Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tea and crumpets...

So, after me last post, I thought I'd cool off with a cup of tea.

Earl Grey, naturally. With milk. And sugar. Preferably raw. (OK, Jane, I've got my order in for National now! No really, I think I can bring the tea and the raw sugar and find milk in Texas, right? For the rest of you all, Jane supplied me with real tea last year at National.)

You know, I've been in search for the perfect crumpet since coming to the States. I don't get it, you can buy them by the bucketload in Australia in the supermarkets, why not here?

The best yet that I've had here is at the Crumpet Shop in downtown Seattle, near Pike's market and all that. Delicious, but when I asked whether they did mail order, they did not because their crumpets were made to be eaten fresh and wouldn't do well in the mail.

I've found a recipe on the internet to make them, but I haven't been game to try it yet. Maybe this weekend...

I do love tea parties -- and I have a number of tea pots (including one that is in the shape of a British mailbox and bright red to boot -- a gift, I hasten to add), tea sets, cute little china stands for goodies, and a few years ago -- too many actually, I hosted a tea party for friends. Here is the menu:

Cheese and crackers

Cucumber, watercress & smoked salmon sandwiches

Spanakopittes (spinach in filo)

English cream tea scones

(with jam, lemon curd, honey, golden syrup and butter or cream)

Chocolate taddies, Carrot Cake & Shortbread


And tea of course.

Note the complete lack of crumpets. (And I didn't make all these myself, puh-leaze. Who has the time? Maybe if Rachael Ray did a 30 Minute Tea Party, I'd take a crack at it.)

I really want to do another tea party. Currently though, my china cabinet is pulled out from the wall, and the china is piled upon the dining table silently telling me that keeping it in a cabinet does not keep it dust free. But now that the leaky window leaks no more, and the floor tiles have been sealed, it can go back.

My favorite tea of the moment though, is chai. I like the Oregon Chai mix as well (liquid as well as powdered) but my dad has made me the real thing too (as was taught him in India, or the ashram or somewhere). Yummy! Other than that, it's good old Earl Grey and that incredible whiff of bergamot.

Oh and nothing beats a Tim Tam Slam. Have you heard of these? Tim Tams are a biscuit (er, cookie) -- two rectangular chocolate cookies with chocolate cream filling sandwiched between them and coated in milk chocolate. Good milk chocolate.

So you bite off one corner and then the diagonal opposite corner, dunk it in your tea and suck. (Heh, and you thought I'd make it through a post without using a four letter word!) You suck until you taste warm chocolately goodness on your tongue and then you shove the entire biscuit (er, cookie) into your mouth, for the thing is melting.

Sheer heaven.

So what's your favorite tea and favorite tea time nibbly?


Kalen Hughes said...

Chai (but Oregon Chai is the tea of the devil. *shudder*). I either make mine from scratch, or get it from Chai Baba Chai (who has almost equaled the chai made by Don Brown at the Northern California Renaissance Faire; the "chai" to end all chais).

I'm also a big fan of Earl Grey, and of Moroccan tea (a mix of green tea, fresh mint and sugar).

I see lots of things sold as crumpets (some of them even as “Australian crumpets”), but they seem to vary widely in form and consistency. We have a couple of bakeries here in the Bay Area that make wonderful ones (and I’ll bring some to Dallas for you if you want).

Celia May Hart said...

Well, we shall see how my cooking experiment works this weekend before you start lugging baked goods on a plane.

I am too lazy to make mine from scratch ... I'll keep an eye out for Chai Baba Chai!

Kalen Hughes said...

I'm not sure you can find Chai Baba Chai outside of the Bay Area (it's made in Santa Cruz and is mostly for the retail coffee shop market). But if you do find it, buy it!

Jane Lockwood said...

Here in the greater Washington DC area you can buy crumpets at Giant and Trader Joe's. Yum. (Going all misty-eyed at the thought of butter seeping into the crevices.)

I like Assam tea, and to be honest my tastes in tea are generally rather simple. I like chai in Indian restaurants where they know how to do it properly. I think green tea tastes like cat pee and I don't like Earl Grey all that much. For me, it's a nice cup of tea with milk, and crumpets, toast, cookies, anything. And it's true, as Celia says, I am one of those tiresome Englishwomen who travel with their own tea bags and I've been known to order a small glass of milk in unenlightened restaurants to avoid using half-and-half (nasty in tea).

Thanks for the Tim Tam Slam procedure, something I'll have to try!

Kate Pearce said...

I buy crumpets at Trader Joe's, their own brand, which are pretty good-the most accurate kind I've found over here!
Tea wise I buy Tetley's from the Indian grocery store!

Kalen Hughes said...

I forgot about the ones from TJs. I buy those all the time (but live off their English Muffin Bread!).

I too take my own tea with me when I travel. So you're not alone on that count, Jane. LOL! I had a really funny breakfast conversation with an English couple in Morocco about just why Americans seem to think there's such a thing as "English Breakfast" tea. *sigh* I had to explain that in the States they sell something called "English Breakfast" and "Irish Breakfast" too. Boy were they horrified.

Me? I'm a Mariage Frères addict (esp the Rouge Bourbon!). Oh, they sell a "French Breakfast" tea (as well as "English Breakfast" so I guess it's not just Americans who drink this).

Jane Lockwood said...

So you bite off one corner and then the diagonal opposite corner, dunk it in your tea and suck... You suck until you taste warm chocolately goodness on your tongue and then you shove the entire biscuit (er, cookie) into your mouth, for the thing is melting.

The sexiest words to yet appear on this blog. Poetry, pure poetry.

Celia May Hart said...

LOL! Thanks Jane :)

Gang, I have never even looked at Trader Joe's! I shall have to venture forth to one, er, forthwith!

Colette Gale said...

I love any kind of tea, but my current favorite is Tazo's Jasmine Silver Tips (green tea with jasmine).

I order that at the Borders cafe when I go in to write...and there I sit, with my laptop, drinking my Silver Tips tea, and writing really dirty things while kids and seniors and teens all cavort around me.