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

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Themed Afternoon Teas...what's your thoughts?

Hello there!

So this week Lorna and I have sampled not one but two themed afternoon teas! We love a good themed tea....as long as its done well. There is nothing worse than a stylish tea that looks great, but lacks flavour.

This got me thinking.....I always thought we were a bit traditional when it came to our afternoon teas...after all our experience at the Oxo Tower during the summer left us a bit cold. But it seems that as long as the basics are all covered we are perfectly happy with a theme!

Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea at the Sanderson - too much style?
So what are the basics I hear you say! Well, firstly everything that looks fab, must taste good too - that's the most important thing! I also think there should definitely be a savoury part of the tea as well as the sweet treats. However, if the savoury items come in a different form other than traditional sandwiches that's acceptable too! We really enjoyed the mini beef burgers and hot dogs served at the Sex and the City Par-tea!

Scones are a classic part of tea...but if they happen to be missing I think that's ok. However, if they can be incorporated into the theme then that's even better!

One Aldwych's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory inspired afternoon tea
One other item that definitely should be served as part of afternoon tea is the tea itself! I don't mind the odd glass of bubbles or cocktail with my afternoon tea...but you really need a good cup of tea or two as well! I'm not particularly traditional in which tea I go for....as long as there is tea on offer!

So, you know how we feel....now its over to you! Let us know by taking part in our latest poll - do you like a themed tea or should afternoon tea always be traditional?

A very traditional afternoon tea served at Warren House
Also if you've experience a really good (or bad) themed afternoon tea we'd love to hear about it - please leave us a comment!

We look forward to seeing your votes!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel and Lorna

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Time for Tea....Halloween Afternoon Tea with Rachel and Lorna!

Hello there!

As some of you might know last weekend I hosted a Halloween afternoon tea at my house for a group of my friends. Assisted by Lorna and Becca we served up a feast of sweet and savoury treats, copious amounts of tea....and some pumpkins!

Out of all the afternoon teas that I create for my friends I think Halloween is my favourite one....you can be so creative with your food....plus you get to carve pumpkins!

Earlier this year I planted ten pumpkin seeds in my garden with the hope that I would have some pumpkins to carve this Halloween....I have to say that I was rather impressed with the results....

Here is Tinker modelling my five home grown pumpkins!
So, I had pumpkins to carve....now I just needed a feast to serve! After a lot of thinking here is what I came up with.....
As well as a plate of various different finger sandwiches (Anika would have stopped talking to me if I missed out her favourite egg sandwiches) I came up with several Halloween themed savoury treats....

In the middle of the platter I have some snails - these are ham wraps with a little gherkin for their heads. I also cut some tombstones out of brown bread, and topped with a slice of chorizo and a slice of tomato.  
Becca also arrived at my house armed with tins of wonderful treats...she made some cheese and wholewheat Halloween shapes which were ever so tasty....

And the cutest little ghost meringues that I have ever seen! Becca is apparently not a baker (she tells me this all the time) but I am pretty impressed with her baking talents!
Aren't those ghosts cute? And they looked so good sharing a plate with my iced pumpkin biscuits (not to be confused with grumpy looking tomatoes!)
Lorna provided her wonderful scones which I served with whipped cream and home made blackberry jam.
After the savouries and scones we then indulged in the sweet treats....
I made eyeball cake bites - for the eyeballs I used vanilla cake combined with vanilla butter icing and coated in white chocolate. They were super sweet, but very moist and tasty. I also made chocolate cupcakes topped with coloured butter icing.
 Finally I made some cute little cobweb millionaire shortcakes. The recipe for the shortcakes came from The Pink Whisk - I was really pleased with how they turned out. Ruth's recipe is really easy to follow and she has photo steps to follow, which I always find really helpful.

As well as the pumpkin biscuits I also made iced ghost biscuits....not sure if they are scary or just cute!!
One final sweet treat that I made were white chocolate fingers, that had a strawberry green filling. The insides weren't quite as oozy as I had hoped...but they still looked pretty good! I used a Baked By Me mould to make the fingers, they have a great selection of different moulds - all really easy to use.

My guests all enjoyed their spooky afternoon with me....and were rather full once we'd finished eating!
However this didn't stop us getting creative with the pumpkins.....

All in all we had a lovely afternoon....and I can't wait for Halloween 2014....I wonder what I will bake next year!
Thank you for popping by today,

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Time for Tea.....The Ampersand

Hello fellow tea lovers!

We hope you are well.

Today we want to share with you the wonderful afternoon tea experience that we enjoyed at the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington today. This fabulous, quirky hotel offers a traditional afternoon tea all year round, plus a themed chef's afternoon tea at various times throughout the year. Recently they have featured a chocolate afternoon tea and a tea to celebrate London fashion week....but the one we wanted to sample was their Halloween afternoon tea.

We love a themed afternoon tea...when its done right!

The tea is served in The Drawing Room at the hotel, which is a wonderful light and airy space punctuated by an amazing cake table in the middle of the room and lots of brightly coloured, comfy furniture.

