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Time for Tea Cozy Contest

There is something nostalgic about a tea cozy.

In a world where we’re constantly on the go, we should make more time to slow down. We need to  take time to sip tea and chat with friends long enough that we need to keep our tea pot warm under a tea cozy.

Knitting also has the same mindset. Knitters are encouraged to take a breath between stitches, chat with their friends and slowly produce something that a loved one will cherish.

That’s the philosophy behind our Tea Cozy Contest. We want to encourage our friends to take those moments to enjoy the little things in life, like sipping a good cup of tea or a wrapping your tea pot with a handmade cozy.

History of the tea cozy

A tea cozy is defined as a “thick or padded cover a teapot to keep the tea hot.” The first documented tea cozy in writing was in 1867 England; however, it is thought that it might date back to the 1600s when tea was first introduced to England.

One tale says the tea cozy was accidentally invented in Ireland. A farmer leaned across the table, legend says, and his hat fell on top of the tea pot. When he later removed it, the tea was still warm.

A tea cozy is as varied as the tea drinker. Some are knitted like a woolen hat complete with a pom-pom on top; some are made of thick material, often with a decorative pattern; at restaurants some include a metal exterior to protect the inner fabric. The early tea cozy allowed the women of the house to have a creative outlet, while still having  the practicality of keeping the tea warm .

The tea cozy, though, would never be used during social teas with the elaborate silver sets because a silver set was meant to be shown, not hidden under a cozy.

How to enter

The tea cozy doesn’t have to be an original pattern but must have been made by the contestant.

In the past, we have been sent photos for our contest that featured a fun array of patterns of tea cozies — from the traditional to the whimsical. We’ve seen tea cozies that have looked like a vase of flowers, one that looked like a bunny, some have pom-poms, some don’t. Find a pattern that makes you smile and create it.

To enter, contestants must email a color, in-focus, clear photograph to pmtealady@aol.com or mail to The Larkin Co., 545 Warm Springs Ave., Martinsburg, WV 25404. Photos will not be returned.

All submissions must include name, mailing address, telephone number, email address and descriptive name of cozy.

Photos will be posted online at The Larkin Tea Co.’s website at www.larkintea.com. Visitors to the site will vote for their favorite. The tea cozy that wins the most votes wins.

Closing date is July 31, 2019. The winner will be notified by phone or email.

For more information, go to https://larkintea.com/tea-cozy-2019/

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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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How To Store Tea

If you are buying expensive teas and not storing them properly …. You are wasting your money.

Teas that are vacuum-packed or in sealed tins have a life of about two years. Once opened, it should be stored in an opaque, air-tight container and kept in a dry, dark place as light and heat will interfere with the quality and life of the tea. Never, store it in a glass container. If the shop where you purchase tea keeps and displays it in glass containers, then it is a sign that they know nothing about tea and we highly recommend not buying from them. Plastic containers are not good because the tea will take on the odor of the plastic. Make sure you don’t keep it near strong smelling spices or foods as the tea will take on both their aroma and flavor.   It is for this reason, we also recommend not purchasing tea from a place that sells strong-smelling candles, potpourris or coffee. Never, never put it in the fridge of freezer.

Your tea is past its prime as there will be no aroma and it will produce a bitter or flat-tasting cup.

Buy little and buy often to ensure total freshness. (That is the reason we package in 2 oz increments.)  Keep the tea in its original, foil-lined bag and express the air from the bag before sealing. To keep control of your “stash, write the purchase date on each label.

We recommend tin canisters. Before using, rinse out with warm water. Then, towel dry.  If storing a particular type of tea, first place a small amount in the canister and shake well with the lid on. Discard these leaves which will have absorbed any odors in the canister and imparted the appropriate fragrance for storage of tea. Now, fill the canister.

Originally tea was stored in a small container known as a “tea caddy.” The name came from the Malayan word “catty” meaning pound. The first caddies were jars with terracotta lids but as tea became a prized commodity, these were replaced with ornate chests with a lock to ensure the tea’s safe-keeping. Once tea became cheaper there was less concern with the appearance of caddies, and as a result they fell out of use, as tea was now kept in decorative canisters in the kitchen.

The British are well known for their decorative tin ware. We are now importing a selection of canisters that are available in our on-line store or at the various shows and festivals we’re participating in this year.

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Clouds In Your Glass? (Cloudy Iced Tea)

As people experiment with iced drinks, many are frustrated by cloudy iced tea.

“Clouding” refers to the opaque, fog-like appearance of a tea’s liquor that sometimes occurs after brewing. It is generally seen as a negative quality because people assume that tea should be completely transparent. Some believe that cloudiness is an indication of poor quality tea, that it contains foreign particulates or that it will adversely affect flavor even though, in reality, clouding has no impact on taste. The problem is made worse because iced tea tends to be served in clear glasses, displaying the “defect” for all to see.

There are two reasons that iced teas become cloudy.

  •  Hard water which contains high concentrations of minerals when brewed with tea can form 
    visible solids which do not dissolve at cooler temperatures.
  •  The natural building blocks of tea are thought to cause the clouding, especially Theaflavins. If
    the tea cools too quickly the Theaflavins will not remain suspended and the teas will cloud.

Solutions:
1. Allow the tea to come to room temperature before putting it into the fridge or adding ice.
2. If the tea has already clouded, add a tiny bit of hot water to it before serving.
3. Make sure that you are steeping in water that’s minerally balanced.

Our Recommendations:

Nilgiri – Glendale tea that produces a crystal- clear drink. (Now packaged in iced tea pouches and called
“Fresh Brew Black Tea.”
Other teas that do not cloud are:
Rooibos-based teas such as Lemon Soufflé
Fruit Blends – Verry Berry, Strawberry-Kiwi or Blood Orange.
Herbals – Dragonfly Song or Mint Refresher

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Say No To Sun-Tea

 

If you are still making Sun Tea, be aware that it is not recommended by The Tea Association of the USA as an acceptable means of steeping tea. The reasons concern both taste and safety.
Tea, being an agricultural crop is subject to contamination by bacteria, as is virtually every food or beverage item that is consumed. While careful attention is exercised during the process of the tea leaves there is always the risk of post- production contamination. While this is of little concern if tea is prepared following the guidelines of the Tea Association. There are potential concerns about Sun Tea for
the following reasons:
  • The containers used may be dirty or become contaminated during the long exposure in the sun and ambient air or the hands of the preparers may not be sufficiently clean.
  • The temperature of the water used for steeping sun tea generally is insufficient to kill off any bacteria that may be present.
  • The conditions typically present by leaving water in the sun are ideal for the growth of bacteria (low temperatures and long periods of time.)
  • To maximize the taste of the tea and to realize all the healthy properties the water used to steep the tea should be close to the boiling point and the steeping time is ideally between 3 and 5 minutes.
If you do make Sun Tea and it has a thick or syrupy appearance, it may be due to the presence of a ropy bacteria called Alcaligenes Viscolactis commonly found in soil and water. Discard immediately and sanitize the container. A few years ago, several people became ill after drinking tainted iced tea. It was determined that the tea had been made with tap water only heated by the sun to 130˚F and then left to sit at room
temperature for more than 24 hours. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and The Tea Association of the USA recommend the following when making tea:
  • Brew tea at 195˚F for three to five minutes.
  • Brew only enough tea that can be used within a few hours.
  • Never keep brewed tea for more than eight hours at room temperature.
  • Wash, rinse and sanitize tea-making equipment regularly.
  • Instead of making Sun Tea make tea (cold brew) overnight in the refrigerator as you would in the sun.