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

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Time for our Last Afternoon Tea of 2014.....

Hello there,

Welcome back to the last afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends for 2014, and we have ended a tea-filled year with a rather scrummy afternoon tea!

Recently we were invited to try the new afternoon tea on offer at the Lancaster London Hotel, a four star hotel in London. I have followed the Lancaster London's newly appointed Executive Chef Ben Purton (Ben moved here in October 2014 from the Royal HorseGuards Hotel) on Twitter for a while now (yes, I am well aware that I now sound like a stalker!) and was keen to try the new afternoon tea on offer.

The Lancaster London is very proud of it's afternoon tea, with all the preserves being made in house as well as the salmon being smoked on site. Our waiter was very friendly and knowledgeable about the afternoon tea, suggesting that we started our experience with a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne.

Novus Tea at the Lancaster London

The tea served at the Lancaster London is Novus Tea, which is a selection of loose leaf teas served in individual teabag portions. The selection is good, and includes black, green and white teas and also herbal infusions. Lorna and I both opted for white teas on this occasion - I went for the White Pear and Ginger Tea, which was sweet and warming. Lorna chose Pai Mu Tan Tea, which was a subtle and light tea. When the teas are served, they come with a little timer and a card telling you how long to brew your tea for.

Once we had enjoyed our bubbles and the tea had been ordered our afternoon tea savouries and pastries were served....

Quite a dodgy photo of us with our afternoon tea!

Let's take a better look at the savouries on offer....

Afternoon tea savouries at the Lancaster London

We were each give a plate of five different items and we were told from the very beginning that if we wanted more of anything we just needed to ask. The savouries included:

Lancaster London smoked salmon sandwich,
Egg & wild cress sandwich, 
Cucumber sandwich
Wild mushroom, chicken and tarragon tartlet
Roast beef filled Yorkshire pudding with horseradish cream

The sandwiches were fresh and tasty with no crusts in sight. I particularly enjoyed the tartlet, which surprised me as I am not a huge fan of mushrooms, but the pastry was light and tasty. The mini yorkshire pudding filled with beef was also a good size and enjoyable.

Next came the scones.....

Afternoon tea scones at the Lancaster London

We each had one fruit and one plain scone, served with strawberry preserve and a wonderful marmalade, along with clotted cream. The scones were small and perfectly formed....Lorna even declared these were the probably the best scones she has enjoyed! They had a lovely texture - crumbly and light in the middle with a good crust on the outside.

The marmalade was something we haven't tried on scones before, and we were both pleasantly surprised! The tart orange tang worked really well with the creamy clotted cream. 

We enjoyed the scones so much that we might have asked for another round! In the second serving we were also treated to one of the Christmas afternoon tea specialities....a Christmas pudding scone....which I have to say was amazing! Warm and spicy, full of flavour!

Afternoon tea scones dressed the Tea With Me and Friends way!

Finally we made it to the top tier of the cake stand....those dainty sweets and pastries which we had both been eyeing up since they were served....

Sweet treats at Lancaster London

Now, this was definitely a good looking plate of sweets, everything was a good size and well presented, but would it also taste good?

The selection included:
white chocolate and raspberry lollypops, 
apple and honey cupcake, 
lemon fruit tart, 
caramel & hazelnut tranche,
passion fruit & raspberry macaroon

I'm not sure where to start really.....because every last bite was delicious! 

The macaroon was bite sized, but full of flavour with the passion fruit really cutting through the sweetness of the macaroon. The tart was made with light, crumbly pastry and filled with a delicious lemon filling - again the perfect size.

The caramel & hazelnut tranche was well balanced and looked beautiful. One of the stand out items for me was the apple and honey cupcake which was like eating the most light apple pie! It was delicate, but full of flavour with a touch of cinnamon - truly delicious!

Which only leaves the white chocolate and raspberry lollypops, which I don't want to write too much about....only they are amazing...make sure you leave room!

Afternoon tea pastries at Lancaster London

Service at the Lancaster London is relaxed and friendly, and the environment is warm and welcoming. It's not the poshest space we have enjoyed afternoon tea in, but it was comfortable and we felt right at home. A lovely place to enjoy afternoon tea with friends or family.

The afternoon tea itself costs £30.00 per person, which is brilliant value as the food is exceptional. If you want to enjoy a glass of champagne with your afternoon tea that will cost £40.00 per person.

To find out more about this afternoon tea please visit the Lancaster London website.

Please note that although we were guests at the Lancaster London all comments in this blog post are our own. We would like to thank Chef Ben and all the team at the Lancaster London for their hospitality.

