Tea & Honey Recipes

How to Host Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is a quintessentially British event and meal that has made its way across the pond through novels and cinema. It remains a favorite pastime for mothers and young daughters thanks to more novels and movies - and thanks to boutique experiences at various tea shops and hotels around the country where you can celebrate birthdays, bridal showers, and other special events with an afternoon of tea, dainty sandwiches, and small cakes.

Afternoon tea service with cakes and tea and scones

What is Afternoon Tea?

Afternoon tea as we know it today is actually of relatively recent origin (relative to the entire history of tea, that is). Anna, Duchess of Bedford is often credited with the "invention" of afternoon tea in the 1840's. As industry advanced and gas lights were installed in more homes, the dinner times of the wealthy crept later and later. Since it was the tradition of the aristocracy at the time to eat a large breakfast, very light luncheon, and large dinner, the Duchess understandably found herself having a "sinking feeling" around 4 o'clock in the afternoon (who hasn't?). So one day she ordered a tray of tea, buttered bread, and cake to her room and the rest is history! (Of course this, like many of our tea histories, is a romantic founding myth that is probably less attributable to one single person than a whole culture who found themselves a little rumbly in the tumbly mid-afternoon, but it does make a great story!)

Over time, afternoon teas became more elaborate with the thin cucumber sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, and petit fours we associate with them today. Afternoon teas became so popular, that they were offered at large Victorian restaurants and hotels like Fortnum and Mason or the Savoy - and still are today! 

Afternoon Tea vs. High Tea

Sometimes in the US we use afternoon tea and high tea interchangeably, but this is incorrect! High tea is actually a heavier meal that was served mostly in working-class households around 4 or 5 in the afternoon with meats, cheeses, vegetables, and bread. 

Afternoon tea, on the other hand, was much lighter fare meant only to be a sustaining snack before the more extravagant dinner at 8 or even 9 in the evening. 

Afternoon Tea vs. Cream Tea

Today in the US, we also often conflate afternoon tea and cream tea. Perhaps the most famous cream tea tradition hails from Devonshire (of the famous Devonshire cream), where they traditionally serve tea in the afternoon with a sweet scone, sweet clotted cream, and jam for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. (Note: Much like the milk-first or tea-first debate, there is also a great debate over cream or jam first. If you are in Devon, it is cream first. For visits to Cornwall, we advise spreading your jam first and adding a dollop of cream.)

Which Teas to Serve for Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea in Victorian England likely would have featured one of three or four teas:

By the mid-1800s, when afternoon teas were popularized, the British Empire had worked very hard to lessen its dependence on Chinese teas. For this reason, the most authentic teas to serve for your afternoon tea would be those hailing from India and Sri Lanka (where, by the 1840s, the British had established tea plantations). 

Of course, there is no such thing as an authentic afternoon tea (since what we think of as afternoon tea today is really an amalgamation of many traditions), so if black tea from India isn't your favorite cup, serve what you like!

What Food to Serve for Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea as we think of it now is usually served on a three tier platter. Many restaurants and hotels will fill the tiers with tarts, finger sandwiches, and small iced cakes. They may even serve soup and salad on the side, along with a scone and cream. 

The beauty of afternoon tea, of course, is not in the variety or lavishness of your mini sandwiches and petit fours - nor even in the teas you serve - but in the quality time you spend with friends and family lingering over cups of cooling tea and your best attempt at Mary Berry's Victoria Sponge

Read on for a suggested menu and a few collected recipes from the archives to create your ideal afternoon tea!

Finger Sandwiches

Made with crustless white bread and sliced into individual fingers consumable in a bite or two. Choose one or two combinations from the list:

  • Thin-sliced cucumber sandwiches (traditionally with butter, but we also enjoy our cucumber sandwiches with a homemade chive or spring onion cream cheese)
  • Egg salad 
  • Ham and butter 
  • Roasted red pepper and cream cheese

Scones and Devonshire Cream

If you have 12 hours to spare, you can make your own clotted cream (we recommend Chef John's recipe), or you can buy it at Whole Foods

Scones can take many shapes and forms, be sweet or savory, and be made with or without added ingredients like dried fruits (or tea!). We have linked to our favorite scone recipe below, but we encourage you to experiment with your own! (P.S. Don't forget the jam when you set the table!)

Cakes & Other Sweets

You can go all out with iced petit fours or try your hand at a Victoria Sponge, but some of our favorite tea sweets are actually cookies and coffee cakes! Cookies are a great option, especially if you're planning to make afternoon tea a regular ritual in your schedule or you're hosting a crowd. Check out some of our favorite tea and honey cake and cookie recipes below!

