“All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little
stronger with each year that passes”.
We answer a lot of tea questions at Local Tea Company, and the most popular inquiry is about what makes for a good cup of tea? This tea quote is taken from an essay published in the Evening Standard in 1946 by the English author George Orwell. He directed his keen wit and passion for clarity in language to the topic of the perfect cup of tea.
When the world is at odds,
And the mind is at sea,
Then cease the useless tedium,
And brew a cup of tea.
There is magic in it’s fragrance,
There is solace in it’s taste;
And the laden moments vanish,
Somehow into space.
And the world becomes a lovely thing!
There’s beauty as you see;
All because you briefly stopped,
To brew a cup of tea.
No need to add any further sentiments to this ode. The words so sweetly sum up the importance of taking time for tea!
Grahame and I have just come back from England and drinking lots of TEA was certainly on the agenda, in part due to the inclement weather we had for the whole 2 weeks! So it was ‘Oh well let’s go have another cuppa’.
Our first tea outing was planned ahead and it was actually a sunny afternoon when we arrived in the city of Ely in Southeast England. Laura had reserved a table at Peacocks Tea Room and it was just delightful. The afternoon tea was excellent, consisting of 3 different sandwiches, scones with your choice of jam, followed by a cake of your choice. I managed to eat the sandwiches and scone but had to take my cake home, there was simply too much to finish. This was all washed down with copious amounts of tea (we all chose different ones!) served in individual teapots.
During afternoon tea (an earlier post explains the difference between high tea) we had a debate about the best way to eat scones. If you were following correct etiquette then you would place your clotted cream and jam on the side of your plate, select your scone, slice in half and break into a bite sized piece. One would then apply cream and jam (or lemon curd from a blog post from the Spring) as each piece was eaten, taking sips of tea in between.
However, I am not talking correct etiquette here. In Yorkshire (a post bit about my hometown Harrogate) we don’t mess about with bite sized pieces! Our debate was ‘Do you put jam on first before cream or cream on first before jam’.
I have always put jam on first and never really thought about changing the habit of a lifetime of scone eating, but it totally changed the taste experience and I loved it. Grahame really enjoyed too! Let us know which way you like your scone. Please post on our Facebook page.
Thanks to Laura for finding this gem of a tearoom and thanks to Peacocks for the delicious afternoon tea.
This holiday was our second of the summer, we visited northern Michigan in the Spring and here is a link to my earlier post.
We typically use this space to write about tea, but Local Coffee + Tea has created three new coffees we are very proud of and want to share with you. Also, Glynis is on holiday in the UK (see post from Harrogate Yorkshire), and so she is not around to protect this sanctuary of tea from coffee contamination. If you are a tea purist, please do not read any further.
We love Sarasota and have been searching for coffees that might capture the essence of this very special place. We have found three and they make up our SRQ Collection of Coffees. We have been brewing all three coffees at the Selby House Cafe at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and our Siesta Key shop with great results. The collection includes Bee Ridge Blend, Siesta Decaf and Fruitville Flavored Coffee. Here is a bit more about each of our new coffees…
Bee Ridge Blend – Named after one of the main thoroughfares in Sarasota, Bee Ridge is a bold, breakfast style coffee with a bright, natural sweetness. A very drinkable coffee and especially delicious with a drop of honey. Medium city roast.
Siesta Decaf – Siesta Decaf is a decaffeinated Colombian coffee and will not interfere with those afternoon naps in a hammock on Siesta Key. Medium acidity for a rich, balanced and smooth taste.
Fruitville Flavored – A perfect blend of fruit and nut flavors for a slightly sweet treat. Named after an important street in Sarasota running from near the bay to the bush, and was formerly lined with citrus orchards.
All three coffees are locally roasted by Java Dawg Coffee and available every Saturday at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market from the Java Dawg Coffee bus as well as their shop at 4615 Tamiami Trail in Sarasota.
Most tea lovers are familiar with Earl Grey. One whiff of this tea reveals the distinctive aroma on the nose and in the cup. This is a very traditional black tea with the addition of oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a very fragrant citrus fruit.
What about the man behind the tea?
Charles Grey (1764-1845) descended from a long established Northumbrian family seated at Howick Hall and was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. He became the 2nd Earl Grey, was a politician in the Whig party (Democrats) and he became Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 22! His first parliamentary address as PM was in 1787 and concerned a recent free trade agreement made with France, to which he was very opposed. He was involved in four years of political reform, the author of the Reform Bill of 1832 (which saw the reform of the House of Commons) and had an enormous impact on the development of democracy in Britain, abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833.
The Whig historian T.B. Macauly wrote in 1841,
‘At an age when most of those who distinguish themselves in life are still contending for prizes and fellowships at college, he had won for himself a conspicuous place in Parliament. No advantage of fortune or connection was wanting that could set off to the height his splendid talents and his unblemished honour.’
