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Posted by Sashee Chandran

Considering tha today, tea is the most popular beverage consumed worldwide--second only to water--it is interesting to learn that tea was confined the upper class when it was first introduced in Ireland. (By the mid-19th century, however, it had become affordable enough to be shared amongst all social classes.)

Today, we are celebrating our first order to a beautiful and verdant country with a brief overview of tea and teatime tradition in Ireland!

  • According to Barry's Tea, Ireland consumes more tea per capita than any other nation worldwide. That averages 4-7 cups per person, or 7 lbs of tea per person, per year.
  • Guinness beer is the only beverage challenging tea as Ireland's favorite drink!
  • Traditionally, the Irish enjoy their tea strong blended with lots of milk. A popular concoction may consist of one part milk to two parts tea. 
  • In Irish slang, "tea" is called "cha," while in Gaelic it has its own term: "cupan tea." And, of course, borrowed from the English, "cuppa tay" for "cup of tea."
  • Tea is often served in a hot kettle, with the milk and sugar already added!
  • In the early days of tea, local shops created their own blends and international brands were not known outside of big cities. The very traditional Irish Breakfast Tea consists of a popular Indian Assam tea (sometimes combined with Ceylon) that boasts a strong flavor. Hence, it blends well with milk!
  • High Tea was synonymous with suppertime amongst the working classes and consisted of a robust spread and many pots of strong tea. As in England, Irish High Tea consists of sweet and savory options; many platters included potatoes as one of the ingredients, hence its popular reputation in Ireland. Oats and wheat were also common ingredients in Irish tea fare.

Inspired by what you read to have a taste of Ireland? Here are two recipes for traditional Irish tea treats. 

 

Irish Shortbread
(Recipe Source: Greta's Day)

Ingredients:

½ C butter (It has to be butter! The texture and taste of this cookie depend upon it.)

¼ C sugar
¼ C cornstarch
¾ C flour
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla
Additional sugar for decorating.

Directions:

Beat the butter and sugar together well. Add the cornstarch and beat until all is combined.

Add the flour, mixing until combined. Your will have texture--it won't be completely smooth. Add the salt and vanilla.

Pour the mixture into an 8 inch round or square pan. Pat out evenly, and press together to smooth the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with additional sugar.

Chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Then, bake at 325 degrees for about 12 – 15 minutes, until the cookies just start to turn golden around the edges. Remove from oven, and cut into wedges or squares.

Once cooled, remove from pan and serve.

Oatcakes

(Recipe Source: Gilded Lily Publishing)

Oat was a popular ingredient in the Irish diet since the first millennium. This recipe was originally prepared on a griddle over an open fire.

1 cup oatmeal
½ cup flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
½ tsp. salt
granulated sugar to taste
¼ cup butter or margarine
¼ cup hot water
flour for working the dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the oatmeal into a large bowl, sifting in the remaining dry ingredients. 

Bring the water and butter (or margarine) to a boil in a small saucepan. Add to the dry ingredients and mix.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll into a circle 9" across and 1/8" thick. Dust with oatmeal, lightly pressing the grains into the surface. Cut into eight triangles. Place on a baking baking sheet dusted with flour and bake 40 minutes. Makes: 1 8"-inch cake.

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