My best friends know I love all things British: accents, movies, history, quirky traditions, and of course, tea time.
I’m not certain when my love for all things British began, but I do know that in 4th grade my hero was the then Prime Minister of Great Brittan, Margaret Thatcher. (Please tell me what normal ten-year-old girl aspires to be a woman nicknamed The Iron Lady?) I digress, but the obsession continued into adulthood as I named my dog, London.
My love for English traditions grew leaps and bounds about ten years ago when I spent a summer studying at Oxford University while pursuing my Masters of Biblical Studies. That summer was one of the most significant of my life. It was there, at Oxford, that I heard the Lord call me to start Redeemed Girl and write my first book, Sex and the City Uncovered.
Not only did Jesus awaken in me a passion for seeing women transformed by His truth and walking in the fullness of His redeeming love, but my summer in England also gave me a deep appreciation for the simplicity of meaningful conversation shared over afternoon tea.
Afternoon tea is a long-standing tradition in Great Brittan, a time when the rush of the day ceases as kettles whistle and the smell of freshly baked scones fill the air.
Speaking of baked goods, bless this southern girls’ heart that the British scone and American biscuit are cousins from across the pond. Except the English version is just a tad sweeter and a little denser.
Recently, a dear friend of mine and a true redeemed girl, Jazmyne Butler came to San Antonio to stay for a few days with my family. In honor of her visit, I decided to whip up some traditional scones and share one of my favorite pastimes with one of my all-time favorite people.
Baking scones is a labor of love. Mix. Knead. Roll. Cut. A simple recipe for sure, or yours truly would never be able to produce anything remotely resembling the real thing. I love the simplicity the most because the scone is truly just the staging area for the real treat, clotted cream and strawberry jam. This combination is one of the greatest duos of all time! (Far better than PB&J if you ask me.) I want to thank my local World Market for providing the authentic clotted cream—for no traditional English tea time is complete without this staple on the table.
Speaking of the table, I love setting mine for tea. Just grab your teapot, milk, sugar, scones, cream, jam, and your favorite tea cups and you are ready. I think seeing the elements on the table make the experience much more pleasant.
Jazmyne and I enjoyed our afternoon tea. I regaled her with my love of all things British, shared the back story of Redeemed Girl, and we did what women for decades have done before us: we stopped, sipped our tea, and let the craziness of the day slip away. As the Brits would say, we chose to “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
Should you fancy some tea and scones of your own, I’ve included my favorite scone recipe and step by step instructions for creating the perfect cup of tea.
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tablespoon Baking Powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 5 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Frozen*
- 1/2 cup Buttermilk, Room temperature, plus 1 teaspoon for brushing
- 2 Eggs, Room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Into a mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
3. Grate the butter into the flour and cut the butter into the flour with a butter knife until it forms large crumbles.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 egg into the buttermilk.
5. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the egg /buttermilk liquid.
6. Mix until the dough with a spoon until the dough comes together. It should be moist, but not be sticky. Add a touch more milk if it is too dry and not holding together.
7. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
8. Shape out to about 3/4 inch thick. Do not work the dough too much and do not use a rolling pin.
9. Using a non-fluted 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter, cut rounds. Dip the cutter into flour before each cut.
10. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the rounds on the baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart.
11. Whisk the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon buttermilk and brush the tops of the scones.
12. Bake for 15 minutes or until well risen and golden.
13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack covered with a towel to keep them moist.
14. Serve with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
1. Fill a kettle with fresh water and bring to the boil.
2. Warm the teapot with a little of the boiled water swirls it around the pot and discard.
3. Place one tsp of fresh, leaf tea per person plus one for the pot.
4. Top up the teapot with the boiling water (do not allow the water to go off-the-boil or it will not be hot enough to brew the tea).
5. Leave to infuse for 3 – 4 minutes, no longer or it will develop a ‘stewed’ flavour.
6. Pour the tea through a tea-strainer directly into clean – preferably – china teacups.