Host a St. Patrick’s Day Tea!

stpatricksday

I’ve been perusing the kitchen calendar and noticed that St. Patrick’s Day will soon be here! I love thinking about everything becoming a vibrant green. It reminds me that spring is on the way! It’s hard to truly believe as we are covered in snow right now. But it’ll happen! So many people see St. Patrick’s Day as a reason to drink green beer. But I see it as a reason to have green tea!

Kat thought it would be fun to have a festive St. Patrick’s Day tea for her friends so I did a little searching for a few appropriate recipes for the day.

I thought it would be fun to start with mini matcha fruit smoothies. A display of little teacups or glasses lined up with the frothy vibrant green matcha would be a festive way to start. This vanilla matcha smoothie recipe fits perfectly. A light and delicate flavor with the bright green color we’re looking for.

For the scones, you can’t go wrong with Irish soda bread scones! I adore this recipe, and can’t wait to let Kat’s friends slather them with clotted cream.

For the tea sandwiches a cucumber and cream cheese is always good, and leave the skin on the cucumbers for a pop of color. My favorite sandwich idea is a cross between a NY deli sandwich and a St. Patrick’s Day staple- corned beef tea sandwiches! We’re going to make them double-decker style with savory corned beef, spicy deli mustard and pumpernickel bread. Make sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces!

Don’t forget to serve the teas, dearies! We’re going to serve a fresh grassy Japanese Sencha with the scones, and then an Irish breakfast tea with the sandwiches and dessert. Strong and delicious it pairs with the creamy cucumber sandwiches and the savory corned beef. Kat is going to serve Wegman’s Irish Breakfast Tea. Kat loves a hearty breakfast tea and picked it up at her local Wegmans years ago and always kept a box in her cupboard. She loves the malty, robust tea on mornings that she needs an extra jolt of sunshine.  It is strong but not bitter, and super smooth.

Kat’s going to close out the meal with matcha butter cookies. Delicious sweet, buttery and green, of course!

Spring is almost here! Do you have any fun St. Patrick’s Day plans? I do hope they involve some tea!

What Makes It An Irish Breakfast Tea?

Drink me I'm Irish

On a day when thoughts turn to all things Irish, the question invariably arises, “What makes it an Irish Breakfast Tea?” As it turns out, Kat read me the most interesting interview by TheKitchn.com with Frank Sanchez of Upton Tea Imports. In it, he explains the evolution of today’s common “Breakfast” blends, notably English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast and Scottish Breakfast teas.

According to Sanchez, due to the ongoing importing of tea from China in the 17th and 18th centuries, the British people had developed a liking to the strong tea. The first English Breakfast Tea was a China congou, a Chinese black tea made with careful skill, “gongfu,” to produce thin, tight strips without breaking the leaves. With the onset of the Opium Wars in the mid 1800’s, near disaster was averted (in the eyes of the tea drinker) because the new British tea estates  in India were now able to import teas to replace the Chinese tea imports that had come to a halt. As the supply of Chinese tea decreased and the supply of Indian tea increased, these two were blended. The result was a more robust flavor profile, which was very well received! As Sri Lanka (known more commonly in the tea community as Ceylon) began producing teas, this component was added into the blend creating the English Breakfast tea characteristics that we enjoy today.

Mr. Sanchez theorizes that as tea rose in popularity in Ireland, that may have coincided with an increase in imports of Assam teas. As a result, the tea blends most commonly found in Ireland had a stronger Assam component, with a deeper reddish color and a stronger, more robust and malty flavor.

As for Scottish Breakfast blends, these are traditionally the strongest, and what Sanchez refers to as the “heartiest” of all. One reason for this, which I found fascinating (and must find out more!) was that during that period of time, tea blends were often developed based on the type of water available in a particular region. Therefore, because Scotland tended to have “softer” water, the tea blends developed were of the strongest variety.

Trader Joes Irish Breakfast

I find it interesting that both Char and Kat both lean toward Irish Breakfast Teas when they had the choice. But then, they both particularly enjoy Assam teas (as do I!). In fact, Kat’s been drinking the Trader Joe’s Original Irish Breakfast tea today. The bold, hearty Assam is complimented beautifully with Kenyan teas. The result is a smooth, malty, substantial tea that most certainly will get you going in the morning – or anytime during the day!

Which breakfast blend do you lean toward?

Host An Irish Themed Tea Party

St. Patrick’s Day is a day when everyone is Irish! Shamrocks and Pots of Gold abound, and I, for one, love being part of the action. Char loved Ireland and traveled there often to visit one of her oldest and wisest friends, Kathleen. We were always invited over for “high tea”, which makes many Americans think of dainty sandwiches and bite-sized sweets, when in actuality it is the working man’s meal with hearty fare. Kathleen made the most wonderful shortbread (that Char tried and miserably failed to replicate at home). And the tales she could tell! Char would be laughing until the tears would stream down her face. We all ventured to Blarney Castle together, and Char kissed the blarney stone, joking that she hoped she would attain that magical “gift of gab” that Kathleen possessed.

Ah the memories… What better way to celebrate them than to put on an Irish themed Tea Party!

First, there is the decor. Think GREEN! Whether creating your own Irish-inspired hats or fascinators…

Shamrock hat

As found on PapierBonBon

to setting a shamrock-laden tea table…

Shamrock Tablescape

to planning a hearty Irish menu…

Shamrock cucumber sandwiches

As found on willcookforsmiles.com

Shamrock cookies

As found on BHG.com

to selecting your tea! Of course, you must have an Irish Breakfast blend! But why not add a green tea to go along with the general theme! Kat’s been loving Target’s Simply Balanced organic Green Tea Mint! It has a mellow earthiness that is balanced with the freshness of peppermint and spearmint. Delicious!

Simply Balanced Green Tea Mint

Found at Target

Have some “Pots of Gold” to give your guests a little “Luck of the Irish” (or at least to take care of their sweet tooth!)

Pot of gold

As found on The36thAvenue.com

Grab some of your closest friends and family and talk all the blarney you like!

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle – Photo by Eddie Hennessey

And most of all, enjoy your time together. Holidays are about reconnecting, celebrating old traditions and creating new ones. What’s your favorite St. Patrick’s Day tradition?