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One of Churchill Salon’s award winning Afternoon  Teas at the Hyatt Regency London

Welcome to Tea Tuesday, my weekly tribute to the art of having tea. As Henry James once said: “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea”.  It is a sad day as we remember and reflect on families torn apart eleven years ago today in the 9/11 attacks.

Tea Tuesday was inspired by Christine, a young woman living in France who was curious about English tea traditions after watching a few episodes of Downton Abbey. The British may have failed miserably in other culinary areas, but they excel in the tea ritual. Join me every Tuesday as I dish on Downton Abbey, the Royal Family, UK tourism and other topical tea issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a tea treat recipe with a history. Today’s treat is a simple and elegant way to vamp up your tea or dessert tray.

My Online Guide to the Tea Ritual

Taking a traditional “afternoon tea” is definitely a bucket list experience. To do it properly, I have created a handy guide to help you enjoy the experience: Downton Abbey Cooks Online Guide to Afternoon Tea.

We are So Social

A heart felt thank you for sharing my passion for Downton Abbey, history and food. We have now surpassed 110,000 views here since January when I started this particular blog, almost 5,000 twitter followers (@downtoncooks). Check out the posted links to Facebook and Pinterest.

If you do tweet, you may wish to join me @downtoncooks, and other fans of Downton Abbey and tea from around the world by entering the hashtag #downtontea Tuesdays at 4 pm GMT, 11 am EDT, 9 am PST. We just hang out and chat, not unlike what you would normally do over tea.  Please chat amongst yourselves, I may be in the kitchen making scones.

Dishing Downton: Spoiler Alerts

Who will you cheer and jeer in Season 3?

I am reminded by that when I asked Hugh Bonneville (@hughbon) about the smelly lobster on set, he tweeted back saying we shouldn’t believe everything we hear or see, so take some of these reports with a grain of salt.

WARNING: if you wish to remain in ignorant bliss about that is going to happen in Season 3, I would suggest you scroll right down to our recipe of the day.

  • Downton Abbey premiers across the UK this Sunday, September 16th at 9 pm!  PBS begins the new Season on January 6th.
  • Season 3 photos:  Browse through these great cast photos for Season 3 to catch a glimpse of old and new cast members. Among the fresh cast members are Hollywood legend Shirley MacLaine and O’Brien’s awkward tall nephew Alfred Nugent, played by Matt Milne.

Ralph does Downton

  • Ralph Lauren new sponsor of PBS Masterpiece:  Ralph Lauren has jumped on the Downton Abbey band wagon and will begin sponsorship of PBS at the end  September to coincide with the second season of Upstairs Downstairs with “Downton Abbey” themed ads. 

Low Fat Phyllo Tarts with Berry Cream

easy and healthy tea or dessert tray treat

Mini phyllo cups provide a great elegant base for both sweet and savoury one bite treats for tea tray or your Downton Viewing Party buffet. We have used phyllo cups earlier to make truffled mushroom tarts. By adding your own ingredients you can control what you are eating and serving.  Find them pre-made or make your own which will keep for a few months in an airtight container.


  • 8 ounces plain non fat greek yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 small orange (zest and juice)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
  • fresh raspberries or other small berries, rinsed and dried
  • 4 tbsp. pistachios, toasted and chopped (optional)
  • frozen mini phyllo tart shells or make your own*


  1. Mix together the ingredients (except for the nuts) and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
  2. Don’t fill the tarts hours before your guests arrive or they will get soggy.
  3. Spoon in the cream mixture into the shells, sprinkle with pistachios (if you are using them)  and then top with fresh berries and a wee sprig of mint if you are so inclined.

To make your own mini phyllo cups: this YouTube video shows you how to make your own cups.  For mini cups just reduce the size of the squares.