Outside of his political achievements Earl Grey enjoyed the life! He was said to be tall, slim and strikingly handsome, had 10 sons and 6 daughters with his wife and fathered at least one illegitimate child! Earl Grey enjoyed gallivanting around the country, breeding dogs, playing cribbage and also found time to have an affair with the Duchess of Devonshire.
There are several tales as to how the tea was named after such a noble and colorful figure! According to the most popular legend a grateful Chinese mandarin whose son was rescued from drowning by one of the Earl’s men, first presented the blend to the Earl in 1803. This legend seems to have little basis as the Earl apparently did not set foot in China and the use of bergamot to scent tea was then unknown in China. Jackson’s of Piccadilly claim they were the originators of the recipe, which was given to them by the Earl himself.
While the truth is not known, like the very popular Earl himself, this tea is one of the most well known flavored teas in the world. Many people who I chat with in the Carriage House Tea Room at Selby Gardens do not care for the very distinct flavor of Earl Grey. I have found by offering samples of Earl Grey, that most people have never experienced a good quality, loose leaf tea and the quality of both the tea and the bergamot is paramount! Any deviation can result in an unpleasant tea with a residual taste on your palate.
Contrary to my British tea drinking habits, I have become a fan of Iced Earl (Me thinks the Earl would not approve!) Delicious, so be sure to try for yourself. When brewing Earl Grey hot, I actually infuse for only 2 minutes and then enjoy multiple infusions from the same leaves. It is the perfect accompaniment to tea sandwiches and cakes (Mmmm!) but just drinking alone is fine too. ‘Gallivant’ with your Earl, and find your favorite way to enjoy.
We offer two version of Earl Grey Black tea, one is our premium blend Earl Grey and we also offer an Organic Earl Grey. You may be surprised to find you like the Earl, now that you know a bit about the man behind the tea.
A favourite book of mine offers an interesting quote or excerpt about tea, and I would like to share it with you. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome was first published in 1889, and was intended as a serious travel guide about a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford. However, it turned out to be a very humorous account detailing the adventures of the three friends Jerome, George Wingrave and Carl Hentschel along with a fictional dog called Montmorency!
When I read this excerpt today, it seemed so clever and witty, evoking powerful thoughts about the beverage I so love…. tea. Enjoy.
‘It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon, it says “Work!” After beefsteak and porter , it says “Sleep!” After a cup of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup and don’t let it stand for more than three minutes), it says to the brain, “Now rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature, and into life: spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming starts to the gates of eternity!”
Jerome K. Jerome, Three men in a Boat.
What type of tea does it take for you to rise and show your strength, be eloquent and deep or indeed spread your white wings of quivering thought? It would have to be a good strong cup of Yorkshire Harrogate for me! Here is a earlier post about Yorkshire. Please share your comments and take time for tea.
“BREAD AND WATER CAN SO EASILY BE TOAST AND TEA’
This is a lovely quote (author unknown) that came to mind this morning. I was actually making some Lemon Curd at the time but I also had a visitor in the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens that told me he would not drink tea because his mother always made him have toast and tea when he was sick! Of course she would, mothers know what is good for you.
I also felt sorry for him! Toast and Tea is a custom most of us have such good feelings about and I for one can sample this pairing at any time of day. There is nothing as simple or as tasty as toast and tea, unless you add a little lemon curd that is!
Lemons are in abundance here at the moment and as they keep arriving by the bagful at my house I just keep churning out the Lemon Curd! I got myself a cup of jasmine tea and Lemons at the ready. Want to have a go too?
This is a very easy recipe and method to follow. You will need preserving jars which have been sterilized in boiling water. I put the lemons in same water as it makes the juice release easier. I usually double up the recipe, but to make one batch you will need:
Juice and Rind of 1 lemon (I have been adding rind of an extra lemon too!), 2 eggs, 2oz unsalted butter, and 3oz sugar.
- Place sugar and rind in large bowl.
- Whisk eggs and lemon juice together. Add to bowl.
- Cut butter into small chunks. Add to bowl.
- Place bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until butter melts and whisk lightly over heat until mixture thickens. (It may seem like mixture is never going to thicken but it will.)
Place in jar and refrigerate.
It tastes delicious and is so worth the effort. I love giving to friends and of course, the suppliers of all my Lemons! Lemon Curd is also the perfect accompaniment to scones, so maybe next time we will make scones.
I recommend putting on the kettle and making a pot of Yorkshire tea and sit down to enjoy some toast and tea. Mmmm!
“The Spirit of Easter is all about Hope, Love and Joyful living.” -Anonymous.
Easter celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead and is Christianity’s most important holiday. As with Christmas, over the centuries various folk customs and pagan traditions have become a standard part of this holy holiday (whether you agree with it or not!) and includes Easter eggs, bunnies, baskets of candy and CHOCOLATE. There are lots of stories about the connection of eggs (re-birth) and bunnies (originally hares actually and a symbol of new life in ancient times) but I am not sure how the chocolate connection came about.
Some might say that Honeybush is not complete without the addition of those chocolate and caramel pieces and if you smelled and tasted this version you might agree!
