Emma Lea’s January 2010 Tea-Zine

The Tea-Zine’s new focus is on family. Family Tea. Every-Day Tea. Not just for special occasions. Family Tea Times weave simple traditions into our daily lives in meaningful ways – for the social, health and cultural aspects.

Each month we will share a new “tip” on how to make your at-home teatimes special. These suggestions from tea professionals who “live” tea at work and at home. You will get the benefit of their experience and come to understand their passion for tea.

Do you have a Tip or a Tale to share for Family Tea?


In This Issue:

•  Family Tea-Time Tip:

Include children in the preparation and serving

•  January Tea-Time Recipes:

Cambric Spiced Tea  & Crepe Fruit Cake


Family Tea Tip

Emma Lea prepares tea for Daddy.

Emma Lea prepares tea for Daddy.

Contributed by Babette Donaldson

Author, The Emma Lea Books

I’m offering this month’s tip to get this new feature rolling. In the future, you will meet the tea professionals who enjoy tea both publicly and privately. They will share some of the secrets that make their private teatimes special.

My favorite suggestion is to include your children in the preparation and serving. There is always something that can be done – even by very young children.

It might start with making choices. What flavor of tea will we have today? Do we want to read a story or just talk? Even very young children can help arrange cookies on a platter. You might go outside together to find a few sprigs of greenery or flowers to decorate the table. Or a rainy day project could be coloring special place mats to be used for teatime.

Older children love to pour from a teapot and quickly become interested in countries around the world where tea is grown.

A regular habit of Family tea is not something you do for your children and other family members. It becomes even more meaningful when it’s something you do together.

When my step-daughters were young and we were still living in Germany, they would help prepare an afternoon tea tray for our German tutor. We would prepare the snacks and I would brew the tea. They would take turns carrying the tray into the living room where we studied. One day their bus was late and we had started the lesson before tea. In their enthusiasm, they didn’t quite wash all the tempera paint from their hands. We still laugh about the way the tutor’s face turned almost as green as their hands.

Some lessons of hygiene and manners are best learned with a good belly laugh. There are some teatimes that are never forgotten.


January Teatime Recipes

The tea recipe is simple but there are a lot of steps to make the Crepe Fruit Cake. That makes it a fun project to do together with a special job for everyone.

Cambric Spiced Tea

Cambric Tea is an old-fashioned tradition of putting a splash of black tea into a cup of warm milk. To add a new twist, use a cinnamon spice tea or an orange spice tea instead of plain black tea. Sweeten with a bit of honey and serve when cool enough to drink comfortably. You can also use a whole cinnamon stick to stir. For extra savings, a whole cinnamon stick can be cleaned with boiling water, dried and then used several times.

Crepe Fruit Cake

Makes 6-8 servings.


Crepe Batter:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons club soda
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cups apples, peeled and cored, finely chopped – tart flavored baking apples recommended
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 recipe vanilla custard (see below)


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks (large0
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs or cookie crumbs



Beat the egg in a medium sized bowl. Whisk in milk, club soda and oil. Gradually add flour and salt. Whisk until well blended. Cover and let the batter rest in the refrigerator for ½ hour. Make 5 crepes the diameter of a spring form cake pan.  The batter in the pan should be very thin. Ladle in just enough to thinly cover the bottom of the pan. Cook over medium heat for 1 ½ minute on each side until there are beginning to show bits of brown.

Custard & Fruit Filling:

Scald the milk and set aside.  Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Gradually add the scalded milk while whisking the egg and sugar mixture. Add the salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the fruit and nuts. Stir together evenly.

Assembly & Baking:

Preheat oven to 350 ° F.

Butter the bottom and sides of the spring form pan.

Layer the crepes, filling and custard in 4 repetitions. A crepe should be the first layer with the custard as the final, top layer. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Bake for 20 – 30  minutes. Let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Remove the sides of the spring form pan. Cut into wedges to serve.


What is a Family Tea?

Any time of day can be time for a Family Tea. It can be as simple or as fancy as you want. And it can be different very time.

• Use a teapot and teacups with saucers.
• Choose a fun flavored tea.
• Serve something freshly baked.
• Turn off the TV, other electronics & phones.
• Just talk!  Nothing heavy. Light & fun.

You don’t need to make an announcement. Just do it. Say, “Would you like some cookies and tea?”
This isn’t the time for solving the problems of the world. But it could be game-time or a combined effort on a jigsaw puzzle.
In Emma Lea’s Tea With Daddy, she tells her father –
“We can just talk. I can tell you about what’s been happening at school. You can tell me about your work or what you did when you were a little boy. You know. Things that matter.”

December 2009

In This Issue:

  • The Tea Story: Emma Lea’s Holiday Tea Story – “Holiday Tea Magic”
  • Family Tea
  • December Recipes from Emma Lea’s Family Cookbook – Wassail Tea, Tea Poached Pears & Marmalade Cookies

We’re still growing the list of special tea holiday events for children. But we’ve added it to our main website. Check the link below!


