Saturday, September 19, 2020

Do have a spot of tea!


 RHYS BOWEN: i was about to post this when I learned of the death of RBG. Obviously I can’t do her credit at this time of night but we will be saluting her as she deserves tomorrow

I apologize if this post seems trite against such stunning news

It seems most of my posts recently have been rather serious. Not surprising as we live in a time of doom and gloom with one catastrophe following the next. However, in a year of pandemic, murder hornets, a giant volcano under Massachusetts, devastating wildfires and an election that may be questioned and corrupted there is one constant in my life: (as well as my husband John, I mean) and that is my cup of tea.

We Brits got through WWII with our cups of tea.


When you have a baby in England the first thing they give you afterward is a cup of tea. When you are suffering from shock after an accident--a cup of tea. When I was growing up you could call unexpectedly upon any person knowing that a kettle would be hot and ready and a cup of tea only moments away.

It pains me now to know that the younger generation has switched to coffee. I think the reason behind this is that there are now no housewives at home all day, waiting for a friendly caller. And also people are at work so that tea time, in all its luxurious splendor, is a thing of the past. No more taking a table out to the lawn on fine summer afternoons, passing the cucumber sandwiches and the shortbread while the birds chirp overhead and the smell of newly mown grass lingers in the air.

But it's not a thing of the past for me. When I invite friends over it's often for tea. I make scones, cucumber sandwiches, little cakes and get out the good china. It is the most civilized of occasions with plenty of time to talk without the hostess having to leap up and serve food. I have to confess that tea is my favorite meal. A favorite splurge when I'm in England is to go to tea at one of the London hotels. Equally favorite is a real cream tea in Cornwall with the local Cornish clotted cream. (By the Way none of these is a high tea. That is a meal instead of dinner and includes a poached egg, piece of pork pie or other protein designed to carry one through the night.) Quite a big meal. And in contrast, look at the size of this tea set!!! I want it.

It also pains me that Britain has sunk to tea bags. But not me. Tea is one of the things we still hold sacred. John imports Darjeeling, Kee Mun, a fine leaf black Indian or Ceylon tea and blends them into our own mix. When we're in England we stock up at a tea importer for the real thing. We also have a variety of tea pots to serve it in, ranging from antique silver (usually hidden in a green bag) to traditional British stoneware. 

So let's hope tea will carry me through the pandemic and the election. You should try it (although I have to confess that a little Prosecco doesn't hurt either).

How about you? Are you a fan of tea and tea-time?

61 comments:

  1. Although I don’t believe I could ever give up my coffee, I am most definitely a fan of tea and tea-time. We’re partial to Earl Grey tea, but I enjoy English Breakfast tea, too. Scones are a favorite here . . . .

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  2. I'm glad you have that comforting ritual, Rhys. I haven't had a cup of black tea in years and rarely a cup of herbal. And now I want to bake some scones!

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    1. Edith, the first item in my news feed was “Taken Too Soon” post and my first thought was of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. How is it that a person with 87 years of living feels taken too soon.

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    2. Thank you, Elisabeth. It does feel that way. And I know she wished she wouldn't have been taken until January...

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  3. I have a cup of tea midday every day, but sad to say it's using a bag:(. I want to be on the invite list for tea at your house Rhys!

    Devastated about RBG...

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  4. Tea, yes, absolutely. Every day begins with at least one cup, and more throughout the day. Always 'builders', in a mug -- that's tea bag tea, strong, with milk. I gave up teapots long ago.

    It's frightening to think of the US Supreme Court without RBG's influence. RIP, RBG.

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    1. Amanda, I have builders tea, which I was given to understand meant very very strong and sweet. Maybe the builders part is having it steeped until you can't tell it from coffee, and the add-ons can vary.

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  5. I love the ritual of tea time - I so understand how it can calm when all else seems to have spiraled out of control . Now, for example. Trying to stay focused on her legacy.

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  6. Tea with socially-distanced friends sounds delightful on this bleak morning. In addition to cucumber, can you recommend other types of sandwiches?

