Virtual Afternoon Tea, January 2021

Image: Su Leslie 2021

Major General Urquhart:
Hancock. I’ve got lunatics laughing at me from the woods. My original plan has been scuppered now that the jeeps haven’t arrived. My communications are completely broken down. Do you really believe any of that can be helped by a cup of tea?

Corporal Hancock:
Couldn’t hurt, sir

From the film, A Bridge Too Far (1977) Dir. Richard Attenborough

On that note; wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your world, Kia ora. Tau Hou mai i Aotearoa  (Greetings. Happy New Year from Aotearoa).

With Auckland’s hot, dry weather showing no signs of easing, I’ve made my first ever iced tea.

My past experiences with this drink (generally the sort that comes in a bottle from the corner shop) left me a bit underwhelmed. Then I read about cold- brewing; which is essentially adding cold water to tea leaves (it works best with green or white teas apparently) and allowing them to infuse for a long time (think 12 hours in the fridge). This avoids the bitterness, and consequently the (for me, excessive) sugar which is meant to balance it.

It works — certainly for the Big T and me. I’ve experimented with adding kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and mint to different brews (lemongrass is my favourite), and stirring through about 1/2 teaspoon of coconut sugar per cup to the finished product. I’ve experimented too with warmed honey (which certainly dissolves better), but I’m keen to hear from any iced tea drinkers your preferred sweeteners — and additional flavourings.

Iced green tea. Works well with these mini tartlets. Image: Su Leslie 2021

So on to the food.

I’ve just bought a copy of the new Yotam Ottolenghi book — Flavour — and am in love with all things charred. I hope you don’t me experimenting on you with these little tartlets (using my “cheat” baked dumpling-wrapper pastry).

First of all we have grilled prawn with charred fennel and lemon sorrel mayonnaise. I love prawn and fennel together, and the mayonnaise is based on one we were served in Matisse — a wine bar in Napier. My version uses Rick Stein’s Lemon Mayonnaise recipe (from Fruits of the Sea) with a big handful of blitzed-up sorrel from the garden.

Grilled prawn, charred fennel, lemon sorrel mayonnaise. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Or, if you prefer, we have grilled peach with Kapiti Baby Kikorangi blue cheese and thyme.

Grilled peaches, blue cheese and thyme. Image: Su Leslie 2021

My favourite Golden Queen peaches have quite a short season, so I’m making the most of them at the moment. This is the first time I’ve served them grilled in a savory dish, and I quite like it.

The cheese is quite mild, but does seem to balance the (fairly sweet) peach. If there’s a Mark #2 version, I’ll be adding some acid. A balsamic glaze would work — even though the Big T will have a field day reminding me of all the things I’ve said about the ubiquity of this in NZ restaurants.

Homemade Christmas cake and English Breakfast tea. Image: Su Leslie 2021

And if none of this is appealing, hopefully a slice of Christmas cake and a proper cuppa will hit the spot.

As we begin a year that shows no signs of being easier than the last, it feels more important than ever to connect with the people we care about. For me, sharing food has always been an expression of aroha (love); even when it’s delivered virtually. So pull up a chair and help yourself.

The invitation

I’d love to hear from you. What are you doing/reading/making? Your thoughts on the food, the drinks, and whatever I’m rambling about. What’s making you happy or pissing you off?  Your comments make blogging so much more interesting.

And if you’d like to contribute a post of your own — even better. Maybe a shot of your cuppa and/or whatever you’re having with it. A recipe if you like.

I’ll update each of my posts with a ping-back to everyone’s in the same way as I do with The Changing Seasons.

#virtualteaparty2021 for anyone on Instagram who wants to post images (or video?)


Janet, from This, That and the Other Thing has an Irish theme with Irish Breakfast tea AND home-made soda bread. Yum!

Irene at My Slice of Mexico has made some delicious waffle-iron churros; perfect for dunking in hot chocolate. And she’s included her recipe.

Aggie from Nomad joins us from her new(ish) home in London. A hot cuppa is perfect in an English winter.

My lovely co-host, Del at Curls n Skirls has produced a feast. Cheese, fruit and crackers, chicken sandwiches and chocolate cake. Can I go straight for dessert please?

Yvette from Priorhouse Blog has brought some key lime cheesecake to have with tea.

Ladyleemanila is serving pancit, coleslaw and vegetable quiche with some hot apple tea. Perfect!

Be sure to pop over to Deb’s (The Widow Badass) and drool over her Christmas Black Forest Trifle. And read the hilarious back-story!

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful has brought us a wonderful persimmon loaf. I love persimmons and can’t wait until they are in season to try the recipe she’s thoughtfully included.

