There’s something about tea that is so comforting. Maybe it’s that I associate it with things like Downton Abbey, a kitty snuggled on my lap, a good book or glorious rainy days. But mostly I associate it with heart to heart talks with my mom, which I will always treasure (thanks mom!). Maybe you have a thing for tea too? Well, whether you like black, green, Earl Grey, herbal or the like, we’re talking tea this week.
Tea Time: In England, afternoon tea (sometimes called low tea) is generally taken between 3 and 5 p.m. (usually at 4 p.m.) and serves as a snack time before dinner or supper. High tea is basically a full meal with tea and takes place sometime after 5 p.m. Many people associate tea time with snootiness, fine china and flowery table linens. While you can certainly enjoy your tea this way (better to dump the snootiness though), tea time is really about good conversation and good company. If you’re looking for tea time etiquette, I’m not really the one to ask, that’s Tiffany Nielsen’s department. There are good practices to follow, especially if you’re planning on holding an attending a formal tea.
A Good Brew: Brewing times for tea range and you’ll get different answers if you look online. Here are the times I finally settled on. Black tea should reach a temperature of about 210 degrees and brew for 2-3 minutes. Green should reach between 167-176 degrees and only brew for one or two minutes. Herbal tea needs a bit more; it should reach 210 degrees and then brew for about 3-6 minutes.
Biscuits or crumpets? If you went to England or most other parts of the world and asked for a biscuit you’d get something that resembles a cookie more than a fluffy mound of dough that pairs well with loads of white gravy (yum). They are mildly sweet and kind of taste like animal crackers. I found some at Save Mart near the cookies.
What is a crumpet? King Arthur Flour had the perfect description; they are “midway between a pancake and an English muffin.” I’d like to tell you I’ve made them from scratch, but I haven’t, mostly because Trader Joes makes wonderful British style crumpets. If you’d like to try your hand at making crumpets there is a link to a recipe on the blog.
Tea Table: Tea is often also associated with dainty little snacks, scones or tea sandwiches. Scones are relatively easy to make and you can choose from plain, chocolate chip, lemon, blueberry and more. Mixes are also available at most grocery stores.
There are a variety of tea sandwiches, but mostly you see the cucumber version. If you’re looking for something different maybe try a smoked salmon spread or herbed cream cheese version. Use a biscuit cutter to create perfect little round, crust less sandwiches.
Marmalades and something called clotted cream can also be found on the tea table. Cost Plus World Market has an amazing assortment of English tea-related goodies like clotted cream.
We’ll talk more tea in a couple weeks. For more tea time tips visit the blog at www.blkcatcottage.com.
– Mo Montgomery is an amateur suburban homesteader who makes her home and garden in Exeter. You can read more about her homesteading adventures at www.blkcatcottage.com. Send your homesteading questions to [email protected]
– This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.