It’s tea party time of the month again! Say April and it’s not just fools that come to mind. It’s tulips and the first breath of spring air, it’s the slightly irritating bird chirping away behind the bedroom window at 6:30 AM, it’s the hope of summer when sun kisses your cheeks, and let us not forget Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs (although one really must wonder what’s this got to do with Easter?!?). It’s the time for birth and regeneration in nature, and what better place to take inspiration from than nature! April is the perfect time to renew our own lives too by making plans for the warmer months ahead and trying to remember what was it again that we promised on New Year’s Eve. Get back on track, is all I’m trying to say!
As a sufferer of SAD (seasonal affective disorder), I have fallen a little behind schedule with my content production, therefore some elements I initially planned to prepare for the tea shoot are missing, but I’ll count on your imagination to add the absent pieces to the ever expanding picture.
White tea – the most exquisitely delicate of the variants out there. It’s made with tender young buds lovingly picked during the first harvest of the season. Although time-consuming to produce, it’s never processed to the extent that of green and black teas, hence the light colour of the brew. It’s important to bear in mind that the water used for brewing white tea should not be hotter than 80ºC. Thermometers (like the one pictured above) for monitoring water temperature are readily available to purchase at specialised tea and coffee shops. One teaspoon of the dry leaves per cup is plenty and usually the brewing time doesn’t exceed 4-5 minutes.
Having already previously mentioned my orange blossom obsession, it’s only natural I continue along these lines, but that’s the last of it – I cross my heart!
Setting the mood for this month’s tea time, I’ve opted for a yellow-grey colour combination as if symbolising the transition from the grey skies of winter to the yellow blooms of spring. Poetic, I know! The second hand stores in Helsinki are surprisingly full of yellow tableware, but why not mix it up a little and go for grey cups and saucers on sunny linen instead! To take this one step further, use silver spoons, trays, tea strainers and serving plates for added texture and contrast. Metallic serviettes, placemats or name cards will also do the trick!
While tulips (or daffodils!) are a must this time of the year bringing your tablescape to life, when it comes to the edible spread, the options are numerous. If planning for a modest mid-morning or afternoon get-together involving your closest girlfriends, you could only serve something small and sweet like macaroons (who doesn’t love macaroons?!?). I was lazy and bought mine at the store, but macaroons are certainly on my baked goodies to do list. If you are less lazy and have time to spare, try out my crunchy oat and orange blossom water cookies recipe. Or why the heck not serve both! Fancy a savoury bite? Fill croissants with creamy brie and toasted pistachio crumble or bake asparagus and prosciutto puff pastry twists. There’s beauty in simplicity! Feeling fruity? Fill a platter with an array of bright yellow-orange fruits like pineapple, mango, melon (honeydew and cantaloupe), oranges, papaya, yellow kiwis etc. Gathering for a meal? Make all of the above mentioned happen for your brunch, lunch or dinner date. Heavy on carbs and butter, that’s for sure, but one should not worry about waistline every day all day.
Thirsty for a tipple? You can also use this versatile tea for mixing cocktails. I went for a classic gin and tonic with a twist, but do embrace this creative challenge and come up with your very own signature spring cocktail.
On the record player, put on Yellow Submarine by Beatles and Donovan’s Mellow Yellow or some other bewildering psychedelic tune that brings out the spring silliness in you!
** If your local tea shop doesn’t carry orange blossom white tea, go for any other floral or fruity blend that captures your interest. It’s worth also checking online tea stockists.
*** For recipes and fruit platter arrangement ideas, Pinterest is without a doubt the best source of reference.