Thank you for popping by today - we hope you join us in 2015 for lots more afternoon tea adventures!

Rachel & Lorna

Square Meal

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Time for a Little Christmas Tradition

Hello there,

Welcome back to another festive afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends.

It's Christmas Eve and we hope that you are all ready for Christmas. Last weekend to get in the festive mood I held a Christmas Movie day at my house and invited all my girlfriends over to join me. I have a rather large Christmas movie collection......and I'm generally rather passionate about the festive season...so any opportunity to get my friends together and watch lots of Christmas films and eat scrummy food is not to be missed!

Christmas Movie Day with Tea With Me and Friends

I made rather a lot of treats, and some of the girls also brought over some snacks to keep us fortified....

Among other things we had stollen, mince pies, millionaire shortbread dusted with gold and homemade mini quiches.

Some of us got really creative.....

A chocolate Christmas pudding made by Melissa

To begin with we tucked into the food, accompanied with lots of tea and coffee and started watching the movies. Then as the afternoon progressed we decided we needed something more sweet and we set up a hot chocolate bar....

As well as the scrummy hot chocolate we had cream, chocolate chips, marshmallows, honeycomb and chocolate flakes! It really was an indulgent treat, which went well with the festive movies!

In the end we managed to watch three full length movies (Arthur Christmas, Home Alone 2 and The Grinch) and one shorter cartoon and everyone left feeling very relaxed and very festive!

This is the first year that we have done this, but I think it will become a tradition repeated each year as we all really enjoyed ourselves!

Do you have any sweet Christmas traditions that you share with family and friends? We'd love to hear about them....

Thank you for popping by today,

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Time for a little trip to Germany....

Hello there,

Welcome back to another sweet and scrummy post from Tea With Me and Friends.

Recently Lorna and I visited some of the German Christmas markets and although not technically afternoon tea, I thought you'd enjoy some of the photos we took while we were out there. We stayed in the Moselle/Rhine area, which if you have never visited, is ever so pretty. Here was the view from our hotel window....

The Moselle
Now it might look a bit grey and miserable in this photo, but do not be deceived, this is a seriously pretty part of the world. Both rivers are lined with villages and small towns that are quaint and pretty.....plus they really know how to celebrate!

We visited a total of three different markets while we were in Germany...Cochem on the Moselle, Koblenz at the point where the Moselle meets the Rhine and Rudersheim on the Rhine. Generally the towns are decorated for the festive season with lots of Christmas trees and Father Christmas statues everywhere.....

I have never seen so many trees in one place!

Lorna with a rather scary Father Christmas!

And the shops are filled with festive treats....obviously we paid particular attention to the numerous bakeries that we discovered....

Gingerbread houses are rather popular!
One festive window display

The markets themselves were very festive, full of pretty stalls selling all kinds of things (including more sweet treats!).....

This is a stall selling gingerbread

As the evening drew in and it got darker, more and more locals joined the tourists to indulge in the Glühwein and mulled cider on offer, keeping warm by eating Bratwurst and potato frites. It really was pretty and left us all feeling really festive.

A traditional German Christmas Market

Of course while we were there we might have indulged in some sweet treats...well the bakeries all looked so wonderful....

We can confirm that those giant pretzels were rather scrummy!
Sadly we didn't eat any of these cakes!

On one morning we took a boat cruise along the River Rhine and as we watched the castles and villages pass by we indulged in some of the best hot chocolate, served with mini cinnamon stars.....

We might have also indulged in the odd mug of Glühwein too.....

Christmas with Tea With Me and Friends
Just in case you didn't know Glühwein is a German traditional mulled wine......usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star aniseed, citrus and sugar. Sometimes it is drunk "mit Schuss" (aka with a shot), meaning that rum or another spirit has been added to the wine..... a very heady combination!

We had a fabulous time at the Christmas Markets and would highly recommend a visit if you like anything Christmas and have a sweet tooth!

We'd love to see some of the Christmas traditions in your part of the world....do you have a local Christmas market you'd like to share with us? Take a photo and send it to us!

Thanks for popping by today,

Monday, 22 December 2014

Time for a festive tea......Playboy Club London

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends.

Now we realise that we haven't done many proper afternoon tea review articles this month, so we thought it was high time that we indulged in a spot of afternoon tea (all in the name of research you see)! For our festive afternoon tea with our friends we decided to head back to the Playboy Club near Park Lane London for their festive offering. The Playboy Club was probably the venue we were most pleasantly surprised by this year - not only offering excellent service and food, but also good value too. With this in mind we were really looking forward to trying their festive afternoon tea feast.

