French Press Tea

I was browsing through a tea catalog the other day, when I noticed that quite a few tea cups and tea pots have an infuser built into them.  This seems to be a clever invention.  While I do not own one of these nifty inventions ( yet ) I do have a french press collecting dust in cupboard.  Could this french press make a good cup of tea?
I set out to find out.

FrenchPressTea

First, the convenience of a tea bag is not to be underrated. Drop it in a to go cup, add your hot water and go. This gets me through the hit the road days. But for days that are more laid back, I love a loose leaf tea, steeped and poured into a favorite cup.

Before this french press tea idea, I relied on a tea ball to steep my loose leaf tea.  Check out my current favorite!

Teapotball

However cute it may be, I tend to make a total mess with a tea ball!  The chaos begins with me attempting to get the tea in the mini container, then after steeping, I leave a trail of tea drops to the tea caddy, that then fills with tea.  After tea there is the emptying of the tea leaves that have expanded beyond your imagination when you put the teaspoon or two inside.  It stresses me out…not zen at all!

Now using the french press, I have more tea AND less mess! 

Here is what you do~

Step 1: Scoop in your loose leaf tea.  I used two teaspoons for a full carafe.

Step 2: Pour in your boiling hot water

Step 3: Stir it up a bit and put on the lid

Step 4: Push down the mesh screen lid slowly to allow the tea leaves to settle. 
I push it down a bit every minute or so. 
Do not push the tea leaves flat…that will give the tea a bitter taste just like squeezing the tea bag.

Step 5: Pour into a favorite cup & enjoy your French Press Tea!

TeainFrenchPress

Now the only challenge I have had with the French Press Tea method is that by the last cup, you are in for one heck of a strong cuppa tea. Not really a problem but I did need a little sugar to make it to my liking, a spot of milk may help with this also.

Give your french press something new to press other than coffee…..you are sure to love it!

Saint Patricks Day Tea Time Treat: Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread

Top o'the morning to you!

My corner of the world is turning green just in time for Saint Patrick's Day. I am not Irish but I do enjoy a reason to whip up a tasty tea time treat for a special occasion!

To celebrate Saint Patrick's Day I will be sharing my twist on Irish Soda Bread.
In my humble non-Irish opinion, Irish Soda Bread is similar in taste to scones but is shaped into a round loaf. Traditional Irish Soda Bread is known for its caraway seeds which add a distinct flavor. Raisins are also a popular mix in.

I knew the caraway flavor and the chewy raisins would not go over with my crowd. There was also the gluten issue that needed to be addressed.  My son is gluten free by necessity and I have a dancing daughter who prefers to be gluten free. Which brings us to my twist on this traditional Irish bread.

GFsodabread

 What is this twist?

First, I used a gluten free flour. My recommendation for this recipe is Bob's Red Mill Baking Flour, Gluten Free. All gluten free flour mixtures have a different texture and sometimes taste. GF Bobs Red Mill is mellow in flavor and is similar to all purpose flour in texture.
The other twist I made was to use chocolate chips in place of the raisins. Because what child or child at heart does not appreciate a bit of chocolate now and then.

Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread with a twist

3 1/2 cups Bobs Red Mill Gluten Free Flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthum gum

2 eggs ( room temperature )
2 cups Sour Cream

1/2 cup chocolate chips ( more if desired )

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients and mix gently.
In a small bowl crack the eggs and whisk with a fork. 
Pour whisked egg and sour cream into dry mixture bowl.  Stir until well mixed.
Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into a spring form pan or if in a pinch a bunt pan works fine; you will just have a hole in the middle.

Bake 35-45 minutes. **

** GF baking note: A toothpick will come out clean around the 35 minute mark. I have found with GF baking that if you bake a bit longer than the "toothpick" time, you can avoid the gummy middle that sometimes happens. **

Now we have our treat but what tea will we pair with our soda bread?

Paired
In honor of this Irish holiday sip a cuppa Irish Breakfast tea!
This strong and robust black tea goes perfectly with the simple flavor of this recipe.

Teatimetreat

 Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Tea Kettle or Electric Tea Pot

Do you prefer a whistling tea kettle or an electric tea pot? 

Twoteachoices
I always considered myself a whistling tea kettle kind of girl.  I knew when the water was ready because of that recognizable sound. One could hear that whistle rooms away and be lured into the kitchen for a nice cuppa. 

But there were numerous times I turned on the kettle, heard the whistle, picked it up and poured; only to find half a cup of water inside.

A big disappointment.

True tea enthusiasts know that you should pour fresh water into the kettle for each boil.  It has to do with the oxygen content making a better tasting cup of tea.  But life happens and (gasp) I have reboiled water.

One day I was walking through a store and happened upon a glass, see through tea pot.  It immediately caught my eye. 

This see through pot was my solution to the lack-of-water-in-the-kettle blues. 
I would always see how much water was in the pot.  A life changing thing, I know.

I received this wonder pot as a gift and I have used it everyday since. 

When you turn it on, the bottom glows a nautical blue hue. 

