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Monday, May 16, 2011

Chew on This | An Invitation to Afternoon Tea

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Dear Friends,

You are cordially invited to join us this whole week as we revisit our much loved ceremony of Afternoon Tea.  An English Tea to be precise, which-now-a-days is a social as well as a culinary occasion.   The tradition of taking afternoon tea started around 1870, to spell you between lunch and dinner. And give you the opportunity to relax and enjoy time spent with friends.  Cares and I love this ritual, and are more than eager to experience it often.

Today we'll show you how to brew a proper pot of tea. And throughout this week we'll share our favorite selection of delicate savory finger sandwiches, which are scrumptious and elegant. And of course, the most desired course of the tea for us, as you might have already guessed, would be the sweets.  Oh my goodness, it was so hard to decide which luscious goodies we would present.  We did choose of few of the most traditional scones and sweets and the recipes will appear this week. 

Since there will be no official 'tea police' to monitor us, we feel free to share our favorite
tea room experiences with you this week and it is our desire that you just might adopt our wonderful tradition for yourself!  

To the English, tea is much more than a mere drink, it's an institution!  Whether it is served to soothe the soul or at grand celebrations, brewing a proper pot is important.  So let's begin there.

A flavorful pot of tea starts with the selection of good tea.  You can choose loose leaves or bagged.  One of our favorites, Earl Gray, is a blended black tea. It complements both savory and sweet foods, as does a black Darjeeling (aromatic), or Ceylon (mild and nutty). All are perfect for an afternoon tea.  You will need a tea strainer if using loose leaf tea.

Today we are using Earl Gray black loose leaves.

.  Fill kettle with freshly drawn cold water and bring to a boil.
.  Warm the teapot with hot water, then empty.
.  Add 1 heaping teaspoon of loose tea leaves per person and one for the pot.
.  Brew Earl Gray and Darjeerling teas for 2-3 minutes, Ceylon and green teas for about 3-5 
Stir pot once before pouring.
.  Pour tea into cup using a strainer to catch the leaves.
.  Drink tea with or without milk (not cream).  Serve with lemon slices, not wedges, and   
   sugar.  If using milk, just know that there is a debate still going on as to whether or not the  milk should be poured into the cup first (M.I.F. - milk in first), before the tea.
   We feel there is no right or wrong way, but it seems logical to pour the tea in first and then the milk to ensure the proper amount.
.  Consider brewing a fresh pot of tea if your tea has not been consumed after 15 minutes as it will become strong. (I make iced tea with the left over brewed tea).

(It's important to know how many cups of water your tea pot holds so you always fill to the right level and add the proper amount of tea).

And there you have it Luvs, a properly brewed pot of tea.


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