Isn't that a cool table? So very tempting!
Once you have decided whether to have a traditional afternoon tea or a Chef's afternoon tea, your next decision to make is which tea to enjoy. There is a good tea menu on offer, with something for everyone...from traditional breakfast tea to a zingy lemon tea and a refreshing green tea.
I had seen a couple of photos on Twitter of this afternoon tea when it was being developed, thanks to Head Chef Chris Golding and his fab photos on Twitter, but I wasn't prepared for the amazing tea that was served to us....

Yes, that's dry ice adding to the spookiness of the tea! Isn't it brilliant?? It definitely was a stylish afternoon tea...but what did it taste like?

On the bottom tier of the afternoon tea we had the savoury items. These were traditional afternoon tea sandwich fillings served in wonderful Gougeres (savoury choux buns), they were light in texture and extremely tasty. I haven't tried this type of savoury before, but I really liked it and it made a nice change to the usual finger sandwiches that normally accompany afternoon tea. The fillings we enjoyed were Gloucester Old Spot ham, smoked salmon, coronation chicken and cheese with fruit chutney. My favourite filling was the coronation chicken which was light and creamy and extremely tasty.

Next we moved onto the scones - each person had one plain and one white chocolate scone which was studded with white chocolate chips. The scones were warm and served with clotted cream and an amazing strawberry, chocolate and balsamic vinegar jam (which was made at the hotel).
The scones were wonderfully fresh and a good size. The jam was full of flavour and topped off our scones and cream really well.

Finally we made it to the top tier....and what a brilliant top tier it was! We had a cute little pumpkin cake, a green apple jelly skull, a wonderful vanilla mouse and a bloodied chocolate Tonka cupcake. Each sweet treat was fresh and extremely full of flavour....in fact I'm hard pushed to tell you which was my favourite one!
That jelly skull melted in the mouth and was extremely refreshing in flavour. The mousse was light and creamy and the chocolate cupcake had a really rich flavour, topped with cream and raspberry - a great combo!

The little pumpkin cake had a wonderful flavour too and was very moist, it was complemented with a light cream filling. The detail on the icing was wonderful, and everything was made in house.

Once we had finished our afternoon tea, Chef Chris invited us to see the kitchen where everything was prepared and to meet the team who made everything. What a brilliant experience and a lovely surprise!
We were all surprised at how small the kitchen space was! Here I am with Becca and the team who were preparing afternoon tea today. From the left we have Hedieh, Josh and then on the far right Christof - everyone was so friendly and happy to let us see their workspace.
Unfortunately we didn't meet Ji Sun, Head Pastry Chef who creates all the afternoon teas as it was her day off...but Chris showed us around and explained how everything is made in-house and how orders are put together as they are ordered in the restaurant. Nothing sits around waiting to be served, meaning it really is freshly prepared when it gets to your table! Scones are also baked three times a day - ensuring everyone has warm scones with their tea!

It was a brilliant experience to see a professional kitchen first hand and to meet the team who had put together such a wonderful afternoon tea. Thank you
Chris for inviting us into your kitchen!
For more photos from the kitchen take a peek at Chris' blog.
While in the kitchen we also saw a traditional afternoon tea, which looked wonderful too. In the traditional tea you have open sandwiches with traditional sandwich fillings. Scones served with clotted cream and jam. Currently the sweet treats served include a chocolate brownie, a mini lemon meringue tart, Victoria sponge, fruit cake and an English breakfast tea chocolate bonbon.
Afternoon tea is served everyday in the Drawing Room between 2:30pm-5:30pm. The traditional afternoon tea is £25 per person (£37 with a glass of bubbles) and the Chef's afternoon tea is £27.50 per person (£39.50 with a glass of bubbles). If you want any extras all you have to do is ask!
In my opinion this is a wonderful afternoon tea, freshly prepared and served in a quirky environment. We'll definitely be going back for another afternoon tea soon!
Thank you for popping by today,
we hope to see you again soon!
Rachel & Lorna
Square Meal

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Where's Next for Afternoon Tea?

Hello there!

So we've been a little quiet recently here at the Tea With Me and Friends afternoon tea blog....other commitments have taken priority and we haven't had time to enjoy our favourite pastime!

Never fear though...that is all about to change as we have quite a few afternoon teas lined up over the coming weeks!

This weekend coming I am hosting a Halloween themed afternoon tea at my house. I am really looking forward to getting creative in the kitchen and I need to improve on the tea we created last Halloween

On Sunday we are off to The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington to enjoy another Halloween themed afternoon tea! I have seen some sneaky photos from Head Chef Chris Golding and I can't wait for the whole experience!
In the coming weeks we are also visiting The Athenaeum also in London - we've enjoyed afternoon tea here once before several years ago. I loved the cake trolley and the beautiful surroundings....and of course all the cake!
Then at the beginning of November I am venturing a little closer to home with a trip to The Aviator hotel in Farnborough. Again, I have enjoyed afternoon tea here before - they serve the most amazing warm scotch eggs!
We are really looking forward to enjoying all these teas and I hope you will enjoy reading about them! Please pop back over the coming weeks to see the various blog posts - we promise lots of scrummy photos!
Thanks for popping by today,

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Like tea? Then read this post.....

