example, the price of tea was burdened with taxes and duties of over 100% of the pretax price.

In addition, although the supply of tea continued to increase as tea plantations became more productive, the price remained high as the East India Company (granted a monopoly on tea imports by the English Government) artificially manipulated supplies to maintain prices.

High Taxes and Manipulated Supply Lead to Smuggling as a Growth Industry

A pattern developed in English commerce in tea. As taxes were raised on tea imports, smuggling increased in a successful attempt to meet the underlying growth in demand. But smuggling and high taxes had a direct relationship and produced a negative effect on the English economy and population at large.

Although taxation is important for raising revenue, most economists acknowledged that high taxation encouraged smuggling and also that the quantity of tea being smuggled was directly linked to the level of duty levied on legal tea imports. In England, at the beginning of the 18th Century, the government’s need to finance a war in Spain led to an increase in taxation on tea and the price of leaves rose dramatically.

The tax was deemed outrageous and fueled the activities of the tea smugglers. Duty was later slashed by Henry Pelham in 1745, which meant that more tea was legally imported; the quantity passing through customs more than doubled and the increase of tea imports on which duty was paid actually led to the government’s revenues from tea being increased.

However, in the 1750s, the need to finance another war led to another increase of the duty on tea. This, in turn, led to a surge in the business of the smugglers, which continued to thrive throughout the third quarter of the 18th Century.

Though illegal, the smugglers had the support of millions of people who could not otherwise afford to buy tea.

A great deal of tea was smuggled in from continental Europe, shipped into Britain via the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Although smuggling was widespread, in the first decades of the 18th Century many of the smugglers themselves operated on a very small scale. Scores of smugglers used their own small boats in which the contraband tea was then sold to personal contacts and local shopkeepers. Smuggling became a cottage industry.

It was, by now, widely acknowledged that the only way to tackle the smuggling problem was to make tea cheaper – in effect, to reduce the duty paid on it. Therefore, the East India Company, who had powerful allies in the British Parliament, lobbied for the duty to be lowered. The power of the corporate world was thus added to popular demand for permanent change in the tea tax.

It was when William Pitt the Younger became Prime Minister in 1783 that the work of the anti-tea duty forces finally achieved their goal. As a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Pitt was familiar with tax policy and the impact of high taxes on tax revenue. He understood that raising the tax rate often resulted in decreased tax revenue.

Pitt slashed the tax on tea and made up for the revenue lost by hugely increasing the window tax, which was a property tax much easier to enforce. The Commutation Act of 1784 reduced the tax on tea from 119% to 12.5%. Tea smuggling ceased to be profitable and the smuggling trade vanished virtually overnight. More importantly, tea was treated as a necessity rather than a luxury with long term implications for lower tea taxes.

The consumption of lower taxed tea greatly intensified, so much so that even with the reduced rate of tax, the amount of revenue collected from tea was soon restored and eventually exceeded pre-reduction revenue. Equally important, tea became the standard beverage for the greater majority of the English population.

Ultimately, tea drinkers had the window tax to thank for the popularity boost of their favorite beverage!

 

by

Jon M. Stout is the Chairman of the Golden Moon Tea Company. Golden Moon Tea carefully selects the finest rare and orthodox teas, which are processed slowly and handcrafted with extreme care. At their website, you can learn more about their current tea offerings, including their exceptional green tea, white tea, black tea, oolong tea (also known as wu-long and wu long tea and chai. Visit goldenmoontea.com for all details concerning the Golden Moon Tea Company’s fine line of teas.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jon_Stout

Tea Review – Try Something New

SAMSUNG

 Tea Drawer

 Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Tea?  NO!

Dear Tea Friends,

My drawers are currently FILLED with tea.  I have been sampling tea till it comes out my ears, in order to write this article for you.   Are you ready to try a new tea?  Are you ready to support a small tea company?  Do you need a special birthday, Valentine or St. Paddy’s gift?  If so, this article is for you.   Here are the simple steps I would like you to take.

 

Step #1 – Read the article and decide what sounds yummy!

Step #2- Order it and support the vendor mentioned. (tell them you read about them on Tea Party Girl)  Don’t wait.  Take action.

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 http://www.darjeelingteaxpress.com/

 

 

The first company to send  me teas was Darjeeling TeaXpress.  They sent only Darjeeling and it came straight from India to my home in Kansas. (pretty cool).  I enjoyed a variety of their first and second flush offerings and it is surely some of the freshest tea I have ever reviewed.

Here’s a bit about the company:

DarjeelingTeaXpress is a Darjeeling based progressive Tea Brand with a singular focus on delivering the best Darjeeling Teas to tea connoisseurs and consumers worldwide. Founded by tea entrepreneurs with a strong knowledge about the Darjeeling tea industry, DarjeelingTeaXpress was started with a vision of sharing authentic Darjeeling teas with the world, the way it was meant to be enjoyed- a fresh cup of the highest quality.