You will find us this weekend serving and delighting our customers with Chocolate Honeybush in the Carriage House Tea Room at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and Saturday morning at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market. We can guarantee plenty of love and joy too. Please join us if you can for a chocolate celebration (without the calories!) but if you are not local then visit our online shop to stock up on your Easter supplies and be sure to share with all your friends too.
With good wishes to you all for the Easter holiday.
Pear Mu Tan is a White tea grown in Fujian Province, China. White teas are surrounded by folklore and mystique heralded from ancient China when this delicate tea was proclaimed by Emperors as “the culmination of all that is elegant”
White teas are the least processed of all the categories of tea. The newest leaves are carefully picked when they have a silvery appearance which comes from the hair or ‘hao’. They are lightly withered which turns them into an artists palate of hues, ranging from silver to green to brown and results in a light fluffy mixture of leaf pieces that yield a subtle and delicate flavor.
I had been asked several times about a Pear tea and after using this tea for several days in my travel mug, I knew we had to have it! This type of White tea is known as Pai Mu Tan which means “white peony” and is produced from a variety of tea bush called chaicha, so it seemed natural to name this tea Pear Mu Tan.
There is evidence that Pear has been used as a food since prehistoric times so is a perfect partner for White tea. To compliment the pear, there are dried apple pieces, mango cubes and marigold blossoms which results in shimmering golden liquor with a lingering fragrance and sweet, fresh mellow taste. This is a truly beautiful tea both dry and infused.
Please note, this tea is organically cultivated but has not pursued the requirements to be designated ORGANIC.
White teas are becoming very popular now as they are considered to be the most beneficial of all teas for their health benefits. With more antioxidants than black or green tea, white tea has anticancer properties, is heart healthy, has a calming (anti-sagging!) and detoxifying effect on the skin and the ability to strengthen our immune system. An added bonus is that it tastes so good!
There are debates aplenty about the amount of caffeine in White teas; could it be that as the tea is made from young leaves that they contain the most concentrated amount of caffeine? The fact that we infuse for less time and at a lower temperature may mean less caffeine is released…and so on. We may never know the exact reason and it really does not seem to matter too much!
In my experience I have found White tea VERY agreeable to my body function. I do not seem to get as overheated or troubled with the caffeine content and therefore have been able to drink later into the day. See how it works for you!
Pear Mu Tan is a tea that really keeps on giving and certainly wears the title ‘the culmination of all that is elegant’ very well.
How could you not be excited about the prospect of a Royal Wedding? They don’t come around that often and we pin all our hopes for a lasting and loving relationship for this lovely young couple.
I plan to lose myself for a day of pomp and circumstance surrounding Prince William (Wills to some!) and the beautiful Kate Middleton (only a middle class girl!) We could not resist jumping on the Royal bandwagon at Local Coffee + Tea and have created a tea to celebrate the occasion aptly named Royal-Tea.
If you are already sick of all the hoopla (like my husband!) then sit and make yourself a cup of this stately and sophisticated tea, a perfect marriage between green sencha and bancha, orange pieces, slivers of almonds and cream caramel. Tea and fruits fit for a Royal table I think.
The tea, like the Royal couple brings together two different backgrounds.
Chinese sencha (‘Sen’ meaning green and ‘cha’ meaning tea or ‘infused tea’) is a style of green tea normally produced in Japan but here we have a perfect unison between Chinese leaf and Japanese style.
After harvest, the leaves are heated in a wok to prevent oxidation giving the leaves a slightly mellower ‘roasted’ flavor and characteristic thin, cylindrical shape which results in a very light, refreshing and uplifting tea less vegetal in flavor than those produced in Japan.
Bancha or the ‘common’ green tea in Japan is harvested from the second flush of leaves in late summer/autumn. The larger leaf gives a very mellow flavor and contains less caffeine.
The peel of citrus fruit is bitter and not very appetizing when raw but adds great taste and health benefits when dried and added to tea, and it tastes delicious.
Cream caramel is a tasty ‘concoction’ of sugar and fats which are dried and added to enhance this tea. I try to bring you teas with only all natural ingredients, but sometimes Royal exceptions must be made!
Almonds are something I try to eat all year round for their healthy heart benefits (they contain monounsaturated fats which are good fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol).
In Ayurvedic medicine, almonds are considered a nutrient for the brain and nervous system and said to induce high intellectual level and longevity. I knew there was a reason I liked them so much! They pair very well with oranges too. and Walnut adds to the ‘nuttiness’ of our tea.
Back by popular demand!
If you are reading this description and thinking this all sounds familiar, you may have enjoyed this tea over the holidays. Festivi-Tea was created to celebrate Lights in Bloom at Selby Gardens. And we have brought it back to celebrate another holiday, a Royal Wedding!
Whatever the name of this tea, enjoy April 29th and celebrate in true Royal fashion with a good cuppa Royal-Tea.
Please join me in wishing Prince William and Kate a long and happy life together.
The Tea Lady