CHOCOLATE QUOTE OF THE DAY…

Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies. John Q. Tulliuss

STUNNING FLOWERING TEA GIFTS FOR CHRISTMAS…

Flowering tea also known as blooming tea, consists of flowering bulbs with leaves tied around the flowers, which are made by binding tea leaves and flowers together into a bulb.

Each exotic bulb once it’s steeped blossoms spectacularly in hot water and produces a wonderful drink full of antioxidants, as well as looking and smelling great.

This tea is the ultimate of self-indulgence as the flower emerges as the centerpiece that not only can be enjoyed for its taste but admired as an art form. It is a treat for anyone with a bit of magic thrown in.

It is very fragrant, pleasant on the palate, and stunning to look at, flowering teas recall their natural spring blooming, and, just as in nature, there is a wide selection of flowers and colours to enjoy.

As you pour hot filtered water, the magic does not happen immediately. The little bulb carefully unwraps itself – not revealing too much at first. It builds the suspension until, in one sudden and exciting move, it lets go of the flower inside which travels upwards in your teapot like a soaring bird.

The Exotic Teapot sells hand tied blooming tea flowers. Fresh flowers like jasmine, Chrysanthemum and tender mao feng green tea buds are skillfully woven together into a ball shaped bloom by experienced Chinese tea masters. And as only the finest quality Spring Harvest green teas are selected to create their flowering teas, they truly taste as good as they look. Each blooming tea ball can be re-steeped with hot water at least three times and makes up to to 2 litres of tea. 

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They have some great gift ideas which can be sent direct to the recipient with a message so would make a great Christmas gift. Their Flowering Tea Triple Selection Box is three of their finest blooms and packaged for you in an attractive windowed gift box. The selection box includes a tin each of our excellent Jasmine Bow (5 blooms), Mango Splashj (5 blooms) and Peachy Rose (5 blooms) flowering teas, at £20

Another lovely gift is the Glass Infuser Mug (350ml) which will let you enjoy a flowering or loose leaf tea anywhere you please. Great for the office or traveling, this high quality mug has a removable glass infuser and lid that also serves as a coaster drip tray. Maximum mug capacity is 350ml. Normal usage capacity is 300ml. They only use the finest quality, borosilicate glass to create our glassware so each one is fully heat resistant and even dishwasher safe. A perfect gift for £14

 

THE HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS CRACKER…

According to WHY CHRISTMAS Christmas crackers are a traditional Christmas favorite in the UK. They were first made in 1847 by a London sweet maker called Tom Smith. He had seen the French ‘bon bon’ sweets (almonds wrapped in pretty paper) on a visit to Paris in 1840. He came back to London and tried selling sweets like that in England and also included a small motto or riddle in with the sweet. But they didn’t sell very well.

Legend says that, one night, while he was sitting in front of his log fire, he became very interested by the sparks and cracks coming from the fire. Suddenly, he thought what a fun idea it would be, if his sweets and toys could be opened with a crack when their fancy wrappers were pulled in half.

In 1861 Tom Smith launched his new range of what he called ‘Bangs of Expectation’! It’s thought that he bought the recipe for the small cracks and bangs in crackers from a fireworks company called Brock’s Fireworks.

Crackers were also nicknamed called ‘cosaques’ and were thought to be named after the ‘Cossack’ soldiers who had a reputation for riding on their horses and firing guns into the air.

When Tom died, his expanding cracker business was taken over by his three sons, Tom, Walter and Henry. Walter introduced the hats into crackers and he also traveled around the world looking for new ideas for gifts to put in the crackers.

The company built up a big range of ‘themed’ crackers. There were ones for bachelors and spinsters (single men and women), where the gifts were things like false teeth and wedding rings! There were also crackers for Suffragettes (women who campaigned to get women the vote), war heroes and even Charlie Chaplain! Crackers were also made for special occasions like Coronations. The British Royal Family still has special crackers made for them today!

For 150 years, Christmas crackers have been a traditional part of Christmas festivities; Tom Smith created the wonderful invention of the Christmas cracker in 1847. Tom Smith Crackers were granted their first Royal Warrant in 1906, and today the Tom Smith brand owned by IG Design Group UK Ltd is still the official supplier of Christmas crackers to the Royal Household, which is held in high regard. Design Group are extremely honoured and proud to design the handmade bespoke crackers that are selected by the Royal Household.

Tom Smith Crackers have a historic spirit and a breath of heritage which is represented in the designs.

Every year they research the current trends and markets to ensure our crackers are the market leaders, `demonstrating new innovative designs and concepts that are created every year to keep the interest, air of Christmas and the tradition alive, as well as refreshing the content and jokes, we ensure that they remain classic and traditional in how they look and feel.

THE HISTORY OF THE MINCE PIE…

According to Why Christmas, mince pies, like Christmas Puddings, were originally filled with meat, such as lamb, rather than the dried fruits and spices mix as they are today. They were also first made in an oval shape to represent the manger that Jesus slept in as a baby, with the top representing his swaddling clothes. Sometimes they even had a ‘pastry baby Jesus’ on the top!

During the Stuart and Georgian times, in the UK, mince pies were a status symbol at Christmas. Very rich people liked to show off at their Christmas parties by having pies made is different shapes (like stars, crescents, hearts, tears, & flowers); they fancy shaped pies could often fit together a bit like a jigsaw! They also looked like the ‘knot gardens’ that were popular during those periods. Having pies like this meant you were rich and could afford to employ the best, and most expensive, pastry cooks.

Now they are normally made in a round shape and are eaten hot or cold.

A custom from the middle ages says that if you eat a mince pie on every day from Christmas to Twelfth Night (evening of the 5th January) you will have happiness for the next 12 months!

On Christmas Eve, children in the UK often leave out mince pies with brandy or some similar drink for Father Christmas, and a carrot for the reindeer.

A TOWER OF TREATS…

This Tower of Treats from Watts Farms makes a fantastic Christmas gift for anyone with five box’s of treats. Starting from the top it has –

Allergens – (milk, may contain nuts, wheat, egg, soya)

Tower of Treats  – Each

5 luxury boxes filled with goodies.

8 x Milk Chocolates with Hazelnut cream filling

200g creamy vanilla fudge

175g traditional stem ginger biscuits

270g Chocolate covered Heart Palmiers

500g Classis Chocolate Chop Panettone

Available at a few places online but the best price I found was one at Watts Farm for £29.99