DSC09565

 Wait a few minutes and the rapid boil occurs. Watching it is very therapeutic!

DSC09572

 This model shuts off automatically, something the kettle on the stove could never boast. 

I adore my electric tea pot. It has seductive powers: auto switches, transparency and portability.

Am I converted away from my whistling kettle.  No.

While I am happy to have my back burner back, there is something idealistic about hearing that kettle sing. 
Both the kettle and the electric pot have space in my kitchen.

Which do you prefer?

Steeped with PG Tips

A well known English tea, but relatively new to me is PG Tips.

This black tea quickly became a must have in my tea stash.

Box
I had my first taste of PG Tips while sipping tea from a darling tea pot in a local tea room.  I had ordered a pot of black tea….my usual when I am not feeling decisive or spontaneous.
The tea that was served was a perfect.  I had to know what brand of tea it was. 

A few minutes of chatting with the owner of the shop, I learned she hailed from England and served the English brand PG Tips as her "house blend".  She did not have any boxes to sell, but she assured me that I could find it in a larger grocery store in our area.

Taking tea at home is not always an over the top experience like it is in a tea room. But with PG Tips it can be close!

  PGtipbag

The shape of the tea bag could be what sets PG Tips apart from other teas.  The pyramid shape is said to allow the tea to expand and infuse more effectively than a round tea bag. 
I am no expert on tea bag shape but I do know that this small pyramid shaped tea bag carries a big punch!

PG Tips brews into a delicious and bracing cup of tea with a shorter steep time than other black tea brands that I use.  The end color is a beautiful amber and tastes just as tea is meant to- with that slightly bitter tea bite at the end.

Brewed

I look forward to tasting all the many flavors of tea by PG Tips.  That's right, there is a world even beyond black tea, & I mean to sip and savor many!
I will let you know what I discover!

A little Monday humor for you.

Step Aside copy

Have you tried PG Tips?

The Afternoon Tea Collection

The The Afternoon Tea Collection has won me over and I have not even prepared one recipe yet!

Afternoonteabook

This book is a must have for anyone who enjoys tea time treats and needs creative ideas that do not sound overwhelming to prepare.

Brimming with beautiful color photographs, this book thrilled my visual senses and had me drooling over the treat selections.
How do people get their food to turn out like this?! 
Imagefromatcbook
Everything looks scrumptious!

The book is divided into sections based on food type.  Recipes include sandwiches and tarts to savory and sweets.

The only challenge is deciding what to prepare first!

The Afternoon Tea Collection is a fantastic book choice for any tea time enthusiast.

 

 

My First Online Tea Order Experience

Ordering tea online is a new experience for me.  I had no idea how thrilling it could be to see a box of tea outside my door.

The giddy rush of seeing a box of books, that I am well acquainted with.

But a box with tea inside, well it's something I could get used to!

Thebox

My first online tea ordering experience was with The Republic of Tea
Reason being: the last season of Downton Abbey was set to premiere and I wanted something "Downton-ish" to indulge in. 

The Republic of Tea just so happens to have a whole line of Downton inspired tea and paraphernalia.

I picked out this sampler envelope for myself and a fellow Downton enthusiast.

Firstteaorder

This gift assortment contains six different teas, each with a Downton themed name!  This was an ideal purchase for me.  I had no idea if I would enjoy the new tea I picked out or if it would be forgotten in my tea stash never to be tasted again.
Now for the next six episodes, I have a new tea to try.  I can then order more of the one/ones that I loved.

* For premier night I tried out the Downton Christmas black tea and it was delicious! With just the right amount of spice and with its hint of fruit- I loved every sip! *

The ordering process with The Republic of Tea went smoothly. 
It is stated that it could take 1 to 2 business days to prepare for shipping. They really weren't kidding about the handling time.  So plan ahead!
The shipping was great. The package arrived a day ahead of schedule!  Thank you to either the Republic of Tea or the shipping heros!

The biggest thrill aside from having a package on my doorstep were the samples that I found inside!  I adore samples!

Samples

Truly every company needs to adopt this practice, ( hint hint local health food store ) I am sure I am not the only person who finds it difficult to order something, especially something edible, without knowledge that I will like it and that it won't end up in the trash.

The Republic of Tea tweeted that samples arrive in every order!!  🙂

 

I am very pleased with my order from The Republic of Tea and will happily order from them again in the future!

 

Downton Abbey Night

Tonight is the night -  Downton Abbey Season 6 airs in the States!

I have been a fan of the show since its first episode and now have mixed emotions on this last and final season.  The uppity world of the English aristocracy and all their goings on has been my winter escape for years.  So these final hours will be met with bittersweet emotions. 

I do hope the writers tie up all the loose ends and make it a happy ending! 
After carefully avoiding any hint of spoilers, I await the 9pm hour with anticipation and a little preparation.

I ordered a special tea time treat for myself from the Republic of Tea, to enjoy along side the Downton Abbey premier.  ( I will share my experience on that later )

Assortment

This envelope has six Downton themed teas inside.  I will be sampling a different one for the next six episodes.
 
