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Long live the green! Rebecca Leffler’s healthy twist on traditional British teatime

Voilà some tips for the perfect cuppa brought to you by the Commonwealth of Green Nations.

“Tea” in England isn’t simply a warm beverage. It’s a national sport.
Blend it like Beckham, ladies and gentlemen (or shall I say birds and blokes?)
In the UK, tea-drinking is often a highly debated political topic (should one put milk in before or after the tea is steeped?)
I won’t dare to impose on British imperial standard, but I thought traditional tea could use a green makeover. Why not replace dairy milk with almond or coconut milks, sub buttery scones for coconut buttery scones, replace clotted cream with a more artery-unclogging cashew cream and make jam from fresh fruit and chia seeds?
Voilà some tips for the perfect cuppa brought to you by the Commonwealth of Green Nations.
You are cordially invited to a tea party for your insides.

 Opt for caffeinated teas earlier in the day and go for rooibos, herbal teas or even less-caffeinated white tea later in the day.

1) First, make sure you choose a high-quality tea.
I like Paper & Tea’s gorgeous and flavorful pure whole-leaf teas and blends from across the globe, Teapigs’ whole leaf teas bursting with flavor in biodegradable mesh bags and Pukka easy-to-carry,  on the go organic blends.

2) Tea and milk are England’s hottest couple (sorry Kate and Wills, but you’ve been dethroned).
Don’t have a cow. Make your own plant-based milk using soaked almonds or almond butter (or your favorite nut or nut butter), water or coconut water, vanilla and (optional) dates to sweeten, or buy a high quality plan-based milk like UK brand Rude Health’s delicious almond, coconut or brown rice varieties.
Steep your tea directly in the milk for a heartier treat or add afterwards for just a splash of extra creaminess and flavor.

3) Make sure you put the time in teatime.
Instead of chugging a tall glass of green tea before you head out the door or taking a “grab-and-go” bottle of chamomile tea with you to your end of the day work meeting, make sure you sit down and really enjoy the flavor of your tea and let it slowly nourish your insides.

4) Opt for caffeinated teas earlier in the day and go for rooibos, herbal teas or even less-caffeinated white tea later in the day.
Try this DIY chai, for example.
Orange is the new black! Anti-inflammatory turmeric replaces traditional black tea for this healthy and hearty treat that will warm body and mind.

DIY Chai:
Blend 2 tablespoons of almond butter with ½ tablespoon of coconut butter (or oil), 1 cup of coconut water or filtered water, 1 Medjool date and ¼ tsp of vanilla powder in a Vitamix or high-speed blender. Add a pinch each of: ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, turmeric, fennel seed, cloves and blend again. Add to a small saucepan and warm gently over the stove. Pour into a mug and enjoy slowly as it warms your insides and your soul.

5) Go green!
Green tea is rich in antioxidants, boosts metabolism and brain function, kills bacteria and other viruses and also helps to regulate body temperature, perfect for the transition from winter to spring. Try my Royal ginger Matcha latté.

Royal ginger Matcha latté:
Add ½ cup of coconut milk (full fat!), ½ cup of water or coconut water 1 Medjool date and ¼ tsp of vanilla powder. Add ½ tsp of Matcha powder and fresh ginger (to taste) and blend again. Add to a small saucepan and warm gently over the stove. Pour into a mug and enjoy slowly as it energizes you for the day.

6) Add a twist on traditional cucumber sandwiches.
Opt for gluten-free bread – either homemade (see my book for an easy plant-based and gluten-free bread recipe!) or store-bought.

Cucumber sandwiches:
Soak ¼ cup of cashews for a few hours or overnight.
Add to a blender or food processor with 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice, ½ tsp of apple cider vinegar, salt/black pepper to taste and optional: 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast until smooth.
Spread the cashew crème over your gluten-free toast (or rice cakes) and top with slices of cucumber, a splash of lemon juice and a spoonful of chopped chives. Sugar not your jam? Try this fruit-sweetened homemade jam that also happens to be packed with protein, omega 3’s and hydrating coconut water and chia seeds. Jam: Blend ½ cup of strawberries with ½ cup of coconut water and vanilla powder in a blender until smooth and creamy. Pour into a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds. Mix with a spoon and allow the chia seeds to plump up until a smooth tapioca- like gel consistency forms.

7) Have your (vegan) (gluten-free) cake and eat it too!
Scones are one of my all-time favorite desserts. Scones are typically quite dry, perfect for eating warm and topped with cream (our unclotted cream of course), butter (coconut butter or oil) and/or jam.

(Coconut) Buttery Scones:
Add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to 3 tablespoons of water and allow to soak until a chia gel is formed. Mix 1 cup of gluten-free flour blend (or make your own!) with ½ cup almond flour (even better, ground almonds yourself in a food processor until a fine powder forms), ½ tsp baking powder, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar in a bowl and mix together. Add 1/3 cup coconut oil (preferably solid, like butter) to ¼ cup almond milk and the chia mixture and mix together. The dough should be very thick. Divide the mixture into 8-10 portions and place on parchment paper or on a coconut-oil lined baking sheet and bake for around 15 minutes at 375°F or until the scones are golden brown. These are great fresh out of the oven! They also last for a few days and are great toasted and topped with jam or coconut butter or oil, and of course dipped into your favorite tea!

8) Make Unclotted cashew cream
Clotted cream is a thick, rich cream made by simmering milk then refrigerating it for several hours. This version subs rich and creamy cashews for cow’s milk and makes a great dessert or breakfast topping for anytime of day.

Unclotted cream:
Simply soak ¼ cup of cashews overnight or for a few hours.
Drain and rinse then add them to a Vitamix or high-speed blender with 1/4 cup of coconut water or filtered water. Add more liquid as needed until a thick cream forms.
Sweeten with date, honey, coconut sugar or maple syrup and add a pinch of vanilla powder (or extract).
Store in the fridge until ready to use (it will thicken naturally, so if you prefer a thinner texture, simply add more liquid when you take it out).
Spread this cream over your scones then top with your jam.

9) Be fancy!
The afternoon tea custom originated among the upper classes, so don’t be afraid to be fancy!
Sip (slowly!) out of your favorite cozy mug, light a candle, play some music and hey, why not even put on your favorite elegant gown for the occasion?

10) Host a tea party!
Did you know that tea has been scientifically proven to be more healthy when combined with laughter, love and affection? OK, perhaps not, but all of those things are definitely great ways to relax, smile and warm up from the inside out.

Bon sip-étit!

You can now buy Rebecca’s book online! HERE

Rebecca Leffler

Rebecca Leffler is a Paris-based writer and journalist who, after a career as the French correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter and as a film critic on Canal+, traded red carpets for green smoothies. She’s written five books about healthy lifestyle from Paris to NYC and beyond, including Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic: Eat (and Live!) the New French way with plant-based, gluten-free recipes for every season, and most recently Le Nouveau Manuel de la Cuisine Végétale. Rebecca has pioneered the “vegolution” in Paris, where she continues to organize events focusing on healthy eating, yoga and la vie en rose… And green! You can keep up with Rebecca on Instagram!

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