The aim at DarjeelingTeaXpress is to reach as many customers, consumers and Tea Connoisseurs as they can all around the world. It is their passion to share our Darjeeling teas in their freshest and finest state so that customers get full value for their money and can enjoy a cup of tea to its fullest anytime of the day.

DarjeelingTeaXpress  is a brand that believes in innovation and we took the first step in reaching our customers personally by creating the first online tea store dedicated only to Darjeeling Teas at highly reasonable prices. It is the perfect place for tea connoisseurs, retailers, wholesalers and tea lovers who only want the best Darjeeling teas.

The teas:

I was sent a set of samples each from specific plantations in Darjeeling.  Giddapahar, Goomtee, Sourenee Blossom, Gopaldhara.  They sent a variety of types including first and second flush, green and black muscatel.  The teas were exceptionally fresh and even an untrained palate would be able to enjoy the different tastes of each region.

My personal favorite was the Sourenee Blossom – Special Black Muscatel.  This single estate tea stood out from the rest.  It has a natural sweetness and a flowery scent.  It is very smooth and mellow with an astringent finish.  This means it is a great cup of tea for any afternoon gathering you might have.

Here is the link to this tea: http://www.darjeelingteaxpress.com/2012-darjeeling-first-flush-sourenee-bio-organic-black-tea.html

If it is out of stock try another tea from the Sourenee region.  You will be very satisfied!

 

red-hot-chai-tea

WWW.THETEASPOT.COM

The Tea Spot, known for unique tea innovations, was the second company on my list.  Based in Colorado, the Tea Spot has had products and teas featured in Oprah’s magazine and all over the media.  They have a fun approach to tea and they sent me some flavored teas perfect for the winter months.  I love their “steepware” particularly the no drip teapot and their super cool, steep and go.

In addition to cook steeping products they also carry a full line of quality teas.  I personally sampled their Harvest Spice and their Red Hot Chai both of which would be fantastic hot or iced.

Harvest Spice is a limited edition product originally designed for the holidays but honestly, this tea makes ANY DAY a holiday.  Imagine a cup of black tea wrapped in layers of orange peel, cinnamon and cloves.  The aroma is simply heavenly.  The tea tastes fresh and flavorful and over ice becomes exceptionally refreshing.  You can order Harvest Spice at: http://theteaspot.com/black-spiced-tea.html  but remember it is a limed edition.  SO ACT NOW!

Red Hot Chai is perfect for those of you who love spice but want to avoid caffeine.  This Chai blend uses Rooibos as its base so there is no caffeine only natural, healthy antioxidants.  This herbal blend has a spicy kick that again would be great iced or hot.  Filled with ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, cinnamon and a splash of vanilla, Red Hot Chai indulges your Chai cravings without all the calories.  You can order Red Hot Chai at http://theteaspot.com/red-hot-spiced-chai.html .  This herbal tea is also a limited edition.

Personally, I liked the Harvest Spice, iced with a touch of stevia.  YUM.

 

teaconnemaramorning-2WWW.TRAILLODGETEA.COM

Lastly, our featured advertiser, Trail Lodge Tea, sent me a great collection of unique samples.  Trail Lodge Tea not only offers fantastic products but one of their teas help support a mission work in Mexico! ( which makes it even more special).  Trail Lodge main emphasis is Fair Trade and cause related tea programs which makes buying from them extra special.

March is right around the corner and with it comes, St. Paddy’s Day.  As an Irish decedent I love celebrating afternoon tea on March 17th so what could be better than offering my guests Connemara Morning from Trail Lodge Tea.  Connemara Morning is an Indian black tea with a splash or Irish cream flavor and a dash of Shamrock sprinkles.  This tea is not only fun to serve your guests, it makes a terrific party favor for each and every Irish wannabe!  You can order Connemara Morning at http://www.traillodgetea.com/Connemara_Morning_p/teaconnemaramorning.htm

My favorite tea from Trail Lodge is their Mexican Cocoa Rooibos which is extremely unique.  It blends Rooibos, Honeybush, Mexican Cacao and a kick of chili!  This tea will wake your taste buds up naturally.   Drink this tea hot or iced and remember that each and every cup gives back to the Ninos De Mexico charity.  http://ninosdemexico.org/   The tea is available at http://www.traillodgetea.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=cocoa+rooibos.  

 

Tea and Chocolate by Eve Robins

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tea-and-chocolate

Today we have a fantastic guest post sent to us from Eve Robins.  Eve knows that Valentines is right around the corner and what could be better than giving the one you love tea and chocolate!  Take a few moments to read this article, share it, post it, tweet it and comment!

Tea and Chocolate: Turn Your Tea Into A Real Treat

When we think about combining chocolate with a drink, our thoughts may naturally turn to coffee as the beverage of choice to bring out the flavor and aroma of the cocoa and to complement the conversely delicate or strong taste of the coffee bean.

