Friday, 3 February 2012

Perfect cup of tea with jam biscuits

Perfect afternoon tea with jam biscuits
Since I moved to England my friends or my family always asked me how the English make the perfect cup of tea.  England’s national drink to be honest doesn't have a precise formula, something uncommon for the English culture, in Mediterranean countries is very common to find every popular drink or dish prepare in a different way , just not north to south, we can say in every town just separates for a few miles.  But that continental or European rules like the English wasn´t  part of the European continent, something that First minister David Cameron seems to have very clear doesn't apply to England where everything have rules or formula. But not for the tea.

First of all I need to say very few English of the new generations or at least from the last 20 year knows very little about a really nice cup of tea. Homes and offices are invaded by the tea bag, very pragmatic for these times; but is like a fast food drink, just an intense flavour without balance and flavours, and unfortunately much of the restaurant don’t really bother to offer a nice cup of tea either, a pot of hot water and a cup with a tea bag inside.

Anyway after 3 years in England I started to figure out how to make my own perfect cup of tea.

Tea Pickers, Photo by dmahendra
You need: Organic English breakfast loose leaf-tea  (to taste) – Splash of milk – Purified boiling water – China Pot (pre warmed) and preferably a mug rather than a cup

1. Boil the water in your kettle or similar just when reach the boiling point and let rest for 1 minute.
2. Add the English breakfast leaf tea to your taste in a pre-warmed the pot, like a guide is recommended 1 tsp. by cup. But every brand with different tea consistency will need different measures to you taste or your like weaker or stronger. Pour in the water.
3. Let steep for 3:30 minutes, exactly, this one of the few things on which the majority of tea drinkers agree. Even if you see that the tea become very dark after 1 minute, leave to rest because the tea flavour needs more time for be released than the colour.
4. Serve in individual’s mug rather than a tea cup. For some reason taste a little better.
5. Add a splash of milk (to taste), no sugar please!

 I use purified water because in south-England the lime scale is so bad that left a film over your brew.
• Earl Grey tea is a very good alternative to English breakfast.  Herbal tea such as mint or green tea are been drinking more and more in office and at home
• Do you know that the majority consumption of  energy in England is around the traditional tea time?  So many kettles are on that some time that England needs to buy extra energy to France.

Italian Jam Biscuits

Also I would like to share one of my favourite’s homemade cookies of my child-hood, I am pretty sure that my mum got the recipe from the strong Italian community living in Uruguay.  The Uruguayans are well known for another brew the “mate”, but for reason they are also attached to the afternoon tea with cake or biscuits. Seems that they incorporated the tradition after the brief English invasion in the River Plate (1807) and the new free commercial relationship between them. (Please don´t confuse with the Falkland conflict)

Jam biscuits recipe  – Makes about 15 cookies. Oven at 180ºC

You need: 3 boiled eggs – 150g plain flour – 80g caster sugar - 50g butter (softened) – 1tsp vanilla extract - 30 ml whole milk – Apricot or quince jam.

Jam biscuits roll log
Jam biscuits thumb indentation

1. After you boiled the eggs, remove the white and set aside the yolks.
2. In a bowl sift the sugar and flour. Now sift in the yolks, is a bit slowly but is worth it.
3. Make a well, and add the softened butter, milk and vanilla extract. Mix all together until you have dough. Work the dough for about 5 minutes pressing with your hands firmly.
4. Move to a work surface, sprinkle some flour and make a log roll of about 3 cm od diameter 20cm long. Roll in a cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Filling Italian jam biscuits
5. Remove from the fridge and cut the roll in pieces of 2cm long. Gently with your hands roll each piece in a ball.
6. Put the ball in a greased baking tray with enough room. Best if you baked them in batches or in 2 trays.
7. Pressing down with your thumb to make an indentation in the centre of each ball.
8. Fill each whole with your favourite jam. Each whole will need about ¼ tsp.
9. Bake in the oven for 17 minutes, until golden and the jam is bubbling.



  1. Hi, Germán!
    Qué galletas más originales, habré visto cien recetas pero nunca con el huevo cocido, ésto hay que probarlo!
    Aún tengo en mi mente la visión de los acantilados blancos del otro día, impresionantes, y yo que no los conocía...imperdonable; muxuak!

  2. Gracias Maritxu, with the egg yolk the cookies pick a great yellow colour. The Dover cliff are the most famous because the port and the movies but around Beachy head the cliffs reach a high altitude and are more impressive. Gatwick is the closer airport