Welcome to our blog....here we will share all our afternoon tea adventures with you...the good, the bad and the wonderful!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Time for Tea....Chewton Glen

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. This weekend I was very lucky to be treated to a belated Birthday afternoon tea at Chewton Glen by my lovely friend Alexandra. Chewton Glen is a luxury country house hotel and spa set in 130 acres of Hampshire countryside on the edge of the New Forest National Park, and I couldn't wait to try their afternoon tea offering.

The day we visited Chewton Glen it was very hot...but this wasn't going to spoil our afternoon tea experience as we seated in one of the many beautiful lounges, in front of doors overlooking the croquet lawn. The doors were left ajar for us, allowing for not only a beautiful view but also the most amazing breeze.

Beautiful setting for afternoon tea at Chewton Glen

 Afternoon tea at Chewton Glen is served on simple white china, and the tea is served in silver teapots - all very elegant. There is a good selection of teas on offer, including an own blend which I opted for, which was a bold black tea - very enjoyable. Alexandra opted for green tea, which she also enjoyed.

Tea at Chewton Glen

Once we had settled into our seats and picked our teas, the tea stand was brought out to us......

Afternoon Tea - Chewton Glen

The stand was simple and elegant and the contents made our mouths water - everything was perfectly sized and very appealing to look at. As tradition dictates we began our experience at the bottom of the stand with the sandwich selection....

Afternoon tea sandwiches - Chewton Glen

The sandwich selection included a traditional choice featuring Scottish smoked salmon, rare roast beef and horseradish, Somerset brie and pear chutney and egg and cress sandwiches. The bread was so fresh and thinly cut, and the sandwich fillings generous without being overpowering. These were some of the best afternoon tea sandwiches that I have enjoyed in a while - in fact we might have enjoyed a second round of them! My favourite filling was the brie and chutney which was smooth and creamy and just a little bit sweet - a brilliant combination, served on fresh white bread.

Once we were full of sandwiches we moved onto the next tier of the stand....

Afternoon tea scones - Chewton Glen

The scones were a good size and a wonderful colour. They were served warm, but were not wrapped and therefore had cooled by the time we ate them. They were served with some wonderful clotted cream and fruit filled strawberry preserve. The scones were fresh and not at all claggy in texture. Alexandra particularly enjoyed her scones.

We then moved onto the top of the afternoon tea stand, which was filled with a wonderful selection of sweet treats......

Afternoon tea - the sweet treats at Chewton Glen

As you can see there was one of each item which meant that there was no awkward moments with the sweet treats....and the choice was brilliant...definitely something for everyone!

Included on the plate was a rhubarb and custard cupcake, a lemon macaroon, a mandarin slice, a mini pistachio loaf and an indulgent chocolate mouse cake. Each item was a good size...not too big and not too small...and all the flavours were wonderful.

Let's take a closer look at some of the cakes....

Sweet treats - Chewton Glen

I'm not sure which item was my favourite...possibly that indulgent, but light, chocolate mousse cake. The mandarin slice was also wonderful - so light in texture, but full of flavour. I didn't think I would like the rhubarb and custard cupcake that much, but it was really enjoyable.....and full of rhubarb!

All in all this was a lovely afternoon tea experience. 

A traditional afternoon tea costs £26.00 per person, or if you fancy a treat you can enjoy a champagne afternoon tea for £36.00 per person. I think this is really good value as the quality of the food and drink was wonderful. We were also offered more of every item if we wanted it and the hotel also offered to pack up any cakes that you didn't have room for so you can enjoy them at home (this is never a problem for us, but its good to know!). Tea was also free flowing!

All the staff that we encountered on the day were friendly and professional, nothing was too much for them. Chewton Glen itself offers a lovely setting for a truly relaxing afternoon tea experience. For more information please visit the Chewton Glen website.

A huge thank you to Alexandra for treating me to such a wonderful afternoon tea.

Thank you for popping by today,

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Tried and Tested....Tea So Tea

Hello there,

Welcome back to another tried and tested tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. Recently I was contacted by the lovely people at Tea So Tea, a tea company that is the product of a Sri Lankan family who has been trading in tea since 1943.

Tea So Tea's tea is certified Fair Trade, Carbon Neutral and forest garden grown - there are six teas in their range and in this post we have tried the five teas that come in bagged form.

Tea So Tea Range

We began our tea adventure with the Organic Jungle Chai which retails at £4.00 for 20 teabags. This is a warming tea, spiced with organic cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon and orange peel with a base of organic black tea.

Organic Jungle Chai
Tea So Tea
This tea was a beautiful amber colour when brewed for a couple of minutes, initially we decided to try it made with water rather than milk. The brew smelt strongly of cloves, but we found that the taste was much more subtle. The cinnamon was very warming, and it reminded us all of Christmas time. This was Becca's favourite tea from the selection, although she didn't enjoy it as much when made with milk.

After this tea we moved onto the Organic Green Tea with Lemongrass & Ginger, again this retails at £4.00 for 20 teabags. This blend of lemongrass and ginger with organic green tea is designed to re-energise the drinker.

Green tea with Lemongrass & Ginger
Tea So Tea

A bright and cheerful blend, when brewed this tea had a very unique aroma, but we couldn't particularly taste the ginger in the blend. 

From here we moved onto another of the black teas, opting for the organic black tea which was infused with vanilla.  Again, this retails at £4.00 for a box of 20 teabags. I was interested to smell and taste this particular blend, as vanilla can often taste/smell a little artificial.