What’s very often forgotten is that chocolate pairs equally well, if not better, with tea and that for every type of chocolate there will be a healthy and wonderfully flavored tea or tisane to match it. Alongside the pleasure factor, there are some surprising health benefits too.

How to start

Categorizing chocolate

A good way to start to think about how to pair tea and chocolate together is to break down both of them into smaller “taste” groups and examine the characteristics of each.

For instance, within the world of chocolate we know there is dark, milk and white (though some may argue that white chocolate simply doesn’t qualify, but that’s a whole other argument for another day).

Dark chocolate in particular can then be broken down into further subcategories according to its strength and how it tastes. Some dark chocolate is intensely dark and bitter, depending on the amount of cocoa solids in it and will also, when tasted, have other notes that come to the fore, such as citrus, floral or nut, depending on any essences or extracts that have been added to it to give it more depth.

Categorizing tea

Typically, tea can be broken down into a few different “taste” groups, such as Black, Green, White, Oolong, Pu-erh, and then separate groups which take into account the various different herbal teas on offer. One for spicy and warming, one for calming, one for floral, one for citrus. Think about the way each different tea group tastes and smells.

For instance, a green tea may have a fragrant and delicately perfumed aroma with a slightly palate cleansing bitter aftertaste, best for after meals.

A black tea, such as an Assam or Earl Grey that can be taken with or without milk and will have a gutsy taste that many of us are familiar with at certain times of the day, such as breakfast, to give us a kick awake.

A herbal tea will sometimes be drunk in the evening, when one perhaps doesn’t want to take on board any more caffeine. It may be brewed from fresh leaves or dried fruits and will be calming and cleaning to the palate and digestion.

tea-chocolatePairing the two together

When pairing tea and chocolate together, there are three different ways of making a taste and aroma choice and it all depends on the sort of creative mood you’re in and the flavors that you want to create. Generally speaking the way forward is to think of the following groups:

Complementary flavors: In this category, think about pairing similarly aromatic and flavorsome teas with the same sort of chocolate. At it’s most simple level, this could be the mixology of a standard cup of loose leaf tea, made in a pot and served with a splash of milk, coupled with a few squares of really good quality plain milk chocolate. The robust taste of the black tea can take the simple, comforting, palate coating nature of the milk chocolate. Similarly, this sort of tea works very well with chocolates that may have a caramel centre.

A tea which has a smoked flavor, such as lapsang souchong can take the hit of brittle and bitter dark chocolate that has a high cocoa solid content, as high as seventy five or eighty percent.

A green tea, perhaps enhanced with Jasmine will work very well with dark citrus toned chocolate or even milk chocolate that has an orange taste to it.

A tea that has mint in it, or fresh brewed mint tisane would go well with either a dark chocolate bitter mint or a milk chocolate that perhaps has a fondant mint center.

Flavors to enhance each other: This group is all about taking one element or taste and mixing it with another so that both become more pronounced and noticeable.

For instance, if you have a penchant for Green Tea of any sort, then pair it up with a dark chocolate that has floral note, such as one made with hints of Jasmine or Rose. The slight bitterness created by the tea will be complemented and softened by the flowery aroma of the chocolate, which offsets the cocoa’s own bitterness.

Similarly, think about pairing a tea such as Earl Grey or Lady Grey with a dark chocolate that contains hints of lemon, orange or lime. This would complement Lady Grey tea in particular which has a strong note of Bergamot running through it. The Citrus hit in the chocolate will pronounce this further.

Contrasts of flavors: This is where you can really let your imagination run riot in many ways. A tea such as Pu-erh, which can be warm and earthy in both smell and taste, might pair well with it’s complete opposite such as a floral dark chocolate, or something with a citrus edge.

A strong and spicy tisane or tea, perhaps a herbal one flavored with cinnamon, ginger and the like, or a blend of black teas would have their punchiness and highly spiced taste punctuated by the mild and creamy texture of either white or milk chocolate. Similarly, a fragrant green tea would also have it’s taste tempered by the same type of chocolate.

Health benefits of tea and chocolate

It may surprise you to learn that the combination of tea and chocolate together is a winning one not just for your taste buds but also your health too. For the most part this is because both are rich in flavonoids, which are incredibly beneficial for good heart health and can help in the fight against cardiovascular disease. When good quality chocolate, such as a dark chocolate containing minimum seventy percent cocoa solids is taken in moderation along with a freshly brewed black tea, the benefits are noticeable. Tea that was brewed for two minutes contained on average one hundred and seventy two milligrams of flavonoids. A good sized square of dark chocolate weighing just over an ounce, when eaten alongside the tea will give an added boost to health.

Both tea and chocolate are also known to raise the levels of serotonin that are produced in the human body and they do so naturally and safely. When the levels of this hormone are raised, it can give us a feeling of well being and good health that many people lack at certain times of the year and that can also be lacking in people who are undergoing addiction treatment or who are battling with depression, anxiety or other health issues face.

(photo is from www.peaceloveandchocolate.com  check them out!)