A late night tea time and Downton Abbey episodes, my Sunday night is set!

But wait, what is tea without a side of shortbread?

Antiquelook

Tea at Downton

 Tea at Downton: Afternoon Tea Recipes From The Unofficial Guide to Downton Abbey, while short, a mere 77 pages, is a treat of a book.

Written by Elizabeth Fellows, Tea at Downton shares the origins history of afternoon tea time.
It came as no surprise that afternoon tea began as a necessity in a woman's life.  With a myriad of responsibilities, then and now, sometimes a woman just needs a treat to make it through the day.

Teaatdowntonbook

I enjoyed the history aspect of how World Wars influenced changes in tea time and its menu.  The book is filled with recipes and etiquette techniques.

With Downton in the title, you can expect the book to cater to we Downton Abbey fans.  The book does include tidbits of information on Edwardian kitchens and homes, such as Downton. There are recipes that bear the names of favorite characters from the television show.

My only grumble of complaint would be that a few photos would have been nice, throughout the book or at least in the recipe section.  Being an average cook, I like to see how my new creation should look when I am finished.

I am looking forward to trying out a new recipe or two when the last season of Downton Abbey airs in January 2016.

Tea at Downton is best, when read in an English accent and is a lovely addition to my kitchen bookshelf.

 

 

 

 

 

Three Cups of Earl Grey ~ A Tea Comparison

I am ready to take on the world!  Anything is possible ~ now that I have sipped and savored multiple cups of tea!

In a previous post I blogged about Earl Grey and how it obtains that distinctive flavor.

3EGinarowToday I am sharing three of my favorite brands of Earl Grey. 

Each brand of tea will be steeped for four minutes with water just off the boil.  Two of the brands are bagged and one is a loose leaf tea. 

Lets begin the comparison.

TEarlGreybag

I have been sipping this tea since my teenage years.  Twinings is readily available in most grocery stores and for an affordable price. I generally have a box of this in my tea stash as a tea on the go selection.

Twinings Earl Grey has a nice citrusy scent after opening the package and it brews into a lovely amber color. 
The tea flavor leaves a bit of a zing to the tongue. That may be due to the bergamot flavoring that is added to the black tea.  The zing can be calmed with splash of milk.

Numibag

I discovered this brand of tea because of a drive thru tea/coffee shop. 
( One must have their afternoon cuppa even on the run! )
I have been pleased to find this in a specialty grocery store in my area, but it is available online as well.

Numi is an organic and free trade company.
Organic Bergamot is aged with organic Assam black tea.  The tea leaves are aged with the bergamot to absorb the scent, which lends a more delicate flavoring to the end product.

With its smooth and subtle flavoring I tend to brew this tea when I have a moment or two to savor the flavor. 

RishiLeaves&box

This delicious tea was discovered through a friend who sampled it at a spa.  She loved it so much she purchased it online and shared it with me.

Rishi uses organic tea and essential oil of bergamot for its flavoring.  The aroma of this tea is very fragrant. When I brought home this loose tea, it scented my kitchen all day.  Not in an overpowering way, just a pleasant scent. The taste is mellow but full of flavor.  It pairs extremely well with tea time treats that you may be enjoying.

The only downside I see with Rishi is that I have only found it in a specialty health food store and of course online. Well worth the search though.

 I love tea – that is no secret.  I currently have all three of these delicious teas in my stash.  It is difficult to choose between them. 

Here are links to get your own Earl Grey tea!

Twinings Tea, Earl Grey, 100 Count

Numi Aged Earl Grey, 100 Count 

Rishi Tea Organic Loose Leaf Black Tea Earl Grey — 1.94 oz

What type of Earl Grey tea do you prefer?

 

 

Perfect Pumpkin Muffins

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

L.M. Montgomery
Anne of Green Gables

 

October is the time for all things pumpkin flavored.

In honor of October and its pumpkin offerings,  I am going to share a tea time treat with you!

Muffinplate
These pumpkin muffins have been a seasonal favorite in my house for years.  They are delicious by themselves or they pair perfectly with a hot cuppa tea.

Pmuffins&tea

 Perfect Pumpkin Muffins

3 cups all purpose flour***        1 stick softened butter
1/2 tsp. baking soda               1/2 cup coconut oil
2 tsp. baking powder               5 eggs
2 tsp. cinnamon                    1 15oz can of pumpkin
1/4 tsp. nutmeg                    1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp. salt                      2 cups sugar

***Gluten Free flour options work well with this recipe!  Be sure to add 1 teaspoon xanthum gum for each cup of flour.***

Prepare muffin tins and preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar, butter and coconut oil until light.  Add in the eggs, one at a time.  Add pumpkin puree, mix until smooth.  Pour in orange juice, mix on low until combined.

Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Spoon into muffin cups. Bake at 350° until a toothpick comes out clean.  About 22 minutes ( shorter for mini muffins )

Cool and enjoy!

 

 

Download Perfect Pumpkin Muffins