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    1. My favorites: smoked salmon with cream cheese, egg and cress—but it’s hard to find cress in the States, Han and mustard They should all be tiny triangles on thin crust less bread

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    2. When I was still living in England one would buy various types of meat or fish pastes in tiny bottles specifically for sandwiches. I would recreate this for sandwiches now by using a pate or making a type of ham or chicken salad. Like Rhys, my fav is also smoked salmon on thin brown bread.

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  7. Shalom Friends,

    Rhys, I have tea once in a while, but coffee every day, all day. Having been born just after the greatest generation, I suppose I might be considered “young”. However, in the early 1730s Bach wrote a secular cantata, colloquially dubbed “The Coffee Cantata.” Reading the words, it is clear that coffee has been the “go-to” beverage of the younger generation for at least, almost 300 years.

    I remember that my mother had great difficulty waking up before having her cup of coffee. We used to tease her about it. My father, however, while born here, was the son of two Barbadians. Those from Barbados consider themselves more English than the English. So he might have been partial to tea. The brand in our house growing up was Tetley. I have two large boxes of generic tea bags which have been in a kitchen closet for quite a while, only disturbed now and then.

    I have been amused when Vera (on the British television show) when bringing bad news to someone, will often put the kettle on and serve them tea in their own home.

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    1. David, when we have bags it’s Tetley! And Barbados is one of my favorite places

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    2. Rhys, I still have the jar of lemon curd from you that you gave as a prize for wearing a hat to your book signing event. Even though I ate all of the lemon curd, I kept the jar.

      Diana

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  8. Another body blow. Texting last night with my three daughters, all of us in shocked mourning.

    The entire country needs a strong pot of tea right now, extra sugar, for the shock.

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    1. I am devastated too, Karen. I feel like we just lost hope

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  9. We don't have tea daily, but when we do, it is Earl Grey for Julie and Yorkshire Gold for me. Both with milk and sugar.

    One of my favorite indulgences is a cream tea in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada, at the Prince of Wales. It's an amazing hotel, built in the late 19th century, Tea is served in a large room, fireplaces, sofas and chairs and low tables and tons of roses, with a little conservatory at the front if you prefer a small table and chairs. It's about $40 Canadian, not cheap, but well worth the price. Lots of wonderful sandwiches, including cucumber, lots of cakes, and scones that make my mouth water, served with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

    I could use this about now. Devastation at the loss of RBG is not a strong enough word. But we will soldier on. We have to.

    Last night I dreamed I was in the front row at a tRumpf rally, and I dared him to speak her name. I told him I was sorry it wasn't he who had died. He stuck his foot in my face and told me to lick his shoe. Sadly, this is what the presidency has sunk too in this country.

    I guess I need strong sweet tea about now. With a slug of brandy in it.

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  10. I love tea, hot or iced, and have always wanted to have a proper tea exactly like the one you described Rhys. Now I have Celiac Disease so those delicious breads, cakes, and scones are not in my future. Darn it! (Yes, I've tried some of the gluten-free versions but they are not the same. My husband recently find some good GF crumpets/English muffins and that is some consolation.)

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    1. Cathy, there's probably a large market in the UK and former colonies for anyone who can invent tasty gluten-free tea sandwiches and pastries!

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  11. At home, we have been brought up on coffee in the morning and tea for the rest of the day, I still do this . Tea is a comfort drink for me and I can understand that it is used after shock. My tastes have evolved through the years. I like to try new kinds of teas and herbals but for day to day , I come back to plain black tea .
    The afternoon teas I had while visiting UK were fabulous experiences.

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  12. Coffee in the morning. Tea in the afternoon. I can’t drink tea on an empty stomach. I’ve enjoyed tea and goodies in a number of places, fancy and not. It is always a treat.

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  13. Tea, always tea. Loose leaf in the morning. I had to switch to decaf in the evening. My sister gifted me with a delightful set of David's Teas decaf loose leaf and the strainer, but I'm afraid usually the evening decaf is a bag.

    I was shocked to hear about RBG. :(

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    1. Liz, I'm an all-day tea drinker, but I never cottoned to decaf tea. I remember drinking it under protest during various pregnancies - like non-alcoholic beer, it's close enough to scratch the itch, but not a real substitute. Now, if I want something warm in the evening, I have an assortment of herbal teas. I'll spare you my rant on why they ought to be called herbal tinctures or sachets rather than teas.