As you'll remember from our last visit - accompanied by a pianist, the iconic Playboy Bunnies serve guests afternoon tea in Salvatore’s Bar. As well as a selection of homemade savouries, sandwiches and pastries you also get to pick your own choice of Te’Freddo Teapot Cocktail. For the festive season The Playboy Club has an Arctic theme and the bunny serving us was wearing icy blue and white to match the theme.

Afternoon tea - Playboy Club London

The afternoon tea itself is served on the usual black slate stands, which are beautiful and suit the surroundings. The china used is plain and simple, allowing the food to really shine.

Let's start on the bottom tier with the savouries....

Afternoon tea savouries - Playboy Club London

Now there are no scones on offer at this afternoon tea, but because of the variety and amount of savouries served I don't think you really miss them (unless you are a real traditionalist).

I'm pleased to report that the savouries were different this time to the ones we sampled before. We enjoyed fresh and tasty bruschetta served on griddled bread....

I have got some extra tomato on my plate here as Alexandra didn't want her portion....but the size of this alone is very generous and it tasted so fresh. I love the griddled flavour of the bread, which works really well with the fresh tomatoes.

We also enjoyed mini baguettes filled with roast beef and horseradish sauce....

Again, this is a generous portion with each guest getting two halves. The bread is fresh and crusty and the roast beef flavoursome. We also enjoyed smoked salmon blinis served on Olive oil croutons and egg mayonnaise sandwiches which were fresh and crustless.

All extremely enjoyable and filling. My favourite has to be that bruschetta!

Once we had finished with the savouries we moved up a tier to those marvellous sweets on the top.......

Afternoon tea sweets at the Playboy Club London

On the top tier you will find a wonderful selection of sweets, which includes: 
carrot cake,
chocolate & Guinness bunny ear cupcakes, 
cute little macaroons and 
a strawberry & clotted cream shot

A well balanced and tasty selection, which we think includes something for everyone.

Strawberries & cream and candy canes at the Playboy Club

We thoroughly enjoyed all elements of the sweet tier. The strawberries and cream were fresh and light and were topped with mint. Those mini macaroons were perfect - melting in the mouth as you enjoyed them.

An iconic bunny ears cupcake!

The carrot cake was full of nuts and was extremely tasty, topped with a light cream cheese frosting. The chocolate and Guinness cake left us all wanting more! The sponge was light, with just the right amount of icing on top....and those chocolate bunny ears were delicious!

We were also all treated to a candy cane....well it is Christmas time!

Although you are not offered any extra food, we all agreed that we had plenty and wouldn't have wanted anymore as the portions were generous.

In addition to the food we each chose a teapot cocktail to enjoy with our feast. There are four different tea based cocktails to pick from, and also a non-alcoholic version. You can pick from traditional, fruity, floral or spicy.

After we enjoyed our teapot cocktail, we also enjoyed in another cocktail each from the main menu (they are serving a wonderful selection of Christmas themed cocktails at the moment!).

Excluding the additional cocktails, the afternoon tea is just £30.00 per person, which we feel is an affordable treat. The tea is served Tuesday - Saturday between 5pm-7pm, for more details please see the Playboy Club website.

As for atmosphere and general thoughts about indulging in a spot of afternoon tea at The Playboy Club....well all we can say is keep an open mind and you will be pleasantly surprised. A couple of people have questioned our choice, but as an all female group we found the bar to be welcoming and the service excellent. Although we were all a little envious of the fabulous Playboy Bunny outfits!

Please note that although we did pay for some of our afternoon tea, the Playboy Club also treated us. However, this has not affected opinions expressed in this article and we would like to thank the Playboy Club for their hospitality.

If you have tried the Playboy Club afternoon tea we'd love to hear what you thought....please drop us a line!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna
Square Meal

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Time for a little International Christmas Afternoon Tea....

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea blog from Tea With Me and Friends, this time we are joined by the lovely Sarika from Pearls Bounce as she shares with us some more of her international afternoon tea adventures.

We always love hearing about where Sarika has enjoyed afternoon tea, and seeing her scrummy photos....this time she has been sampling wonderful Christmas afternoon teas.....

