I love hosting virtual tea parties. British may have failed miserably in other culinary areas, but they excel in the tea ritual. I regularily dsh on Downton Abbey, the Royal Family, UK tourism and other topical tea issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a tea treat recipe with a history.
GONE FISHING: Not unlike Downton Abbey and your other favorite TV shows, you may be seeing some re-runs over the next few weeks as I get ready for our annual family fishing trip and will offline for awhile. Lord D is great with watering plants and keeping the house while I am away, but prefers to do his own blogging (should he ever decide to grace the world with a blog).
Relaxing Over Afternoon Tea
Many of you will be traveling to the UK and will likely have “afternoon tea” on your list. To help avoid disappointment (there is a difference between afternoon and high tea), I have created a handy guide to help you enjoy the experience: he guide includes:
- The history of Tea in England
- Tea Lingo
- The difference between Afternoon and High Tea
- Proper tea etiquette
The guide also includes tips and recipes to host your own tea party, perhaps to gather friends to watch your favorite Downton Abbey episode:
- How to make a proper cup of tea
- Sweet and Savoury tea recipes, including a great scone recipe you can adapt many ways.
- How to build a tea service on a budget.
You can download in minutes from my Store
It is still pretty quiet this week on the gossip front, but you may find the following interesting, but be careful about spoilers:
- Downton’s Branson says kind things about Shirley MacLaine
- How historicaly accurate is the dialogue of Downton Abbey?
- Downton Abbey nominated for two Television Critics Awards
- Downton Abbey set taken over by smell of fish
The King of Teas: Earl Grey
Earl Grey tea was named after Charles Grey, who was British Prime Minister to King William IV. One story tells that he saved a mandarin’s son from drowning on a trade delegation to China in 1834. In return, the grateful mandarin provided him with a recipe for a tea blend which Grey brought back to England. The recipe was passed along to his own tea merchant for his own private use. He did have a large family with 10 sons and 6 daughters so I can imagine they would have consumed quite a bit of the tea.
The blend? Essentially Earl Grey is a black tea, infused with the oil of bergamot. The citrus fruit is not edible, but the blossoms and oils are prized, not only flavoring Earl Grey tea, but in perfumes as well.
Cooking with Tea
The partnership of tea and food dates back to ancient China where tea was often used in savoury dishes. You may have used it in fish dishes or even tea smoking. For Afternoon Tea lovers, you don’t have to settle for tea in the cup, it also goes well in in baking. It works particularly well in fruit cakes where you soak dried fruit in the tea. We made the Cup of Tea Cake using this method with a strong tea blend.
Earl Grey is a more delicate tea which can be used in breads, but can also provide a lovely flavour to biscuits, sponge cakes, ice cream and sauces. You can also put a spot of gin, ice, sugar and lemon in your tea cup for nice summer beverage (no one will ever know!). We have already used Earl Grey to make Earl Grey madeleines, and an Earl Grey créme anglaise, and today we will make a delightful and decadent chocolate mousse.
Earl Grey Chocolate Mousse
This recipe comes from the great Canadian hotel chain, Four Seasons London Hotel in Park Lane via one of my favorite tea books Tea & Crumpets, which shares recipes from great tea rooms across the UK. You can make the full fat version or see the tips of reducing fat and calories without sacrificing taste. I used a dollop of greek yoghurt as a garnish in my version.
Great Tea Books to Own