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The Winner Of the 2019 Tea Cozy Competition

Congratulations goes to this year’s winner – Jessica Andruss of Charlottesville, VA shown here holding the public’s favorite tea cozy – Summer Catnap.

“You made a really fun competition and I enjoyed seeing pictures of all the cozies that people had made,” said Jessica.

This year we received 53 entries from all over the United States and close to 1,000 people from across the world placed a vote.

In addition to the collection of teas, tea accessories and gift items, Jessica also won a year’s subscription to Tea Time Magazine, a copy of “Tea Parties Around the World,” and “Teatime Parties”, a free on-line subscription to The Tea House Times and gift certificates from Cedar Ridge Soaps, Teresa’s Treasures and Catoctin Creek Farms.

The photos of all the entries are still up on our website. https://larkintea.com/tea-cozy-voting-2019/

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Carrot and Clover Cake

Cake Ingredients

  • 8 oz. carrots
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (heaped) extra- fine sugar
  • 6 white clover flowers (washed & segmented)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
  • Heaped tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk

Frosting Ingredients

  • 2 oz. soft butter
  • 5.25 oz. sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 purple clover flowers (washed & segmented)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F

  2. Line eight inch square cake panwith baking paper

  3. Wash, peel and finely grate the carrots.

  4. Measure the oil and sugar into a bowl, add the segmented
    clover heads and beat in the eggs.

  5. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and add the
    grated carrot. Fold the flour and carrot into the oil, sugar, clover
    and eggs. Then fold in the milk.

  6. Turn the mixture into prepared pan and bake in the pre-heated
    oven for 40-45 minutes until the cake is firm and well risen (it will
    shrink away from the sides of the tin). Allow to cool for 5 minutes,
    and then turn the cake on to a cooling rack.

  7. To make the frosting: sift the confectioner’s sugar into a bowl
    and beat in the softened butter. Add most of the segmented clover
    flowers, reserving a few to decorate the cake.

  8. Spread the frosting on top of the cold cake and sprinkle the
    reserved flower segments over the top.

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Gin & Tonic Drizzle Cake

A strong flavored gin is recommended. Sometimes, the cake can take longer than the stated time due to oven temperatures. Keep an eye on it and make sure the tester comes out clean.

Cake Ingredients

  • 8 oz. (two sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups extra fine sugar
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 lime

Drizzle Ingredients

  • ¾ cups extra fine sugar
  • 5 tablespoons gin
  • 5 tablespoons tonic

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tablespoons gin

Directions for cake:

Time needed: 1 hour and 35 minutes.

  1. Grease and line a 2 lb. loaf pan and preheat oven to 350˚F.

  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

  3. Add in the eggs, flour and lime zest. Beat until smooth.

  4. Pour cake mixture into the pan and bake in the center of the oven for 40-45 minutes. When fully
    baked, a cake tester should come out clean and the cake will leave the sides of the pan.

  5. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool slightly in the pan while making the drizzle.

Directions for drizzle:

  1. Add the sugar, gin and tonic to a small pan.
  2. Heat on low-medium while stirring and wait for the sugar to dissolve. Once dissolved, turn off the heat.
  3. Poke the cake lightly with a cake tester/fork and then pour over the drizzle. Leave the cake to cool completely in the pan.

To decorate:

  1. Once the cake has fully cooled, remove it from the pan.
  2. In a small bowl, add your confectioners’ sugar and gradually mix in the gin until you get a thick pourable consistency. Don’t make it too thin or it will just run off the cake.
  3. Pour the frosting over the cake, sprinkle with lime zest and then add some lime slices for more decoration.

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How To Make Tea Infused Gin & Tonic

The British have always been big gin drinkers and the always popular highball cocktail, gin & tonic, has long been a standard drink especially during the summer months.

It’s being enjoyed by drink lovers around the world as it enjoyed a resolute renaissance. The juniper elixir is now produced in all corners of the globe and the gin industry is thriving in the British Isles.

The cocktail was introduced by the army of the East India Company in India. In India and other tropical regions malaria was a chronic problem but Dr. George Cleghorn discovered that quinine could prevent and treat the disease. The quinine was put into tonic water, but the taste was awful so British officers in the early 1800’s started adding water, sugar, lime and gin to the quinine to make it easier to drink, thus gin and tonic was invented.

During the time of the Raj, the cocktail became a stand drink among the tea planters as they retreated to their clubs. As G&T gained in popularity with the planters it gradually made it way back to the UK.

Two of life’s greatest pleasures are gin and tea, so it makes sense to put them together in the name of the ultimate thirst-quenching experience.

Mixing tea in cocktails isn’t new, in the 1800’s tea was used to lengthen drinks and once again it is popular with bartenders who claim that tea works really well with gin because it has lots of botanical flavors to play against.

Tea infusions are easy. Most importantly is to select a good quality alcohol as cheap liquors will still taste astringent after infusing. Loose leaf teas work best for infusions, as they have a fuller flavor.

