Tag Archives: Downton Abbey

Downton-inspired tea for “Downton Day”.

1920s silver teapot and cup and saucer on display at the Ainsley House in Campbell, CA.

1920s silver teapot and cup and saucer on display at the Ainsley House in Campbell, CA. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Today is the last “Downton Day” of the year  – the final episode of Downton Abbey Season 5 airs tonight on KQED/PBS at 9 p.m. Pacific time. This season’s plot has brought the Crawleys and their servants into the mid-1920s, and nobody’s lives are settled and secure, as usual.  What better way to catch up on the doings and happenings in this fictional world than with a cup of tea and some treats at the ready?  Look in the tea party pantry for some English tea-time favorites, like scones (you can use a mix or buy them ready-made), cream, jam, and cakes.  You can make an elaborate spread suitable for the Dowager Countess, or a simple tea table that would make Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes, or Lady Rose’s Russian refugees comfortable.

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Review: Downton Estate Blend tea from Republic of Tea

Downton Estate Blend tea from Republic of Tea.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Downton Estate Blend tea from Republic of Tea. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

The BBC’s popular serial drama, _Downton Abbey_, has returned to PBS for a 5th season!  Full of beautiful costumes, sets, and English countryside, this historical drama also includes tea as a regular part of life, as it was in Edwardian, and now “Roaring Twenties” era – English society.  The program has inspired a variety of products, from high fashion designs, to furniture and jewelry, to china and other housewares, to tea blends.  The Republic of Tea is the best-known company to have come out with a whole line of tea blends inspired by Downton Abbey.  The teas are available at Cost Plus World Market, and at some independent tea shops like Thyme for Tea in Niles.  I purchased this tin of tea for about $12 at the Cost Plus on Coleman Ave. in San Jose.

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Downton Abbey Season 3 comes to the Bay Area

Highclere Castle, the setting for _Downton Abbey_ Series 3. Photo: John James.  Creative Commons 2.0

Highclere Castle, the setting for _Downton Abbey_ Series 3. Photo: John James. Creative Commons 2.0

The BBC’s hit Downton Abbey returns to PBS on January 6, 2013, and will be broadcast at 9 p.m. on Sundays until February 17th. Local tea and history-lovers are planning to make a special event of watching the first episode of Season 3, and today KQED is holding a free preview and tea at their headquarters in San Francisco, which is about 45 minutes northwest of San Jose. *Note: the KQED website has been updated with information about Season 4.*

The KQED website reads: “You’re invited to join KQED and Downton Abbey fans on Saturday, January 5, 2013 for tea and an exclusive sneak preview screening of Season 3, Episode 1. Celebrate the return of the Grantham clan as the English country estate enters a new era post-WWI.”

What: KQED Downton Abbey Season 3 Preview
Where: At the KQED headquarters: 2601 Mariposa St, San Francisco, CA
When: Saturday, January 5, 2013, 2pm (2pm Tea, 3pm Screening) – RSVP
Cost: FREE, but Space is limited. RSVP required for you and one guest; R.S.V.P. by visiting their Eventbrite page.

If you miss the KQED event today, next weekend there will be a lecture and tea in Woodside, at the Woodside Library, which is about 35 minutes northwest of San Jose. The library website reads: “Come learn about the world of Downton Abbey! In a fascinating illustrated lecture, DiAnn Ellis covers everything from the real Highclere Castle where the popular PBS series is filmed; to the beautiful Worth gowns; to the real work day of a person in service. Questions and tea and cookies will follow the program.”

What: Downton Abbey Culture event
Where: at the Woodside Library, 3140 Woodside Rd., Redwood City, CA 94062. For more information or to R.S.V.P., call (650) 851-0147
When: Saturday, Jan 12, 2013 1 p.m.
Cost: FREE, but space is limited. Please R.S.V.P.

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Make a pot of tea and watch _Downton Abbey_ Season 2 opener tonight!

The cast of _Downton Abbey_

San Jose tea and period drama lovers have been waiting many months for the U.S. release of Season 2 of Downton Abbey, the BBC drama written by Julian Fellowes and set at a country house in England beginning 100 years ago, with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.  The Christmas Special episode is now available for viewing, and bridges the action between Seasons 1 and 2.  The action of Season 2 – which will begin broadcasting tonight on PBS and KQED’s Masterpiece Classic channel at 9 p.m. – begins on a battlefield in France during World War 1. It’s just the kind of program that is calls for a pot of tea and some English tea food to go with it!  Here are some tips:

  1. Get out your teapot (if you have one) and use it to make your tea, even if you usually make tea by the cup or mug.
  2. Use either loose tea or good-quality tea bags; Lipton tea in bags was a new product on the market by 1912.
  3. Choose a black tea blend like English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast or Earl Grey, which can be purchased in decaffeinated versions from most vendors.
  4. Put together an assortment of traditional English foods to eat with your tea. Think of it as a late-night snack, and choose tasty items you can munch on without using a fork, like tea sandwiches, scones, and cookies. You can also make it more like a late-evening high tea with mini meat pies and turnovers.
  5. Enjoy this evening’s episode and plan to do the same thing for each of the other episodes which will be airing in the next 6 weeks!

If you don’t feel like cooking, check your tea party pantry or the deli, frozen and packaged foods in your favorite grocery stores in San Jose. There are a bunch of items among the frozen appetizers that make great tea table savories! Since there is still some time between now and 9 p.m., you might want to bake some scones or put together some freshly-made treats. Again, the frozen food section can be your friend, with pre-made pie dough for mini pies, frozen puff pastry for fruit turnovers, even packaged cookie and scone dough (look for the Immaculate Bakery brand scone dough in cans in the refrigerated section of some local stores). If you have the time, you can also take a trip out to a British grocery like the British Food Centre in Campbell, or the new Fresh & Easy markets appearing in the South Bay.

Downton Abbey holds the Guinness World Record for the “Highest critical review ratings for a TV show.” The world of Downton includes tea time every day, and characters meet informally for a cup of tea quite often. Whether in Lady Violet’s Dowager House or in the kitchen downstairs, tea is a drink for everyone. Curl up in your blanket with a cup of tea and some treats, and watch Downton Abbey tonight!

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

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For more information:
Downton Abbey Season 2 preview
Masterpiece Classic Downton Abbey Season 2 Broadcast schedule
Downton Abbey Christmas Special link
“Downton Abbey returns with more addictive melodrama” by Chuck Barney
Lovejoy’s Tea Room Pear & Stilton tea sandwich recipe
Apricot-Candied Lemon Scones recipe
Bay Area British grocery store list from Chowhound
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea” 
“Celebrate Beatrix Potter’s work with a tea party”
“Tea 101: what do we mean when we talk about tea?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Bring a tea picnic to the Bay Area-local Mostly British Film Festival” 
“Review: Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea”
“Bring a ‘steampunk’ tea to Santa Clara’s Steampunk Exhibition”
“Have an English tea and Royal Wedding-viewing party”
“Review: Twinings Earl Grey tea”
“Stay up with tea and watch the Royal Wedding”
“San Jose women celebrate 100 years of voting with tea”

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