Welcome to Tea for Two! I hope to bring some of the past into your life for the moment. For your viewing pleasure, I have tried to enlighten you on the history of what made tea special.

In the 18th Century, the phrase "Tea For Two" was an English street cry which vendors used to peddle their special priced tea. Normally, a pot of tea was thruppence, but some vendors hungry for more business would often lower it to tuppence by yelling, "Tea for two." Today the phrase means a lot more. It speaks of a cozy time for friends to relax, to enjoy the moment, unburden themselves for an hour or so, and share their lives together.

The cozy fire is bright and gay,
The merry kettle boils away
And hums a cheerful song.
I sing the saucer and the cup;
Pray, Mary, fill the teapot up,
And do not make it strong.

By: Barry Pain

The following information is from "The Europeans" by Henry James.


The Baroness found it amusing to go to tea; she dressed as if for dinner. The tea-table offered an anomalous and picturesque repast; and on leaving it they all sat and talked in the large piazza, or wandered about the garden in the starlight, with their ears full of those sounds of strange insects which, though they are supposed to be, all over the world, a part of the magic of summer nights, seemed to be Baroness to have, beneath these western skies, an incomparable resonance.

Tea reached the height of popularity during Victoria's rein. It evolved during this time into the central attraction of two meals that were to become standards in British life ~~one that provided afternoons of pleasurable socializing, and the other that provided evening comfort.

High tea was the Victorian working man's last meal of the day. An early supper which allowed him to get to bed before dark, it also provided him with the sustenance needed to perform hard labor. A combination of hot dishes, chicken, game, or ham served with salads, breads, cheeses, and an endless assortment of cakes and condiments, this meal consisted of anything available in the pantry. For most, it was the bridge between a light lunch and a simple breakfast.

Afternoon tea, on the other hand, was generally a custom for higher society, whether that of the aristocracy or the prosperous middle and upper-middle classes. A delicate affair, this meal was served in the late afternoon, long after lunch and several hours before dinner. It was appreciated as much for the company as for the meal. It became an excellent reason for an invitation extended or visit made. Quite a legacy for a simple camellia leaf!

The freshly brewed tea is too hot to gulp, but it will cool. You can simply sit and wait until the boiling liquid settles into comfortable warmth. Maybe you can read yet another page of your book.

 

 

Tea Cup History

Victorian Ladies looked forward to leisurely sitting in their velvet seated chairs as the last of the sunlight filtered through lace covered windows.  The sterling pot was filled with steaming hot tea, which was served in their finest China, as the day winded down.  This activity was known as high tea.

The special social gatherings for tea would produce these fine ladies in their high-buttoned shoes and stockings.  The gatherings produced the most beautiful table settings which were considered the status of these leisurely ladies and were high society rituals.

Katharine, the wife of King Charles II began to set the tea trend.  It was at the suggestion of King Charles II that Katharine introduce the social hour over tea.  Many artists began designing tea cups that are considered some of the best all over the world.  It was years later that demand for tea sets grew. 

Queen Victoria also began this tradition when she appointed Richard Twining II, as "Purveyor of Tea in Ordinary to Her Magesty."  Lemon was sampled in his tea which became as popular as milk.

Today, a tea break is fast becoming a trend for a business conference instead of the cocktail hour.

Some information:
By Susanne O'Connor
"Taking Tea"
Victorian Decorating & Lifestyle
February 2000

Tea Preferences

  • Afternoon Tea - includes small, crustless sandwiches with savory fillings, sconces, bread and butter, sweets (jams, jellies, honey), desserts and tea.
  • Royal Tea - Afternoon tea with the addition of a glass of champagne or sherry.
  • Light Tea - A lighter version of afternoon tea, at which scones, sweets and tea are served.
  • Cream Tea - An English favorite consisting of scones, jam, clotted cream (buttery cream that's thick enough to spread) and tea.
  • High Tea - Often confused with afternoon tea, high tea is a hearty sit-down meal with an extensive menu that can include meat pies, sausage, sold cuts, breads, cheese, jam, butter, desserts, fruit and tea.
  • I recently attended a Tea Party that was so much fun.  We were served by the men of the church and we felt like queens and princesses.  They really made it very special for us.  The tables were set with the finest of china, linen and floral arrangements.  The floral arrangements consisted of floral teapots with silk flowers throughout.  There were lots of tables that contained these special floral teapots.  Just before the Tea Party ended, drawings were held to give the guests a chance to win these beautiful arrangements.  Many thanks to the Banquet Committee at University Baptist Church for providing such a wonderful Tea Party.  The following is the menu used at the Tea Party.

    Suggested Menu

    Scones with Devon Cream, Strawberry Preserves and Orange Marmalade
    Fresh Fruits
    Tea Sandwiches (8 varieties)

    Strawberry Cream Cheese   Egg Salad   Cucumber
    Chicken Salad   Pineapple Cream Cheese   Ham Rollups
    Apple Cinnamon Cream Cheese   Peanut Butter & Jelly    

    Desserts (6 varieties)

    Chocolate Chip Cookie   Lemon Cookie   Brownie
    Eclair   Nut Bread    Petit Four

    Assorted Teas with Cream, Lemon or Sugar

    The Perfect Cup of Tea


    Perfect tea requires only a few simple elements.