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp loose leaf Earl Grey tea
  • 9 fl. oz. gin of choice
  • Tonic Water
  • Lime/Lemon Wedge
  • Garnish
  • Crushed Ice

Directions:

  1. Pour your gin in a jar with a lid and add the tea leaves. Allow to infuse for about two hours. (The longer you leave it, the more pronounced the flavor.)

  2. Once it is infused, strain out and discard the leaves. Return the gin to the jar. (Gin and tonics are typically served over ice, so we recommend refrigerating your gin before serving)

  3. To mix the drink, you’ll want to use about 2 oz. of infused gin and between 4 and 6 oz. of tonic depending on your desired potency.

  4. Get your glass ready by adding ice. Once it’s chilled, pour in the gin, then the tonic. By adding a lime or lemon wedge at the end will supply a citrus “pop.”

  5. Stir vigorously in the glass. Cheers!

As part of the gin and tonic craze, it is now popular as a flavoring for cakes and cookies. Our recipe for Gin & Tonic Drizzle Cake can be found in the Recipe section on the web site.

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Blueberry Basil Frosty

Cheers! Perfect for a summer party or family reunion, our non-alcoholic drink is made even more summery with the addition of blueberries and basil.

  • 4 cups of white tea (we used White Peony)
  • 2 cups Blueberries (reserve about ½ cup of berries for the garnish)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves
  • Soda water (optional)

  1. Let the tea come to room temperature then pour into ice cube trays and put in freezer until ALMOST frozen. (If you don’t have ice cube trays can use a shallow metal pan.)
  2. Put four glasses in the freezer.
  3. In a blender or food processor, combine frozen tea, blueberries and other ingredients. Puree.
  4. Divide among the four chilled glasses.
  5. Add a splash of soda water.
  6. Garnish with the reserved blueberries and a sprig of basil.
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4 Perfect Iced Tea Recipes For The Summer

Think outside of the box when brewing a batch of iced tea this summer. Here are 4 recipes perfect to quench that summer thirst.

1. Green Tea Sangria

Here’s another refreshing drink to cool down with as the temperatures creep into the triple digits.

Stir all ingredients until sugar dissolves. Add melon. Chill. Garnish with lime slices before serving.

2. Green Tea & Ginger Ale Iced Tea

After trying Canada Dry’s version of Green Tea & Ginger Ale and finding it tasteless, decided to make our own. So easy to prepare and full of flavor!

Combine 1 level teaspoon of green tea with 10 oz. of cold ginger ale. Let steep for 90 minutes. Strain into an iced filled tall glass and enjoy. What could be easier?

3. Limeade Rooibos Iced Tea

  • ¼ cup superfine sugar
  • 6 slices peeled ginger (each a 1/4 inch thick) 
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 lime cut into eights
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 24 oz. brewed rooibos tea, chilled

Combine the sugar, ginger, thyme and lime in a cocktail shaker. Don’t have a shaker? Use a sturdy mixing bowl or pint glass. Place the muddler in the glass. Don’t have a muddler? Use the end of a rolling pin. Press down with it lightly and give a few gentle twists. You should see juice squirting out from the limes and the ginger and thyme will begin to break down. Add the lime juice, stirring until the sugar is totally dissolved.
Strain the mixture into a pitcher partially filled with ice, or divide between four tall ice-filled glasses. Top with the tea and stir well. Garnish with lime slices.

4. Pomegranate Iced Black Tea

Nothing cools you down on a hot day like iced tea – and the drink can be a beauty elixir. Tea has compounds such as antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and tannin – that enhance the look of your skin. The results can be increased by adding ingredients such as pomegranate juice which has its own beauty benefits. 

  • 1 Tsp black tea or tea bag
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice

Steep tea in 1 cup of boiling water for 3 minutes. Add sugar to taste and stir until dissolved. While tea is cooling pour pomegranate juice into a tall glass over ice. Add brewed tea mixture and stir to combine.
Makes 2 glasses. 

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Chocolate Tiffin

We discovered this treat in a tea shop in Wexford, Ireland. Was intrigued with the name because the only “tiffin” I was familiar with is the India tiffin.

During the time of the British Raj, it was used to define the British custom of afternoon tea. It is derived from “tiffing”, an English slang term meaning to take a little drink. By 1867 it was used by Anglo-Indians in northern British India to mean luncheon. In South India and Nepal, tiffin is generally a snack between meals. In other parts of India, it mostly refers to a packed lunch.

The tiffin we tried was a cake-like confectionary that doesn’t need baking. Instead, following preparation of the mixture, it is chilled until set. Apparently, it was invented in the early 1900’s in Troon, Scotland.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of golden syrup or light corn syrup
  • 4 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 8 oz. crushed rich tea biscuits or McVitie’s Original Digestive Biscuits
  • 1/3 cup raisins, or to taste
  • 8 oz. milk chocolate chips
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Combine butter, sugar, golden syrup and cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium-low heat; cook and stir until smooth about 2-4 minutes. Stir in crushed biscuits and raisins. Pour into a 8”x8” pan; press down firmly to flatten.
  2. Melt the milk and dark chocolate chips in a double boiler over simmering water. Stir frequently and scrape down the sides of the pan with a spatula to prevent scorching. Watch carefully. Cook 3-4 minutes. Pour melted chocolate over biscuit base.
  3. Refrigerate until set. This will take at least one hour. Cut into squares.
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Curry Shortbread

I had never considered adding curry to cookies before that pantry raid, but it’s a delicious combination.