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  14. Yes, a hard morning - we will have weeks to discuss the tragic news - but it was still soothing to read your blog today. Talk about tea was soothing? How about that? Yes, I never liked coffee and have been a tea drinker always. My dad liked it too, and Canadian relatives used to bring better tea than Lipton's. Life took me to UK in several different periods. Last was a few work meetings, courtesy of a well-heeled employer, and that is when I finally took myself out to all out English teas. Turns out to be the perfect meal after an overnight flight when both body and mind are every confused! Tiny sandwiches, lovely scones,a tower of sweets, first-class tea ( hard to find in NY) and pampering service. Yes. Ritz. Browns. Fortnum & Mason. And later, in Edinburgh, and in old fashioned splendor in Canadian Rockies.My favorite meal

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    1. Ritz, Browns are so overpriced ! I believe Deborah had found the perfect tea in London?

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    2. Oh, of course they are, but it was fun to do it all out, for those two trips. I also love tea at small homey places ( I hope they still exist! it's been awhile) with modest homey food.

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  15. My older sister gifted me a small tea kettle a couple of years ago. It makes me happy every time I see it, use it, every time I see my youngest nephew making himself a cup of tea (herbal, with honey for his throat before a show). When I don't feel well, I make a cuppa. Nothing fancy.

    It will take more than tea to calm my spirit with the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

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    1. Flora, have you considered tea gently sprinkled with crushed Valium?

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    2. Julia, how about crushed Valium lightly kissed with tea? This is a hard blow.

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  16. Rhys, what a blessing - a cuppa. Last night with the death of RBG ringing in our heads, my daughter, visiting for her fathers 94th birthday, (Happy Birthday Victor), and I were in our cocktails before dinner, but with that news tea would have been welcome. So sad. However I am with you on tea. I'm finishing my second of our 'bed' tea cups before facing the day. We buy our Earl Grey By mail, from Atlantic Spices on Cape Cod, and like you I do have a variety of tea pots, cups and saucers etc. Yes I miss my Cornish cream tea but I recreated a Cornish cream tea as an auction item for our Cathedral a few years ago. We had cucumber sandwiches, scones, local strawberry jam, Cornish cream from England via Whole Foods, a saffron cake and I think I made biscuits too. My son-in-law loves the shortbread that I shared on JRW a while ago. I made two batches yesterday so there would be enough for Victor and Ken. One batch was covered with tiny chocolate chips and judging by what was left this morning, we have mice!

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  17. I was devastated to learn of RBG's death. She was an amazing woman and what a role model.

    When I was in grade school I lived near Teterboro which at the time was a military base. Many of the families in our town were associated with the military and many of the teachers in my grade school were British war brides. Tea was a way of life and part of the social interaction with parents, teachers, and students. I'd be lost without my brown Betty often filled with loose leaf Twinings English Breakfast or Earl Grey if I'm feeling stressed. If I'm using bags it's Typhoo. I am a rebel though - I doctor my tea with half and half.

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    1. Oh no! Half and half? My husband is almost as bad with full cream organic milk!

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    2. Ha, Rhys, I use whole organic milk, too!

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  18. I have never experienced afternoon tea as a meal, though I am eager to do so. I am pretty addicted to coffee as my morning beverage, but at other times of day I often drink tea. Twinings Earl Grey is my go to. (In bags.) Since weight management has made me pull back from a nightcap as a daily occurrence, I have largely replaced it with a cup of herbal tea as I unwind in the evening on weeknights.

    I look forward to tomorrow's post on RBG. The loss of such a life leaves us all poorer, and I'm having trouble even finding words to express it. I just hope that, as sometimes happens, her influence continues to grow even after her life has ended.

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  19. I'm English on my mother's side, and she used to fix us all a pot of tea when we'd get home from school each day. It was our after-school snack. Although everybody else in the family now drinks coffee, I have never made the switch. Especially now that I'm working from home, it's morning tea for me every day. My go-to is an estate-grown Assam, but I also like Darjeeling and a Ceylon blend. Some is loose leaf, some is tea bagged, but I'm leaning more toward the loose leaf as they've started making the bags out of plastic. (!)

