Coffee may be international but in Britain, even coffee drinkers like nothing better than a nice cup of tea, with or without milk, of an afternoon. And they'll have none of those fancy, spiced or gourmet teas if you please. Just good, solid black teas, brewed to perfection and served in the right sort of cup. These teas, teapots and kettles will deliver the real British cuppa for the tea lovers, British expats or anglophiles on your holiday list.
In 1772, one Mary Delaney, an independent-minded, twice-married gentlewoman, wrote to her niece, "I have a new way of imitating flowers." With this simple note, she described her remarkable "paper mosaicks", now in the British Museum. Her rose design has been reinterpreted in a series of useful, feminine and strikingly modern items including this rose tea cozy. Perfect for keeping a pretty teapot warm and a thoughtful gift for a tea loving friend.
Linen tea towels are a most British gift. Everyone woman can expect a few new ones, rolled up as stocking stuffers or offered as last minute gifts from unexpected guests. They're great for lining the tea tray or drying fine glassware. And the art of printing them with wonderful designs is very British too. We love the dramatically graphic roses on a black background, copied from Mrs. Delaney's paper designs, described above. An inexpensive and thoughtful gift for a tea lover or an anglophile.
No self-respecting British kitchen is complete without an electric kettle. It was the tea drinking habit that popularized these kettles but nowadays they're used to boil up water for just about anything. They're energy efficient and useful in the summer - when they don't heat up the kitchen. There are a smart looking, modern versions of brushed stainless steel, glass or glossy enameled metal. Most have automatic shut-offs and other safety features. A nice present for a tea or coffee drinker and useful for safe heating of water in an office or studio.
Tea cakes and biscuits, scones or crumpets and jam, fresh cream gateaux and the neatest sandwiches (that's neat as in trim and tidy) you've ever seen. A traditional British afternoon tea table is laden with yummy treats and tons of carbs. This wonderful illustrated book, from the National Trust, is full of scrumptious ideas for tea party hosts and hostesses, community fund raisers, anyone who knows that life always looks better with a nice cup of tea and a cake.
A classic shape from the well known, British brand Portmeirion, turns an ordinary cuppa into a wonderful time out from the daily routine. In Britain, everyone's grannie has one like this - which makes it a nice present for an older lady in your life. Or, buy one to bring back memories of B&B stays, small guest houses and self-catering in vacation rental homes. Made of Portmeirion pottery, it is a festive addition to a holiday table.
Edinburgh, by a Scotsman. It was popularized in England by Queen Victoria and renamed by the restaurants and tea houses in England. Some think that, mixed with milk, English Breakfast tea has the aroma of toast - thus its name. Stock up with a six-pack of 7 oz tins to share with all your tea loving friends.
A nice cup of tea calls for a really nice cup. English bone china maker Spode has an enormous range to choose from. Their Indian Tree pattern is delicate and elegant, a real "raised pinky" number that makes an ordinary cup of cha taste very special. It makes a thoughtful gift for a tea drinker or a teacup collector.
This uniquely smoky flavored tea is so habit forming that these 50 teabags will disappear in a flash. A black tea from the Fujian Province of China, it is dried over pine fires which impart a distinctive flavor. I was introduced to Lapsang in Northern Ireland and I've been a fan ever since. Choose this one from Taylor's of Harrogate, one of the North's most famous tea merchants, to make a lasting impression.