National Tea Day is on the 21st April 2017 and celebrates British tea – the nation’s favourite beverage! Now in its third year, the awareness day’s date has been selected to coincide with the Queen’s birthday. Really, it makes sense to do so! Mich Turner is known for baking for royalty; it’s recently been announced that she’ll be the lucky ambassador for National Tea Day! Mich has kindly written us blog post highlighting the importance of afternoon tea to her.
“Afternoon Tea” by Mich Turner
I grew up in Devon and was raised on Clotted Cream Tea. Suffice it so say I have become a fan of taking Afternoon Tea. I find it is the one meal you can truly indulge in – if you skip lunch and supper! I host my Masterclasses at The Dorchester Hotel in London on Park Lane. We always include a Laurent Perrier Champagne Afternoon Tea as part of the day as it is a wonderful way to celebrate and indulge.
Scones should always be freshly baked and eaten as soon as they come out of the oven. I like plain or sultana scones, but other varieties such as lemon and chocolate chip are becoming more popular. For me, the perfect scone should be freshly baked, warm and evenly risen with a milk or egg glazed top that naturally and cleanly breaks in two halves (never cut with a knife). The scone should be slightly crumbly on the palate, buttery but not greasy. I like the subtle yet distinctive bicarbonate of soda flavour of scones.
How to Make the Perfect Scone
To make the perfect scone, the ingredients should all be fresh and measured accurately. Rub the butter into the flour with the raising agent until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Use a machine to do this if you have hot hands to prevent the butter melting, which would result in a dense, tough scone. I like to use buttermilk as the acidity reacts well with the bicarbonate of soda to maximise the release of carbon dioxide gas as the scones bake, for maximum lift.
Roll or press the dough into a round, no less than 1 inch thick (it is always tempting to roll the dough thinner!). Stamp out rounds (sweet scones should be plain cut, savoury scones can be crinkle cut) with a floured cutter. Do not twist as this will prevent the scone from rising evenly. Brush the top with a little egg or milk glaze and bake in a hot oven.
Cream First or Jam First?
Naturally, the question always comes up – cream or jam first? I am firmly in the camp of CREAM first – and lashings of it! Clotted cream is 64% fat – whereas butter is 80% fat – so it is actually fair to say clotted cream is the ‘healthier’ option to spread on your scone. But maybe not the amount I consume! With me, it is more a case of ‘Have some scone with your cream!’ – but it’s not an indulgence I partake of every day! One thing is for sure – never ever butter!
The jam for me should always be strawberry – with pieces of strawberry identifiable. It is wonderful to make your own with fresh fruits as they are in season – or your own personal favourites. If you are not a lover of cream or looking for an alternative, you can make your own citrus curds. Lemon, orange, lime or passion fruit all work well with scones.
Serve with a super chilled glass of champagne – Laurent Perrier Rose is my tipple of choice – although one glass is never enough!
How About Tea?
I like my tea freshly brewed, piping hot, and strong with milk. Fortnum and Mason Royal Blend is a personal favourite, brewed in a fine bone china teapot and served in a proper cup and saucer. It’s as much about the occasion as the meal itself! Earl Grey and the more delicate Lady Grey options are delicately flavoured with oil of bergamot, and are best served black with optional lemon.
21st April is National Tea Day – the day to celebrate the nation’s favourite drink. Find out how you can get involved here: http://nationalteaday.com. I also feature recipes for savoury and sweet scones and citrus curds in my new book: Have Your Cake and Eat It.
How Can You Get Involved in National Tea Day?
If you’d like to get involved in the celebrations, Mich will appear at the National Tea Day Festival at Kensington Roof Gardens in London on 21st April. If you can’t make the event, don’t worry! There are still plenty of different ways to get in the spirit of British tea at home.
National Tea Day has partnered with many different venues all over the country, so you’ll be sure to find a tea house near you that’s hosting an afternoon tea. Alternatively, you could host your own afternoon tea party at home for friends and family! Take photos of yourself with your favourite cup of tea, share them using the social media hashtag #Nationalteaday, tag your favourite brands, and get celebrating our nation’s beloved refreshment: British tea!