The Ladies' Tea Guild

Saturday, July 31, 2010

What would Jane Austen eat with her tea?

Tea with toast and jam. Image from
Tea-drinkers in Jane Austen’s time liked to have a bit of food with their beverages just like we do, but tea time was not the feast of pastries that it often is today. One or two kinds of tea, bread and butter, and one kind of cake were about all you could expect to have with tea, otherwise you were approaching a proper meal. Tea was enjoyed with breakfast, and served more formally after dinner, especially if there were guests, and it's a lovely custom to revive. If you want to enjoy tea the way Jane Austen might have done, here are some menu suggestions:

Rose congou (Chinese black tea scented with roses)
Bohea (Chinese large-leaf black tea) or Pekoe (known as “orange pekoe”)
Hyson (Chinese large-leaf green tea)

Toast (homemade or country-style bread) or Toasted English muffins

Pound cake or fruit cake

China was basically the only tea supplier to England during Jane Austen's lifetime, so choose a loose-leaf, unflavored Chinese black or green tea. Twinings is one well-known tea company that was in business from the late 1700s. Offer sugar cubes instead of granulated sugar with the tea, and whole or skim milk if your guests want it (Jane didn’t have 2% or lowfat!). Save the cream for your coffee; it will cover up the flavor of the tea. Have a CD of classical music, especially piano or harp, playing in the background, and you will be ready for a wonderful tea experience in the style of Jane Austen and her contemporaries! You can also check out _Tea with Jane Austen_ for more great ideas, including recipes.

If you want to go all out and have a Regency-style tea served to you, and you're in California, you can go to Capitola and attend the Jane Austen Tea at Bloomsbury Tea Room:

Jane Austen Tea
Friday, August 6, 6:30 p.m.
Bloomsbury Tea Room,
911-B Capitola Ave
Capitola, CA
Cost: $34.95 per adult guest, $15.95 for children.
Limited Seating - Reservations Required

“Tea history: what type of tea did American Founders drink?”
“Teas of Yore: Bohea, Hyson and Congou”
Tea with Jane Austen by Kim Wilson
“To Make Bread” Regency recipe from the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England
“English Muffins” Regency recipe from the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England
“To Make An Excellent Cake” Regency recipe from the Jane Austen Centre
“Jane Austen Historic Reciepts”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yum! This tea sounds decidedly delicious. Thank you for the tidbit about China tea being the only variety available during the Regency era. Vic

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)