Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jam & Tea


Each time I pick up a book on tea parties I am struck by the marriage of jam and tea. Recently reading Elizabeth Knight's book, CELTIC Teas with Friends, I came across several references that included jam with tea. She quoted "The Scots Kitchen" by F. Marian McNeill, "When I come to a friend's house of a morning, I used to be asked if I had had my morning draught yet. I am now asked if I have had my tea. And in lieu of the big quaigh (bowl) with strong ale and toast, and after a dram of good wholesome Scots spirits, there is now the tea-kettle put to the fire, the tea-table and silver and china equipage brought in, and marmalade and cream."

Marmalade, as described by Webster, is a thick, pulpy jam, especially of oranges and grapefruits. Jam does not include the pulpy part of the fruit and jelly is made only with the juice of the fruit.

Jam, marmalade, or jelly is best known at tea served with scones. Cream Tea, Afternoon Tea, Nursery Tea, and High Tea all include some form of jam. Most often served is strawberry jam; however, other forms of jam have also found their way onto the tea table.

There are several points historically found with different traditions for the tea table. In Russia 1 teaspoon of jam has often been put first into the tea cup, then tea has been added to the cup for a sweet tea. In the 11th century monks, it is written in Wikipedia, at Tavistock's Benedictine Abbey began the tradition of serving Cream Tea at the abbey with bread, clotted cream, and jam. Anna, Seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the early 1800's began satisfying the feeling of hunger in the late afternoon by asking her servants to bring tea and cakes to her sitting area; thus began the tradition of Afternoon Tea. Soon it became the tradition of the upper echelons of British society to serve tea, jams and cream, sandwiches, and cakes in the afternoon. Cake, bread, butter, and jam were the usual Nursery Tea and served at four in the afternoon. Tea in the nursery would be the children's evening meal, as they did not dine with the adults. Adults would sometimes join the children in the nursery. High Tea was what we today would call our evening "meat" meal. It was a hardier meal for the working class. There would be scones or bread with jam and tea, plus meat or meat pies.

Jam can be incorporated into any tea experience by the most common way of serving in a dish to top your scones and breads. However, there are many other ways jam can be included in a tea experience. A spoon of jam can be added to a tart shell for a Jam Tart. I know of one tea shop that puts Marmalady's Chai Applebutter in the tart shell and then adds a slice of fresh apple to decorate the top. Jam and jelly are very pretty in Thumb Print Cookies. Marmalade can be brushed onto poultry or meat during barbecuing or baking to add a lovely flavor and glossy finish. Mix with cream cheese for a lovely spread on tea bread or sandwich. Use as a glaze on cupcakes, cake, or muffins. Mix in a special vanilla cream frosting to give a different flavor and color. Topping ice cream is delightful with jam. Swirl through brownie batter for a special treat. But most of all use your imagination to find new ways of serving jam, marmalade, or jelly on your tea table and enjoy. (Note: I would love to hear your ideas for incorporating jam into a recipe)

My love of jam and tea led me to begin Marmalady's in March of 2003 with tea infused jams, jellies, and marmalades. They are the perfect blend for any tea table.

Written by Marilyn Miller, posted June 25, 2008 on

1 comment:

La Tea Dah said...

A very excellent post, Marilyn! Thank you for the information. I look forward to more!