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High Tea or Afternoon Tea?

High Tea or Afternoon Tea?

Our sister company, Local Catering, has seen an increased interest in tea parties at Selby Gardens.  There was an intimate wedding last month.  I hear the term “High Tea” used as a reference, when, in fact, “Afternoon Tea” is a more accurate description.

Tea Party

Tea Service

I will attempt to explain the differences between “High Tea” and “Afternoon Tea.”   I will share a bit of history on how these very different meals got their specific titles.

“High Tea” does not refer to fancy sandwiches and small cakes served with elegant table settings.  Rather, a meal served in working-class households as the main meal of the day, usually early evening.

Similarly, at the height of Victorian times, lower and middle-class families could only afford one meal per day.  Served at the end of the working day, the meal typically consisted of bread and cheese, potatoes, vegetables, maybe cold meat and pickles, for the more affluent, fish.  Black tea would be served along with the food. This is the meal most families would now refer to as dinner.

Tea

For instance, growing up, this was the main meal at the house and was called “tea.”  Today, I still refer to our evening meal as tea.  Often asking myself, “What are we having for tea today?” As I am more sensitive to caffeine, we will drink Rooibos or Honeybush or other herbal tea.

Why is this meal known as “High Tea”?  Above all, the meal is served on a dining table, in contrast to the much lower table on which “Afternoon Tea” is served.

Anna, Duchess of Bedford

Anna, Duchess of Bedford

Credit goes to Anna, Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861) for creating “Afternoon Tea.” The evening meal was often served after 8 pm, and the Duchess would get a ‘sinking feeling’ (low blood sugar levels associated with hunger!) in the afternoon hours.  She instructed her staff at Belvoir Castle to make up small sandwiches and cakes.  Anna invited friends for tea and conversation. The meal was served on lower tables in the drawing-room, allowing for intimate conversation. The tradition of “Afternoon Tea” is still prevalent.

There are many variations of “Afternoon Tea” with small sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream.  Typically, a huge variety of teas are available.  “Tea” can be a sophisticated, dressy, and special occasion or a simple, casual, and relaxed meal at the end of the day.

In conclusion, whichever “Tea” you choose, the idea remains a wonderful way to spend quality time with friends or loved ones, enjoying some food and conversation. We should all do this more often!

Cheers,
The TeaLady

Kombucha with Black Tea

Kombucha Black Tea

Welcome to the next installment of kombucha making,

It has been an eventful and exciting period since we last talked, and there are some things I need to share.  First, Kombucha making takes some patience and some structure!  Michael, are you listening?

Get Kombucha

After winging the first batch, I got serious and looked for some better guidelines. This led me to a site called getkombucha.com. Dave talks you through all stages in a mini-course, which is brilliant. (I really like the way he presents his experiences, funny too) I have bought a better container and followed measurements more precisely and am hoping for better results.

Pu-Erh Kombucha

The first batch (made with Pu-erh) was quite frankly a disaster and ended up down the sink, but I am ok with that. I will nail this kombucha making; after all, I am an expert with a regular cuppa tea. How difficult can it be???

The second batch (made with Kenya black tea) is now bottled and needs refrigerating before consumption. I learned that keeping the bottles out for 4 days helps build up some carbonation before you refrigerate.  (A colleague took a crafty sample yesterday and reported that it tasted fantastic! She now wants in on the action too.) I look forward to drinking this daily whilst waiting for the next batch to work its magic.

Kombucha with Black and Green Tea

Another batch, which I started at home, was made with a combination of black and green tea. I brewed for only 12 days. Most guidelines indicate between 7 and 14 days, and on sampling, I liked the taste, so I went for it. In 2 of the bottles, I dropped a piece of fresh ginger (another thing I learned was that fruits need to be added at this stage).

I look forward to drinking to see if I have a success story on my hands.  My goal is to continue the Kombucha chain now.

kombucha fermenting in a glass jar as part of a tea blog post from Local Tea Company in Sarasota, Florida

Some important tips I want to share which may have contributed to my first failure are….

  • Do not cut down the sugar content (1 cup per 4-liter tea). The culture needs sugar to feed and grow,
  • Make sure the mixture is covered with a cloth or paper towel secured with an elastic band. It needs to breathe whilst keeping out the bugs. Or go to getkombucha.com for all the tips!
  • Just a word of warning, this kombucha making becomes somewhat of an obsession. You may find yourself very strangely watching your culture for any action. Is the SCOBY rising to the top or still on the bottom? How long do I have to wait till I taste?

BE PREPARED TO CATCH THE KOMBUCHA BUG!  Kombucha Black Tea

Cheers,
the TeaLady

Cold Brewing Loose Leaf Tea

Cold Brewing Loose Leaf Tea

Cold Brewing Loose Leaf Tea.  In Florida, we never really experience the depth of winter weather that the rest of the US must endure. Consequently, we continue drinking iced tea all year round. According to the USA Tea Council, 85% of Americans choose to drink their tea iced, so there is still much-iced tea drunk this time of year.

As Hot Tea month comes to an end, I want to share a great way to make iced tea that works really well for us at Local Tea Company. We think you will love it too.

Cold brewing loose leaf tea is simple and yields consistent results with little effort involved. This method of brewing is for true teas. It may work for some herbals, but our experience is not a suitable method for making iced Rooibos as this requires hot water to release flavor.

Jasmine Green tea makes a wonderfully floral iced tea.