The curry powder gives these shortbread cookies a warm, golden color and intriguing, almost savory flavor. So even though these cookies make a great dessert, they are just as at home with a glass of champagne or a cocktail.

Ingredients:

  • 1& 1/2 Sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ¼ Cup Sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 & 1/8 Teaspoons Curry Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • ¾ Teaspoon Paprika
  • ¾ Teaspoon Turmeric
  • ¼ Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Set oven rack to the middle. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Sift flour with spices. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until blended. Scrape dough onto parchment paper and shape into a log shape. Chill until firm. Slice dough into ¼ inch pieces. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick each slice with a fork before baking for 20 minutes.
Particularly good with a cup of fine Indian Darjeeling – the champagne of tea.

From the Kitchen of Shelda Matthews.

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How To Host An Easy Afternoon Tea

Would you like to host an afternoon tea but don’t have the time or inclination to spent hours in the kitchen?

The following menu has been planned around items that are readily available at any supermarket. Just remember that nothing sticky or too moist should be served. Bite size is the right size. Everything should be easily eaten with the fingers.

MENU

SANDWICH AND SAVORY COURSE: *

  • Chicken Salad Sandwich – Deli
  • Pimento Chees Spread – Dairy
  • Mini Quiche – Freezer
  • Devilled Egg or Egg Salad Sandwich – Deli

SCONE COURSE: (Scones do NOT have to be served!!)

  • Scones – Bakery
  • Clotted Cream – Deli (Sometimes called Devonshire Cream) Again, it is not obligatory to serve clotted cream. A buttered scone is equally as good.
  • Jam

DESSERT COURSE:

I like to garnish the serving plates with whole strawberries and/or colorful seedless grapes. It is not necessary to serve ALL these items, they are merely suggestions.

  • Donut Holes – Bakery or Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Mini Chocolate Eclairs or Cream Puffs – Freezer
  • Small “store-bought” cookies
  • Mini Phyllo cases filled with lemon curd – Freezer
  • Tea Breads – Bakery

*Notes:  Suggest using Pepperidge Farm Thin Sandwich Bread because it has a firmer texture and is more suitable for tea sandwiches.  If the chicken or egg salad filling is too moist, drain off the excess moisture.  Don’t be overly generous with the filling or it will ooze out the sides. After preparing the sandwich, press down firmly on the top layer.  With a sharp bread knife,using a sawing motion, cut off all the crusts and then slice the sandwich into quarters. Each guest will get one quarter of the sandwich. (It is customary to provide four different types of sandwiches or savories per person.)

If you don’t have a tea set, ask your friends to bring their own cup and saucer and to share its history with the other guests. 

Remember the importance of afternoon tea is the memorable time spent with one’s friends, not all the elaborate food and fancy china.

A Very Simple Table Set-up

  1. It is customary to use a table cloth for the table.
  2. Place a side plate in front of where each guest will be seated.  
  3. A luncheon knife goes to the right of the plate.
  4. The pastry fork (or a salad fork can be used) goes to the left of the plate.
  5. Place the folded napkin on the center of the plate
  6. Set the tea cup and saucer at the top right corner of the plate. Keep the tea cup handle pointed towards the right. The teaspoon goes behind the cup and across the saucer.
  7. The tea pot, trivet, sugar bowl and milk pitcher should be placed at the center of the tea table, so that everyone can easily handle these items. If you are using bagged tea instead of loose tea, make sure to provide a plate(s) where your guests can deposit the used tea bags.
  8. The serving plates for the food should also be put in the middle of the table.
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My Mum’s Prized Butter Tarts

This recipe was on our old web-site and we’ve had lots of requests for it to be reposted on the new site.  It was one of my Mum’s best recipes and she always made the tarts at Christmas time or when I went back to England to visit.  They were a special treat.

(Butter tarts are a type of small pastry that is primarily eaten in and associated with the English-speaking provinces of Canada.    It is thought they were common in pioneer times.)

Pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup of unsalted butter
½ cup lard
About 1 cup of ice- cold water

Put first five ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.  Empty into a large bowl.  Add the flour, a little at a time, using just enough to bind the mixture. Collect all moistened particles into a ball.  With as little handling as possible, form dough into a round disk.  Place on a lightly floured surface.  It should be soft enough not to break when it is rolled. Handle the pastry as little as possible.  Kneading will toughen it. Roll with a light even pressure to a thickness of ¼ inch.  Cut into 3-inch circles and line tartlet pans.

Butter Tart Mixture:
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 beaten large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup currants

Preheat oven to 450˚F

Mix all the ingredients together and place a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into tartlet pans that have been lined with pastry.  Put on center rack in the oven. Bake at 450˚F degrees for eight minutes.  Reduce to 350˚F degrees and bake until the pastry is lightly browned.  Remove tartlet pan from oven and place on cooling rack for about ten minutes.