Ever since learning to operate the intricate household kettle, I have enjoyed a daily ritual of "tea drinking." From the kitchen drawer, where flavours are lined according to popularity, I select a tea bag (where contents are unrecognisable) and drop it into a nearby mug, selected from a full cupboard located close to the kettle for convenience. My mug is chosen for it's weight, the colour and pattern that is printed, and how comfortable it is to hold in my small hands.
I fill the kettle and set it to boil, waiting a few moments before I hear that 'click', comforting and familiar, and pour the steaming water over my tea bag. I then allow the tea to steep for a few minutes as I collect almond milk from the fridge and a teaspoon from the drawer.
The process entitled "making a cup of tea" continues to be an oasis in my day, a simple ritual entailed by the pleasure of having time to relax, however something behind the manufacturing and processing of the tea I drink each day bothers me. Tea drinking has become increasingly widespread across North America, with sales rising from $1.8 to $6.5 billion over the past 16 years, a huge influx despite the recession - although perhaps this notion that a cup of tea helps us to relax is what drives buyers to places like David's Tea. Or maybe its the cost of buying a drink from Starbucks that makes people rethink where they're spending their money, and instead make drinks at home.
The soaring mass production we have seen, with stacks of tea in the aisles of grocery stores rising, has decreased the quality we taste in every bag, as well as a loss of the tradition behind every cup. As with most things in our society, we have ruined its history to make it profitable, to transform it into a commodity.
Today, gadgets are sold to aid the average customer, oblivious to the past of tea-drinking rituals, to produce a quality cup in their own home. Along with the enticing and fragrant flavours lining most household cupboards, holiday chai or tazo chai? Jasmine or Gamuacha Green tea? There has been more and more recreations of the simple strainer, technologically advanced tea cups, and mechanisms to keep your tea warm as you make your morning commute.
I admit, I have been enthralled by such products as I wait in line, they sit so dramatically along the shelves. And I feel as if I need it, the elegance and structure looks so beautiful, and the cup I am holding, a purple travel mug curved at the edges, fits perfectly into my hand.
I plead to my mum who casually turns her head. How many mugs have I bought recently?
After deciding upon a flavour of tea from the cupboard, two perfectly measured teaspoons are dropped into a "top-of-the-line" strainer, which fits into its matching cup, a device complete with a lid and designed for today's single-cup tea drinkers. According to instructions on the packet, I time it to steep for exactly seven minutes, a direction I should not take lightly to ensure that perfect outcome.
Ridiculous in appearance and the intricacy of the design, reviewers still rave about the final flavours of the tea created by modern mechanisms, flying off the shelves over and over again. Comparatively, the majority still makes tea with a ceramic pot, boiled water from the stove and with a steeping time of only a couple of minutes, and they've maintained the cultural aspects behind each mug brought to their lips.
My parents, both from England, have brought both me and my sister up to really enjoy a simply made "regular" cup of tea. We frequently ask for this, and it is always understand between us, however when others ask what type of tea we would like, and one of us replies,
"I'll have regular tea."
Causing puzzled looks, confusion. Then we have to try,
But that always causes them to shoot back,
"But what type of black tea?"
Earl Grey Tea Muffins
Realizing that I didn't have a recipe for muffins on my blog (probably my favourite of all baked goods) I was shocked, and knew that this week I would set about making the perfect tea-time muffins. However, the first time I made them, we were completely out of eggs, and not thinking to run over to the neighbours, and over exaggerating the amount of times I have successfully baked without eggs, I opted to use ground flax instead.
Needless to say, they did not work. And I instead pulled from the oven a tray of uncooked muffins, even after 45 minutes in the hot oven. They had come out mushy and gooey.
So unless you have an allergy, or follow a vegan diet, I would recommend these muffins to be cooked with eggs! Although if you do try the flax, it is 1 tbsp in 2 tbsp of warm water per each egg.
I also found that by using more cornstarch with a liquid, in this case the rice or almond milk, you can shape the texture of your muffins. For a denser outcome, use mor cornstarch in replace of the brown rice flour, and for fluffier muffins, reduce the amount or scratch it all together, instead using brown rice flour. The level of cornstarch will also determine the amount of liquid needed, as it acts as a thickener, so the measurement below is an approximation.
Makes 8-10 muffins
60 g sorghum flour
60 g potato flour
80 g brown rice flour
30 g cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c coconut sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp grape seed oil
1 1/2 c rice or almond milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp or 1 tea bag of finely ground earl grey tea, if the leaves are large, grind them between your fingers before adding to the mix
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with paper cups, or reusable ones.
Add lemon juice to rice milk and set aside.
In a large bowl stir together flours and cornstarch, baking powder, sugar and salt. Combine.
Best eggs in a small bowl, then add vanilla extract and grape seed oil and pour into the bowl with dry mix. Stir until mixture comes together, then slowly pour in milk and lemon juice.
When mixture appears moist and smooth, stir in earl grey tea leaves. Spoon into individual muffin cups, dividing equally.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Labels: baked, breakfast, earl grey, gluten free, muffins, potato flour, snack, tea