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The Pleasure of Tea
By Merrie Shonbach

Tea is a delightful beverage and has a long and interesting history. Tea was discovered in 2700 BC by Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. The first book written on tea was in 1191 by Buddhist Abbot Yesai.

Tea comes from the leaves of a tree, Camellia Sinensis. The Camellia tree can grow quite tall, however, the tea harvesters keep it cut short and round for easy harvest. The tea leaves are hand picked, cleaned, dried then processed.

Tea is grown in a variety of countries; India, Sirlanka, China, Indonesia, Argentina, Kenya, Japan, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Uganda, Malawi, Turkey, Iran, Brazil and Tanzania. The worlds largest tea producer is India.

Tea is an easy beverage to store and make. Keep your tea in an airtight container free of moisture and out of sunlight.

To brew the perfect cup of tea start with spring water. Heat the water to boiling then add 1 tea bag or if you are using loose tea, fill your tea ball with one tablespoon of loose tea and let steep in the hot water for 2 to 4 minutes until it reaches the desired strength.

We have included in this article recipes for finger sandwiches that were often served with tea, this was a common practice in the Southern States and is a wonderful addition to any tea setting today.

Cucumber Mint Sandwiches

1/2 stick butter
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
8 thin slices of white bread, crusts removed
1/2 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

In a small bowl combine the butter and mint. Mix well. Spread the mint butter on the bread slices. Lay the cucumber on 4 of the slices and top with the remaining bread to make 4 sandwiches, cut them in half diagonally. Makes 8 sandwiches.

Herbed Cream Cheese Sandwiches

8 ounces Cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup lightly packed finely chopped fresh herb leaves (parsley, watercress, basil, chervil, chives or any combination)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Dash of hot pepper sauce
8 slices firm textured wheat bread with crusts removed

In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, herbs, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce, mix well.

Spread 2 tablespoons on each piece of bread. Sprinkle with paprika.

Put the slices together to make 4 sandwiches. Cut them diagonally into quarters. Makes 16 sandwiches.

Ham-Watercress Sandwiches

2 thin slices white bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons cream cheese with chives, softened
2 thin slices baked ham
1/3 cup watercress springs, thick steams removed

Spread the slices of bread with the cream cheese.

Trim the ham to fit the slices of bread. Layer the ham and watercress on the bread. Cut the sandwiches in half diagonally.

Garnish with a mandarin orange section and chopped red onion if you wish. Makes 12 sandwiches.

For a wonderful variety of teas and gourmet goodies visit Beans and Bears Owner: Lori Nanfeldt Copyright: MIE 10/8/02 Writer: Merrie Schonbach-MBAS


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