The Ladies' Tea Guild

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pairing food with black tea

1849 tea caddy image from
In planning a tea party menu, I put a lot of thought into choosing the tea as well as the food. Different kinds of tea taste best with certain kinds of food, and it enhances the tea party experience to have the menu work together really well. There are many varieties and types of tea, all of which have their own particular flavor profiles. Here is some basic information about the main kinds of tea, the flavor that is characteristic of each type, and the foods and dishes that are recommended on the Tea Wheel originally at Tea Savoir Faire, This information can help you choose which teas to serve at your tea parties, and other meals as well! If you are new to tea, you can also use this list to choose which type of tea to try first, as you look for your own personal favorite tea.

Black and Blended Teas

Assam: a black, or fully oxidized, tea from the Assam region in northeastern India, it is characterized by a malty flavor. Recommended food pairings include eggs and ham, curry dishes, and gingerbread. It is well suited to the addition of milk and sugar.

Ceylon: a black tea from Ceylon, or Sri Lanka, it is characterized by a lemony flavor. Recommended food pairings include Tex-Mex food, fried foods, and cheesecake. It is well suited to the addition of lemon and sugar, or milk and sugar.

Earl Grey: a black tea blend, originally from China, it is characterized by the flavor of Bergamot oil, from a pungent Mediterranean citrus fruit, which is added to the tea leaves for flavoring. Recommended food pairings include veal chops, chocolate macaroons, and cheese. It is well suited to the addition of lemon and sugar.

English Breakfast: a black tea blend, using Ceylon and Indian tea, it is characterized by a flowery flavor. Recommended food pairings include eggs and bacon, roasted lamb, and apple crisp. It is well suited to the addition of milk and sugar.

Darjeeling: called the “Champagne of Tea”, it is a black tea from the Darjeeling region of India, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Darjeeling is characterized by a muscatel flavor and a mildly astringent sensation produced in the mouth, similar to the tartness of a good Champagne. It is a highly favored tea, well suited to the addition of lemon. Recommended food pairings include cucumber sandwiches, swordfish, and creme bruleĆ©.

Irish Breakfast: a black tea blend, using Indian, Chinese and East African tea, it is characterized by a strong, bright, almost fresh flavor. Recommended food pairings include fried foods, roasted chicken, and chocolate cake. It is well suited to the addition of milk and sugar.

Keemun: called the “Burgundy of Tea”, it is a black tea blend from China. Keemun is characterized by a subtly sweet, winey flavor, similar to burgundy wine. Recommended food pairings include Korean food, London broil, and sponge cake. Suited to the addition of sugar.

Lapsang Souchong: a black tea blend originally from southern China, but also made in Taiwan, Lapsang Souchong is characterized by a smoky flavor and aroma, due to the tea leaves being dried in the smoke from a fire made of pine needles. Drinking this tea is comparable to sitting in front of a fireplace that has a crackling fire in it, or a campfire, while drinking a cup of tea. Recommended food pairings include savory dishes like barbecue, strong cheeses, and bread pudding.

Nilgiri: a black tea from the Nilgiri, or “Blue Mountain” region in southern India, it is characterized by a lemony flavor. Recommended food pairings include samosas, grilled shrimp and lemon bars. Suited to the addition of lemon and sugar.

Russian Caravan: a black tea blend of Indian and Chinese teas, it is characterized by a smoky flavor, less strong than Lapsang Souchong. Said to have originated from tea exported to Russia, reaching Russian markets having aged and lightly absorbed flavor from the merchants’ nightly campfires, while on the journey. Recommended food pairings include salmon, Chinese food and spiced cake.

Yunnan: a black tea from the Yunnan region of China, it is characterized by a peppery flavor. Recommended food pairings include deviled egg sandwiches, roasted pork, and Dundee cake, which is a pound cake with orange marmalade in it.

Pu-Erh: an aged black tea from China, it is characterized by an earthy flavor. Most often sold pressed into bowl-shaped chunks, or tuo-cha, in different sizes. Recommended food pairings include Scotch eggs, baked ham and carrot cake.