66 thoughts on “Virtual Afternoon Tea, January 2021

  1. Everyone drinks tea here in the South. Except me. I am still a Yankee in the South–no ice tea for this gal. The question in the restaurants is always, “Sweet or unsweet?” My husband takes his unsweet and adds his own sugar. He has cut way back now but when I make it at home, I grab herbs from the garden–mostly Georgia savory. He loves it! Hold the sugar.
    I do have a sweet tooth and that Christmas cake and breakfast tea is calling my name. Such a lovely setting as always, Su.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I must try that iced tea that you leave in the fridge, I have a HUGE clump of lemon grass and mint to try with it. Perfect for this hot, summer weather. Mention of Golden Queen peaches brings back fond memories of when I was on the farm in the Waikato and a few neighbours would band together and one bloke with a truck would go down to the orchards ( the name of the area evades me, it was a long time ago) then we would bottle them taking our best looking bottle to the CWI and/or the local show to compete for a prize….
    Those tartlets sound and look delicious, I would love to try one. 🥰☕️

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m a little envious of your lemongrass Pauline. I’ve grown it, but it was very thin and woody; hardly any of the nice fleshy bits needed for curry pastes. I’ll have to pick your brains next time I find some to plant!

      I love how foods evoke memories. My love of Golden Queen peaches comes from childhood. We lived in Bayswater, and used to drive out to the orchards in Albany for fruit. It was such a big deal — especially the drive home when we kids used to stuff ourselves full.

      Liked by 2 people

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  4. It’s almost bedtime here, so I’d better stick with a tisane. Sweeteners? Never use them in tea. Iced tea? I do mostly hot, but when it’s 110+F, iced can be pretty good! I steep mine regular strength and then put it in the fridge rather than adding ice. Keeps it from diluting.

    Your food looks amazing, so I’m glad I’m stuffed from dinner. 🙂 What am I doing? Reading as always, working on all things financial in January, finally getting my Christmas decorations put away, wondering about the vaccine, helping my parents. Blogging. 🙂 Keeping in touch with friends and wishing I could travel.

    All right. Got to get to bed but before I go, here are my offerings for the month. Thanks for hostessing. ❤


    Liked by 3 people

    • I hope your parents are both ok (ditto you and the rest of your family). My mother’s had the first dose of the vaccine, but has had the second delayed in the UK’s drive to vaccinate more people more quickly. I am a little concerned as it apparently wasn’t tested under that administration regime.

      Do you use black tea for iced tea? I really am an iced tea novice 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • My parents are doing as well as can be expected for their ages and the rest of us are fine. The vaccine rollout has had its problems here, too.

        You can make any tea or tisane (an herbal or fruit tea without any actual tea in it) iced. The way many people do it is to increase the amount of tea being steeped (but NOT the steeping time) and then add ice to it and that’s good if you want it cold immediately. I prefer to make mine in the usual way and then refrigerate it and not add ice. You can make sun tea and then refrigerate it too. Hope that helps.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Su, just what the doctor ordered. I’m in desperate need of a tea. An iced tea would be divine. Your baked goodies look delicious. It has been quite warm here and the humidity is so high that it is making me feel rather nauseous so I’m not feeling hungry at the moment. But if I had to choose and if you have air conditioning then I would definitely be interested in one of those prawn and fennel tartlets, please.
    I’m sorry I don’t have a post this month.
    I’ve just started reading a book I got a couple of years ago, and gosh, it is good. It’s called ‘The Sweet Hills of Florence’ by Jan Wallace Dickinson. I think this is her first and only book. It was published in 2018 by a small arthouse publishing company, Hybrid Publishers. The story is set in WW2 Italy, and is focussed on the relationship between Mussolini and his lover, Clara, and separately the relationship between two partisans, Enrico and Annabelle, and the events of that time. One of the partisans, Enrico, emigrated to Australia after the war. I am really loving it and the parallels between Mussolini and another rising dictator and societal divisions really stand out. I think you would enjoy it.
    In other news, when I let the dogs out into the big yard today, they immediately dashed for the secluded shady spot. A young currawong was there and they grabbed it. Fortunately my son was home and responded to my shrieking. The bird is still alive but hurt. We put it in a box and took it to the vet. All the vets do wildlife treatment here. This incident proved once more that I am not good in a crisis. Oh well, I shall give the vet a call tomorrow to find out whether they decided it could be saved or not. In the meantime I had best have another cup of tea. Ta.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh Tracy, I hope the currawong is ok. I’m hopeless with injured animals; somehow they seem more fragile than humans (not that I can make any great claims in the first aid department — though at least with people you can ask what’s wrong).

      The air-con is on; there is iced tea in a glass, a couple of tartlets on your plate and you can tell me more about the book. I’ve just had a quick look at Goodreads, and am off to check the library catalogue for a copy.

