Exploring, sipping & delighting in all things tea.
Just put the kettle on. One lump or two?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guest Post * The Meaning of Tea

These are the hands of my friend Fran. This is a cup of Earl Grey she cradled in between her 12 hour round trip to see me - a massive journey for a stay of less than 24 hours.

All of my closest friendships have been forged around tea. At uni, as homesick teenagers trying desperately not to be, we nursed hangovers with English Breakfast.

We ran to cups of tea (and chocolate fingers, and any kind of cake) in each other's rooms when dissertations overwhelmed us, when boyfriends dumped us. Even when one of my closest friends' Mum died, suddenly and heartbreakingly, we turned first to a simple cuppa for comfort.

One of the things I love best about my boyfriend is that he knows exactly how I like my tea (differently depending on the time of day). Fran and I still set times to make ourselves a cup and sit down to chat on the phone. My uni friends and I get together from our corners of the country a few times a year, and we unfailingly end up in fits over copious cups of tea.

Tea to me has always been about friendship, and about comfort. When I'm ill, I revert back to an obscenely milky English breakfast, because that's how my Mum first introduced me to tea. Tea is symbolic - a sign of constancy, of reassurance. It holds us in it's arms and lets us know that whatever happens, it can always be remedied by a decent cup.

A heartwarming, touching guest post from Lucy Rigby.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Elderflower Tea...FINALLY!!!

Run run as fast as you can, the elderflower's running out!!

We can't believe this is actually happening!? There's been so many things in the way to get this post up, it has almost seemed futile at times to go ahead with it and keep the umph up to carry it on.

Surprisingly we're sat munching on grapes, drinking Yogi Choco Tea and not elderflower (Sambucus nigra), but we will get onto the reason why, very shortly...

Well then
... we were sat drinking normal/black tea at a friends recently. We were talking about tinctures, lotions and potions, elderflower cordial and all the things (she) a studying herbalist would be in to. We were intrigued by all the wonderful, healthy and natural things we could make from all the hundreds of plants out there.

But then...we (IOT peeps) noticed a glass jar with some kind of yellowish golden colour dried somethingorother in it. And discovered it was elderflower tea! So with it being elderflower season at the moment, well, the end of the elderflower season pretty much, we thought it was time to jump on the boat and get our hands stuck into making it ourselves!

You may have heard of lots of people around this time of year making elderflower cordial, wine, champagne/fizz. So we thought it would be great to do something a little different and promote the benefits of the tea too!

The only thing is, elderflower is pretty much fine to pick anytime for using for the cordials/wine/fizz but to dry out for tea you need to have a nice, (preferably) hot and dry day which hasn't even had the slightest drizzle of rain. So, you can see now, this has not been an easy task within the past few weeks and thus leaving us pretty much at the end of the elderflower season to pick the last (still ok) dregs of it.

So off we went...

  • Don't pick elderflower too near a road as it may contain nasty pollution from traffic.
  • Don't be tempted to pick from any branches that may have fallen/be lower to the ground than usual... (dog pee is not the flavour we're going for here).
  • It needs to be a dry day. A day that hasn't seen a rain cloud however big or small since the dawn chorus (to be safe and certain!)
  • Pick the whole head in bunches and look out for any bugs (greenfly, aphids, etc) and pick the wee buggers off.
  • It is only the flowers we are going for as they hold the sweet, fragant honey scent.
  • Last but not least.... get ready for lots of tying up and fingers at the ready for fiddly picking!

So once you have picked your elderflower (if you do manage to find some about here and there) it's time to hang these little precious bundles up.

Try to hang it in a place that doesn't have too much of a draft, isn't in direct sunlight and especially somewhere that isn't damp!

It starts to turn a beautiful golden honey/hay colour.

When you think it feels and looks to the touch, dry enough, it is time to get picking.

However, we will let you know more about that part soon, (hence the drinking of other tea!) and all about the wonderful benefits of this beautiful stuff.

Go and get picking Tea-Peas!

Chin chin...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our new T.ART

We've had a little idea brewing up our sleeves for some time... conveniently named *T.ART*.

