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Tea

We’re not interested in holidays, or anniversaries, and we don’t remember our own birthdays, much less anyone else’s, but we do celebrate one tradition: a new year tea. Or maybe it’s an end-of-year tea.

In any case, it’s how we mark the coming year.

We’ve got it down to a science, of sorts, now, with three types of sandwiches, triangulated, and made with Pullman bread. (I have the small Pullman tin, which makes a perfect size for these sandwiches, and provides those lovely square slices.)

Two teapots, because Mr. Noile likes his formal tea Russian-style: we have jam and spiced syrup to put in it.

The scones are Will Torrent’s triple-cheese, with whipped mustard butter (a Mr. Noile favorite); there’s an assortment of chocolate, and, this year, two¬† messy desserts: a coffee-walnut cake with espresso cream cheese frosting (a fantastic frosting — an adult frosting, not that sickly sweet stuff that passes generally), and tiny pecan pies.

Not very photogenic, sad to say. But tasty.

We always finish with Mr. Noile’s St. Clement’s Possets, which are dreamy beyond belief . . . and must be served in the tiniest dishes feasible, as they are so velvety and rich.

It takes days to finish the left-overs, but we don’t mind. Whether easing out of an awful year, or into yet another one, that enduring supply of possets, especially, remind us that there are still lovely things around, and that we need to celebrate them.

(See some details of the menu in the comments below.)

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  1. Vancouver Barbara
    January 5th, 2022 at 11:09 | #1

    Thank you so much. It all sounds so delicious. Happy New Year.

    • Noile
      January 5th, 2022 at 11:43 | #2

      You’re welcome, Barbara — Happy New Year to you, too!

  2. Vancouver Barbara
    January 4th, 2022 at 11:59 | #3

    I want to start this tradition too. Are the scones purchased or is that a recipe you make? Also recipe please for the scones, and if you’re willing to share, for the espresso cream cheese frosting. Please tell more about the Russian tea. And the possets look and sound dreamy. What a glorious way to start the New Year. Thank you.

    • Noile
      January 4th, 2022 at 13:32 | #4

      Hi, Barbara! We make everything ourselves, usually the day before, and assemble the sandwiches the morning-of. (The preparations are a fun tradition themselves!) The scones are from Will Torrent’s book Afternoon Tea at Home (as is the whipped mustard butter, an essential to go with the scones). The posset is also from the same book — it’s well-worth owning!

      The espresso frosting is very simple: 8 ounces of cream cheese, 1/2 cup/4 ounces/1 stick butter, whipped until light, fluffy and completely mixed. Then swirl 1 Tablespoon espresso powder into 3 cups confectioner’s sugar and add to the cream cheese/butter mix along with 1 teaspoon maple syrup. Mix until creamy — that’s it.

      Mr. Noile’s Russian tea is a concentrate made of 5 teaspoons of loose black tea per cup of water. The concentrate goes in one tea kettle, and boiled water goes in the other. The two liquids are mixed to taste in each person’s cup. Jam is a traditional sweetener, but we also use the spiced syrup sometimes. The tea is made just before we settle in for our small feast, of course, not in advance.

      We streamline things by keeping a tea-specific binder of each year’s menu, including our favorite recipes. That really helps to streamline planning, and making, each year. We use a “presentation” notebook from an office supply place, and slip the print-outs into built-in plastic sleeves — which also keep the recipes clean when we use them.

      Enjoy, Barbara! I hope you get as much pleasure from your tea(s) as we do!