January is National Hot Tea Month, according to the Tea Association of the United States of America. Tea Etc. offers a brief article on the weight loss and germ-fighting potential of tea.
Tea is a social icon in some cultures. There are formal – and I do mean FORMAL – tea ceremonies, and is there anything that says “linger and chat with me” like a pot of tea and cups on a tray? Gracious and friendly and certainly not “Oh, my goodness, when the heck are you leaving?”
I grew up on a farm almost in the middle of nowhere (we could see it from the back door) and we had tea every single day at 4, dinner at 6:30.
My childhood image was that the whole of the WORLD stopped at 4pm for tea. In my vision, blue collar and blue blood alike paused for a cuppa’ with their companions, shared a bisquit, little sandwiches or scone or two, and returned to the rest of the evening milking, children in tow, while Mom fixed dinner.
It was always the same black tea, served with a single sugar cube, and a splash of real cream. (The cream was real as was Still the is.) I was taught where to place my spoon and we used cups and saucers, not mugs. In fact, I’m not sure I ever SAW mugs growing up.
We had an actual teapot, which boiling water was poured into (the pot was properly hotted). We used real tea, not instant.
Now, you are as apt to find me drinking tea from a to go cup at work, from one of my stash of tea bags. I have real sugar and real cream. I’ll make it hot and then dump in ice, if it’s boiling hot summer weather (it gets HOT here). I make sun tea. I do not drink instant tea.
I’m a little behind here, so I’m catching up
January 1 – 7 Please share your favorite hot tea memories with me. Who introduced you to hot tea?
That would be my Da, I guess. And my Mom.
4pm. Every day of my life.
January 8 – 14 Describe your perfect cuppa’ hot tea. If you’re like me and it depends, share as many different scenarios as you care to.
I like Bigalow Chinese Fortune Tea. My everyday favorite and hard to find, so whenever I do find some, I’ll buy every box they have. I like rose tea and the white, fruity teas, too. I travel a lot and I’m always poking around. Great British tea shop in trolley Square in SLC. There’s another Brit import store in Morro bay and then if I can hit Festival, I can stock up on some real tea from Eire. (The Queen thing? A literary device ONLY. We Irish have no NEED for a Queen. We have all the royal blood we need running in our own veins, thank you very much. )
January 15 – 21 Do you have a favorite tea source? Do you shop online or in a local store?
Lucky me, I travel a lot, so I am able to find tea in little Brit stores.
January 22 – 31 Please share a favorite tea snack, especially if it is a treasured recipe!
Blackberry Cream Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, beaten (reserve 1 tablespoon of egg
white for brushing on top)
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 (16 ounce) can blackberries, well drained
2 teaspoons coarse sugar
In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt until thoroughly blended. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in eggs and cream to make stiff dough. Turn out on a lightly floured board and knead lightly until dough sticks together.
Divide dough into four parts. Roll each part out to make a circle about 6 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick. Arrange 2 circles on an ungreased baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Spoon 1/2 the berries on each circle leaving about 1 inch all the way around. Cover with the remaining two circles and pinch around the edges to seal in the berries. Score the top of each round into quarters with a knife Brush with the reserved egg white and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes 8 scones.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 stick chilled unsalted real butter, cut into small cubes (I freeze my butter for 15 minutes for “chilled” butter)
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
4 green onions, thinly sliced
10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped into 1 inch pieces
3/4 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
heavy cream, optional* (well, it’s not really optional if you want it to taste right)
1 large egg
2 tsp water
*Heavy cream can be substituted for half of the buttermilk.
Preheat oven to 400. Grab your peppermill and start grinding – use a full tablespoon for a wonderfully peppery background or reduce by 1 tsp for less pepper flavor.
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl on low speed. With mixer running, gradually add cubes of butter until the mixture is crumbly and studded with flour – butter bits about the size of small peas.
Add grated cheese and mix just until blended. (This can also be done by hand: In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Gradually cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles small peas. Stir in cheese.)
Add green onions, bacon and 3/4 cup of the buttermilk to flour and cheese mixture. Mix by hand just until all ingredients are incorporated. If dough is too dry to hold together, use remaining buttermilk, adding 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is pliable and can be formed into a ball.
Stir as lightly and as little as possible to ensure a lighter-textured scone. Remove dough from bowl and place it on a lightly floured flat surface. Pat dough into a ball. Using a well-floured rolling pin, flatten dough into a circle about 8 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Cut dough into 8 to 10 equal wedges, depending on size scone you prefer.
Whisk egg and water in a small mixing bowl to combine. Brush each wedge with egg wash. Place scones on a Silpat-lined baking sheet and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and no longer sticky in the middle. Serve warm.
- 1 brioche loaf, cut into 14-inch slices (or you can use those little skinny pre-sliced loaves of bread at the deli. Cut the crusts off.)
- 2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature(You can make this up the night before and store in a tightly lidded container)
- 1 English cucumber , peeled and cut into 1/8-inch dice
- Mint leaves from 8 stems, cut into strips (or mince fresh dill instead)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
Fold cucumber and mint into cream cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Build sandwiches by spreading a teeny layer of butter on the bread, then an 1/8-inch layer of mix between bread slices. Remove crusts, then cut into quarters and serve.
Lavash Cucumber Wraps (Lavash is a flat bread)
- 1 English cucumber
- 1 small red onion
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons drained bottled horseradish (sometimes I use ginger (like for sushi)
- a 16- to18-inch round, very thin, pliable lavash* such as Damascus mountain shepherd bread
- 6 thin slices smoked salmon (about 6 ounces total)
Garnish: watercress sprigs and fresh chives (use sprouts if you can’t find watercress)
*available at Middle Eastern markets,specialty foods shops, and some supermarkets
- Halve and seed cucumber. Cut cucumber into sixteen 5-by 1/4-inch-thick sticks. Halve onion lengthwise and cut crosswise into thin slices.
In a small bowl stir together sour cream, horseradish, and salt and pepper to taste.
Quarter lavash and spread 1 side of each quarter evenly with 1 tablespoon sour cream mixture, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. On each quarter arrange about 1 1/2 slices salmon in one layer over sour cream mixture and spread 1 tablespoon sour cream mixture evenly over salmon. On each quarter arrange 4 cucumber sticks, about 3 onion slices, 4 chives, and one fourth watercress parallel to 1 cut edge and season with salt and pepper. Tightly roll up each lavash around filling into a cone and wrap individually in wax paper and plastic wrap. Sandwiches may be made 6 hours ahead and chilled, wrapped in plastic wrap.
Garnish sandwiches with watercress and chives.