“Matching Tea With Food” from Adagio teas

“Varieties of Tea” from Adagio Teas

“Tea Brewing Basics” from Harney & Son Fine Teas

“Tea Acronyms and Terminology” from Carnelian Rose Tea Company

“Tea Leaf Varieties” from Imperial Tea Court

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tea apron, part 2

my sister holding up the finished apron and tea towel.
Well, I was able to finish my niece's apron and tea towel (by finishing it in the car on the way to the party) but it didn't turn out the way I'd hoped. As I was drafting the pattern and making it, I was thinking "this looks pretty small; I don't know if it'll fit her ..." and I made it a few inches longer and wider. It's a good thing that I did, because it just fit her. Whew! And she's not that big of a kid; she just turned 3 and I'd say she's of average size for her age, maybe a bit small even. I didn't end up putting a pocket on the apron because I decided that the one I'd planned wouldn't look right, and I didn't end up using any rick-rack trim because I didn't have the right color. And, as you can see from the photo, it didn't get ironed!

The tea towel was made from a regular flour sack towel, cut into quarters; I took one quarter and wrapped a strip of the pink polka-dots around one cut edge to make a hem and hemstitched the other cut edge. I also had a Disney Cinderella iron-on decal that I ended up sewing on in the car because I didn't get time to do any ironing. My niece kind of plowed through my gift with all of her other ones, and I wasn't sure she liked her apron and towel, but I got her to try on the apron at the end of the party to see how it fit and she didn't want to take it off.

As you can see from the photo to the left, my niece gets silly when she's tired out. It's nap time!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A tea apron for a little girl.

my child's porcelain tea set from the 1980s.
O.k., tax day is over, and even though I may have to file an amended return, I'm moving on to other projects. One project is preparing for my niece's 3rd birthday, which is Friday. Now, this little girl is the typical 3-year-old, who loves pink, princesses, ponies, sparkly things, and Hello Kitty. She has so many things -- she gets hand-me-downs from at least 4 other little girls -- and I'd rather make her something if I can. Just this last weekend I introduced her (and my nephews, ages 4 and almost 6) to the real porcelain child's tea set that my sister (her mother) and I played with as girls.

Menu: Celestial Seasoning's Sugar Plum Spice herbal tea (it's pink, which is a plus!) and cinnamon toast. They loved it! They were fascinated with pouring their own tea from the teapot, since they only have plastic kitchen toys at home and they aren't allowed to put real water or food in them. We had several spills, however, and since my niece's birthday is in a few days, an apron is in order.

It must be pink. See pink polka-dots to the left. I think I have some pink rick-rack somewhere, so we'll just see if I can get this finished by her party on Saturday! The plan is to make a smock-style apron out of the pink polka dots, with a pocket made from a white floursack towel, edged with pink rick-rack, accompanied by a matching white floursack towel decorated with an applique (shape as yet undetermined) of the pink polka dots, edged with pink yarn blanket-stitching, with a pink yarn button-loop and button crocheted on to the top of the towel. Yes, let's see if I can get this done in time!
The pattern I'm going to use is loosely based on the child's apron pattern found in EllynAnne Geisel's The Apron Book: Making, Wearing, and Sharing a Bit of Cloth and Comfort, which my mom purchased for me for Christmas a few years ago, and which I think is a charming book.
I'll post pictures next week!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Edenton Cakes for a Tax Day Tea Party!

image from

In a town called Edenton in the mid-1770s, the lady citizens got together and decided to support the Revolution and anti-tax movement by refusing to drink imported English tea. Their beverage of choice on the day of the ladies' political tea party, is said to have been raspberry leaf tisane.

Here is a recipe that is said to be one of the actual items served at the Edenton Tea Party in the 18th century. I haven't researched this, so I don't know if it's true, but I thought it was an appropriate recipe for April 15th and the T.E.A. (Taxed Enough Already) parties that were scheduled across the nation today.
Edenton Tea Party Cakes
Cream together 3/4 cup of butter with 2 large cups brown sugar. Add 3 eggs and blend. Stir 1 teaspoon soda into a small amount of hot water. Cool slightly and add to creamed mixture with 1/2 teaspoon salt and enough (5 cups) flour to make a stiff dough. Flavor with vanilla. Chill. Roll out thin, cut with cookie cutter and bake in hot oven, 400 degrees, until done.
-- posted to the T.I.A.S. newseletter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cheap dishes for tax season.

