Bishops and Britten

It’s Advent II, and St Nicholas Day. It’s the time of year when traditionally we bake Judy Plum’s (her of Pat of Silver Bush fame) Bishop’s Bread. Think fruitcake but loaf shaped and without the brandy or cherries. We put a marzipan mitre and crozier on ours to make it obvious it’s for St Nicholas, but that’s our touch.

Anyway, this auspicious liturgical combo was off to a tremendous start with the dual Advent offering of black tea Friesische Sonntags-mischung and rock sugar. As per traditional observation for this kind of Assam we poured it from a height worthy of a Muriel Spark character over the sugar and it crackled like ice. It’s a very satisfying sound, and the sugar lumps are a good size for counterbalancing the strength of the Assam. We opted for one lump per 8oz cup, and that worked perfectly.

Even better, the sugar dish that has sat unused as a dresser ornament has found functionality.

The tea itself is Assam blend with a hefty amount of vanilla, which is exactly the kind of combination that appeals to us with black teas. Anything more complicated (cf the chocolate)can get complicated quickly. This one smells gorgeous, tastes just as good and was a suitably vestal start to the day.

DavidsTea swung completely the other way, with caffeine-free Gingerbread Blondie. An oldie but goodie, this tea is equal parts ginger and creamy vanilla. There’s a vanilla theme going here. But we like this one because it really does taste like gingerbread in a cup. The creaminess keeps it from being cloying and the ginger gives it zing. It’s a lovely tea for after dinner or in lieu of a sweet.

Here is where we’d usually leave you with a poem. But as previously mentioned, we miss singing, and today’s other tradition is to play Britten’s Saint Nicolas Mass. So here’s a selection from that. The men work harder than the women, but what the women do is terrific fun , especially for the sopranos. Listen and see if they don’t sound exactly like lightning!