 

Collected Tea & Honey Recipes for Afternoon Tea

Lavender Earl Grey Scones 

A delightful twist on the classic scones and cream of a Cream Tea, these lavender and Earl Grey scones are sweet and savory and sure to be a hit with all the tea lovers at your party.

Paris in Love Shortbread Cookies

Another British classic, shortbread is a delectable addition to any afternoon tea - loud and lavish or quiet and solitary.

Lemon Bars à la Provençale

Sweet and tart with refreshing notes of mint and lavender, these lemon bars are just unexpected enough to be the talk of your tea.

Acacia Honey Almond & Walnut Cake

Perfect for a winter tea, this cake also pairs well with coffee for guests who prefer beans to leaves.

Wildflower Honey Strawberry Shortcake

Easier than attempting a Victoria Sponge, this Strawberry Shortcake recipe is a favorite go-to among staff at the shop. 

Afternoon Tea at Saratoga Tea & Honey

We serve a very light version of the afternoon tea at our tea bar with service of a hot pot of tea and a selection of cookies and other goodies available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Sources:

https://blog.britishmuseum.org/the-tea-rific-history-of-victorian-afternoon-tea/

Honey Cocktail Recipe: Elderberry G&T

One of our favorite recommendations in our Honey Room is to encourage guests to experiment with honey simple syrups in cocktails because it's a fun, easy way to use honey in a way that's both special and part of everyday life. So, as soon as we tasted our new sweet-tart Elderberry Infused Honey, we knew we had to create some simple and refreshing cocktails for summer!

Usually our cocktail recipes here on the blog are a bit on the involved side, often including homemade tea / herbal infusions or several liquors. 

But the truth is a delicious cocktail doesn't need to be complicated, and this time we wanted to let our gorgeous Elderberry Honey speak for itself. 

Below, you will find a very easy recipe for honey simple syrup, as well as a few twists on classic cocktails using Elderberry Honey Simple Syrup. We recommend giving these cocktails a stir and experimenting with your own favorite flavors!

Elderberry Infused Honey Jar, bee stir stick, and Elderberry Gin and Tonic with lime wedges

Using Elderberry Infused Honey in Cocktails

Elderberry Infused Honey Simple Syrup for Cocktails

Mix well until honey is fully dissolved. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. 

Elderberry G&T Recipe

  • 1/2 ounce Elderberry Infused Honey Simple Syrup
  • 2 ounces Botanical Dry Gin (London Dry works too, but we recommend a botanical gin for a refreshing summer flavor)
  • Ice
  • Top with Fever Tree Tonic Water
  • Squeeze of Lime Juice
  • Lime wedge for garnish

For a berry delicious twist on the classic G&T, stir Elderberry Infused Honey Simple Syrup, Botanical Gin, Ice, Tonic, and a squeeze of lime juice. 

Elderberry French 75 Recipe

  • 1/4 ounce Elderberry Infused Honey Simple Syrup
  • 1/4 ounce St Germain Elderflower Liquor
  • Top with Brut Sparkling Wine

Stir and garnish with blackberries (or elderberries, if you can find them!)

Why Use Elderberry Infused Honey?

Elderberries are an amazing superfood full of antioxidants, and so is honey. Many elderberry syrups available commercially are full of added sugars needed to sweeten these naturally tart berries. Our sweet-tart Elderberry Infused Honey is a delicious and natural way to get your antioxidants or sweeten your tea or cocktails - without all the added sugar.

We knew immediately that we would be adding Elderberry Infused Honey to our cocktails this summer because its sweet-tart flavor profile is never cloying and pairs extremely well with refreshing summer flavors like lime, mint, basil, and cucumber. 

The sky is the limit with your Elderberry Honey Simple Syrup, and we can't wait to find out what you create!

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The Perfect London Fog

Earl Grey Tea Lattes - The Origins of the London Fog

two frothy london fog earl grey lattes on a wooden table casting shadows

Similar to the history of boba, it is often hard to pinpoint when and where a beverage was first developed. According to Vancouver is Awesome, despite the name, this beverage was perhaps invented on the Western Coast of Canada. The story goes that a woman, pregnant with her first child in the 1990s, craved something to replace her morning coffee. Coffee was no longer as appealing to her due to her morning sickness, and she sought something just as comforting but with less caffeine and acidity. Instead, she requested her local cafe make an earl grey tea with frothed milk, instead of the usual splash, and added vanilla sweetener. The beverage began to appear on cafe menus around Vancouver and eventually took on the name “London Fog”. It is definitely a believable tale, because this is the perfect beverage to satisfy a craving for something comforting and cozy on a cold, rainy, foggy, or snowy day.

