If there is one author I have read who I would love to go back in time and have tea with, it would be Jane Austen!
Tea features so prominently in her books that it is not hard to imagine the author herself sitting with a cup as she penned her novels! If she wasn’t sipping while she wrote, I am sure the kettle was always sitting ready on the parlor hearth.
Jane Austen and her family were not extremely wealthy like some of the characters she writes about, but her family always had a constant supply of good tea from one of the best tea merchants in London, Twinings. Since Jane was in charge of making her family’s breakfast every morning, she also kept the keys to the tea chest and the sugar in her charge. I am sure she knew just how to make the perfect, proper cup to go along with the toast and muffins!
I recently came across this fascinating book about the history of tea in Jane’s day and highly recommend it! If you have ever been interested in the importance of tea in Regency England, and particularly Jane Austen and her family, you will greatly enjoy it!
Besides tea, this book has some wonderful old recipes and desserts that would have been eaten in Jane’s day.
One recipe in particular caught my eye for “Rout Cakes”. A “rout” being the word used in England at that time for a fashionable dinner party. I haven’t tried the recipe yet, but it reminds me somewhat of shortbread with lots of butter and sugar.
If you want to give them a try, here is a great recipe: An Attempt at Rout Cakes.
Since the Regency period in England corresponded with the Colonial period in America, the recipe also reminded me of another similar and popular recipe in America called “Queen Cakes”. Though the historical events happening at that time in each country were vastly different, the foodstuffs were much the same. Desserts in particular reflect this fact with lots of rich fruitcakes, syllabubs, puddings, ices, jellies, small cakes and cookies (or biscuits!) and candied fruit on the list.