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Tea in the Garden
by Judith Rogers
by Judith Rogers



I am a freelance garden writer with a weekly column ‘The Gardener’s Corner’ in the Innisfil Scope and quarterly articles in the regional magazine Footprints.

I began a blog lavendercottagegardening.blogspot.com to journal my home and garden life at Lavender Cottage. The art of afternoon tea has been a pleasure of mine for years and ‘Tea with Friends’ has become a weekly post with ladies I’ve met through blogging.


August 15, 2010

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
Henry James

In England during the 1800s, ladies and gentlemen would take their afternoon tea outdoors and be entertained by an orchestra. They would later stroll along flowered walkways deep in conversation and enjoying the heady scent of the flowers.

Afternoon tea remains a tradition for those of us who crave a cup along with a sweet to tide us over until dinner. And, to have tea in the garden amongst the flowers, birds and busy insects is indeed one of life’s little pleasures.
My favourite afternoon ritual with friends is to have cream tea. This includes scones, clotted cream, jam and a hot pot of tea. On my own, the clotted cream is omitted as grandmothers do have to watch their waistline.

Towards the back of our property, my husband built a wooden structure with a roof that would become my tea house and special place in the shade for afternoon tea. It’s cozy with a small table and two chairs that are perfect for a friend and me beside the pond, surrounded by colourful flowers.

The tea things are prepared indoors and carried out on a polished silver tray. Cups and saucers are selected from the hutch in the dining room, a pretty cream and sugar set is added and petite spoons to stir the tea. Cloth napkins complement the colour of the tablecloth.

For some reason, tea always tastes better when it’s served in a bone china cup and using the ‘good tea things’ makes the occasion more enjoyable and memorable if shared with a friend.

Scones with jam are served and my recipe produces a ‘sweet’ tea scone that contains a significant amount of sugar as opposed to a breakfast biscuit.

 

LAVENDER COTTAGE BUTTERMILK SCONES

4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, stirred
1 cup currants

In a bowl combine the dry ingredients then cut in the shortening. Add the currants and toss. In a separate bowl stir the buttermilk and eggs together then add to the dry ingredients. Stir until all is holding together and knead gently to fully combine.

Roll the dough out 1/2 inch thick and cut with a 2 inch cutter. Place on parchment lined cookie trays and bake at 400 degrees 10-12 minutes or in a convection oven, 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

* A teaspoon of culinary lavender buds can be added with the currents

On the opposite side of our pond the land slopes down a bit to the reading garden where there is a bench against the garden shed facing the pond. Sitting here one is almost hidden from view to quietly read a favourite book and it is a tranquil place to enjoy a cup of tea too.

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