Sunday, November 28, 2010


My daughter Tyca is just about to turn 17 next week. Too bad her birthday falls on her SPM examination day. So nothing much can be done. I want her to focus on her papers and celebrate the special day later.In the past, I kept things pretty simple. Just took the entire family for a "makan", bought them a birthday cake of their choice and of course their birthday gift.. However after indulging myself in this food blogging, I'm not sure that a simple family outing will do. And I'm not sure that I want it to.  What I have in mind is a decent afternoon tea party - the Victorian Way. 

I think she deserve it. It's the birthday every girl looks forward to -- her sweet 17th. A special year deserves a special celebration, so  I put some extra thought into planning her 17th Birthday Afternoon Tea. While surfing the net I came across an article by Jeniffer MacFadyen, on How To Make A Proper Tea. My first impression was, do we need to learn that? It's our everyday routine, making coffee and tea, but I was wrong, making proper tea may sound simple, but a lot goes into doing it correctly! This list will lead you through the steps to properly make your tea the English way.

There are many ways to brew tea and hundreds more types to choose from. This How To isn't about all those brewing methods and flavours - this is about making a proper cup of English tea.

  • Purchase good quality tea. Proper English tea is made with black tea - loose or bags, it's up to you. You'll have to weigh the convenience of bags with the full-bodied taste that only loose tea can give you. But whatever you do, avoid the cheap, boxed bags from your local supermarket. There's nothing more in those boxes than "dust." Stop by your local tea shop or check the imported shelves at the market to find some high quality tea.
  • Get a good tea pot. This is an important step. Tea needs room to move around to develop the best taste and you just won't get that by making it in a cup. The type isn't that important. Brown Betty pots are a favorite but you'll do just as well with a stainless, clay or ceramic pot.
  • Use fresh water. Do not use the water already sitting in the kettle. Your tea will taste stale if you use re-boiled water. Pull fresh cold water into the kettle - preferably filtered to avoid any contaminants that might alter the taste of the tea. If think water doesn't mater, try an experiment when you have the time. Make a pot of tea with tap water and another pot with filtered water. You're sure to taste the difference
  • Boil the water. Hot water from the tap is just not enough. You need a good rolling boil to get the water at the right temperature to meet the tea. A good electric or stove-top kettle will help you with this.
  • Heat the pot. While your kettle is boiling, run some hot water into the tea pot and let it sit. "Warming the pot" helps to keep the boiling water at the right temperature to brew the tea and will keep your brewed tea hotter, longer.
  • Get the tea ready. Just before the water comes to a boil, pour the hot water out of the standing tea pot and add your tea. If you're using tea leaves, spoon in a teaspoon for every cup plus "one for the pot." You may want to use a tea ball to hold the loose tea and that's fine, just be aware that the tea may taste slightly different than if it was loose in the pot because it doesn't have as much room to unfurl in the tea ball and develop its full flavor. If you are using tea bags, add two or three to the pot, depending on your preference.
  • Add the boiling water to the tea. Notice that the instruction is to add the WATER to the TEA, never the other way around.
  • Leave the tea to steep. The tea needs time to unfurl its leaves and develop its flavor. This usually takes about five minutes but you can adjust that time up or down depending on your personal preference. Cover the tea pot with a tea cozy or tea towel to keep it warm.
  • Pour the tea. Purists would tell you that tea just doesn't taste right unless it's served in porcelain cups. There's no doubt that the tea does taste wonderful in porcelain but if delicate cups aren't your thing, any cup or mug will do. If you've used loose tea, rest a tea strainer on your cup to catch any leaves.
  • If you have used tea bags and don't plan on drinking the whole pot right away, remove the tea bags so the tea doesn't get too strong and bitter - same idea with a tea ball. If you have used leaves, it's best to serve the full pot right away or else the sitting leaves will make the tea bitter and undrinkable.
  • Add the extras. After the tea is poured you may add your milk and sugar. English tea is commonly served with milk but never crI have, however, worked hard on perfecting my loose tea brewing practices, and will again someday make another purchase of some rare, delicate, choice tea and just maybe, find that there is such an exotic out there that's worth the extra cost...maybe.
  • The fat content in cream is too rich for tea's delicate taste, so low-fat milk is the way to go. For some time, sugar in your tea was very popular but this seems to be going out of style. Honey is never served in traditional British tea. If you prefer your tea black, you might enjoy a slice of lemon. - Source E-How

Rose Bud Tea
I have, however, worked hard on perfecting my loose tea brewing practices, and will now exploring the techniques of making Chinese tea. Speaking about tea have you ever try flower tea? I first had it given to me by old friend returning from her Taiwan trip. It has no tea in it at all, just a tiny rose bud. It has a pleasant but not totally wonderful taste. It's natural rose taste and aroma, make it lovely and highly enjoyable beverage. The essential oils in Rosebud Tea can help to improve blood circulation and is good for the heart.I still have it occasionally and once a while tried other flowers tea. There's a cafe named Winter Warmer, in Gurney Plaza Penang and The Curve serve a wide range of flowers tea in an English mood and environment. Check this out.Like other tea, flowers tea do have different preparing techniques used in order to obtain different tastes, so you can try the different ways depend on your flavor.

  • Boil the water first, add the flower teas and continue boiling with low heat for one minute, then pour them into a teapot and leave it until the color and aroma changes. Then it is ready to be served. This method produce slightly thicker aroma, but it is time consuming and complex.
Insert the flower teas into a teapot or funnel, straightly infuse boiled water into it. Flower tea will opens up, promptly release the aroma of tea, but it will cause the flower tea smashed into pieces.

Infuse half cup of boiled water into a tea pot. Then add flower teas, and fill boiled water till full. This method will cause the cleaner, but it takes more time than the first two methods and the tea color will be lighter.

Fill a teapot full with boiled water, and then add the flower teas. This method slightly takes a longer time, the contents of flower teas will be completely released, and it is more aromatic.- Source - Tea House

Now how about the Three Layer Tea? I had accidentally tasted it in one of the Mamak shop in Ipoh. It looks so tempting, I could'nt help myself for trying it. It was my first encounter and was sternly warned by my children to avoid the drinks - I'm diabetic. Wow it was fantastic. Sort of my kind of drink, but I can't take it  often especially with my body guard all around me. The bottom layer is the taste of palm sugar, taste like cendol, second layer is evaporated milk and the top layer is pure tea. Perrgghhh.......... my sugar level will definitely shoot up. You can try the three layered tea. I tried to make once, but failed. Anyway if you want to try, check this  out - recipe from F&N.

30 ml Palm Syrup
70 ml Evaporated Filled Milk
10 gm Ceylon Tea Leaves
70 ml Hot Water
Crushed Ice/Ice Cubes

  • Soak Ceylon tea leaves into a hot water cup/ container and leave it 
       aside for 15 min.
    • Pour Palm Syrup into serving glass.
    • Fill in crushed ice up to the brim.
    • Pour in F&N Evaporated Filled Milk.
    • Gently pour in Ceylon tea prepared earlier. The tea should remain 
    above the layer of F&N Evaporated Filled Milk. A 3 Layer of separation 
    will appear.

        Three Layer Tea

        I am starting to get quite anxious into starting to organize the Afternoon
        Tea Party.Haven't fix the date yet. Most likely Tyca Birthday Afternoon 
        Tea will be hosted after her final SPM paper. Probably after 9th 
        December 2010. See how it goes and I'll keep you posted on the event 
        and the menu of the Afternoon Tea. 

        So my dear  TYCA 

        and all the best in your SPM.

        Birthday Girl - TYCA


        Next Post - The New Era Kuih Talam


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