If I went to a friend's house where they poured a cup of tea from a pot, with fresh tea leaves inside I assumed they were rich or from England.
I was in college before I was introduced to the whole "going to tea" or "taking tea" or "having High Tea" delightful pleasure. Since then, I seek out places that serve a great Tea.
For a couple years, I worked with a stylish Tea Salon in Los Angeles where I had the chance to learn about tea and developed many recipes that used tea as an ingredient or infused with the flavors. Our specialty was World Teas. We broke the mold of just the proper English Tea by creating recipes inspired by different countries and their flavors.
If you read my blog often, you know there are several recipes using tea to enhance the flavor base (ie. Cowboy Smokey Tea Tomato Jam, Tea Poached Shrimp Summer Rolls, Stove Top Smoked Fish, Green Tea Croquembouche, Matcha Green Tea Doughnuts. )
If I could pass on just 3 important ideas about tea it would be these:
1) Using real tea, not old flakes in a stringed bag, makes all the difference in the world.
2) Water temperature can make or break the flavor and the true taste of the tea.
3) Don't over brew - it's the same thing as burning food and that's why it taste bad.
When I have visitors to California, or visit a friend's city I almost always suggest going to a tea in the area. There is something very replenishing about sharing a plate of scones, a couple mini-sandwiches and tiny desserts while chatting over warm and fragrant tea pots.This month, my online Lets Lunch Bunch has the theme of High Tea for us to share across the miles in our virtual lunch date. When my daughter and a friend from Italy were here, we took the opportunity to seek inspiration by having tea at the exquisite Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. The room was quiet (until we started giggling and sharing stories) and the food was delicate, but plentiful. In case you are thinking this is just a "Ladies" tradition, there were more men in the room than ladies the day we were visiting. There were several obvious business meetings going on around the room, a family stopping for a breather during their busy day, and a couple who sounded like they were on a first date (not that I was listening.)When I returned home and pondered how I could combine the proper tea fare I had partaken in during the afternoon, yet give a nod to my much more casual background. I came up with Sweet Potato Tea Bars.Sweet Potatoes, packed with good healthy nutrients, make a good combo to the antioxidants in tea. The creaminess goes so well with a hearty smokey black, yet the earthiness pairs well with a grassy green tea. Also, they're just damn good.Tea is one of earth's most natural healing liquids. I recommend drinking more of it. Do it slowly. Do it often. Do it with people you love.
Also: Check out all of the inspired High Tea ideas with the Lets Lunch pals:
Charissa‘s Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches with Honey Mustard, Tomatoes & Basil at Zest Bakery
Emma‘s Brown Sugar Shortbreads With Hawaiian Jam at Dreaming of Pots and Pans
Grace‘s Taiwanese Sandwiches at HapaMama
Karen‘s Saskatoon Berry Tartlets at GeoFooding
Linda‘s Mesquite Hemp Cocoa at Free Range Cookies
Linda‘s Singapore-Style Ginger Tea & Kaya (Coconut Jam) Toast at Spicebox Travels
Lisa‘s Little Lemon Meringue Tarts at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Mai‘s Cougar Gold & Shallot Shortbread at Cooking in The Fruit Bowl
Patrick‘s Welsh Rarebit at Patrick G. Lee
Rashda‘s Spiced Chickpea & Sweet Potato Tidbits at Hot Curries & Cold Beer
Rebecca‘s Millionaire’s Shortbread at Grongar Blog
Steff‘s Lemon-Lime Shortbread Cookies at The Kitchen Trials
Join us next time, have lunch with us online. Go to twitter and put in the hashtag (#letslunch) and leave us word you'd like to join. We're growing with every lunch. :D
Recipe: Sweet Potato Tea Bars
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks butter (6oz.)
2/3 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1) Mix the crust ingredients in a large bowl. Press the crumbly crust into a parchment lined 9" pan.
2) Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then pour in the filling.
1 Large Sweet Potato (baked)
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 lemon juice and zest
1/4 cup milk
1) Beat all ingredients until creamy.
2) Pour into the pre-baked crust. Return to a preheated 350F oven. Bake for about 20 Minutes (until set.)
3) Cool and chill for 20 minutes before cutting into bars.
4) Garnish with chopped nuts or powdered sugar.