      Liked by 2 people

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  7. No offerings for you this month, Su, sorry! Still at the breakfast coffee and toast stage of the day and away out walking with a couple of friends soon. Last chance to walk together for a while as we start a possibly month long period of restrictions tomorrow and we live in different municipalities so can’t meet. Yes- it’s everywhere, this thing, and we’re not at all sure how effective the various measures are. I still have scope to wander, but not too far. The restaurants will be closed except for takeaway. Not the bakeries though. Let’s all eat cake! 🙂 🙂
    Fab offerings from you! Only had the tinned iced tea which is foul, and never heard of coconut sugar. Poor, ignorant me! Have a good month (oh, and while we’re bandying good news, the son’s company car was vandalised this week. Stripped for parts! )

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh Jo. I am so sorry to hear about your son’s car. What ba***rds.
      I hope the new restrictions help, and don’t have to last too long. Though by now, any time must fee like too long.
      Take care. Sending big hugs.


  8. Gosh, these are hard questions. I think I might use honey because its already in its liquid form? but generally, I don’t add sugar (I know, what’s wrong with me) to teas at home. Now, if I’m out and they give me the liquid sugar all ready, then, yes, I’ll pour it in 🙂

    Oh, and I do like your IG hashtag idea. Does the tea party have an expiration date? 😛

    Liked by 3 people

    • The good thing about virtual tea parties is that they can be endless; the food never runs out.

      I don’t sweeten hot (black) tea (makes vomiting face at the thought of it), but that’s maybe partly because I add milk. I don’t drink much green tea at all, but was pleasantly surprised at how much l liked it fridge-cold. Since I wrote this post, I’ve discovered that a slice of dried apple in the glass seems to add just the right amount of sweetness. And it’s nice to eat afterwards. And it uses up the dried apple slices I bought a while ago and can’t remember what I’d planned to do with them. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi Su,
    I found your blog through another blogger’s post. I am drooling with everything on this page. Fennel poses a certain problem for me. I typically eat the bulb before I get it home. Any encouragement or suggestions is deeply appreciated! 🙂
    I was actually sipping tea before I read your post. I don’t typically sweeten tea but when I do, I typically only add blue agave. Coconut sounds so delicious. I like cream with strong black teas. One of my favorite flavored teas is Paris, blended by Harney Teas which is near me in New York. Salut!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks so much for popping over and joining us for tea.

      I know what you mean about fennel. I have some in the garden and have started snacking on the ferns every time I walk past. It seems to be all stem and ferns — the bulbs look a bit puny, but they taste ok.

      I don’t sweeten hot black teas, and I’ve only tried making iced tea with green tea. I checked out the Harney website for Paris; the bergamot puts me off. I can’t drink Earl Grey tea for that reason.

      Liked by 1 person

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  11. Su, my lovely partner in tea, here’s the short link for my post:
    Your feast looks amaaaazing! I’d love to try a prawn, and cannot wait to try your favourite peach. I don’t know if we have them over here, and I do love a sweet, juicy-ripe one. Yours will probably have me wishing I could pack up and move over for the duration! But only with some air con. 😉 I’m admiring your green pitcher and will definitely enjoy more of your iced tea. Up here, iced tea seems to be a southern requirement, generally heavily sugared. I don’t drink the stuff, and have a hot cuppa even in summer. But herbal and iced is something I’ll definitely enjoy! Thank you so much for every delicious morsel & sip! 💕

    Liked by 2 people

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  15. To answer your question: it all looks very appealing to me! Please feel free to load my plate! 😉
    Love the blue and white china!
    As to ice tea: I used to make Sun teas when I was a teenager and loved them, I think I added normal sugar to them. Now however I only add sugar to Earl Grey and peppermint tea (both hot), all else without. Love green tea but seldom drink it cold. I do cold brew my coffee however!! As you said, gets rid of the bitterness and also is more stomach friendly. I make a huge carafe and store it in the fridge where it keeps fresh for up to 4 weeks. Also love iced coffee in summer or frappe as it’s called here.
    So sorry for not joining you this time but first my electricity went bust last week, now I’m entertaining an uninvited houseguest – mouse – again! And I don’t feel like baking as long as it’s around. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • My dear friend, I’m so sorry to hear about the mouse. I’m completely rodent-phobic, so I wouldn’t be coping at all well.
      I hope that all the issues associated with losing electricity have now been resolved, and that you’re ok.
      Sending hugs xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • The mouse is still at large and so far resists all my tempting traps! 😂 I can’t stand them inside the house and sleep with earplugs out of fear I hear it at night!!😂 It’s weird – I haven’t had mice in years and now it’s the third in as many months. 😟
        All electricity issues are solved – yay! 😄 xxx

        Liked by 1 person

        • ☹️ I hope you can get rid of it soon. We bought this house because of a mouse. We didn’t like it all that much (but more than any of the other 40+ we’d looked at), but I woke up one morning at T’s parents house, and saw a mouse run across the bedroom floor. I was terrified for myself and for the baby boy-child, so woke T and told him we had to move. We made an offer on this place; it was accepted and almost 21 years later — we’re still here.

          Liked by 1 person

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