Recipe for the Perfect London Fog:

Yields around 16oz

Spa City Earl Grey Creme Loose Leaf Teafrothed milk two earl grey tea lattes on a wooden table
  1. Steep 8 grams of Spa City Earl or Paris in Love (for added lavender and rose), in 10 ounces of 205-degree water for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add your favorite monofloral honey, we recommend Alfalfa.
  3. Froth 6 ounces of your choice of milk. (If you don't have a milk frother, you can simmer milk on the stovetop and whisk by hand! Just don't let it boil!)
  4. To sweeten the milk foam, add an additional honey drizzle on top.
  5. Stir and enjoy!

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Immune-Boosting Cocktail Shrub (Made With Tea & Honey!)

We've been casually recommending in-store customers try creating shrubs or tinctures out of our herbal tisanes for years now, but we thought it was time to share our Immune-Boosting Cranberry & Pine Tea Shrub recipe with all of you in a more official way! 

If you just want to skip to the good part, click here to jump to the shrub recipe & recommended cocktails / mocktails. If you're interested to learn why this shrub is immune-boosting in addition to delicious, read on!

two cranberry and pine shrub cocktails in front of kas honey liquor and whiskey bottles

The Health Benefits of Our Wild Taiga (Pine Tea) Herbal Tisane

The wild-foraged ingredients in this wintery herbal tisane come to us from the northern regions of Canada. A pine tea with the added benefits of chaga mushroom and wild blueberry, our Wild Taiga blend is thought to be a flu-breaker and anti-inflammatory tisane that boosts general immune and respiratory health. 

The reasons we encourage our customers to try shrubs or tinctures with our healthful herbal tisanes are twofold: 1) The longer you steep them, the more health benefit you will extract and 2) we recommend drinking herbal tisanes every day to see true benefit, and sometimes you just don't want a hot cup of tea! (Shhhh! Don't tell anyone we said that!)

Ingredients for Cranberry & Pine Tea Shrub: Italian Chestnut Honey, Wild Taiga Herbal Pine Tea, Fresh Cranberries, Apple Cider Vinegar

The Health Benefits of Pine Tea - Spruce, Fir, Balsam, Labrador Tea & Juniper Berries 

Pine Tea acts as a very good flu and cough breaker. Wonderful for your respiratory system, these ingredients are full of antioxidants and Juniper Berries especially are packed with Vitamin C. 

The Health Benefits of Chaga Mushroom

Chaga has been shown to boost immune systems and act as an anti-inflammatory agent. Chaga may also help to lower cholesterol and blood sugar. 

The Health Benefits of Wild Blueberries

Known as the king of antioxidants, blueberries help to fight free radicals in the body and contain large amounts of vitamins K and C. 

The Health Benefits of Cranberries

Cranberries are a superfood chockfull of vitamins and antioxidants. In addition, they may help to lower blood sugar and improve cardiovascular health. Cranberries also help to improve your gut bacteria - extra important at this time of year when many of us tend to overindulge! 

The Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar has antimicrobial properties and antioxidant effects. It is also believed to aid in weight loss, lower cholesterol, and lower blood sugar. So in addition to fighting bad bacteria and free radicals, it helps balance your gut microbiome!

Fresh Cranberry Wild Taiga Shrub Recipe & Cocktails

For the Cranberry Wild Taiga Shrub

Cranberry & Wild Taiga Immune Boosting Shrub Cooking in Stainless Steel Pot

Ingredients:

2 cups water

1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

3/4 to 1 cup Honey (to taste - we recommend Italian Chestnut Honey!)

2 c fresh, washed cranberries

16 grams Wild Taiga Herbal Tisane

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pot over medium heat.

2. Stir until honey is combined in water and vinegar and all the Wild Taiga is immersed in the shrub mixture.

3. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until cranberries have all popped, stirring occasionally.

4. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

5. Strain mixture into a container for storage. We recommend using a very fine mesh sieve or two layers of cheesecloth to catch all the pulp and small pieces of Wild Taiga. 

6. Chill in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks!

And now, the Cranberry & Pine Cocktail Recipes!

Kas Honey Liquor Cranberry & Pine Soda

A traditional spiced honey liquor, Kas is a delightful addition to many holiday drinks or as an after dinner digestif. We love the sweet spice it adds to the shrub in this drink!

