Afternoon Tea

It’s tea time! We’ve featured the Hockus Kocis blog before, but this picture is just too good to ignore…

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Will & Kate Baby Video and First Anniversary Pinterest Contest

Speculation is rife that Kate is preggers. While whispers will continue until the day she announces she’s expecting – even if it is closer to the Queen’s platinum jubilee. As this video shows, the couple are natural parents.

But it is only a year since they were married, so perhaps everyone should give them some space and invest their energies on entering our pinterest competition to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. Start a new board, and pin something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a traditional paper wedding gift to it and the best one will win afternoon tea for two.

How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea

Did you know that 120 million cups of tea are drunk every day in Britain? Or that the ‘tea break’ has been central to the nation’s working life for 200 years? We even have a Tea Council, charged with protecting and promoting all things cha. By continuing our campaign to get NYC (and the rest of the US) taking afternoon tea, we’re hoping to import a small part of this milky, caffeinated love over the Atlantic. Following cake and scone recipes, and not one but two tea guides, here’s the lowdown on how to brew the perfect cup.

Select a tea of your liking. Swirl boiling water in the teapot and then empty it out. This will warm the pot so proper brewing can take place. If you are using loose tea you can add one teaspoonful of tea for each person person one for the pot. Bring fresh water to a rolling boil and pour it directly into the teapot.

The official tea set of the Diamond Jubilee, approved by Queeny herself.... You can buy yourself one here.

The teapot must now be left so that the tea can “steep”. About five minutes is a good amount of time for the host water to extract the full flavour of the tea. Small-leaved teas, like a green tea, will take less time.

Give the teapot a stir and then get ready to serve. If you are using loose tea you will need to place a strainer between the spout and the cup.

This gentleman certainly knows what he's doing.... Pinky up!

It is customary to pour milk into the teacup first. This tradition, which dates back to the era when delicate China cups were used, was observed by those who wished to avoid cracking the cups by pouring hot tea into them. If you were very righ, the tea was poured in first, to show that could afford to replace your broken teacups. Nowadays, we tend to put the milk in last to control the color of the tea.

How do you take yours? Top graphic, courtesy of tea-chart.co.uk

When using a tea bag in a cup, it is best if you warm the cup first with boiling water. If you are making a pot of tea with tea bags, then the rule is one tea bag per every two or three cups.

And remember, we sell a selection of the finest China, imported from the UK, in-store, as well as tea – of course! You can find us at 110 Greenwich Avenue or take a look online. The text below is from our Tea & Sympathy cookbook, which you can also purchase in-store. If you have questions, please email us at info@teaandsympathynewyork.com, or call 212-989-9735.

Tea Variety Guide Part Two: Something for the Weekend

Did you have a cup of tea & a slice of cake at 4pm today? We do hope so, because we are not letting up in our campaign to get NYC taking Afternoon Tea. Following on from last week’s tea guide, here’s instalment number two, covering some very exotic leaves.

CEYLON - This category includes any black or green teas grown in Sri Lanka, which vary in quality. The finest varieties are grown at higher elevations and have a full flavor and fragrance that makes this another tea that is excellent to drink anytime.

OOLONG - These teas are only partially oxidised, and then they are pan fried. This crucially timed blast of heat and moisture arrests the oxidation process, leaving the tea a lighter green-brown. The partial oxidation makes for a more delicate-tasting tea.

GREEN TEA - So-called because these teas are processed and dried without being allowed to oxidise. These delicate teas are highly regarded for their healthful properties.

WHITE TEA - These are very rare and correspondingly expensive. Their delicate taste makes them a real connoisseur's tea; you would not want to blend them with another tea, as their characteristics would be lost.

More correctly referred to as tisanes. These teas are in a category of their own because they do not contain any tea. This is a general category for dried preparations to which boiling water is added and a brew produced in the same manner as a tea. They are blended from dried fruits and/or herbs and spices and tend not to have any caffeine content.

Tea & Sympathy’s Tea Guide

As the name suggests, tea is what we’re all about. There is no underestimating how central this brewed beverage is to the British way of life. 120,000,000 cups are drunk in the UK every day, while “Fancy a cuppa?” and “I’ll put the kettle on” must be two of the nation’s most spoken phrases.

Continuing our campaign to get you lovely yanks taking Afternoon Tea, here’s the first instalment of our Tea Guide. Originally published in our cookbook ‘Tea & Sympathy: The Life of an English Teashop in New York‘, it gives the lowdown on all the major brews.

Along with last week’s guide to making the perfect cuppa, and our recipes for finger sandwiches, scones and Victoria sponge, you have no excuse not to start taking British Afternoon Tea! So wherever you are, make sure you have a kettle and (at the very least) a couple of scones to hand come 4pm!

And if you don’t feel like making it all at home, have it in our restaurant – or we’ll deliver to your door! Give us a call on 212-989-9735 if you’d like to order, or if you have any questions at all.

ASSAM - This is a rich, full-bodied pungent tea that is a perfect all-occasion drinking tea. It is grown in the Assam region of northeastern India, where it was discovered growing wild in the 1830s by the Scotsman Robert Bruce. Prior to his discovery, all teas came to the West from China.

DARJEELING - Grown in the high Himalayan foothills of India, this black tea is considered one of the world's finest, and accordingly a quality example can be quite expensive. The delicate flavor is among the most subtle of the black teas, and connoisseurs describe it as having a hint of blackcurrant.

EARL GREY - This flavored black tea originally from China is said to have been brought back to England by the Second Earl Grey in the 1830s. It is actually a blend of black teas that are flavored with oil of bergamot, and Italian citrus fruit. This is an ideal afternoon tea, which can be served with or without milk or sugar to taste.

ENGLISH BREAKFAST - A blend of Assam and Ceylon tea. As its name implies, it is a perfect tea for mornings, and its full, well-rounded flavor stands up well to bold foods - like the classic British fried breakfast.

LAPSANG SOUCHONG - This black Chinese tea has a very distinctive smokey taste and aroma. The "souchong" refers to the leaf size, meaning the third leaf down from the top of the plant. Some people fin the smokiness a little bit of an acquired taste, but we recommend it as a very elegant tea that is better sipped and enjoyed rather than gulped from a mug.

Victoria Sponge: Getting NYC on Afternoon Tea!

Continuing our campaign for 2012 to get New York City taking afternoon tea, today we’re sharing the recipe for our most popular cake. Victoria sponge is named after Queen Victoria, is a great afternoon caked, as it is easy to make and nice and light to eat. A perfect late-in-the-day break from your busy schedule.

A splendid legacy: Ruled Britain for over 80 years, and has a fantastic cake named after her!

 

Victoria Sponge

Serves 8-10
Preparation Time:
35-40 minutes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
A few drops of pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

  • Preheat  the oven to 350F
  • With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time , along with the vanilla.
  • With a spatula, fold in the flour and baking powder and mix until smooth.
  • Divide the batter between 2 buttered and floured 8-inch cake tins and smooth the surface by tapping gently on the side of the tins.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • As with all cakes, the best way to make sure the cake is done is by inserting a thin knife or skewer into the center of the cake: if it comes out clean, then the cake is done. Turn out onto wire rack to cool.

Butter Cream Icing
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups of confectioners’s sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk

  • In an electric mixer beat the butter until light and creamy, then add the vanilla.
  • Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar.
  • Add just enough milk to make the mixture soft and spreadable.

To assemble
Raspberry jam
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

  • Once the cake has cooled, spread one half of the cake evenly with the butter cream. Spread the other half with raspberry jam.
  • Put the two halves together, with the cream facing the jam, and place on a cake plate. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar.