Biscuits. Where as tea is the very backbone of Britain, biscuits are the support, the right hand man, the showcase within the art exhibition of drinking tea. And of course tea break just wouldn’t be same with out them.
Now, just to clarify, biscuits as I am referring to are the British biscuits not the US biscuits. What the US call biscuits are what Brits would liken to scones and what Brits refer to as biscuits the US call cookies. Although Brits have cookies which are what you guys call cookies too – chocolate chip etc., they are a type of biscuit and come under the umbrella categorisation of all biscuits… cookies – sorry biscuits. Get it? No? It’s confusing stuff. Anyway, biscuits are a quintessential part of British culture and the range is magnificent!
Biscuit etiquette is, well, there isn’t really any. In fact I would go as far to say that in some places – such as the work place and home, it is pretty much every man for himself. Evidence of this is revealed when you reach for the biscuit tin (the biscuit tin is usually an empty tin that once contained chocolates, or an empty family sized tub of crackers) and find that all the good ones have gone! No sooner are the new packet of chocolate hobnobs emptied into the tin, they go! You are left with the broken old crummy biscuits that are everyone else’s rejects, and which have a not-so-great universal taste about them, because they have absorbed the essence of past and varied biscuit tin companions. No, just get in there when you can, grab what you can and enjoy.
A perfectly acceptable activity is dunking. Dunking biscuits is done by everyone, even the Queen will gladly sit in her dressing gown and dunk her favourite biccy into her steaming hot cuppa. It’s true! Dunking is the action of lowering your chosen biscuit into your tea and letting it soak up the beverage. You have to decide when the best time to extract the biscuit and quickly pop it into your mouth is. This activity takes a little practise and requires – through a trial and error process, a knowledge of how your chosen biscuit performs.
I could spend all day talking about the various types of biscuit available but I think you wouldn’t appreciate that. So I have narrowed down a mere list of 13 common and popular biscuits, just so you can get acquainted.
In no particular order:
- Digestive/Chocolate Digestive
A semi sweet wheat biscuit and one of Britain’s favourites. Great dunkability.
- Hobnob/Chocolate Hobnob
A robust, sweet and sugary oat biscuit. One of the leaders in dunking, this bad boy can take it.
- Rich Tea
A plain and simple biscuit for tea, great when dunked but dunk with caution! Two seconds MAX.
- Ginger nut
Gingery, buttery, crunchy and again, robust in its dunking potential.
- Custard Cream
A vanilla/custard flavour cream sandwich, with decorative designs. Fantastic for dunking.
- Bourbon (not the liquor, pronounced bore-bon)
A rich chocolate sandwich biscuit with chocolate buttercream. Another fantastic dunker.
It’s buttery, simple and can come in a variety of flavours. Dunkable? Oh yes.
- Viennese Finger
Melt in the mouth, plain, filled or dipped in chocolate. Will soak up the tea well and still withstand a good dunking.
- Malted Milk
A malty, milky and underrated small biscuit, easy to consume in great numbers. Careful dunking required but mainly due to thickness and size.
- Creams – Ginger creams, Crunch creams, Chocolate creams
Rich, sweet and naughty. Indulgence dunking.
- Jammy Dodger 😉
A cheeky jam filled biccy. Debatable dunking, all down to personal preference because of the jam element.
- Cadburys’ Chocolate Fingers
A thin shortcake biscuit finger covered in chocolate. Warning, you can eat these in huge quantities before you know what’s happened. Fun dunkers due to size and potential melted chocolate situation.
- Fruit Shortcake
A thin shortbread style biscuit with raisins in and sugar dusted on top. Seen as somewhat old ladyish. Can withstand a good dunk, again, personal preference with the whole dried fruit and tea combination.
- The Viennese Whirl – the biscuit version of a scone, melt in your mouth Viennese biscuit swirls, sandwiched with buttercream and jam. No dunking potential really, they just don’t need it.
- The Jaffa Cake – not really a cake or a biscuit, does cause confusion. A soft base with orange flavoured jelly and covered in chocolate. Dunking is entirely up to you.
- Club – an individually wrapped shortbread chocolate mini brick, various flavours, used in children’s lunch box. Great dunker, can withstand probably the longest submersion in the tea.
- Kit Kat – chocolate bar, biscuit or both? Dunkable? Yup.
- Teacakes – nothing at all like how they sound. Individually wrapped, these have a shortbread base, tiny bit of jam, an Italian meringue style dome and covered in chocolate. Dunking not advised.
I hope you have managed to digest that bombardment of biscuit info! I hope you learnt a little something for any time you find yourself in a tea, biscuit situation. You will now know what’s what and who’s who of your general biscuit and hopefully save any initial dunking fails – its ok though everybody fails a dunk at some point.
I will be posting recipes for some of my favourite biscuits soon!