This is from Sarah Josepha Hale's book, The Good Housekeeper, from 1841.
Plain Boiled Rice.
Wash in four or five waters a pint of good rice; tie it in a pudding cloth, allowing plenty of room to swell; put it on in a pot of cold water, and let it boil slowly for two hours. It may be eaten with butter and sugar, or molasses.
Bread Pudding.
Pieces of dry bread, crust, &c., if kept clean, and used before they are sour, make good puddings; no prudent housekeeper will allow them to be wasted. Soak the crusts in milk till they are soft; then add eggs, sweetening, and spice to your taste. Bake or boil.
A Very Economical Dinner.
One pound of sausages cut in pieces, with four pounds of potatoes, and a few onions, if they are liked, with about a table-spoonful of flour mixed in with a pint of water and added to the dish, will make a sufficient dinner for five or six persons. The potatoes must be cut in slices, and stewed with the sausages till tender. Or you may use a pound and a half of meat (mutton is best) instead of the sausages. Season with pepper, salt and sage or thyme.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Scones for Easter!

image from

Here is a recipe for Easter Scones. I'm not sure what makes them more appropriate for Easter than for any other day in the year, but here's the recipe. I will be baking this morning anyway, so I may whip up some of these!

Easter Scones
4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 lb unsalted butter
2 cups oats
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, place flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and butter. Blend well. Then place in a bowl and add oats and spices and raisins. Mix gently. Add the buttermilk and mix gently. The dough will be somewhat crumbly. Put onto a board and roll the dough into 1" thickness and cut with cutter or just with a knife into the shapes you want. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes. Dust the scones with sugar before baking for a little extra sweetness. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Makes 1 dozen scones.
-- from Source:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ku Day Ta -- Milpitas' newest tea lounge

our private tea table
Ku Day Ta Tea Lounge - Milpitas
447 Great Mall Drive, #124, Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 935-9107
Monday - Wednesday: 10am - 9pm
Thursday: 10am - 10pm
Friday & Saturday: 10am - 11pm
Sunday: 11am - 9pm

Said to be a play on words (from the French coup d’etat), Ku Day Ta’s unusual name is not the only thing that sets this little tea lounge apart from the others. I set up a private tea tasting there, in March 2009, for the South Bay Ladies’ Tea Guild, and we received top-notch service, tea, and “tea snacks” for $25 per person.

The tea lounge is located, surprisingly, at the Great Mall in Milpitas, right by Dave & Buster’s arcade and grill, and Coldstone Creamery ice cream booth. Accessible from outside the mall, as well as inside, the lounge has a stylish, yet calm ambiance, and the staff is helpful and knowledgeable. The owner, Bee-Bee, was in the store every time I went there to check it out, and she presented our tea tasting. We found her to be interesting and well-informed, with a pleasant soft-spoken manner. She corresponded with me personally when setting up the tea tasting, and gave careful advice when I asked about the teas and the tea snacks. Some of the tea guild members have dietary restrictions, and Bee-Bee and her staff treated our concerns with respect and seriousness, finding appropriate foods for us, which enabled us to relax and enjoy our time at Ku Day Ta.

Our tea tasting was a general overview of the main varieties of tea, and included Chinese Silver Needle white tea, Chinese Dragon Well and Japanese Sencha green teas, Taiwanese Formosa oolong tea, and Chinese Keemun black tea. In addition, she brewed some Chinese Jasmine Silver Needle white tea and Chinese Pu-Erh, which is an aged black tea, for us, gratis. The teas were all carefully prepared, and we enjoyed every one. The “tea snacks” served were candied ginger, cassava chips, and the apparently famous Alice’s Stick cookies, which we found deliciously addictive! Bee-Bee and her staff obviously put a lot of time and effort into preparing and presenting their products, and in educating themselves about their teas. We will definitely be returning to Ku Day Ta in the future!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Another Fool Recipe.