The idea is that we're on the look out for art containing something tea related. Whatever kind of art is cool with us. We like art, crafts, making and if it's got something to do with tea it's even better!

So... we were nicely directed towards this not so long ago and decided that it has to be our first T.ART. And what a fun T.ART it is! From twittering tweep @SumiArt.

This brilliant illustration is from over at Sumi Senthi, Illustration & Crafts.

Thanks to Sumi for letting us know about it!

And tomorrow we will be telling you all about our elderflower tea escapades!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tea & Bakes * Apple Crumble Muffin

We've got you another great Tea & Bakes guest post. Feast your eyes on this...

My name is Michelle and of late I have been totally fascinated with baking muffins. Not the standard and sligthly dull varieties you get from Starbucks but something with a bit of texture and (heaven forbid) slighly healthier while still being full of flavour. Of all my experimentations these are probably leaning towards the plumper side but so delicious that I think they are worth the few extra calories. These would be perfect for a quick breakfast bite or a nice afternoon tea. They are slightly finkier than the usual muffin recipe due to the crumble topping, but if you double the recipe you can keep in the freezer and use for next time you make them. I used apple sauce in these recipes but I imagine you could also use some apple compote for some chunkier bit of apple.

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks Oatmeal muffins
Crumble topping
  • scant 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup natural cane or brown sugar
  • pinch fine grain sea salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Muffin batter
  • 1 cup jumbo oats
  • 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 (generous) cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 grated apple
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350F / 180C. Butter muffin pans generously. I didn't use liners but feel free
  2. For the crumble: use a fork to combine the flour, oats, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter. Press the mixture into little flat-ish patties and place in the freezer for about ten minutes.
  3. For the muffins: combine the oats, flours, baking soda and salt and then stir in the grated apple. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and then add in the yoghurt, apple sauce, agave nectar and butter. You will need to keep stirring to prevent the butter from hardening. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
  4. Spoon into the muffin tray.
  5. Take the crumble mix and break over the muffins.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden.
  7. Let cool for a few minutes and turn onto cooling rack.
  8. Enjoy with friends and tea.
Makes 12

They sound perfect to make on such a summery rainy day as this, to keep our tums happy, with lashings of tea.

Thank you
Michelle for sharing this recipe with us.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vintage markets & Our fave dress of the week...

Ace French Sugar tins!

We went to a Vintage market in a brilliant little seaside town (Bridport, Dorset) recently and were tempted to buy so many tea goodies! We almost *POPPED* with excitement!

In our favourite colour too!

We love vintage markets, junk and antique shops so much. Sifting through and finding those treasures is a special thing indeed.

Be ours!

Who can resist a table full of retro vintage, colourful, memory laden and interesting clobber?!

Retro green glass tea cups!
We certainly can't!

Our flour would be happy in that!
Sweet strawberries.
Cool colours.
Phewph! We were blown away. There were some pretty nifty and beautiful dresses too which we will capture at the next Vintage market.

It's been long enough so here we have it...

Our favourite dress of the week in our shop has to be...

...this wonderfully stripy tea-style 60s dress. The colours, the collars, the poppers the stripes! Gee-whizz! It's all going on. And pockets too! We love dresses with pockets. Makes life a whole lot easier when there's handy pockets to put all your bits and bobs in.

Well, we're off to go and pick some elderflower to dry out to make tea!

Hope you're all having a marvellous day...

Chin chin...

Friday, June 10, 2011

"I don't like tea... I like gin..."

We recently saw this ad...

...and it reminded us of something...

...we're still very excited about our new postcards...

So we've done a little research on tea and gin and found this nifty little article from Glamour Magazine, aptly named Gin Afternoon Tea. (Which instantly had all of our senses perked up at once).

"Even better, with gin being the tipple of choice these days, bars are pushing the boundaries and creating some truly unique flavour combinations. Hilton's Berry Bar is no exception. Their Earl Grey Martini is an apt fusion of two British traditions, gin and tea! Few realise that gin was once so profusely drunk in Britain that communities brewed it in their baths and in the 1700's more than 14 gallons of gin per person were produced!"

