|PB & J on cracked wheat bread with a cuppa the Earl.|
I have a fond but slightly foggy memory of enjoying High Tea at Harrods as a teenager while on a shoestring tour of Europe with my sister. We nearly broke the trip budget for this one afternoon of indulgence; well worth it, I might add. I "dressed up" in the one nice thing I'd crammed into my big, canvas bag - a summery white cotton and very wrinkled dress. I tried hard to mind my manners. There were small tables piled with gorgeous cakes and pastries - edible works of art for which you could just help yourself - and the atmosphere was very hushed and respectful. I'm pretty sure there were strawberries and cream and the tea just kept coming. Afternoon tea time is a lovely ritual and one I've adopted for everyday life in Oklahoma.
Of course, my tea time is not nearly as sumptuous as the offerings were at Harrods (I believe they no longer offer High Tea, sadly). I usually just have some toast with peanut butter or a muffin along with my Earl Grey, but the idea is honored: slowing down one's day, taking a break to sip hot, sweet tea and of course, having a little bit of sustenance to carry one through until dinner time. I believe that "a cup of tea solves everything," at least for the duration it takes to finish a cup. And now that the weather has an edge of chilliness to it, a hot, steamy beverage is even more appealing.
Here's a comforting recipe for when you feel inclined to take a break in the late afternoon to relax, refresh and sip some tea:
3 cups water
1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, sliced
1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/4 tsp. cardamom seeds
6-8 whole cloves
2 black tea teabags
1 Earl Grey teabag
3/4 soy milk
your favorite sweetener to taste
In a medium saucepan, boil the water and spices until liquid has reduced to about 2 cups, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, add the teabags and steep for 5 minutes. Remove teabags, strain the tea and discard the spices. Return tea to the saucepan, add the soy milk and heat to boiling. Add sweetener to taste.
(Original recipe comes from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics Cookbook. You might want to serve this with Cinnamon-Orange Muffins or Cowboy Cookies - the recipes for which you can find on my Vegan Recipes page.)