Organic Black Tea with Vanilla - Tea So Tea

Tea So Tea have taken their organic black tea and enhanced it by blending in organic vanilla grown in their forest gardens alongside the tea bush. The flavour and aroma are both very subtle and not at all artificial, making for a lovely cup of tea.

We then turned our attention to a tea that I am not so keen on generally - a mint tea. Tea So Tea have given mint tea a slightly different slant, taking their green tea and blending it with mint for their Organic Green Tea with Mint.

Organic Green Tea with Mint
Tea So Tea

Now I am a little biased here as I am generally not a fan of mint teas but this tea didn't really rock my world! The tea did have a nice minty aroma and was a pleasant colour when brewed, and I imagine a mint tea drinker would love this tea. The green tea and mint are grown together in the Tea So Tea forest gardens.

Finally we ended up a good old fashioned cup of black tea.....

Tea So Tea - Organic Black Tea

We finished on a really positive note with this charming black tea. It was a beautiful amber colour when brewed and tasted refreshing.....this was a clear favourite for Lorna. Again, this tea costs £4.00 for 20 teabags.

All in all this was a lovely selection of teas to try, all of which would make a nice addition to any tea lovers tea collection! I am particularly fond of the packaging, which can be taken apart and re-used as pretty  storage boxes....

Tea so Tea packaging
Every item of the package, from the bag to the pack, has been selected by Tea so Tea to minimise its impact to the environment and, where possible, to be reusable.

The transparent pyramid teabags are also 100% biodegradable.

I'd like to thank Tea So Tea for sharing their teas with us, we really enjoyed sampling the range. For more information about Tea So Tea please visit their website.

Have you sampled a tea that you think we should know about? Please get in touch, we'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Friday, 18 July 2014

Time for Tea....Boyds London

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends, this week I was very lucky to be invited to the afternoon tea launch at Boyds Brasserie in London. I was a guest of both Boyds and Square Meals, along with a group of lovely food bloggers.

I had seen a photo of the new afternoon tea which launched on the 7th July and was keen to try it out for myself.....

Afternoon tea - Boyds London
Photo from website

Not your usual afternoon tea venue, Boyds is a restaurant located a very short stroll from Trafalgar Square on Northumberland Avenue. Boyds is very proud of it's British menu, sourcing everything from within Great Britain. It's interior is rather glamorous, but also relaxed - a nice environment to enjoy a spot of tea in!

Your afternoon tea at Boyds is served on plain white china and glass serving plates - which gives the tea a modern feel. The menu however, is quite traditional with a slight quirky start and finish!

Afternoon Tea China & Menu

The afternoon tea feast at Boyds begins with traditional sandwiches...but also a serving of potted shrimp. I have never seen this on an afternoon tea menu before, but I am pleased to report that it made a lovely addition.....

Afternoon Tea - Potted Shrimps - Boyds

The potted shrimp was light and flavoured well and the crisp bread made a perfect accompaniment. It was a rather fresh and scrummy way to start the meal. The potted shrimp was served alongside a traditional sandwich platter....

Afternoon Tea Sandwiches - Boyds

As you'll notice there wasn't a controversial hint of crust in sight....I can also confirm that the bread was soft and fresh. The fillings included a lovely egg mayonnaise and watercress served on white bread, smoked salmon with cream cheese and dill served on brown and salted beef with pickled cucumber and Dijon also on brown bread.

I really enjoyed the egg sandwich and also the salmon, unfortunately the salted beef wasn't for me - I am not a huge fan of pickled things or Dijon...but my fellow diners all seemed to enjoy it.

Once we had enjoyed the savoury elements, we were served the sweets on a two tier cake stand....

The Sweets at Boyds!

The scones are served with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, these are followed by a lovely selection of perfectly sized cakes and pastries.

Scones ...dressed the Tea With Me and Friends way!

Although the scones weren't served warm, they were a good size and perfectly fluffy in the middle. Not claggy in texture at all. I enjoyed both the cream and dollop of jam and am pleased to report that there was plenty of both on offer! As you can imagine....bringing a group of food bloggers together brought about debate regarding the "correct" way to dress your scones. Regular readers will know which way I fought!

Perfectly Sized Afternoon Tea Sweets - Boyds

The sweet selection included a wonderful piece of fruit cake, which was full of flavour but not at all heavy. There was also a bite sized eclair, which was so light, a fresh strawberry tart and a piece of lemon drizzle cake. My favourite items were the eclair and the fruit cake - which surprised me! I made the mistake of leaving my piece of lemon drizzle to last, unfortunately this meant the air had got to the cake a little by the time I ate it and it was a little dry. The flavour however was wonderful. 

All of the items were a good size and easy to eat. I enjoyed all the flavours - all in all it was a very nice sweet plate!

Finally, there is one last item to finish the afternoon tea experience.....

Mini ice creams - Boyds

Yes, they are cute little ice cream cones! 
I really enjoyed the chocolate wafer combined with the vanilla ice cream....and the use of "hundreds and thousands" adds a fun element. They were really scrummy and a lovely end to the afternoon tea.

This afternoon tea costs £19.90 per person with tea, if you want a treat you can include a glass of champagne for £29.90 per person. I think this is a good value afternoon tea, full of scrummy items. For more information please visit the Boyds website.

A group of food bloggers....identifiable by the
amount of cameras/mobiles on the table!

I'd like to thank Boyds and Square Meal for their hospitality - we were all well looked after, and it was brilliant to talk to some other food bloggers. Although I was a guest at this event, this has not clouded my judgement and all opinions expressed in this article are my own.

Thank you for popping by today,
Square Meal