In This Edition of HeatCageKitchen
In this final installment on tea, I show you a few more teas and the contents of the box LH sent from California.
Hi, again, Dear Readers:
I promise this is the last blog post on tea, for now. If I find something new I’ll let you know. Besides, there are plenty of other subjects in the pipeline. Missed the previous posts? Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here.
Beverly’s Chanterelle Mushrooms
Our friend Beverly is currently enjoying a plethora of fresh chanterelle mushrooms, which she is fortunate enough to find on her property. There are occasional mushrooms growing here at the Casa de Rurale, but they don’t look like that. I’m afraid of finding the wrong kind of mushroom so I don’t even bother. Beverly says that they smell fruity, like apricots, so that’s a strong indicator.
She and her husband harvest them daily and dry them:
Beverly will either use these delicious morsels immediately or dry them like this. Chanterelle mushrooms don’t last once they’re picked, so they need to be used that day or dried for longer-term storage. Dried chanterelle mushrooms are available in many grocery stores and online (and at Amazon, of course.) They’re not cheap, so you understand why Beverly is excited about being able to harvest them for free. Same reason I like the wild blackberries that arrive in late April and finish in late June.
Coming Soon: Easy Dirty Keto
I’m now in possession of a review copy of Emilie Bailey’s new Easy Dirty Keto cookbook, (thank you, Emilie!) and it’s looking pretty good so far.
Spaghetti Squash with chorizo? Oh, YEAH!! (When BF is not home, of course.)
I’ll explain more in a future blog when I’ve had more time to review and of course, try a few recipes. The release date is scheduled for August 23rd, next week. The Kindle version is available now, and you can pre-order the paperback book.
BF will, of course, be pressed into service as a taste-tester, along with anyone else who shows up at the house when I’m making some of these. Hey–he liked the broccoli cheese soup from Emilie’s Vegetarian Keto book, so there just might be something he likes here, too.
Most of the ingredients are technically “keto,” or “low carb,” but some are a bit less conventional. Many recipes use ingredients that are technically “low carb,” but not the usual “clean eating” type. Why didn’t anyone tell me that there is now a sugar-free version of Cool Whip?
Emilie made the announcement on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and in her email to her list. This book, she says, is likely to be her last–unfortunately.
Blog post coming. Back to the subject of tea.
A couple of months ago, I went into the pantry and opened the jar of decaf tea bags that I kept on my desk at Boeing.
It just collected dust. The tea bags are wrapped. The jar has a tight-fitting lid, so the contents were fine.
And then I saw it: three Lipton decaffeinated tea bags, at least ten years old. I remember the original conversation with LH, so I posted this on Facebook and tagged her.
She commented, “Omg that Lipton needs to go!!! It wasn’t any good when it was fresh lol!!”
Honestly, I only posted the picture because I thought she’d get a kick out of it, and I was right. Those three tea bags did go out. After trying real British tea, you can’t go back to Lipton. it just doesn’t taste right anymore.
The Gift Of Tea And Nibbles
LH said on the post, “send me your address and I’ll send you some good tea.” I did, and a few weeks later, a heavy box arrived. The mail lady, as usual, gave me a funny look.
I wasn’t expecting all this! But LH was very kind and sent me all kinds of delicious British things, some of which I’d never seen before. Obviously, I am very appreciative. I’d like to send her something, but as of yet, I haven’t figured out exactly what.
Understand that LH lives in Southern California, where, like Houston, Dallas, and other big cities, you can buy things like that. (No, not New Orleans, and not Baton Rouge, either, except in Cost Plus World Market–sometimes.) There was the packet of Typhoo (I still can’t find the picture) and Yorkshire tea, LH’s favorite:
Plus, something I knew about from watching a great Britcom called The Thin Blue Line, but had never tried: Chocolate Hobnobs.
These cookies are the favorite of the show’s protagonist, played by Rowan Atkinson. Oh, my GAWD they are so good!
They are neither sugar-free, gluten-free, nor keto. Save these for an occasional treat, and don’t eat more than two at a time in a 24-hour period. Trust me on this–they are that good, and hard to resist.
There was the shortbread from Scotland which is divine:
We can also get the regular Hobnobs at Cost Plus World Market in Baton Rouge, along with BF’s favorite Jammy Dodgers. I don’t see the chocolate ones there. Yes, Amazon has them too–but if you order them in warm weather the chocolate may melt. I’ll look around next time I’m at Whole Foods or a bigger Rouses to see if maybe they carry them locally.
WF told me later that she likes the regular Hobnobs, but not the Chocolate Hobnobs. Of course, it’s funnier when you hear Rowan Atkinson talk about his Chocolate Hobnobs. They go well with tea or coffee, or in BF’s case, milk.
LH also included a couple of British candy bars, which, thankfully, didn’t melt because it was April and not that hot yet. Cadbury’s Flake is interesting.
We realized on the second one that it’s crumbly:
The other one is also from Cadbury, but called Crunchie:
The sweets didn’t last long enough for the blog post, although we didn’t have them all at once. We tried to wait. Everything was delicious and appreciated. We enjoyed these with respect.
Earl Grey/Lady Grey Tea
Earl Grey Tea is a specific blend of tea, not a brand. It’s a standard black tea blended with bergamot, a type of citrus fruit. The result is a sweeter type of tea than the usual black teas. This is not to be confused with what’s called “sweet tea” in the south, iced tea with plenty of sugar.