Hello there!

So, in my last post I mentioned that I had joined The Secret Tea Society.....so today I thought I would tell you a little bit more about the Society and the lovely ladies who I met last weekend.

The Secret Tea Society is a group for you if you are based in London, Surrey, Bath or the surrounding areas....and you enjoy a good cup of tea and a natter! We are a group of smart, tea drinking ladies who meet periodically at organised events where we enjoy tea, cake and sometimes some bubbles or the odd cocktail. Sounds good doesn't it?

There are several different membership packages that you can choose from...starting at under £18 for the year. And once you've joined you'll be able to join in the fun and attend future tea events! All events are organised by our wonderful tea leader (who can make it snow at the drop of a hat!) and range in price from £0 - £45 per person.

The ladies who I met at the last event were all incredibly friendly and welcoming, it was a truly lovely afternoon filled with laughter and tea! There were several new members at this event as well as me....but I think any onlooker would have thought we'd all known each other for years!

If you are intrigued and would like to find out more, pop by The Secret Tea Society website. You can see photos of where the ladies have enjoyed tea previously and where we'll be going in the future!

If you join us, you get to enjoy tea in some unusual places!
Thank you for popping by today,

Monday, 7 October 2013

Time for Tea.....Fanny's Farm

Hello there,

This weekend I experienced a wonderful tea with a lovely group of ladies. About a month ago I found and joined The Secret Tea Society....a wonderful group of tea drinking ladies who enjoy nothing better than a spot of conversation over a good cup of tea (or glass of bubbles given the opportunity!).

The Secret Tea Society meet approximately once month to have a wonderful natter, and each time a different afternoon tea venue is frequented. I think you can understand already why I joined!

My first afternoon tea with the ladies couldn't have been more different to any of the other teas I have experienced so far! This time the ladies went to Fanny's Farm in Reigate and we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon tea in their tree house! Yes, you read that right....I had afternoon tea in a tree house!

Me and the Secret Tea Society Ladies!

Everything about Fanny's Farm is truly delightful, including its decor.....it is decorated to fit the season...we were greeted by this display when we first arrived....

Yes, I think they're ready for Halloween!
As you wander around the grounds you come across many different sites....
Until finally, among the quiet garden, you discover the tree house.....

Isn't that amazing?
The tree house was first built in 2001 and seats 10 people inside. There are several different time slots available during the day, and there are seven different menu choices to tempt your taste buds. Everything must be booked in advance, including your menu selection.....but you can make slight changes when you arrive.
The various menus include a cream tea, a morning coffee, a mixed tea and a ploughman's lunch. They range in price from £7.50 - £16.50, but the average menu is £9.50. I opted for the Farmhouse Tea which included a pot of tea, a scone with cream and jam and a piece of cake.

As you can see from the photo above as well as sweet scones, there are also savoury cheese scones on offer. All are incredibly tasty and very fresh, and rather large in size. The cheese scones came with cream cheese and a selection of fresh vegetables.
Lorna will be pleased to note my scone assembly!
The sweet scones came with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Everything was served on wonderful china....and we had huge pots of tea to share.
There was a variety of different cakes on offer to those of us who opted for cake with our tea....the portions were huge and the cakes were served with fresh fruit. We could pick from carrot cake, lemon cake and an apricot and amaretti cake.

I opted for the apricot and amaretti cake....which was incredibly moist and tasty. My tea cost £9.50, which considering the portion size and quality of the food was very good value.
All in all this was a wonderful and truly unique experience. The Farm and the tree house are beautifully maintained and decorated, the food is tasty and everyone we encountered was very friendly and helpful....even offering to take our photo when we first arrived.....
Inside the Tree House with The Secret Tea Society
If you are looking for a tea with a different then this is a brilliant experience.
Thank you for popping by today,

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Time for tea...where ever we happen to be!

Hello there,

Its lovely to see you! As you might know Lorna and I have recently taken a short break from the Tea With Me And Friends afternoon tea blog.....we escaped to sunny Spain for a week of relaxation!

Here we are posing on the beach!
Now we may have been away from the country...but afternoon tea was never far from our minds! Spain might not be known for their afternoon teas and our hotel didn't serve an afternoon tea as such. But as it was an all inclusive holiday we managed to find enough snacks to put together our own afternoon tea!

Now there might be crusts on our sandwiches....and there wasn't a scone in sight.....but I did enjoy my sandwiches and Danish!
We also managed to miss out on another afternoon tea...on our flight! Yes, Thompsons offers afternoon tea on their airplanes!
Doesn't that look cute??
Have you ever sampled afternoon tea in the air.....or on another mode of transport? If so we'd love to hear about it....please leave us a comment!
Thanks for popping by today,
its lovely to see you.
Rachel & Lorna