  • "Hot the pot." Pour hot water into a ceramic teapot and let it sit until time to use.
  • Using cool, fresh tap water, fill the kettle and bring it to a boil.
  • As the water in the kettle is about to boil, empty the teapot, dry it and measure into it 1 teaspoonful of tea per cup plus "one for the pot." Tea bags may be substituted if you prefer.
  • Just as the water has come to a full, rolling boil, bring the "pot to the kettle" and place it next to the stove. If the water continues to boil, it will become flat and decrease the flavor of the tea. So, immediately pour water over the tea leaves.
  • Put a lid on the teapot, cover it with a tea cozy and let steep for 5 minutes. Stir once during the steeping process. Using a strainer, pour tea into cups and serve.


  • Victorian Recipes

    Cream Scones


        Ingredients

    • 1 cups flour sifted with
    • 3 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1/2 cup cream
    • 2 beaten eggs
    Cooking Instructions

    Cut butter into sifted dry ingredients. Combine eggs and cream and add. Pat to 3/4-inch thick. Cut in squares or triangles, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 375� until lightly brown, about 20 minutes. Serve hot with any jams, preserves or Traditional Tea Spreads. (Included below).

    Yield: 1 dozen

    Crumpets


        Ingredients

    • 2 teaspoons yeast
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/4 cup warm water
    • 1/3 cup milk
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 4 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    Cooking Instructions

    Mix yeast with sugar, add water and let stand about 5 minutes until foamy. Stir in milk, egg and 1 tablespoon butter. Add flour and salt; mix until well blended. Cover with damp towel and let stand in warm place about 45 minutes, or until almost doubled in volume. Brush four 3-inch flan rings and bottom of heavy frying pan with remaining melted butter. Heat over low flame and place 2 tablespoons of batter inside each ring. Cook for 7 minutes, or until tops are dry and holes appear. Remove rings and turn crumpets. Cook about 2 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm with preserves and Devenshire cream.

    Yield: 7 dozen

    Ginger Snaps


        Ingredients

    • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
    • 4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1/3 cup molasses
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    Cooking Instructions

    Cream the butter for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour plus the sugar, molasses, egg, lemon extract, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking soda and salt. Mix well on medium-high speed. Stir in the remaining flour until blended. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350�. Remove dough from refrigerator, and with a teaspoon, scoop out rounded measures of dough. Roll dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass dipped in white sugar. Preheat oven to 350�. Bake for 11 minutes. Let stand for approximately for 30 seconds on cookie sheet before removing to cooling racks. Cool completely and store in airtight containers.

    Yield: 50 cookies

     

    Lemon Curd


          Ingredients

    • 3 large lemons
    • 5 eggs
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
    Cooking Instructions

    Grate the lemon and set aside. Squeeze the juice and put into a blender or food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Pour the mixture into a very heavy sauce pan or the top half of a double boiler. Stir in the lemon rind and cook over low heat or over simmring water for about 10 minutes, until thickened. Stir the mixture with a wire whisk if it appears lumpy. Chill the lemon cord before serving; it becomes thicker as it cools. This is a delicious easy-to-make sweet lemon butter that is used as a spread on crumpets, muffins, and toast.

    Yield: 1-1/3 Cups

    Traditional Tea Spreads


    Devonshire Cream
    Orange Marmalade
    Strawberry Jam
    Honey
    Cinnamon and Sugar

    Apple Butter
    Strawberry Butter
    Raspberry Preserves
    Apricot Preserves
    Apple Chutney



    Victorian Tea
    Recommended Reading



    A Cup of Christmas Tea
    By Tom Hegg  Warren Hanson (Illustrators)

    A Memory of Christmas Tea
    By Tom Hegg, Warren Hanson (Illustrator)

    The Tea Party Book
    By Lucille Recht Penner

    The Afternoon Tea Book
    By Michael Smith, Michael R.P. Bartlett

    Afternoon Teas
    Recipes-History-Menus (Between Friends Cookbook)
    By Pam McKee, Lin Webber, Ann Krum (Contributor), Anne Krum

    Alexandra Stoddard's Tea Celebrations
    The Way to Serenity
    By Alexandra Stoddard

    The Book of Afternoon Tea
    By Lesley MacKley

    The Pleasures of Tea
    Recipes & Rituals
    By Kim Waller, Nancy Lindemeyer (Introduction)

    Steeped in Tea
    Creative Ideas, Activities & Recipes for Tea Lovers
    by Diana Rosen

    The Charms of Tea
    Reminiscences and Recipes
    By Victoria Magazine (Editor)

    An Invitation to Tea
    Special Celebrations With Treasured Friends
    By Emilie Barnes

    The Totally Teatime Cookbook
    By Helene Siegel, Karen Gillingham

    Teatime
    30 Irresistable and Delicious Afternoon Treats
    By Clare Gordon-Smith

    Tea With Friends
    By Elizabeth Knight

    Cynthia Hart's Victoriana 2009 Wall Calendar

    The Collectible Teapot & Tea Calendar 2009

     

    Shopping

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    Cup of Tea Web Sites

    Annie's Time For Tea
    A Spot Of Tea
    Mash Tea Gholee Cyber Teahouse

    Tea Rooms

    Gracie's English Tearoom & Gifts
    Miss Mable's Tea Room
    Victorian Rose Tea Company
    Your Cuppa Tea

    Cup of Coffee Web Sites

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    Changes last made on: Tue Feb 26, 2008