Tea: It doesn’t have to be formal & girly

(Sorry for my lack of blog-posts last week … I was in Florida! If I was more organized and had planned ahead more I would have had blog posts pre-written and scheduled to post while I was away. But .. well, that didn’t happen. But the week in FL was awesome – it was a road trip with my extended family, I got see my siblings at college, attend a week of Bible lectures, and see my brother in the Spring musical. WooT!)

And now I’ve returned from the 80+ degree weather back to the chilly snowy days of February. Right before I go out of town, I try not buy new groceries and instead use up what I have in the house so that I don’t have food just sitting around and spoiling while I am gone. Which is a good plan, I think, but also means when you get back into town, there’s not much on hand. So I’m planning out this week’s menu today and I’m about to head out to the store.

I don’t know how you plan your meals, but I often think in food “genres”. I have a friend who never makes the same meat twice in a row … if it was chicken last night, it can’t be chicken tonight. Personally, I don’t mind repeating the same meats, because there are endless varieties of how to prepare them – but I do like to mix up cooking styles. Maybe Italian one night, Indian the next night, and Japanese another. Of course, the week’s cooking rarely goes strictly according to the predetermined schedule, but that’s how it plays out on my list.

One “genre” of meal that I like to do sometimes is tea. Tea the meal, not just tea the drink, that is. I think tea as a meal gets overlooked sometimes because (at least in America) tea as a meal is seen as being very girly. People tend to think of Victorian style tea parties, big hats and gloves. But it doesn’t have to be that way! We have tea in a much less girly way, and tea for supper is a special treat in our house – even my husband enjoys it.

I’m certainly not going to claim to prepare an authentic high tea.  Think of it more as being inspired by tea.  Typically, when I make tea as a meal, I break down the components into 4 “S” categories: sandwiches, scones, snacks, and sweets.  And then, of course, there is also the tea itself. But there are a variety of things you can prepare based on this loose idea of tea as a meal, and so I’m going to offer up a list of ideas to get your mind rolling.  I like to make one item from each category, but you  could do it any way you choose. Here are  a few ideas from each category:

- Chicken salad and diced apples on a bagel (as pictured above)

-Cucumber sandwiches (mix cream cheese w/ a little dill and garlic, spread on bread, add sliced cucumbers)

-Sliced chicken with avocado slices, and tomatoes in pitas

-BLTs on english muffins

-Chicken cooked with curry spices on bread, topped w/ cucumbers, sliced bell peppers and chutney

-Ham and swiss, diced onions, dijon mustard and poppyseeds baked in rolls

-Guacamole, bacon, tomatoes, and bean sprouts on sliced french bread

-Etc.!

-Fresh fruit (grapes, pineapple, sliced apples, strawberries, or pears, etc.)

-Fresh vegetables (baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, etc.)

-Variety of cheeses and crackers

-Hummus and pita triangles

-Spinach artichoke dip

-Quiches (can make mini quiches, or save time and make one full size)

-Fresh salsa

-Assorted pickles (sweet pickles, dill pickles, pickled peppers, etc.)

-Etc.!

(Note: Scones are very easy to make! I’ll have to share a recipe in a later post.)

-Traditional scones, served with lemon curd (a sweet lemon spread), clotted cream (a creamy mixture somewhere inbetween butter and whipped cream) and strawberry preserves on the side. This is my favorite!

- Glazed lemon poppyseed scones

-Pumpkin scones with whipped maple butter

-Blueberry scones with lemon curd

-Maple scones with apple butter

-Chocolate chip scones with clotted cream

-Etc.!

-Tea wafer cookies

-Banana bread

-Earl grey cookies

-Small candies or assorted cookies

-Nutella (to spread on fruit or scones)

-Lemon curd/clotted cream/fruit preserves (to go on scones)

-Cupcakes

-Etc.!

Serve your favorite tea, or just have hot water available and let each person make their own!  Here are a few of my favorite teas…

-Assam. A dark full bodied tea … sometimes called “the coffee of teas”. My favorite. :)

-Irish breakfast tea. This is a rich black tea, and reminds me of Assam, but is easier to find.

-Fruit and herbal teas.  Nice to have on hand if you want something a little lighter – I’m partial to peach.

-White tea. Light and refreshing, but can be pricey.

-Green tea. Warm and comforting with a unique earthy flavor.

-And plenty more! I tend to favor black teas, but I like to have a variety in the house. :)

What do you think?
I think one of the nice things about it is that there a quick options in each category, so it can be thrown together quickly … or you can opt for more time-intensive options for special occasions.  I might do this tea menu for Valentine’s Day tomorrow: chicken, tomato and avocado sandwiches, fresh fruit, traditional scones with clotted cream and lemon curd, and tea wafer cookies, with Irish breakfast tea.

Do you ever have tea as a meal? Do you think you might give it a try? Tell me what you think in the comments, below!

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12 Comments

  1. Posted February 13, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    I like it! We don’t have tea enought in our array of meals! We have iced tea and hot Earl Grey, but not for a meal! Great idea!

    • Posted February 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      Thanks! Yeah, I didn’t think to specify I was talking about hot tea .. although I do love iced tea for other applications! But especially in these cold winter months hot tea is so nice. :)

  2. Posted February 14, 2012 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    I am so glad I happened across your blog via foodgawker! I love tea and this post was great! I tend to just drink tea at random times vs. having a tea meal.

    • Posted February 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for stopping by, Jessica! I was very excited my photo made it onto FoodGawker … I’ve always wanted to make it on there! :)

      I definitely drink tea at random times more often than I have as a meal, too. I’d say I drink tea most days … my husband is more of a coffee guy. But its nice to have the meal sometimes, too! :)

  3. Ariana
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad I’m not alone in the having-tea-as-a-meal fan club. Years ago when I was on holidays in England I found this amazing book in a charity shop, about the history of the afternoon tea. Ever since, from time to time I’m going nostalgic and preparing tea for myself. My favorite type is for sure Earl Grey (it goes wonderfully with lemon!) and as for sandwiches, I always go back to tuna-cucumber on white bread. Plus, tea is no tea without scones, I’m a fan of strawberry ones with lots and lots of clotted or heavily whipped cream.

    • Posted February 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Yay, a fellow tea lover! :) Earl Grey is definitely a classic. And very good with lemon! I have a recipe that actually uses Earl Gray tea leaves and lemon in cookies – sooo perfect for tea! Tuna cucumber sandwiches and strawberry scones with clotted cream = I’m getting hungry! :)

  4. Posted February 14, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    This is fantastic! That sandwich in your photo looks amazing! I am thinking that cucumber sandwich is something I would like to try. I have been using them a lot in my salads recently and just love their fresh taste. So, in a sandwich, why not!

    Happy Valentines Day,
    Brandi

    • Posted February 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Happy Valentines Day to you too, Brandi! :)
      Yeah, I love cucumbers – they are so crisp and refreshing!
      And thanks about the photo. :D

  5. Posted February 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m guilty of thinking of tea as a special occasion, spend-the-morning-in-the-kitchen-prepping event. I love the way you bring it into everyday possibility. You inspire me to try to do this in our household.

    • Posted February 14, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Oh wonderful! I do enjoy the go-way-out formals teas, too … but I think tea food is just too delicious to relegate it to such time-intensive occasions. Tickled you found this inspiring, Lori! :)

  6. Posted February 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Tea is great after a heavy meal. I love tea specially the green tea.

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