Friday, November 23, 2012

Bringing Back Tea Time

In our fast paced world, I often long for traditions that re-center my day and provide a welcome respite from the turmoil of the modern jungle.  I also found that I needed a late afternoon recharge if I wanted to make it to a six or seven pm dinner time. I often identify with the Italian side of my family more so than the other branches, but I found the English had something to contribute and with American Anglophilia on the rise (not to mention my obsession with BBC dramatic programming), I concluded it was time to bring back tea time.

Tea time goes back much further than its English permutations and has many manifestations from a full meal to a simple snack.  My tea time most resembles a “cream tea,” a hold-me-over snack between the midday meal and supper. It usually consisted of a black tea with milk and sugar and scones with clotted cream. I modernized my tea to include a pastry of the week and an oolong or herbal tea. 

Teapot for seeping loose leaf tea, air tight tea container, tea cups, pumpkin bread and electric tea kettle
Like most American girls, I am usually a coffee drinker through and through. Coffee is well and good for morning wake-up, but less desirable for creating calm in the afternoon. I’m not a fan of green or most black teas; I find them too bitter and harsh. But after some trial and error, I found I liked oolong and white teas. (Herbal teas were already in pantry and used as home remedies for common ailments.) Good tea has become easier to find due to the rise of local tea shops and the ability to find rarer items on-line. I am a fan of going to the brick and mortar store since it is a green place to smell and taste test your tea, especially for novice tea drinkers like me. Teavana has an excellent variety and interesting blends of teas from traditional to more modern blends.  (We are currently drinking the Toasted Nut Brulee Oolong Tea.) A word to the wise, although I like Teavana, they will try to upsell you on everything. Come prepared to purchase a set list of items and be strong about refusing the upsell so you don’t break the budget (they are expensive, especially compared to bagged tea found the supermarket).

When it comes to snacks, I love scones, but I don’t like being limited to them for tea time. I’ve opened up the menu to include quick breads, muffins, and biscotti. We keep the portions small so as to not bust the calorie bank! Hubby and I have experimented with a couple of tea time recipes and these are our favorite so far:

Tea time is decompression time. We sit at the table or outside on the patio and discuss our work days, concerns, and plans for the immediate and farther future. This is a time to slow down, re-center, re-charge and use our senses to enjoy a fragrant cup of tea and a sweet treat, a time to bring back a small tradition to bring calm to our frantic modern world.

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