December Tea Story


Holiday Tea Magic

by Babette Donaldson

Emma Lea’s throat was still store and she already felt tired, even though it was just the beginning of the school day. It was her first day back in a week. She had been sick and missed the most important day of the year. Tryouts for the holiday pageant.  She had tried to pretend that she was OK so she could go to school, but Mama noticed her flushed cheeks and took her temperature and called to tell the school that she would be absent. Absent on the day of the tryouts and then for the rest of the week.

Now, auditions were over and the cast had been chosen.

Emma Lea had been in every school play since she was in kindergarten. She couldn’t imagine what it would be like to sit in the audience watching her friends on the stage. This year’s theme was going to be Holidays Around The World. She had learned songs and stories for Mexico, Germany, Scotland and China. She would be happy doing any country. She dreamed of traveling and meeting new people.

Mama had called Mr. Ondi, the music teacher, to say that Emma Lea would still like to be in the show. But he said that he would have to give the parts to students who auditioned. Those were the rules.

He was at the bulletin board outside the choir room posting the cast list. “Welcome back, Emma Lea.” He greeted her with a warm smile. She tried to return a smile. But it almost made her cry to see her friends’ names on his list.

She could see that Sam was going to do Japan and Leeanda was chosen to do Belgium. Brad and Brian were doing England. Janelle got Mexico. Mexico was one of her favorites – the parade for La Posada and then breaking the piñata. Even Lucas got a part. Brazil.

“I have a very special job for you,” said Mr. Ondi. Emma Lea brightened up instantly. “Can we talk about it at the first rehearsal this afternoon?”

“Yes.” The thought of helping with the play gave her a burst of energy. It was easier to join her friends in class with something to look forward to. But by lunch, her coughing was worse.  Mrs. Anderson, the school nurse, felt her head and took her temperature. “102º. I’ll call your mother.” By the time she was home and tucked into bed, she knew it was where she had to be. But she was still upset about missing the rehearsal.

“Now I won’t be able to do anything for the show.

. . . . . .  More!  Click here to read the entire story.


Family Tea


A trip to your local tea shop can become part of your tea tradition, whether it is to attend a special event or to select a new tea for your home teatime.

Beautiful loose-leaf blends can be found for under $10 for about 2 ounces. Teas blended with other herbal ingredients sometimes contain beautiful bits of flower petals and pieces of fruit. This may include rose buds and petals, cornflower petals, dried orange peel, cranberries and some nuts. Many tearoom owners have studied tea blending and create their own house blends. They are very aware of the quality of the tea and careful about the sources from whom they buy.

Two ounces will brew 20-30 cups of tea.  The wide variation is because tea weights vary greatly. And the ingredients sometimes lend themselves to a stronger brew so you might use less dry tea per cup. But $0.50 per cup is still a bargain these days! And in this case, a family of 4 can spend an hour or so for about $1 on the beverage. And having your family gather around the table  – Priceless!

Most tea retailers carry a large selection of loose-leaf teas and know quite a lot about where the teas came from. They may have sniffing canisters  so that you can see and smell the leaf before you buy. Some will even have the option to purchase a brewed cup before you buy.


December Tea Party Menu


This month’s party menu celebrates with a very seasonal tea, a light and healthy fruit and come fun cookies. You might want to have a small family tea with some left-overs to keep on hand for unexpected friends stopping by. Hot Wassail Tea and Marmalade Cookies still make a very welcoming treat.

Wassail Tea

Makes 12 – 16 servings


  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 4 cups of water
  • 6 tea bags, black tea
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 4 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 cup sliced fresh ginger
  • 3 allspice pods
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 cups lemon juice
  • 1/2 gallon apple cider


Simmer the sugar and water together for 15 minutes in a saucepan large enough to hole the remaining juices. Keep the heat at a level where the syrup bubbles gently but does not come to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and add the tea and the whole spices. Cover and allow the tea to infuse in the syrup for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags but leave the spices. Cover and let sit for 1 – 2 hours or overnight so the flavors infuse into the syrup.

Scoop the spices out with a slotted spoon. Reheat the syrup to a boil. Add the juices and heat it to a comfortable serving temperature. Serve immediately.


Tea Poached Pears

Serves 4


  • 6 fruit flavored tea bags
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 whole pears, peeled, cored and halved
  • 1 cup vanilla flavored yogurt


Heat water in a wide bottomed saucepan. When water is lightly simmering, turn off heat and add teabags. Cover to steep 5 – 10 minutes. Remove teabags and add honey. Stir until honey is completely dissolved. Bring the tea back to a gentle simmer and allow to reduce while you peel and core the pears. Place pears into the pan. Cover and poach for 8 minutes. The pears will float in the tea but you should turn them over in the liquid during poaching until they’re soft. You should be able to pierce them with a fork. Cook to your desired softness.

Chill the pears before serving.  A bed of shredded lettuce will support the pear. Fill the scooped-out portion of the pear with a spoonful of yogurt.

Pears can be poached the day before your tea. And you can substitute own favorite flavor yogurt for the vanilla. This can be garnished with mint leaves, fresh fruit slices or edible flowers.


