Sauropods and Beowulf tea

I’ve been looking at old newspapers again; when I do I use the facility to correct the transcription – I guess the newspapers are scanned and ‘read’ to provide this, but the scanner can’t ‘read’ blurry print so people like me who enjoy delving into the archive, read and correct. Some of the letters I just correct, sometimes I use the right-click facilitate to change the misspellings; this however can also produce unintentionally hilarious results – a cup and sauropod anyone? Would you like to know how to make beep tba – or Beowulf tea? I guess Beowulf would have had an infusion of herbs, wouldn’t he?

Intrigued by the idea of Beowulf tea I had a look to see what Scandinavian herbs might have been used at the time the hero might have existed – dill, caraway, mustard,  coriander, marjoram, mint, thyme, juniper, mugwort, chicory, camomile, angelica, wild garlic, horse-radish, yarrow and plantain…   plenty for him to infuse there!

Beep tba, and indeed Beowulf tea in actual fact is beef tea that meaty drink so loved in the nineteenth century – and no doubt before. It was thought to be nourishing and easily digestible sustenance for the weak, the sick, the feeble and featured in every nineteenth and early twentieth century cookery book I have ever come across. I guess each home had its own favourite way of making it

The recipe I came across came after those for bean soup (Spanish or black beans, the finished soup garnished with quartered eggs, sliced lemon, butter and seasoning) cocoanut pudding which does sound very delicious with shredded citron and lemon juice, poached eggs served on toast and garnished with parsley (the history of a parsley garnish is much longer than I realised!) and using carrots instead of eggs in a pudding ‘a pudding made up in this way is much lighter than where eggs are used, and is much more palatable; on the principle of economy, this fact is worthy of the housewife’s attention’.



So how is it recommended that beef tea is made? As for quantities, it is very general – for a child use two pounds of beef ; for a baby one pound to the same amount of water…. it doesn’t seem to mention the actual amount of water!

  • After removing all fat, cut up three pounds of the best beef into pieces the size of a small cranberry
  • put it into a stone china bowl and pour over it one pint of very cold water
  • let it stand in a cool place for an hour or so (this brings out the juice)
  • put the bowl into a saucepan of water that will allow the bowl to rest in it without quite touching the bottom, and steam it in this way for two hours
  • do not strain the liquor, because this process will remove more or less of the little particles of beef, which are very essential to the value of the tea
  • pour and press all the fluid from the beef
  • it may be salted, and given hot or cold

There is a useful instruction in case of there being fat on the tea:

  • set aside until perfectly cold, when it can be all removed from the surface in a flake

If you have a very sickly person – in case the patient’s stomach is very irritable, so that large quantities cannot be borne, you may resort to beef extract for nourishment ; it is a more concentrated article of food, but not nearly so palatable as rich beef tea.

So how would you make this beef extract  made?

  • lean beef cut in small pieces
  • put it into a bottle without any water or anything else
  • set it into a kettle of water which is to be kept boiling for two hours
  • remove the bottle
  • subject the meat to a slight pressure to remove the fluids
  • season with salt.

So here you have the perfect recipe, not only for Beowulf tea, but beep extract!!


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