How do you take your tea

This morning I had the good fortune of being invited to the Wes Butters Show for BBC Radio Leeds here is the iplayer recording,listen in from 75 mins.  The original story line was about a lady who has opened up a Russian Tea Room in Skipton Listen to her telephone conversation with Wes from the same link above from 60 mins in.

This got me thinking about how we all drink our tea.  Personally I prefer using a tea pot even when I use tea bags. I never dunk a tea bag in a cup and I always serve leaf tea in tea pots for my guests at The Secret Tea Room

When brewed correctly, using Leaf Tea, about 3 – 4mins, tea can and will taste sublime, but as I mentioned on the program, it is all a matter of personal taste. Plenty of people love builders tea, that I assume is in reference to what my dear father would describe as tea you could stand a spoon in.  For me I like the delicate flavour that only a few minutes brewing will produce.

Then there is the question, do you add milk first or not. This goes back to a time when china was very delicate and milk was poured first into a cup to prevent it shattering. I always add the milk first, because for me it gives an indication of how strong the tea is and if you pour too much tea into a cup there is no room left for milk. Many times I’ve seen my grandfather pour his hot tea into the saucer to cool down, I wonder if anyone still does this.

There are plenty of teas that I like, China Oolongs being some of them, have the most delicate flavour and are worthy of no milk at all. Earl Grey is another, if served with a slice of Lemon is divine and refreshing. These are all my personal preferences. What are yours

  • Milk first or last
  • No milk at all
  • Builders tea
  • Are you a coffee drinker
  • Or do you not drink tea at all

Do tell me I’d like to know. We don’t really have a decent (Leaf) tea room in Leeds, something which I wrote about this time last year.


Afternoon Tea, #ChallengeMark, Courgette & Chocolate Cake

No matter how many Courgettes you add to a cake mixture, you still won’t be able to taste them. This I found out when I made 2 x 6 ins cakes the other day. I used my guests at The Secret Tea Room yesterday as guinea pigs. I used 2 medium Courgettes with some cocoa, covered the cake with chocolate Ganache and coated the outside with crushed Nuts. The result was a moist chocolate cake, with no taste of  Courgette. I was hoping for a cake similar to a Carrot cake in appearance, but carrots have that wonderful Orange colour that stands out from the vanilla sponge but Courgettes, unless you leave the skins on, are really colourless. Yet they do add lots of moisture to a cake, so when in season why not add a couple to your cake mixture, no one need know. When I text my daughter to say I’d made a couple of Courgette and Chocolate Cakes, her reply was ‘Are you mad’ no I’m not and in fact many people bake cakes with courgettes in them. If you’ve never tried it, I suggest you give it a go while they are in season.

Combined with yesterdays Afternoon Tea, Mark O’Brien was working his way through August by visiting places suggested by readers of Culture Vulture and twitter. I was asked if there was a place for afternoon Tea, but as I was full, I suggested Mark work front of house, serving the tea as a way of earning some Tea and Cake. He did a grand job, greeting guests, hanging coats up, taking the Tea Orders and generally chatting to guests about what his #ChallengeMark was all about. He also did a great job keeping two pretty young ladies company in my front room who found themselves on their own due to some guests not showing up – an email stuck in their ‘out box’ meant I never got the cancellation. These things happen but I’m sure Mark had a lovely time talking to these young ladies and getting to know further places to travel in August.One of my guests, from Dinner at the Manor, a new Supperclub in Leeds, brought me some Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb and Stem Ginger Jam. This I have to try. Rhubarb and Ginger are some of the best combinations of flavours. Apart from enjoying this on toast for breakfast, I can see  it also being used as a filling for a future sponge cake. I can’t wait to visit their first Supperclub event in October.

Celebrations were also the order of the day as some guests did a BYO.

As is the order of the day, guests get to take cake home and I took my spare Courgette and Chocolate cake up to a friend’s house, to find that she was having guests later that evening so the gift of a cake was, I hope, a nice surprise for them.

My next Afternoon Tea isn’t until Sept 17th and with a few Clandestine Cake Club events in between, plus a few a few ‘close to my chest’ projects, I’m still going to be kept busy.