image from
In preparation for Easter, I'm looking through my recipes (again) to find something interesting to make. While paging through my copy of Warne's Model Cookery from ca. 1890, I found a vintage recipe for Gooseberry Fool, which, as I understand, was the favorite kind during the Victorian era. The acidity of the gooseberries was supposed to aid in the clotting of the milk, I believe. So, if you happen to have some fresh gooseberries, this may be a good recipe to re-create! "New milk" refers to fresh, whole milk, rather than sour milk, buttermilk, skimmed milk or cream. Your regular whole milk from the grocery should work well for this, although I would try to use non-homogonized whole milk if you can find it.

Gooseberry Fool.

Two quarts of gooseberries; one quart of water; sugar to taste; two quarts of new milk; yolks of four eggs; a little grated nutmeg.

Put two quarts of gooseberries into a stewpan with a quart of water; when they begin to turn yellow and swell, drain the water from them and press them with the back of a spoon through a colander, sweeten them to your taste, and set them to cool. Put two quarts of milk over the fire beaten up with the yolks of four eggs, and a little grated nutmeg; stir it over the fire until it begins to simmer, then take it off, and stir it gradually into the cold gooseberries, let it stand until cold, and serve it. The eggs may be left out and milk only may be used. Half this quantity makes a good dishful.

Then, there is a similar dish called syllabub, which can be like a custard, or like a beverage -- sort of like an ice cream soda where the ice cream is melted and floating on top of the soda pop. Here is a recipe for a thing called "London Syllabub" which sounds like some older recipes for "fool" that I've seen. The only thing preventing me from trying this recipe is the necessity for having a cow ...

London Syllabub.

A pint and a half of sherry; two ounces of sugar; grated nutmeg; two quarts of milk.

Sweeten a pint and a half of sherry with the loaf sugar in a bowl, and add nutmeg. Milk into it from the cow about two quarts of milk.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Fool for April Fool's Day?

Strawberry Fool from a Strawberry Tea in 2008.
A "fool" is a traditional dessert -- related to a trifle -- that seems to be neglected these days, at least in my part of the world. Usually, the closest I get to enjoying a fruit fool is having fruit with whipped cream for dessert. But really, that's basically what a fool is! Older recipes have you mixing fruit and spices with alcohol and then adding milk straight from the cow into the bowl, after which you cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for an hour. The result seems to be like a combination of clotted cream and a fruit-flavored mixed drink.
The simplest version involves fresh or stewed fruit, crushed or pureed, sweetened, and folded into whipped cream. Berries are especially nice for making fools. Here is the modern recipe that I used -- with strawberries from the farmer's market -- to make Strawberry Fool for my tea guild's Strawberry Tea last summer. Note: I whipped the cream by hand because I don't have a mixer. My arm still aches!

Raspberry Fool
A fool is the simplest of desserts -- just whole or pureed fruit folded into whipped cream.
18 oz. raspberries (about 4 1/2 cups, see Notes)
1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. raspberry liqueur (optional)
1 pint heavy whipping cream
Mash 3 cups of the berries, and combine in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the liqueur, and set aside. In a separate bowl, whip the cream with the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold the fruit mixture into the cream with a spatula. Divide the fool between 8 glasses or bowls, and garnish with remaining berries. Serve right away or refrigerate, covered, up to 2 hours. Makes: 8 servings. Notes: frozen berries are fine here; use 12 oz. berries and garnish with fresh mint leaves instead of fresh berries.
-- From the June 2008 _Sunset_ magazine.

Here is a recipe for a similar-sounding dessert, from America, this time.
Red Currant, or Pink Cream:
Squeeze three quarters of a pint of juice from red currants when full ripe, add to it rather more than a quarter of a pound of pounded loaf sugar, and the juice of one lemon; stir it into a pint and a half of cream, and whisk it till quite thick. Serve it in a glass dish, or in jelly glasses. It may be made with currant jelly, which mix with the lemon juice and sugar. Raspberry and strawberry cream may be made in the same way.
-- From Early American Cookery: "The Good Housekeeper," 1841 by Sarah Josepha Hale.
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)