A daily cup of tea is good for the soul, and now more than ever folks are reaching for a cozy warm mug to soothe, destress, and unwind or pick themselves up after a long day. Taking a moment to settle in with a good cup of tea in the afternoon is one of the best ways to regroup and gather a bit of energy to tackle the rest of the day. There are a few secrets behind a good brew, and the Tea Experts at JAF TEA, importers of tea from the highlands of Sri Lanka for over 75 year, shared their tips for creating the best at-home tea experience, plus a recipe for pumpkin scones that pair perfectly with a good cuppa.   

Five simple steps to the perfect cup of tea:

1. Always start with the very best freshly filtered or spring water. 

2. Heat water to boiling point, switching the kettle off immediately after it reaches the desired temperature. 

3. Ensure the portion of water to tea bag is correct: 1 tea bag per about 4 cups of water. 

4. Did you know water temperature and steeping time depend on the type of tea? Heat the water just to boiling or 212 F and steep your tea bag for 3-5 minutes for black teas, 2-3 minutes for flavored black teas. For green teas, heat the water until it is just beginning to bubble and steep for no more than 3 minutes. Steeping black tea for longer than 5 minutes releases tannins and creates a bitter and unpleasant taste. Green teas should only be steeped for 3 minutes maximum to avoid a bitter result. 

5. Enjoy your cup of tea! Whether you prefer your tea with milk, cream, sugar, agave or honey the perfect cup of tea can be the most enjoyable part of the day. 

Scones, a British teatime tradition 

Scones originated in Scotland, but they became a key part of the afternoon tea experience in England when Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788 – 1861), requested sweet breads, which included scones, to accompany her daily “Afternoon Tea Time.” 

Pumpkin Spice Scones

This recipe transforms the classic British scone into an autumnal treat. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter 
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Glaze ingredients:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, combine dry ingredients. Add cold butter, cubed, and blend until it resembles coarse crumbs. 
  3. Slowly add wet ingredients to the food processor, pulsing with dry ingredients until a soft dough forms.
  4. Roll out the dough on a flat, cool surface, into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Using a large knife or a pizza cutter, divide into four rectangles. Halve each rectangle into two triangles, making a total of 8 triangles.
  5. Place scones onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes. 
  6. For the glaze, whisk confectioners’ sugar, spices, and milk until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk as needed; set aside. Drizzle glaze on the well-cooled scones and let the glaze set before serving.