Real Cooking

“The reason the English are such great tea drinkers is on account of their coffee.”


Well, I’ve been to England a couple of times and I’m not sure if the above quote is accurate. I’ve had a good cup of coffee in England. That is, after I learned to ask for “white” coffee.

I normally drink the stuff black, but the coffee in Europe is so strong I always feel the need to dilute it with a bit of milk.

And with that disclaimer out of the way, I will get on to the subject at hand: tea. I grew up on tea; probably because my family tree is loaded with Scots, Irish and English grannies and grandpops.

Sorry, there’s no Teutonic blood coursing through my veins. My ancestors never got off the islands until they crossed the pond to North America. And when they did, they brought with them the love for tea and passed it down from generation to generation. Tea was a staple, a comfort and a cure-all.

My dad had a theory that if you were sick, a cup of tea and a smear of Vick’s Vaporub on your chest would heal you in no time. And that theory applied to a head cold or a broken leg.

I think he wasn’t the only one raised on tea and sympathy. Back in 1982, when I had my first surgery in a long attempt to have children, I had a bad reaction to the anesthesia. For about a day and a half I couldn’t keep anything down.

My surgeon came in on his evening rounds, sat on my bed and with concern in his voice asked the nurse to bring me a nice, hot cup of tea. He was sure this would help me to feel better. His name: Robert Kelly.

He was Irish enough to think of the tea, but he never ordered any Vick’s. Maybe that comes from the Scottish side of the family.

My siblings and I always kidded our dad about his tea-and-Vick’s philosophy, but if he were alive today, I’m sure he would point out to us the growing clinical statistics that show that drinking tea can actually benefit your health.

This is especially true of green tea, which has a high content of vitamins and minerals. Green tea contains Vitamin C, several B vitamins, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium and manganese. It is also high in fluoride.

A cup of green tea provides about 0.1 mg of fluoride-more than you’ll find in a cup of fluoridated water.

Scientific studies have shown that drinking green tea on a daily basis may help reduce the risk of strokes and heart disease and may also prevent some cancers.

And it’s relatively low in caffeine. A cup of drip coffee contains anywhere from 60 to 180 mg. of caffeine while a cup of brewed tea contains about 25 to 110 mg. Compare that to a cup of green tea with eight to 16 mg. of caffeine.

I like green tea and consume it every day. If you’re unfamiliar with this variety, it can be a little surprising the first time you drink it. For one thing, it’s lighter in color, taking on a more yellowish tint in your cup. But I think it has a delightful fruity taste.

Our cupboard is currently stocked with green tea and orange pekoe, herb teas and Oolong, Irish breakfast and Darjeeling. And a new cold brew blend for iced tea made by Lipton that I think is absolutely fabulous.

Oh, my son’s favorite is Earl Grey. It’s a love passed down from mother to son. The last time we were in London, we took tea time at Fortnum and Mason’s. The waiter came to take our order and asked the children if they would like a soft drink or an ice cream soda.

“We’re having tea,” said my son. “I’d like a pot of Earl Grey, please.”

The waiter was duly impressed. I was so proud. I knew then I had done my duty in making sure the tea tradition lived on into the next generation.

My husband ordered the ice cream soda.

* * *

I’d like to draw your attention to an upcoming event in Wichita that is being sponsored by the Kansas Health Ethics Committee and the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund.

“Wit” is a Pulitzer Prize winning play that raises end-of-life care issues. Peggy Friesen will play the lead role of Vivian Bearing, a woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Going through chemotherapy forces her to reassess her life and her work.

The play runs May 3 through 6 and is being presented at The Center for the Arts. The phone number for tickets and information is 316-634-2787, ext. 15.

“Talk Back” sessions will follow the productions and are eligible for continuing education credit for health professionals.

“Wit” promises to be a powerful yet entertaining production-well worth the trip to the city.

* * *

I think I mentioned in another column that I was helping the women at Parkview Mennonite Brethren Church come up with ideas for an afternoon tea. The event turned out to be lovely. I adapted the following scone recipe to utilize blueberries. It’s a flavor that goes wonderfully well with lemon. The scones were served with a cream cheese, lemon and cream spread.

This recipe can be made a day ahead, wrapped and stored at room temperature. But of course the best way to enjoy them-as with most baked goods-is hot from the oven.

Lemon Cream Scones

2 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tbs. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup blueberries (if using frozen, thawed and well drained)

1 tbs. grated lemon peel

11/4 cup whipping cream


3 tbs. melted butter

2 tbs. sugar

1 tsp. grated lemon peel

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon peel and salt in large bowl. Add whipping cream and stir just until dough forms (I do this with my hands). Gently fold in blueberries, trying not to crush the fruit. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead just until dough holds together -the less you handle, the better. Form dough into 10-inch diameter, one-half-inch thick round. Cut into 12 wedges.

Transfer wedges onto large baking sheet-they should not touch. Combine sugar and lemon peel (topping). Brush each scone with melted butter and sprinkle sugar mixture on top. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

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