Sounds like it's our kind of place.

And how about this... iced green tea & gin recipe. Which surely has to be the drink of the summer (whilst we're sat here looking at the skies about to burst open and wondering where that woolly cardi has got to).

If only the weather would sort itself out we would be sat in the garden supping away at iced green tea & gin, alas, we're stuck inside, on the brink of saying, we're freezing and eating a sweet, warm waffle smothered in chocolate spread and sipping away at green tea. (We were going for the whole counterbalancing philosophy of life - green tea with it's health benefits (metabolic increase!) in one hand + calorific laden waffle in the other... and we're sorted!).

More very soon...

Chin chin... IOT

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Guest Post * Tea Time for change...

Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I blog at Rosalilium. For those not in the know, I have studied a Masters degree in Anthropology, Environment and Development, and I love to drink tea! My top 3 teas are English Breakfast - strong with milk, Peppermint after dinner (it helps digestion) and Roobibos before bedtime (it aids sleep). I probably drink far too much tea, but it just makes me happy.

And so I present to you two of my favourite things – tea and activism. On Thursday 9th June 2011 there will be an opportunity to lobby your MP about International Development over a nice cup of tea. The initiative entitled Tea Time for Change is a chance for you to meet with your MP, share a cup of tea and talk about global poverty.

Tea Time for Change is a collective lobbying opportunity formed of several International Development Organisations including ActionAid, Oxfam, Save the Children, CAFOD, Christian Aid and Tearfund. This is your chance to give poor people a voice by talking to your MP, who is duty-bound to listen to their constituents. And what could be a more British approach than putting the world to right’s over a nice cuppa?

On the day there will be inspiring speakers, informative workshops and the chance to hang out at Westminster. This is the chance for you to fight global poverty by directly engaging with the people that make the important decisions. On the day we will be joined by Andrew Mitchell MP, Secretary of State for International Development, and Harriet Harman MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.

What a creative way to enjoy your brew and engage in activism?! To find out more about Tea Time for Change visit www.teatimeforchange.org.uk Get active, enjoy your tea and fight to end global poverty!

Thank you for having me at Isle of Tea.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

We love...

You'd have thought we've been away on holiday with all the fab guest posts we've been having recently. However, this has not been the case. We've been really enjoying all the Tea & Bakes and guest posts sent to us so much that we wanted to share them with you all.

Mini chocolate cupcakes, scones (with the works) and a banana chocolate loaf made at Isle of Tea Towers, scoffed down with teapot upon teapot of tea and we're back!

And we're inspired big time. So we thought we'd do a bit more sharing.

Things we love...
Actually... we would go as far to say that we adore Sohomode.

With their beautiful handmade, vintage inspired tea dresses you can't go wrong.

They're absolutely stunning.

And they also do custom made dresses for weddings and girls in need.

And we think they're just plain cool and we really like their ethos. 'Handmade clothing for the modern eccentric', floats our boat so much we're halfway down stream (with cream tea hamper of course)...

Originally from England, now based in New York, you can follow their blog here and visit their Etsy shop here.

We also love love love Tea For Joy and their Tea of the week finds and photos...

There's nothing better than a tea related photos, fun and paraphernalia...

...and we're terribly fond of tea loving people....

...we'd have them round for tea, anytime!

We also came across some very sweet tea inspired greetings cards from Sophia Victoria Joy that we indeed love...

...and think, are very sweet...

...and they are... 'A UK based illustration and design business believing in quality eco friendly products with traditional British roots. All products are designed and created here in the UK with close attention to detail throughout.'

...Which clearly is a big thumbs up from Isle of Tea.

If you have any tea related things you'd love to share with us get in touch, we'd love to hear what you've found or what you do.

And just to let those of you who have been waiting for our vintage tea dress shop to stock up again, you can stop twiddling your thumbs and click here.

Hope you all have a marvellous afternoon in the sun.

Chin chin...
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