Please do not limit yourself to a particular tea: we cold brew black, oolong, green and white tea with equally good results. You may be surprised at an Earl Grey, and even our Lapsang Souchong is excellent cold brewed.

Cold Brewing Tea

Let’s get started.

  1. Good water always makes a difference. If your local water is heavily contaminated with chlorine, this will affect the final taste. Choose filtered water for the best results.
  2. Quality loose leaf tea will give you the best taste, but this is also a good way to use tea bags you have had in your pantry for too long. Life is too short to drink lousy tea, so mix and match and use it!
  3. Next, you will need some T Sacs. Put your tea in the T SAC, but don’t pack it too full to allow room for infusion and flavor to release. Use a second T SAC rather than overpacking. A tea maker such as the Timolina or Magic Filter works exceptionally well.
  4. The quantity of tea will depend on your personal preference but as a guide. We use 30gm or around 1 oz of tea per gallon. This works out to a teaspoon for 8-10oz of water if you are making a smaller quantity. We suggest you try different measurements and times to achieve the taste you like the best.
  5. Fill a sealed container with cold water and place the T sac with the tea in cold water, and then straight into the refrigerator for a period of 10-18 hours or longer. The tea will be deeper in color and flavor if infused for a longer time. Take the tea out of the water after 24 hours as we have found leaving the tea in the container will cause the tea to spoil faster.

Slow and Gentle

This slow, gentle process results in a much smoother, naturally clear, clean, and sweet-tasting tea that will last for 3 days. Do not be tempted to keep your tea too long and risk the possibility of spoilage. We are confident this is unlikely to happen as you will love the taste so much you will want to drink more!

Make up a gallon right now, and enjoy it tomorrow.

And in our Newsletter #4 Why Loose Leaf Tea is Better, we share a story from a customer who steeps her tea three times, two times using this Cold Brew method, and then uses hot water for the last steep.

Cheers,
the Tealady

Hot Tea Month

Hot Tea Month

Happy New Year and Happy Hot Tea Month!

January is National Hot Tea Month and also the height of the “cold and flu season.” So what can you do to help prevent coming down with the cold and flu?

Drinking hot tea is sure to help you stay healthy.

Research

There is plenty of research that indicates that theanine, an ingredient found naturally in tea, supports the immune system. A cup of tea contains an average of 20- 25 mg of theanine, and drinking at least five cups per day will boost your natural resistance to infections.

Tea also contains flavonoids, which are naturally occurring compounds known for their antioxidant properties.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals, which scientists believe damage elements in the body and contribute to many chronic diseases.

There is also a herbal tea with great properties in the war against cold and flu: Zingibar officinale, the tart, knotty spice we know as ginger. The oils in ginger will create warmth in your body, help fight infection, and ease nasal and chest congestion. Ginger root makes a tea with nice clean notes and, of course, the familiar hot finish! Anti-inflammatory properties also make ginger a good sore throat remedy. A touch of honey or lemon makes an even more soothing tea when you are feeling unwell.

Why not go for a double dose of prevention and combine ginger with your favorite black tea or green tea such as Nilgiri or Pinhead Gunpowder. This is an invigorating infusion. I like to infuse the ginger root first (it needs at least 10 minutes of steeping) and then add to the prepared tea. If you live in a warmer climate like Florida (where we hardly notice it is winter!) and really do not want to drink hot tea, try serving this combo iced. It really is delicious.

Local Tea Company offers a wonderful dried ginger root from Thailand and an Organic Fair Trade Chamomile from Egypt.

Hot Tea Month

While drinking tea may not keep you from getting sick this season, it can certainly help your odds of staying healthy. So do something good for your body and enjoy a hot cuppa every day! Have a Happy Hot Tea month and stay well.

Cheers,
the TeaLady

Tea Party for 110

Tea Party for 110

On Sunday dawned the day I served tea to the biggest tea party I have ever been involved with! This was definitely a first in my tea journey.

The occasion was to celebrate and give thanks to the Associates of Selby Gardens, all 110 of them and a bunch of tea lovers to boot! Not only that, they wanted the “Champagne of tea” Darjeeling. We selected a beautiful tea from the Tukdah Estate, which was the first flush TGFOP. I could not mess this one up!

Tea Party Prep

So, my dilemma. How to serve the perfect tasting, piping hot cup of tea to all these people? How much to make?  What time to start brewing?  When it boils down to it (sorry!), you just have to replicate what you do best when making tea for two. So that is just what I did, along with some helpers, of course.

I got together all the containers (one of these was a Silver Samovar, which looked fabulous) we were using.  I weighed the tea in correct proportions and got the kettles boiling! We steeped the leaves twice, first for 3 mins and second for 6 mins.  In my experience, this gives a well-balanced taste. It took one and a half hours to complete the process.

Tea Party Service

We delivered the tea to another building (no easy fete over the brick paving’s in the garden).  Then we decanted the hot tea into very nice Silver teapots owned by some of the Associates. The tables were served tea as the guests were invited to the buffet table. Each server came back for more and more tea!

It was a brilliant feeling seeing all those people slurping Darjeeling.  Sorry, Selby Associates don’t slurp, but you know what I mean.  We had plenty for everyone and very little leftover tea.

It was great to receive such good comments and no negatives. Then you start to ask yourself, why did I worry so much?

“If you say you can, you will” is a great motto.  And one which is working well for me this month, stir in a little love, and you have the perfect cups of tea.

So, if you are planning a BIG tea party, call yours truly.

The Tea Lady