1 ounce Kas Honey Liquor (You can find this delicious spiced honey liquor at our friend and neighbor By the Bottle!)

2 ounce Cranberry Wild Taiga Shrub

4 ounces club soda

Stir and serve over ice. Garnish with fresh cranberries. 

Cranberry & Pine Whiskey Soda (feat. Yankee Distillers Honey Whiskey)

As delicious as it is simple, this whiskey soda plus shrub is a festive crowd-pleaser.

1.5 ounces Yankee Distillers' Honey Whiskey (Located in Clifton Park, NY, Yankee Distillers make their honey whiskey in the same barrels we use to age our Whiskey Barrel Wildflower honey!)

2 ounces Cranberry Wild Taiga Shrub

4 ounces club soda

Stir and serve over ice. Garnish with fresh cranberries.

Cranberry & Pine Gin and Tonic

A holiday twist on everyone's favorite classic, this Gin & Tonic is made with a specialty botanical gin distilled with Saffron, Cardamom, and Orange. It adds a delightful citrus piquancy to the shrub!

1.5 ounces ESP NOHO Gin (this Saffron, Cardamom, and Orange distilled gin may also be found at By the Bottle!)

2 ounces Cranberry Wild Taiga Shrub

4 ounces tonic or club soda

Wild Taiga 75

A twist on the French 75, this sparkling wine cocktail is perfect for NYE!

1 ounce Cranberry & Pine Shrub

1 ounce Honey Liquor, Honey Whiskey, Spiced Rum, or Gin (depends on your preference! For a mocktail version, try cranberry juice instead!)

3 ounces Sparkling Wine (or Sparkling Apple Cider for mocktails)

Garnish with fresh cranberries.

Cranberry & Pine Mocktail

And for those who don't drink this shrub is a festive and healthful way to join in on the holiday cheer. Just add club soda, ginger ale, or sparkling apple cider!

2 ounces Cranberry Wild Taiga Shrub

4-6 ounces Club Soda or Ginger Ale

Stir and serve over ice. Garnish with fresh cranberries!

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Spiced Roasted Chicken

A hit of Ghost Pepper Chili Infused Honey adds wonderful depth to this spiced chicken!  Grill or bake, we recommend this quick dish at any time of year!

 

Honey Glazed Chicken Recipe

Ingredients:

6 chicken thighs 

For the Rub:
4 t sea salt
4 t cracked coriander
2 t ground green cardamom
3 t freshly chopped rosemary
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 T Ghost Pepper Honey
1 T extra virgin olive oil

Procedure:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
2. Mix the first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. 
3. In a seperate bowl, stir the olive oil and honey together, brush over the chicken on all sides.
4. Season the chicken generously on both sides with the dry mix. 
5. Bake until the thighs read 165° and the skin is caramelized, about 40 minutes. 

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Bacon and Whiskey Barrel Aged Wildflower Honey

It doesn't get better than this fall recipe: crispy roasted brussel sprouts, sliced slab bacon and a healthy drizzle of our Whiskey Barrel Aged Honey. Sweet, salty, crunchy, and spicy, it is so flavorful and so easy to make!

Brussel Sprouts with Whiskey Barrel Aged Honey

Ingredients:

1.75 lb Brussels sprouts, halved
7 oz slab bacon, cut into batonettes
2 T extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Whiskey Barrel Aged Wildflower

Procedure:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a bowl:  Toss all the ingredients together except for the Whiskey Barrel Aged Honey.  Spread onto the baking sheet, and place in the preheated oven.  Cook until crispy brown and slightly blackened.

Remove from the oven and drizzle over Whiskey Barrel Aged Wildflower Honey to serve.

 

Golden Honey Cornbread

Cornbread is a satisfying seasonal dinner accompaniment that is quick and easy to prepare.  Present it elegantly at the holidays or throw it together for a weeknight chili. We've sweetened our cornbread with honey, which is a great substitute for refined sugar, particularly when baking muffins, cakes, quick breads, and pies!  Honey contributes additional moisture to the recipe, and when it comes to this cornbread, it creates a really rich and wonderful result. We used Alfalfa Honey, because of the beautiful light florality and hint of spice.

Golden Honey Cornbread Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup Bob's Red Mill Cornmeal, medium grind 
1 c milk
1/2 c + 1 T Alfalfa Honey
1/2 t salt
1 c all-purpose flour 
2 t baking powder 
1 egg
1/3 c melted butter

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray or lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan, cast iron skillet, or muffin pan.

