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The Fortnum's Dunkipedia

Tea and biscuits were made for each other, a union best celebrated by a certain delicious pastime. Following weeks of high octane, crumb-fuelled experimentation, welcome to our paean to the fine art of the dunk


There are moments in life where you need to ask yourself those soul-searching, philosophical questions such as: why do we dunk?


Well, dunking your biscuit into a cup of tea actually enhances both the flavour and texture. Pro dunkers might describe this experience as comforting, and almost relaxing. The benefits and dunking time will vary from biscuit to biscuit, and as we have experienced in our experiment, some biscuits are better off not being dunked at all.


For naturally crunchy, hard biscuits, such as our Piccadilly Stem Ginger, dunking these into a cup of tea helps soften the biscuit whilst releasing the ginger flavours more smoothly. In comparison with a much more buttery biscuit like our Traditional Shortbread Fingers, the act of dunking gently melts the highly absorbent shortbread giving a luxurious, creamy texture – quite literally a melt in your mouth moment.


Dunking does of course come with a level of risk. You don’t want to leave your biscuit in the tea too long, as otherwise the tea might take full ownership of it. And this is what our Dunkipedia is here for, providing you with exactly the right time you need to submerge it, and exactly the right tea you need to enjoy it with too. We'll keep adding new biscuits every week, all tried, tested, dunked and devoured.


But before all that, we’ll take you back a few centuries, when dunking was in its most primitive beginnings. 



It’s a Hard Tack Life



Dunking biscuits has its origins in 16th century English naval history, where crews were supplied with 'hard tack' biscuits that were designed to last long voyages, but were impossible to eat without soaking in water, soup or any liquid available.


However it wasn't until the 19th century and the emergence of afternoon tea in mid Victorian Britain that biscuits began to be regarded as appropriate for dunking in tea. It is a tradition amongst the ‘respectable’ classes in Britain, that dunking was frowned upon and generally seen as children's or working class fashion (many babies were weaned on pap – bread soaked in milk – and babies’ rusks were traditionally soaked in warm or cold milk).


Nevertheless, Queen Victoria herself was reputed to enjoy dunking her biscuits, which was seen as a German custom passed down in her family, and there was a tradition in the gentlemen’s clubs of St. James’s of dipping biscuits in wine, and Madeira cake in Madeira.





Time to Dunk

County Biscuits 

Four different biscuits are contained within, and fortunately all four flavours work well with our new Albion Tea. However, they do have different textures and consistencies – from the crumbly Lancashire Flip to the tough bake of the Shrewbury – and so it would be a disaster to mix up the dunk times. 

Optimum Dunk Time: Yorkshire Parkin & Cornish Fairing, 5 seconds; Lancashire Flip. 3 seconds; Shrewsbury Biscuit. 10 seconds. 

Dunking Partner: Albion Tea

Traditional Shortbread Fingers

A rather long dunk time, on account of its thickness and density. The sugar dusting dissolves on top of the shortbread, and its high butter content leads to an almost creamy texture in the mouth.

Optimum Dunk Time: 10 seconds

Dunking Partner: Celebration Blend

Victoria Grey Tea Biscuits 

A tea biscuit by name, these have Victoria Grey to thank for their existence so it would be rude not to dunk them. Hot tea enhances the aromatic nature of the bake, both through taste and smell, and absorb liquid easily due to their diminuitive size.

Optimum Dunk Time: 3 seconds 

Dunking Partner: Victoria Grey, naturally. 

Mini Merry Go Round

This one emerged as the hot favourite amongst the team for its sheer dunkability. The dulce de leche biscuit softens beautifully, and is half-coated in milk chocolate that ever-so-slightly melts during the dunk, leaving you with delicious chocolatey fingers at the finish.

Optimum Dunk Time: 8-10 seconds (give or take) 

Dunking Partner: Assam TGFOP

Piccadilly Stem Ginger

Quite a crunchy biscuit naturally and so quite a prolonged dunking time is required. The biscuit mixture softens while the ginger chunks retain a pleasing chewy consistency to them. Mmm, chewy. 

Dunk Time: A sensible 12 seconds 

Dunking Partner: Rwanda OP

Pistachio & Clotted Cream

After dunking for what seemed like an eternity in an unsuccessful effort to soften it up, we eventually had to concede that some biscuits are not meant to be dunked. Fly free, you infuriatingly crunchy delight.

Dunk time: Ad infinitum

Dunking partner: This biscuit walks alone