Saturday, October 2, 2010

Anytime is Tea Time

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
C.S. Lewis
Under certain circumstances there are a few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
Henry James

Tea drinking is believed to have originated in China about 5 centuries ago. Not until European traders sailed to China in 17th century did tea finally arrive in Europe. Tea came to America with Dutch and English colonists. Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere made a living producing silver tea sets. And tea made it to the history books as a symbol of liberty when the colonists who were frustrated with English taxation sent pounds of tea into the harbor as a protest.
The invention of the afternoon tea party was credited to Anna, Duchess of Bedford around 1840. She was a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria. She began taking tea with sandwiches and cakes as a way to tide over hunger till evening meal. She shared this custom with friends and family.
The American Heritage dictionary says tea party is a noun that means an afternoon social gathering where tea and light refreshments are served. I recently sent out invitations to some neighborhood ladies for afternoon tea. It seemed like a fun way to socialize and get to know my neighbors better. I encouraged everyone to consider wearing their favorite hat.
I was amazed in my pre-planning how much can be found on the Internet about the history of tea, etiquette, blogs, themes, quotes, recipes, local events, political cartoons and the list goes on and on.
1. Did you know that a lb. of tea contains more caffeine that a lb. of coffee but less tea is used per cup than coffee?
2. Although there are three basic types of tea there are well over 3,000 varieties to chose from.
I am including the tea party menu with some of the recipes. Lucky me, I had lots of bakers who made food contributions !
Perhaps in the future you might just consider a social gathering for afternoon tea.
apple tart
scones-lemon curd
ginger cookies
tea cakes
tomato/basil sandwich
cucumber sandwich
egg salad sandwich
banana bread
chocolate covered strawberries
assorted teas

Ginger Cookies
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 4 TB. dark molasses
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cup combination of butter/margarine
  • 1 jumbo egg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Cream sugar and shortening
  • Add molasses and egg
  • Mix dry ingredients and stir into sugar shortening mix
  • Use 1 tsp. dough for each cookie
  • Flatten each cookie on a greased cookie sheet with a fork dipped in flour
  • Sprinkle with sugar
  • Bake 350 5-8 minutes
Lemon Curd
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Combine sugar and cornstarch in saucepan
  • Gradually whisk in lemon juice
  • Whisk in eggs, yolks and butter
  • Whisk over medium-low heat until thickens and boils about 12 minutes
  • Place in bowl and cover with plastic wrap
  • Refrigerate at least 5 hours
  • Can be made one week ahead
Lemon Thumbprint Scones
Secret to having these scones be tender is to work the dough as little as possible
  • 3 large lemons
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 4 TB cherry preserves
Preheat oven to 425
Line baking sheet with parchment paper
grate peel from lemons to measure 6 tsp.
  • Squeeze juice from lemons to have 2 tb. lemon juice-wrap rest of lemons in plastic wrap for use another time
  • Whisk flour and sugar
  • Blend in chilled whipping cream, 2 TB lemon juice, and 4 tsp. lemon peel
  • Stir gently to combine
  • Gather dough and knead about 4-5 turns
  • Use a biscuit cutter dipped in flour to cut out rounds
  • Flatten to 1 inch thickness
  • Space 1 inch apart on sheet
  • Use thumb to press down center to make a deep indentation
  • Spoon 1/2 tsp. on each scone
  • Whisk remaining 2 TB. sugar, 2 TB. whipping cream, 2 tsp. grated lemon peel to blend
  • Brush top of scone with this mixture
  • Bake 18 minutes

1 comment:

  1. I love the afternoon tea party painting by Mary Cassatt and wanted to learn more about it, so googled and came upon the website I was delighted to find a description of a children's tea party game called Fairy Stars Race. Of course, I had to pass this information along to you.