In a large bowl, soak cornmeal in milk for 10-15 minutes. If you are using a cast iron skillet preheat it with a little bit of butter.

Then combine flour, sugars, honey, salt and baking powder to cornmeal mixture. Stir in egg and butter until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Serve with room temperature butter and honey!

Butternut Squash Soup with Ghost Pepper Honey and Yogurt

Here is our a simple yet elegant take on a fall classic, Butternut Squash Soup.  The Ghost Pepper Infused Honey adds a lively dimension to the soup and is complimented with cooling yogurt.

Butternut Squash Soup with Ghost Pepper Honey

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

1 small white onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 apple, cored and cubed
1 medium butternut squash, seeded, peeled and cubed
2 sprigs of fresh sage
3 cups of vegetable broth + more as needed
extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
nutmeg
Ghost Pepper Infused Honey

Procedure:

In a saucepan at medium heat, sweat the carrot and onion in olive oil until soft. Add in the apple, squash and sage.  Season with salt.  Cover with broth and cook until the butternut squash breaks apart with a spoon. Add a pinch of nutmeg.

Remove the sage and prepare a blender.  Add all the ingredients into the blender and purée until smooth.  Adjust with broth for consistency and salt for flavor.

Reheat the soup to serve.  Swirl in yogurt and drizzle Ghost Pepper Honey.

 

 

 

Matcha Panna Cotta

Matcha Panna Cotta

Special thanks to local chef and friend, Sookyung Lee for creating beautiful recipes featuring our Matcha Wakatake.  We are so grateful for her sharing this recipe with us!

Ingredients:

2/3 c whole milk
2/3 c heavy cream
1/4 c sugar
1 T Matcha Wakatake powder
1 T hot water
1/2 T gelatin powder
2 T water

Procedure:

1. Sprinkle the gelatin powder on top of room temperature water.  Stir and allow to bloom.

2. Sift matcha into a small bowl, add in hot water, and whisk so there are no clumps.

3. In a saucepan, add in the milk, heavy cream, sugar and stir to combine over medium heat. Bring the temperature to a simmer on low heat, do not let it come to a boil.

4. Remove the pan from the heat, once it reaches a simmer, and add in the whisked matcha and gelatin.

5. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, into a bowl set on an ice bath. Stir the mixture gently.  When it starts to thicken, pour into serving cups and refrigerate until firm.

6.  Garnish with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Variations for a summer treat!  Use Mango Infused Honey instead of raw sugar.  Garnish with mango purée and fresh mango hot days!

Matcha Panna Cotta With Mango

Grilled Peach, Prosciutto & Ghost Pepper Honey Flatbread

Celebrate the end of summer's harvest with a beautiful homemade pizza, courtesy of our friend, Darien Leigh, of @pantry.hill.  She beautifully combines the sweetness of grilled peaches, the savoriness of prosciutto and parmigiano reggiano, and the spiciness of arugula and Ghost Pepper Honey. This summer flatbread is elegant and complex, yet so easy in execution.

Ghost Pepper Honey, Peaches, and Prosciutto Pizza

Ingredients:

20 oz raw pizza dough (We use Portland Pie Co. Shipyard Beer Dough - available at Hannaford)
Olive oil for drizzling
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella 
1/2 cup shaved parmigiano reggiano
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
2 cups arugula
1/2 fresh lemon
2 peaches grilled* and sliced
1 shallot sliced
3 pieces of prosciutto torn into bite-sized pieces
Sea salt
Black pepper

Saratoga Tea & Honey Co. Ghost Pepper Honey

Ghost Pepper Infused Honey

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Roll pizza dough to desired thickness and place on a baking stone or baking sheet. Drizzle dough lightly with olive oil and spread oil evenly on the entire surface. 3. Sprinkle mozzarella, 1/4 cup shaved parmesan, blue cheese and half the sliced shallots evenly on the crust. Add salt and pepper.
4. Bake at 400 degrees until crust is crispy and mozzarella begins to brown (approximately 15 minutes). 
5. Remove crust from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Top with arugula. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the arugula. Add the sliced grilled peaches*, prosciutto, remaining shallots, and shaved Parmesan. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
6. Drizzle desired amount of Ghost Pepper Honey over the pizza. Slice and serve immediately.

*To grill peaches: oil grill grates. Heat grill to 500 degrees. Slice whole peaches in 4 large quarters. Place peaches flesh-side down on grill. Grill 5 minutes until peaches are warm and have char marks. Be sure not to over-cook or they’ll become mushy. Remove from grill and slice.

Flatbread with Ghost Pepper Honey
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