Marmalade Cookies

Makes about 24 – 30 cookies


  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tablespoons orange or other citrus marmalade
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ baking powder
  • Baking parchment (optional)


Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease the baking sheet or cover with a sheet of baking parchment.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg until creamy. Add the marmalade.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Stir into the butter mixture.

Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least 30 minutes. Bake a test cookie. If the cookie is too dry, add another tablespoon of marmalade. If it is too moist, add a tablespoon of flour.

Bake the remaining cookies. Cool and serve.

Cookies may keep fresh a bit longer if stored in a tightly closed container.


Another jam or flavor of preserve can be substituted for marmalade. Strawberry jam and fig jam work well – as long as it is a thick, pulpy preserve and not a jelly.

November 2009

In This Issue:

  • The Tea Story: “Teacher Tea” by Mary-lynn Wenders, 5th Grade Teacher
  • Family Tea-Time Tip: “An Old Family Tradition Europe”   by Babette Donaldson
  • November Recipes from the new, Emma Lea’s Family Cookbook

Orange Spice Tea, A Large Pot For A Family

Here’s-Looking-At-You-Soup & Cheese Crusts

New features in the Tea-Zine:


November Tea Story

Teacher Tea

by Mary-lynn Wenders, 2nd Grade Teacher

Once upon a time there was a young teacher starting her first job teaching second grade with a class of 23 students. She was very nervous. She was trying to think of something to do with her class that would be special. She was me . . .

I stole the idea of serving tea to my class from several of my favorite fictional characters – especially Winnie-The-Pooh and Christopher Robin. I introduced “Tea Time” to my class this year and it has been wonderful fun for all of us.

Every Friday afternoon we take out our teacups and three teapots. We decorate our desks with one of the art projects from the week. And we clean up the classroom in preparation. Three of the students are chosen to serve the tea and I dress them in white waiter’s aprons. They prepare the tea during the clean-up, so it is considered an very special privilege. Several of the parents have joined in the project by donating tea items and food.

Then, when everything is ready, we have our tea and discuss what the best things about the week were. Then we have a story. We wash our teacups and then it’s time to go.

Sharing my favorite things with my students – tea and literature – has become very important to me. And having a time where I listen to their comments has made me a better teacher.


Family Tea-Time Tip

We’re focusing on teatime at home.

What is a Family Tea?  How can you create memories with tea?

An Old Family Tradition Europe

There is confusion about the term, High Tea. To us it sounds like something that should be elegant. But this started in England after tea became more affordable. When almost every home could afford to serve tea, it would usually be in the evening when the work was done and the family gathered around the table. It was the high table  where you could more comfortably eat a full meal rather than fancy finger foods. A low table, one that might be found in a more formal room, is where one could serve an afternoon tea with cookies and small sandwiches, nuts, fruit or cheese.

In keeping with this spirit, I’ve chosen a hot soup and homemade cracker recipe for this month. It could be served for lunch or dinner – with a nice pot of tea – of course. The aroma of this tea will make you feel warm and cozy, even before you pour a cup to drink.

Family Tea or High Tea is a perfect time to share the highlights of our day with the people we love the most. It seems a worthy tradition to keep.


November Tea Party Menu

Orange Spice Tea For a Family

Makes 6 – 8 servings


  • 6 tea bags, black tea
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • Juice from 2 lemons


Boil the water and add tea, cloves and cinnamon. Remove from heat and cover. Let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea and the spices. Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Add both juices and stir. The juice may cool the tea a bit too much. Reheat before serving, if necessary.



Serves 4


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small white onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed and diced
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock – canned or homemade
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup half-and half (can also be regular milk)
  • Salt to taste


These are a few suggestions. You can use your imagination to create something fun for your family. The following decorations are a few suggestions that make hair, eyes, lips, teeth, ears and a nose.

  • Parsley, chopped
  • Sliced black olives
  • Stuffed green olives
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Slices of red & yellow pepper
  • Cooked bacon, broken into pieces
  • Chow mien noodles
  • Cut shapes from lightly toasted bread or from homemade crackers (see below)


Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add stock and potatoes. Cook uncovered until potatoes are soft. Add enough of the milk to cool the mixture. Pour it into the blender canister and whirl it until potatoes are crushed. This may need to be done in two separate batches. Add milk slowly until it is your desired consistency. Return the soup to the saucepan. Add salt if needed. Re-heat under very low heat just before serving. Serve soup in a low, wide bowl.

Serving & Activity:

Serve each guest a plain bowl of soup and demonstrate how to make a face with the decoration choices. Guests create their own soup funny face. Make sure the soup is not too hot when served so that young children aren’t burned.


Cheese Crusts

Makes about 24 crackers


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • Baking parchment


Cream the butter and sour cream together. Add flour, salt and paprika. Knead it into a firm dough. During the final few minutes of kneading, add the cheese and mix evenly throughout the dough. Wrap or cover and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 º F. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured board, roll the dough to about ¼ inch thick. Cut the dough into your favorite shapes. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

These are served like crackers. But they are delicious when still slightly warm.