Tag Archives: tea table

Making jam for the tea party pantry

Homemade apricot-oolong compote.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Homemade apricot-oolong compote. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Now that summer is here and those delicious summer fruits are in season, it’s time to stock up on homemade jam for the tea party pantry!  San Jose’s history as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight” is no longer visible in the orchards that once covered the Santa Clara Valley, but plenty of local people still have fruit trees in their front and back yards, full of ripe fruit this time of year.  Wild plums and berries can also be found along the banks of rivers, creeks and streams in the Santa Cruz mountains and local foothills, if you know where to look.  For those that don’t have edible landscaping at home, and even for those that do, the local farmers’ markets are a wonderful source of fresh, ripe fruit for tea-table jams and preserves.  What better treat to serve your tea guests, give as gifts, or enjoy by yourself than homemade jam?  It’s not as hard as it seems.  Plus, once you’ve washed the fruit, you can freeze it in freezer bags, and make jam or pie with it later in the year (or when the weather has cooled down a bit).

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Italian Easter Bread: food to eat with tea

Italian Easter Bread, delicious with a cup of black tea

Italian Easter Bread, delicious with a cup of black tea

Many Western cultures have special recipes that only come out on certain holidays, especially Christmas and Easter. Sweet and savory dishes pair well with tea, and a hot cup of tea alongside a special holiday treat can be the perfect way to enjoy the temporary calm on the morning of a busy day. San Jose’s Italian residents have several bread and cookie-type Easter treats, but the most famous one is probably Italian Easter Bread, which goes by as many different Italian names as there are regions in Italy. Here is a fairly easy recipe, which originated on The Italian Dish blog:

Italian Easter Bread
1/3 cup butter
1 ¼ cups milk
1 envelope instant yeast (2 ¼ tsp.)
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup sugar
3 ½ to 4 ½ cups flour
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
4 to 6 uncooked Easter eggs
multicolored round sprinkles

Melt the butter with the milk in a saucepan or the microwave, then remove from the heat and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes (temperature should register between 115 and 130 degrees Farenheit on a food thermometer). In a large bowl, combine the yeast, salt, beaten eggs and sugar. Add the warm (not hot) butter mixture, and then beat in 2 cups of the flour until smooth. Add the remaining flour in ½ cup increments, mixing well in between additions, until the dough is stiff enough to pull away from the sides of the bowl as you mix it. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead the dough until it is smooth and doesn’t stick to your hands. Place in a greased bowl and let rise, covered, in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough is doubled in size. Punch the dough down, divide it into three equal pieces, and roll each into a rope approximately 2 inches thick. Braid the ropes together into a single loaf, pinching the ends of the ropes together to keep the braid from coming undone. Cover and let rise in a warm place for another hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Place risen braided loaf on the prepared sheet, brush with beaten egg, and sprinkle with multicolored sprinkles. Nestle the raw Easter eggs in the folds of the braid, spacing them evenly along the loaf. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden, and cool on a wire rack. Eat while warm, or refrigerate, wrapped in plastic, when cooled, if you want to eat the Easter eggs, which will now be hard-cooked. Discard the Easter eggs if left at room temperature more than a few hours. Makes 1 loaf.

You can dye the Easter eggs and make the dough ahead of time, up to the first rising, and refrigerate it, covered, overnight, to bake the next day. The first rising should happen in the fridge, so you should only have to let it come to room temperature, punch it down and shape it, let it rise the second time and bake it in the morning. Or, you can leave off the Easter eggs, and bake the loaf on its own the day before, and have it ready for breakfast with a hearty black tea, and perhaps some chocolate from the Easter bunny, in the morning!

Copyright 2013, Elizabeth Urbach.  

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my other blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest  

For more information:

The Italian Dish blog
“How to give an Italian Tea”
“Easter tea party ideas and tips” 
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Chocolate and tea: the perfect match?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“How to make holiday orange spice tea”
“Cinnamon-raisin tea bread pudding with cream cheese filling”
“Aztec chocolate bread pudding to eat with tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Enjoy traditional Irish seed cake with a nice cup of tea”
“Pan-Pacific Expo Canapes for the tea-table” 

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Filed under History, Holiday, Recipes

What is proper tea etiquette?

A perfectly set, formal afternoon tea place setting, at Kensington Palace. Image: Bit Boy, Wikimedia Commons.

Proper tea etiquette – or table manners in general – not only makes you a more pleasant person to be around, but considers other people by avoiding spreading germs and making a mess. Hopefully these “dos and don’ts” are common sense and easy to understand! Here are some of the details of good tea table etiquette, when you’re taking tea at a tea shop, or at home:

  1. Do offer to pour the cups of tea for your friend or friends.
  2. Add milk to your tea, if you like, but not cream. Cream is too rich and covers up the flavor of the tea. It doesn’t matter whether the milk or the tea goes into your cup first.
  3. Do use the utensils like sugar tongs, lemon forks or serving spoons, to serve yourself or others from shared containers, instead of your fingers or your personal teaspoon or fork. Remember to include these items when stocking your tea party pantry!
  4. When serving yourself some jam or other scone toppings, use the serving spoon or knife to place a small amount on the side of your plate, and then use your personal spoon or knife to spread your jam, cream, etc. on your scone.
  5. When eating your scone, break the scone in half, and only spread one bite-sized section at a time, with the toppings, instead of the entire half-scone.  It helps keep jam, cream, etc. off your face as you’re eating!
  6. Do try to make as little noise as possible when stirring your tea, drinking your tea, or eating your food.
  7. Do place your spoon on your saucer after stirring your tea, instead of on your plate or on the tablecloth.
  8. Do hold your teacup by the handle, either pinching it in between your thumb and first finger, or putting your finger through the handle and supporting the cup with your thumb on top of the handle and your third finger under the handle.
  9. Don’t stick your pinky up or out when holding your cup of tea. It is an affectation which is more prissy than polite, plus it compromises your grasp on the teacup’s handle, which is unsafe.
  10. Don’t turn your teacup upside down on your saucer to indicate when you’ve had enough tea; you will drip tea on the tablecloth!

Teatime is about relaxation, being considerate, and comforting others as you enjoy the comfort of the tea and treats.  That’s not so hard to do!  There are many tea books on the market, including etiquette guidebooks, that can give you more detailed pointers if you want them.  Why not practice good manners over a cup of tea?

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
“The top 10 tea myths: don’t be fooled by any of them!”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“Where to buy books about tea in San Jose”
“5 books that should be on the tea-lover’s bookshelf”
“Etiquette and manners for the 21st century”

“Afternoon tea vs. high tea”
“The great napkin debate of 2009 continues”
“How to set a table”
“Tea and etiquette”
“Etiquette Faux Pas and Other Misconceptions About Afternoon Tea” by Ellen Easton
“The Gift of Good Manners” by Ellen Easton
“Tea Times – Milk or Lemon for your Tea?” from the Stash Tea blog
“Let’s give a tea party” video from 1940s
“Arranging the tea table” video from 1946
Tea exhibit at Fowler Museum at UCLA

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Filed under Tea, Tips, Uncategorized