Sunday, November 7, 2010

There's Nothing That Can't Be Fixed

With a little spot of tea.  

It's cold here in Charm City and we've been easing into it.  Just today we turned the temp. down another degree to 63F.  It's 66 currently because I've been cooking.  We reheated some homemade chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles from last night, made up some buttermilk biscuits, and put the kettle on for tea. 

So today we will be discussing tea.  It's got caffeine to get you going, antioxidants to keep you going for your lifespan, and tastes good to boot!  My usual fare is earl grey and I've found it to be the easiest to use to ease people into tea, as it takes both lemon and milk well and can be sweetened easily without ruining it's taste.  I drink it plain, with nothing, but that took a while to ease into as I used to hate tea!  

After visiting London at 18 I knew I wanted to live there for a bit.  So I told myself that the people there drink tea (it never even occurred to me that it would be alright that I drank coffee), and so I needed to learn to drink tea too.  I bought a variety pack of Twinings tea bags and have been a loyal customer ever since.  Though that nearly didn't happen.  I made the mistake of trying Lady Grey first.  And it was so repulsive to my taste buds that only sheer determination to live in England kept me going.  I tried Earl Grey next and have never gone back.  We order it loose in bulk and drink it by the teapot full.  

I encourage you to try tea.  Loose is best, but a good brand of bagged tea can be just as delicious.  One of my favorite petite memories of England was going to London with a friend and stopping into the original Twinings store.  It's tiny, and I mean closet-size tiny.  Well, maybe half a dozen closets, but small.  And yet is filled with tins of tea as well as glass jars of loose tea you can have weighed out.  (That's how we discovered the love of fresh oolong, which when bought fresh is fragrant like peaches).  

You'll need a teapot if you want a bunch (although a bag works well in a tea cup or mug, whatever your preference).  But since we're discussing loose tea, we'll go with a pot.  I sometimes pour it loose in the pot and use a strainer over my cup.  But usually we use a tea ball of sorts.  You can find ones cheap anywhere, but I didn't like how they would leak leaves into my tea, and didn't seem to brew well.  But while exploring a cooking store in Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk we discovered a delightful contraption.  A tea ball that was circular and flat on both sides, with the flat bits being covered with a fine mesh that allowed water in and out during steeping, but did not leak leaves.  Currently this can be found on amazon:
It can fit quite easily into our teapots, and though a bit large, it also fits into one of our larger mugs (a Starbucks one I bought in Seattle, no less!).  It is one of my favorite kitchen finds, and if you drink tea, I cannot recommend it more.  However, stay tuned, because a giveaway is going up this week, to last through the month, and one of these tea balls will be in it! 

The important thing is to use fresh cold water.  Hot water boils more quickly, but is less fresh, and not as good to use for tea.  Bring it right up, almost to a boil, but not quite.  You do not want to burn your tea!  If indeed it does boil, let it cool a bit before using.  If not, you will burn your tea, and it will be bitter.  As the water is heating, place warm water from the tap into the pot and swirl it around to warm the pot.  Hot water in a cold pot equals disaster.

Put the tea ball, tea leaves, or tea bags into the warmed pot.  Pour in the water and allow to steep for approx. 3-5 minutes.  (follow instructions for your particular tea, but this is a good estimate for most)  You want it to be rich, strong.  You can always have hot water on hand to dilute to your personal preference, but you want a full bodied tea.  Once steeped, pour into cups, add a splash of milk or a sqeeze of lemon, and a sugar lump or two.  I prefer natural sugar lumps such as this 3 pack (I looked it up because we're out and getting ready to buy more!):

Stir until all combined and then daintily sip away.  (Or chug if you're like me and generally desperate for the warmth.)  I love to do scones with clotted cream and jam or spice cake this time of year.  We're also doing mincemeat pies in filo dough in December that go delightfully with tea. 

Tea is curative, not just for the antioxidants, but for your soul.  It's calming, it can be a moment in your day for peace and quiet, or a time to catch up with friends and loved ones.  I'm Irish, so tea is pretty much a staple in our home.  And while we both enjoy coffee as well, tea is what we turn to when we want a bit of home.


  1. I just pulled out my Engish tea pot for the season and I'm currently having a crush on it. I love it so much and am starting to enjoy tea more. It's so warm and delicious.

  2. Hi Kalee!

    My name is Kelly, I work for We're pairing up with Twinings at the moment, so glad you love it!

    In case you need to re-stock, Twinings is offering free shipping on all product bought from their site, Just enter the promo code FREESHIPSM at checkout, and you'll be good to go!

    Have a great day :)

    Kelly Stocks

  3. Earl Make it so.