March 5, 2015

Tea Time @MyKentuckyLiving

Can you believe that this is my first tea kettle! Ever!

For years I just used a small pan on the stove, or the microwave, to heat water.

Palm tea kettle

                                     

Well, I took the plunge and picked up one at TJs on a recent trip to Lexington. There was a display of several tea kettles...and I think I touched and tinkered with most of them. (it was fun) There were two or three contenders...but I brought this one home, and for a bargain basement price. Always nice. It is thick stainless steel, with a heat plate on the bottom for faster heating to a boil. And...it whistles! (Though Mikey is not so sure about that whistling thing!)


afternoon tea
I am not an expert on making a great cup of tea...but I know a few basics. When I lived in France we would buy loose tea, and put it in a ceramic tea pot, then pour a kettle of hot water over the tea leaves, and let it steep. I advanced to a "tea ball" for my individual cups of tea. I still have that tea ball in a moving box somewhere. When I returned home I slipped back into the tea bag system. Sometimes I would put a mug of water and tea bag into the microwave for a quick "cup of tea." I suspect that the kitchen at Downton Abbey would frown on that method! Hopefully my tea kettle will put me back in good graces.
preparing tea
When I traveled in England and Scotland I learned that there are different tea procedures. It seems that some British feel that one should have an electric tea kettle for extra fast hot water. That is what my daughter uses...based on the recommendation of a British friend, and from her semester of college in London. I have not moved to that...although I will attest to its super quick heating. She fixed me a cup of tea in a couple of minutes! I was amazed at her electric kettle.
preparing tea
My tea of choice at home is either Constant Comment, or Lemon Lift. Nothing gourmet. I sugar mine up too. Sorry...I just must have sugar in my tea or coffee. When I have lemon...I squeeze some into my tea also. I spent a year in France having thé citron sucré every day after morning class at a close by boulangerie*. (* where one buys bread) They had a few tables in the shop and we would sip something hot accompanied by une tranche de pain*. (*slice of bread) 
stainless steel tea kettle
Yes...I gained weight that year.I was in France! They cook with butter. And the French have wonderful bread. I did walk and ride a bicycle everywhere. But...some pounds found their way to my body. Enough said. ha!
afternoon tea
I love the tea time ritual in England. I love the idea of stopping what you are doing at 4:00 p.m. and having a cup of tea and a bite of something to eat. If you are a Downton Abbey devotée as I am...they have a cup of tea whenever there is something stressful, wonderful, or a visitor arrives. Sitting with a friend and chatting over a cup of tea is a wonderful ritual to me. I am not overlooking coffee...I just have that in the morning most of the time because hubby makes coffee in the morning. For just me...I fix a cup of tea.

For more info on tea times in Britain check here.

If you would like to learn more about proper tea preparation...keep reading.

British style tea...how to,
Even very slightly formal events can be a cause for cups and saucers to be used instead of mugs. A typical semi-formal British tea ritual might run as follows (the host performing all actions unless noted):
  1. The kettle is brought to a rolling boil (with fresh water to ensure good oxygenation which is essential for proper diffusion of the tea leaves).[14]
  2. Enough boiling water is swirled around the teapot to warm it and then poured out.
  3. Add loose tea leaves, (usually black tea) or tea bags, always added before the boiled water.
  4. Fresh boiling water is poured over the tea in the pot and allowed to brew for 2 to 5 minutes while a tea cosy may be placed on the pot to keep the tea warm.[15]
  5. Milk may be added to the tea cup, the host asking the guest if milk is wanted, although milk may alternatively be added after the tea is poured.
  6. tea strainer is placed over the top of the cup and the tea poured in, unless tea bags are used. Tea bags may be removed, if desired, once desired strength is attained.
  7. Fresh milk and white sugar is added according to individual taste. Most people have milk with their tea, many without sugar.
  8. The pot will normally hold enough tea so as not to be empty after filling the cups of all the guests. If this is the case, the tea cosy is replaced after everyone has been served. Hot water may be provided in a separate pot, and is used only for topping up the pot, never the cup.

How to properly drink tea...

There is a proper manner in which to drink tea when using a cup and saucer. If one is seated at a table, the proper manner to drink tea is to raise the teacup only, placing it back into the saucer in between sips. When standing or sitting in a chair without a table, one holds the tea saucer with the off hand and the tea cup in the dominant hand. When not in use, the tea cup is placed back in the tea saucer and held in one's lap or at waist height. In either event, the tea cup should never be held or waved in the air. Fingers should be curled inwards, no finger should extend away from the handle of the cup.
afternoon tea
Tea, which was an upper-class drink in Europe, became the infusion of every class in Great Britain in the course of the 18th century and has remained so. Tea made its way to the colonies...and there was quite a historic event surrounding tea in Boston.

Milk. Lemon. Sugar. In Britain, the drinking of tea is so varied that it is hard to generalize. While it is usually served with milk, it is not uncommon to drink it black or with lemon, with sugar being a popular addition to any of the above. Strong tea served with milk (and usually one or two teaspoons of sugar) in a mug is commonly referred to as builder's tea
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_in_the_United_Kingdom#British_style_tea

I found the following information on the different tea times on www.smittenbybrittan.com and I think it will help you understand the differences between the different "teas."
Afternoon Tea: This quintessentially British tradition is a light meal served during the mid-afternoon hours consisting of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and cakes. Dating back to the early nineteenth century, this custom has proved it is here to stay and can be enjoyed not only in Great Britain but also in many parts of the world.

