Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A tea-ribute to Lady Grey

Drinking tea is a very British pass time.  When I think of tea and Britain I always recollect a great scene from Guy Ritchie’s cult classic Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.  It went as follows:

Eddie: The entire British empire was built on cups of tea…
Bacon: Yeah, and look what happened to that.
Eddie: … And if you think I’m going to war without one, mate, you’re mistaken.

Tea’s Englishness has never really deterred me.  To be honest, I’ve always felt a little bad for tea – it’s often overshadowed by its smoother, bolder cousin coffee.  But you would be hard pressed to find something more comforting when you’re sick than a piping hot cup of tea with honey and lemon. 

It’s definitely not all glory for tea, though.  There is quite a bit of snobbishness and pretentiousness that surrounds it, well, at least for aficionados.  I understand there is much debate about how hot the water should be when making tea, with cafes, like Storm in Teacup in Melbourne, spending a small fortune on a boiler which allows them to keep water at very specific temperatures suited to brewing different tea varieties.

There is so much variety in tea, it can be white, black or green with different varieties reflecting their origin: Russian Caravan has an earthiness about it which conjures images of gypsies in head scarves rattling over snow-capped mountains in traditional wooden caravans warming their hands over an open fire whose smoke is being whipped about by ice edged winds (perhaps too literal a picture?!).

This is my tribute to the Lady Grey.  A varietal that has been trademarked by Twinings it is, essentially, an herbaceous and citrusy variation of Earl Grey, there are some lady grey blends which add a floral note by using lavender. 

On a trip to Tasmania in May this year M and I visited Bridestowe Lavender Estate – unfortunately, as you can see from the photo above, our visit didn’t coincide with the spectacular summer flowering.  However, I was able to get my hands on some culinary lavender, in the form of dried flowers and flavoured syrup.  This is my first time experimenting with lavender and what I’ve attempted to create is a Lady Grey cupcake.

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