Some things just go naturally together – like a lovely zippy cup of tea, tea time sandwiches and a quirky tea-time song (see video) . Today’s recipe celebrates that tradition with a recipe for egg and watercress sandwiches I pried out of a fairly reluctant English tea house some time ago. I still enjoy the sandwiches at home or when I being an item to a tea. I think you’ll love its elegant simplicity as well.
Fun Tea Facts
Most tea rooms today serve tea from three to five o'clock. The menu has changed from the original tea, bread, butter and cakes, to include three courses served in this order:
Savories - Tiny sandwiches or appetizers
Scones - Served with jam and Devonshire or clotted cream
Pastries - Cakes, cookies, shortbread and sweets
Holding a Tea Cup
In order to not spill the hot liquid, the proper way to hold the vessel of a cup with no handle is to place your thumb at the six o'clock position and your index and middle fingers at the twelve o'clock position, while gently raising your pinkie up for balance.
Tea cups with a handle are held by placing your fingers to the front and back of the handle with your pinkie up again allows balance.
Never wave or hold your tea cup in the air. When not in use, place the tea cup back in the tea saucer.
If you are at a buffet tea, hold the tea saucer in your lap with your left hand and hold the tea cup in your right hand. When not in use, place the tea cup back in the tea saucer and hold in your lap. The only time a saucer is raised together with the teacup is when one is at a standing reception.
Milk is served with tea, not cream. Cream is too heavy and can mask the taste of the tea. Although some pour their milk in the cup first, it is probably better to pour the milk in the tea after it is in the cup in order to get the correct amount.
Remove the tea bag from the cup and place it on a side saucer or in a slop bowl. Do not use the string to wrap around or squeeze the tea bag.
When serving lemon with tea, lemon slices are preferable, not wedges. Either provide a small fork or lemon fork for your guests, or have the tea server can neatly place a slice in the tea cup after the tea has been poured. Be sure never to add lemon with milk since the lemon's citric acid will cause the proteins in the milk to curdle.
Contemporary Tea Suggestions
I love tea of all kinds, but lately I’ve been hooked on Zest Tea’s. This is more of a contemporary tea that appeals to people who like a “lift” from their beverage. Zest Tea is a line of premium energy teas with the same energizing kick of coffee. While the teas have comparable caffeine levels to coffee—about three times the levels of traditional teas—the amino acids in Zest help reduce the jitters and crash associated with most caffeinated products, resulting in a steady and prolonged alertness. Founders Rickey and James share the origins of their perky product, “We were sick of trading in our delicious, healthy, tea, for that sludge they call coffee at the office, so we set out to find quality energizing tea. Unfortunately, they didn't exist. Instead of whimpering and moving on (well maybe a little whimpering) we starting making our own blends of caffeine infused teas using our favorite high quality blends.”
For my tastes, they have a hit a home run. Whoever is making these blends has excellent vision of their target market and one-heck of a palate. I’ve tried all four of their flavors now in the morning and with the egg and watercress sandwiches. Everyone is a winner. My advice? Head off to the Zest Tea web site and buy the four currently offered. Yup, they are that good. http://getzesttea.com/
Blue Lady Black blends a sultry South Indian black tea base with an aromatic mix of orange, lemon, passion fruit, and hibiscus. A peppering of vivid blue cornflower petals and bits of orange peel make for a visual spectacle. Serve hot or cold. $14.95
Apple Cinnamon Black Tea asks the question, “What’s more American than Apple Pie? “Unfortunately, football and the Grand Canyon didn’t make for great teas. This blend of premium Orange Pekoe black tea smothered in real bits of apple and cinnamon is a nod to your grandmother’s 4th of July specialty. Even modern teas can have a traditional twist. $14.95
Pomegranate Mojito Green asks why not every morning with a Mojito start. This aromatic blend of young hyson green tea, peppermint, lime, and pomegranate will bring back memories of lounging on a beach, or maybe whatever memories you have left of college. Either way, the Pomegranate Mojito Green Tea is an amazingly refreshing blend, great for any time of day. $14.95. My favorite, just sayin’.
Earl Grey Black Tea salutes the tradition. It has been a popular blend since it was introduced to the British Earl, Charles “Chaz” Grey, in the 1830’s. Most Earl Greys are made with low-quality base teas, but not this one. Zest’s Earl is made with premium Nilgiri Indian black tea blended with a delicious bergamot essential oil. $14.95
Egg and Watercress Tea Sandwiches
Compliments of a small tea house in England which has decided to remain nameless
Makes 24 dainty tea sandwiches
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
12 thin whole wheat bread slices
1 small bunch watercress (about 15 sprigs), stems removed, washed, dried and coarsely chopped
In a medium bowl combine eggs, mayo, eggs, mustard, salt and pepper. Blend with a fork.
Divide and spread egg mixture evenly among 6 bread slices. Sprinkle decoratively with watercress. Top with remaining bread slices. Using a very sharp knife, carefully and precisely trim off crusts and cut each sandwich into 4 small triangles.
Pinkies Up and enjoy!