High Tea (aka low tea): Although often confused with Afternoon Tea,  High Tea is traditionally completely different than the famous light and sweet mid-afternoon meal. High Tea gets its name from the high tables it was originally served upon to the working class at the conclusion of the long and laborious workday. This meal is more closely related to supper than Afternoon Tea, consisting of heavier, hot, and savory dishes such as meat pies or fish with sides of vegetables and breads. High tea was much more of a working class family meal than it was an elite social gathering. 

Cream Tea: Focused only on tea and scones with clotted cream and jam, the Cream Tea is a much simpler yet no less satisfying version of Afternoon Tea. For someone like me who swoons over scones, this is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up for you. Less formal, less expensive, and faster than the three-course traditional fare of Afternoon Tea, it can be enjoyed on a more regular basis and can be found in many cafés and coffee shops throughout Great Britain.                                                                  
Two counties hold the Cream Tea close to their hearts, both believing this light meal originated within their borders yet differing in the manner the scones should be eaten. The Devonshire Tea or Devon Cream Tea hails from the county of Devon, where they prefer to split their scones into two halves, spread each half with clotted cream, and top each half with strawberry jam. Clotted cream and strawberry jam are essential elements of Devon’s variation.                                                                                                 
Cornwall serves a Cornish Cream Tea by spreading  strawberry jam on the scone first and then topping it with Cornish clotted cream. Whichever variation you may prefer, the love for the combination of tea, scones, clotted cream, and jam is one proven to be near and dear to the people of not only Devon and Cornwall but all who encounter this sweet treat!                                                                                                                         Elevenses: This late morning snack gets its name from the time it is usually enjoyed, around 11:00 a.m. It typically consists of a cup of tea accompanied by a piece of cake or a few biscuits. It serves as a mid-morning pick-me-up. Source:  http://www.smittenbybritain.com/the-difference-between-afternoon-tea-high-tea-cream-tea-and-elevenses/

Outside of the United Kingdom, many people refer to afternoon tea as 'high tea.' Although the idea that high tea is a meal of foods like scones and finger sandwichesis common, it is not actually correct in a traditional or historical sense. (source http://coffeetea.about.com/od/historyculture/a/High-Tea-Vs-Afternoon-Tea.htm)

Afternoon tea - John Warburton-Lee/AWL Images/Getty Images
John Warburton-Lee/AWL Images/Getty Images
Tea as a meal
Tea is not only the name of the beverage, but of a late afternoon light meal at four o'clock, irrespective of the beverage consumed. Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford is credited with the creation of the meal circa 1800. She thought of the idea to ward off hunger between luncheon and dinner, which was served later and later. The tradition continues to this day. Tea is often accompanied with a light snack, such as biscuits, and it was the emergence of afternoon tea that saw Britain regard biscuits as something "dunked" in tea; a British custom that was exported around the globe.[24] McVitie's biscuits are the most popular biscuits in the UK to "dunk" in tea, with McVitie's chocolate digestivesRich tea and Hobnobs ranked the nation's top three favourite biscuits in 2009.[25] (A biscuit is a cookie in England.)
                          Mc Vities Digestive 400g (14.1oz)

                          Mc Vities Digestive Milk Choc  300g (10.6oz)
                  Believe it or not...you can purchase McVitie's on Amazon if you want to give them a try.

How to throw an afternoon tea party... 
...from bbcgoodfood.com with menus and recipes if you have a tea, shower, or reception coming up in the future. 
                    Afternoon tea party
If you are planning a trip to London any time soon... here is an idea of where to go for a nice tea time. Or here...at the Grosvenor House. Or maybe you just want to look at the pictures and info.                              
Are you ready to begin tea time as part of your day? I have included a lot of information in this post and hope that I have not overloaded you too much. 
tea time
I always like to know British traditions since so many of my ancestors came from across the pond. One thing, I need to practice using a teacup and saucer. I will do that... the next cup of tea.
Constant Comment tea
My mother gave me this pretty pink tea towel, and it goes so nicely with my tea "cup."
I am going to take a tea break now...and I encourage you to take one too! Perhaps we could start a tea group and meet for tea in a "virtual"sort of way every day at 4:00 p.m.

Weather....My part of Kentucky got another snow storm last night...we were spared in that we got just a few inches, but it is still snowing as I type this. I have heard that some places in the state have 8-12 inches. Hubby told me this morning that the weatherman said that this would be the last of winter for us. Oh how I hope that is true!

When I woke up this morning we were in "white out" conditions. Mikey has been in and out several times...playing in the white stuff. But he is inside now, napping by my chair. 







Thanks for visiting today!
Sheila
Snow Day, March 5, 2015

Linking with... 
A Delightsome Life, A Return to Loveliness Tuesday
http://www.adelightsomelife.com/2015/03/a-return-to-loveliness-76.html
From my front porch to yours, treasure hunt thursday
Common Ground, Share Your Style, Thursday
Rattlebridge Farm Blog, Foodie Friday & Everything Else
http://designsbygollum.blogspot.com/2015/03/foodie-friday-and-everything-else.html 
My Kentucky Living
My Kentucky Living

Hello, I'm Sheila and my house is a giant art project! I enjoy creating an environment where my family can feel safe, secure, and loved. We are empty nesters learning to slow down and enjoy life.

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