    Devastated about RBG. Ready to get militant if the Rs try to ram someone through before January.

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    1. Agreed, Gigi.

      I also raised my kids with "milky tea;" a half and half tea and warmed milk, generously sweetened. It was a special treat on cold mornings. Youngest still enjoys a cuppa now and then, but coffee has become the go-to for all three of them. I can't blame them; it's hard NOT to be a coffee drinker in modern America with a shop on every corner (and sometimes across the street from each other!)

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  20. Rhys, I drank tea my entire life, even though my parents were drip coffee drinkers. I am actually a certified Tea Master, from a course taken at the London Tea Museum! It was only a few years ago in London, however, that I discovered that coffee required many less attempts to find a loo in the city, which is notorious for not have public bathrooms. So now I drink a latte most mornings, and always tea in the afternoons. Usually Earl Gray but Gigi has introduced me to a blend called Lover's Leap that I really like. I use high quality loose tea, in tea sacs, which are little paper filter bags, so it's "make your own tea bag." I have many teapots and use a pot for company--and sometimes just for myself. And of course a proper afternoon is absolutely glorious!!

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    1. Deborah, how true that there is greater need for loos when drinking tea. I love tea. If I know I'm going out, I do not want to risk getting COVID from using a public restroom so I drink a almond milk latte instead.

      Don't museums in London have public loos if you need to use the loo?

      Diana

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  21. Well, this is the fourth time I've tried to post this comment and I'm not sure it's worth reading, but I want to prove to myself it will work. We have been without power since early Wednesday morning thanks to Hurricane Sally. No air, no light, no hot food, no TEA!! We always have tea every morning, no coffee. Gas station coffee is an abomination! But, hooray! The lights have just come back on and we are back in business! I am about to make my first, but not last cup for the day - with milk and sugar.

    Mostly I want to say how sad I am about the death of RBG. What an incredible woman! I hope we will all let our senators know that they must not nominate someone new until after January, 2021. And may her memory be a blessing!

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    1. Mary, indeed, may her memory be a blessing.

      And thank goodness you're restored to power! That's one of the problems with being a tea lover - you can find a relatively decent cup of coffee almost everywhere (not gas stations, but diners are goods in a pinch) but it takes effort to have a really good cup of tea.

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  22. Rhys, do you know about Arbor Teas? https://www.arborteas.com/
    I have been buying loose teas (organic, Free Trade) from them for years. Lovely people with lots of different teas and lots of knowledge.

    As to RBG...there is just too much to say.
    We must all hope/pray that even the evil wiles of Mitch cannot push a nomination through so quickly.

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  23. Mom drank tea, Dad drank coffee. No milk or sugar for either one. But at dinner, every night, a pot of tea was on the table and was poured, for both of them, soon after the meal started. Cups and saucers, no mugs at dinner. As kids we were tea drinkers first. Tea was served when Aunt Jan came to pick up her sons on Friday evening, at the end of the work week. Tea was served when our best friends came to play or we went to their house. We played, Nancy and Mom had tea. Plain old Lipton tea, no herbal, Earl Gray but it was by the bag. A tea pot was her preferred gift for couples when they got married. I have a couple of Mom's tea pots and my grandma's one tea pot. Grandma's is pristine inside and out. Mom's are stained inside from years of use.

    Tea is my beverage of choice when ill, honey, a squeeze of lemon or orange and a little something extra to help me sleep. That combination may come in handy in the next few weeks of nerves, elections and now the passage of Justice Bader Ginsburg.

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    1. Deana, I also like a nice honey and lemon tea when a cold is coming on, with a dash of spirits to fortify myself. I take it as hot as I possibly can, with the idea that the steam can clear out my nose if nothing else.

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  24. Rhys, in the photo is that your Blue Wedgewood? I've always loved that pattern.

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  25. Rhys, I LOVE tea. For my 18th birthday celebration, my Mom and female relatives took me to a fancy hotel in San Francisco for afternoon tea. I like the idea of tea instead of casseroles to comfort other people.