The story goes that this blend of tea was created for Charles Grey, the Earl of Grey, who served as the British Prime Minister from 1830 through 1834. He introduced it to British society, and the tea became well known in the years since. He allegedly saved the life of a Chinese mandarin’s son, and the mandarin sent him a gift of Chinese tea. The Earl requested that a tea vendor re-create it (allegedly teamaker Richard Twinings, according to their website) complete with oil of bergamot, and it’s been Earl Grey Tea ever since.
But the Earl never set foot in China, so there’s that. And it may have been created to cover the taste of hard water in Northumberland.
Lady Grey was created as sort of a counterpoint to Earl Grey by Twinings in 1994, although many brands now have their own version.
It’s a nice tea that’s permeated with a fresher flavor and distinct orange taste that replaces the stronger bergamot flavor in the Earl Grey variety.
LH didn’t have a box for the tea bags she sent. I just said, “thank you.”
Which One is Better?
If you try them side-by-side as LH suggested, you definitely taste the difference. It’s not that one is necessarily better than the other, although LH’s preference is for Lady Grey tea.
Comes down to personal preference, as always. As it turned out, I had a box of decaffeinated Twining’s Earl Grey in the pantry from my desk at Boeing.
I have no idea how long I’ve had this tea, but I suspect it was bought between 2010 and 2012. The tea tastes just as good as it did when I first bought it. Twining’s, like a lot of tea manufacturers, puts their tea bags into sealed plastic packets, unlike the porous paper wrappers around Lipton Tea bags.
LH insisted I try them side-by-side, so that’s what I did. They’re both very good but have different and distinctive flavors. Pick the one you like best and enjoy it in your favorite cup.
Then there’s green tea, which is described as having a “vegetal taste.” The first time I tried it (years ago!) my first thought was that it tastes like someone mowed the lawn and brewed the clippings. I know, I know, it has its devotees, and it’s full of antioxidants and the like. It’s the same thing as black tea but not oxidized. Mostly it’s popular in China and Japan, and very caffeinated. If you like green tea, go for it.
But because LH sent me a little box, I decided to try green tea again:
If you sip it without anything in it, that “vegetal taste” comes right through.
It’s not like chamomile.
But if you add cream and a sweetener, it tastes like. . .tea. Your choice. I can’t say that it’s bad, of course, it’s just not as exciting as English Breakfast tea.
After watching many episodes of multiple British TV series, I eventually bought a few teapots too. Why not? I have some from Cost Plus World Market, and one from IKEA, that I like for the colder months.
They also make a smaller version of this teapot, which may be in my next order.
I also started making teapot cozies from a sewing book and I have them for all the teapots. They work well and look good, with obvious American touches like a southwestern print for one of them.
For my birthday last year, I ordered two boxes of Typhoo decaf from The English Tea Store. I also bought myself this little cutie:
I just didn’t realize it was that small when I ordered.
See, I used to have a “tea for one” set that I bought somewhere in Houston. It held a fair amount with a nice-sized cup. I don’t remember where I got it, and I don’t have it anymore. Decided that I’d get another one because this is what I normally drink tea from these days:
It’s what the British call a “beaker.” With the Texas flag on it, right? So, the little red tea-for-one set, well:
Yes, it’s tiny. The price was right, and it’s cute. It will probably go into the china cabinet I’m planning to get from IKEA, one day.
When I sent a picture of it to our friend WF in Turkey she sent back a voice message on Facebook Messenger. Mostly, she was giggling. WF and her husband were very amused at my tiny little red tea-for-one set.
Finding British Tea In America
Well, online, of course, unless you’re lucky enough to live near a place that sells this sort of thing like LH. Two of my favorites are:
- Teadog, which sells just teas from all over the UK, Canada, and Northern Ireland, and guaranteed fresh
- The English Tea Store also sells UK foods, sweets, tea ware (like the little red teapot set), gifts, accessories, and even their own blends of tea. Some of their tea-for-one sets are very pricey like this Royal Albert set that you can just see Hyacinth Boo-kay using.
You can also just do a search to find tea sellers in the US, too. That’s how I found both of those. When Teadog was out of something, The English Tea Store had some.
Remember that import stores that carry multitudes of incredible things from around the globe were just a car ride in Houston. Phoenicia Foods is one of the biggest, and I bought so many things there in addition to tea. Those cookies from Poland were delicious. And they ship, too!
HEB and Central Market, of course, are also repositories of all manner of incredible foods, ingredients, and imported things in the larger stores. Unfortunately, they no longer ship–everything is curbside pickup or delivery if you’re lucky enough to be in the area.
Also, understand that “imported” to a Texan means “from outside of Texas.”
There’s always Amazon, which is the source of all the affiliate links in the blog. Don’t forget that Amazon is also a great place to research just about anything you’re interested in, even if you don’t buy it there. Be forewarned that sometimes food things sit in an Amazon warehouse for quite a while.
Until Next Time
There’s one person I know who probably won’t try British tea (but maybe the Chocolate Hobnobs if he hasn’t already.) That would be Neighbor E in Houston, bless him, who is a fan of the chai latte, and he makes them at home. Anytime I see this, I think about you, Dude:
Admittedly, when we went to the opening of the big new HEB in Clear Lake, he was right next to me getting free coffee. That’s the only time I ever saw him drink any. Well, it was free, after all.
Tea is a huge world, much like coffee and wine. Finding a new favorite may be as simple as a visit to your local grocery store, or to an online vendor. You can drink a different tea every day and never try every tea available. Once you find one you like, bookmark it and try another one.