    As I get older, I find myself liking coffee Less and less while I am liking Tea more and more. Perhaps tastes change?

    I use both loose tea leaves and tea bags. With loose tea leaves, you need to use a tea sifter? I remember that when I was in England the last time my favorite tea bags were from Boots the chemist, which is similar to the American dime store.

    These days I have to be creative with afternoon tea, since many of the yummy food has dairy and wheat. Now I am trying out different recipes for dairy free wheat free scones for example.

    Many of us are heartbroken about RBG. She inspired so many of us.

    Diana

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  26. I do love my coffee, and it is a must every morning and sometimes during the day. I like to have it with dessert, too, just seems to complete the dessert. However, I love the whole idea of tea, from the fascinating teapots to the lovely little sandwiches and cakes of an afternoon tea. I actually used to drink more tea, but I've not done so in some time. I feel myself being drawn back to it these days though, so it might make a comeback with me, although I can't imagine ever giving up my coffee in any scenario. Maybe my split ideas of comfort come from my childhood. My father drank tea in the mornings, from a bag, and my mother drank coffee. Oh, what parents do to their children without realizing it.

    I have say, too, that attending a tea (not high tea) is a joyful experience for me, even though I haven't been to that many. Debs, I so enjoyed the tea at The London Tea Room in St. Louis that was held as one of your events for A Bitter Feast. Lesa Holstine and I came together to it and had such a great time. I brought home two black teas, The Naughty Vicar (how could I resist that) and The London Tea Room blend.

    I, too, am so heartbroken over Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passing. I did come across an excellent post about it last night, but I will share tomorrow.

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    1. Kathy, that was so much fun, and it was such a treat to see you and Lesa! Unfortunately, as I was flying, I didn't get any of their wonderful teas.

      I do highly recommend the English Tea Store teas, available online. They carry many English brands, but I have been their store brand teas for years.

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    2. Thanks, Debs. I will look up those teas.

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  27. Oh, I love tea. I have camomile every night, almost a ritual, and Jonathan makes it. I adore milky tea, too, Julia, and I do think my mother used to make it for us!

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  28. Tea would be lovely about now. I think I'll go make some Yorkshire Gold. Peace all.

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  29. Grew up on the west coast with coffee drinking family. Only had iced tea, in Summer. It's a whole 'other thing.

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  30. I have hot tea every morning, usually Lipton but I like English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Darjeeling, and my favorite English Afternoon. Those are tea bags but I use loose tea to brew iced tea. Of course, I make a pitcher of that.

    I had cream tea in Harrods, and tea with the little sandwiches and scones, etc. in the Cotswolds, Ireland, and Carlisle (PA). I myself would never cut off the crusts because my mother said that was wasting food.

    Such a loss of a remarkable woman in RBG. I hope they have the decency to honor her wishes. Stay safe and well.

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  31. I did not grow up drinking tea, but have started drinking it more recently. I have taken my children and friends to teas. I learned how to make scones, lemon curd, and clotted cream. When my children were little, I would go to their school and work with the children in groups on how to make scones. They would do all the measuring and stirring. It would help them with their math skills, following directions, and learning to take turns. The children would get to eat one scone and take another home. It was a lot of fun.

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  32. Real tea every single morning. Assam is my tea of choice. Loose tea in a teapot. Very soothing.

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  33. I grew up drinking tea; I have never drunk coffee. My mother would fix me a cup when I was little, it was mostly milk with a little tea, and grew more tea-like as I got older. To this day, I start each day with a pot of tea; at home it's Lady Gray - with a hint of citrus, I don't need to add anything to it and enjoy it black. Other teas might need a sweetener or lemon (I no longer use milk). I do use teabags, I never mastered loose tea, but the idea of buying loose teas and making my own combination is very intriguing. I did make scones once, but I am gluten free (sadly) and they were not good, barely edible. I think I'll leave the scones making to others. My husband drinks coffee but when he's sick he always asks me to make him a cup of tea (he can make his own but says I do it better, and who can resist that?) and it makes him feel better, though that could be the dash of vodka he adds to it. LOL

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