Santa Claus comes to Tea in Beijing

My Festive challenge : Find 3 fantastic Christmas Inspired Afternoon Tea's in Asia. December festivities have taken me to the Great Wall of China, the city that never sleeps - Hong Kong and Singapore for a Singapore Slinging Christmas.  Starting the advent month with an exhilarating trip to Beijing with temperatures of -4C, a cosy and warm Festive Afternoon Tea @ China World Hotel Lobby Lounge felt Christmas fitting! Reviews by City Weekend rated China World Hotel as the leader for Afternoon Tea in Beijing. With limited time in Beijing I took on their ranking and paid a visit to the busy China World Trade Centre. The hotel was decked out in full Christmas cheer and had me excited with anticipation of what an afternoon tea service would be like in China.

The Christmas Afternoon Tea set is priced at RMB328 +15% service charge and includes two teas, coffees or hot chocolate. Tea selection is broken down into three categories with multiple options available in each selection: Classic Tea Selection (English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Assam and Sencha), Chinese Tea Selection (Jasmine, Pu’er, Chrysanthemum) and Herbal Tea Selection (Peppermint and Chamomile). For an added indulgent there is also a Champagne Afternoon Tea option available which I took along with my option for a hot chocolate.

The table setting was quite vintage with white lacy dollies and striped armchairs. The hot chocolate was divine and rich, I had two cups! The Perrier Jouet Brut was accompanied with the most moorish sweet popcorn, I just couldn't stop!

The Tea Stand was presented in true festive glitter…it just brought the biggest 'big kid' smile to my face...I knew this was going to be a tasty tea!

An impressive Christmas afternoon tea stand

Santa just stole the show. He looked so cute and endearing, a part of me felt bad about eating him, however it had to be done once I knew it was a white chocolate Santa! 

Oh no Sarika - what are you doing to Santa??

Oh my!

The battenberg cake was a famous inhouse bake and considering I'm not really a fan of marzipan I found it to be one of the lightest and tastiest battenburgs I have ever eaten. Perhaps Battenberg converted. 

Afternoon tea sweets

Chinese snacks were next in line for demolishment. The BBQ Pork Pao was decent not like the delicious ones you get in Hong Kong or Singapore but still fun to have at tea time.

The scones were good and the variation of a chocolate scone was interesting but the real highlight was the  Clotted cream, one of the best Tea condiments I have tried in Asia. The egg custard tartlet was also a great alternative option but lacked a little on taste.

The finger sandwiches were a good palate cleanser to make way for more sweet pastries, of which the Cinnamon Stars were a favourite.

Afternoon tea savouries

Christmas afternoon tea

The China World Hotel is one of the few afternoon tea events in Beijing that requires a reservation to ensure a seat at their fantastic Tea. 

Top Tip: I would highly recommend doing a bit research before heading to Beijing, the Internet and language can be a bit of an obstacle if you are not mandarin speakers. City Weekend was a helpful guide for dining and restaurant reviews.

A huge thank you to Sarika for sharing her latest afternoon tea adventure with us - that edible Santa really is cute, I'm not sure whether I could have eaten him! If you'd like to read more about Sarika's adventures pop by her blog.

If you have enjoyed an afternoon tea somewhere around the world, we'd love to hear from you. Please get in touch with your afternoon tea adventures!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Friday, 19 December 2014

A Selection of Christmas Afternoon Teas.....

....to make you drool!

Hello there, welcome back to another Christmas afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. As you know we have been trawling the internet looking at all the lovely places you can enjoy a festive themed afternoon tea this year....we've already shared lots of scrummy photos with you...but today we thought we'd share some more (you can never have too much tea!).

So, we start with this scrummy creation from Park Room at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel....

Afternoon tea Park Room
The savouries here include Home Smoked Turkey with Cranberry Sauce and Honey Roast Ham with English Mustard sandwiches. While amongst the sweets you will find Orange & Polenta Cake
and Chocolate & Chestnut Roulade.

Or if you fancy something a little more contemporary, maybe the Lancaster Hotel would be a good option....

A contemporary festive afternoon tea at the Lancaster Hotel
This festive Afternoon Tea features Christmas pudding scones, and a roast turkey and cranberry tartlet, along with more traditional items such as cucumber sandwiches and  raspberry macaroons.

You can enjoy mini Christmas puds at the Royal HorseGuards Hotel....

Mini Christmas puds and Christmas trees at Royal Horse Guards

This festive treat includes Mini Homemade Mince Pies, Candy Cane Vanilla Shortbread and Chilli Pineapple and Mount Gay Rum Truffle, along with a glass of spiced champagne. My mouth is watering as I am typing this!

Somewhere rather different that we have not thought of before for a spot of afternoon tea is the Hilton London Gatwick Hotel, the hotel is situated 30 minutes from central London with access to both the M23 and M25 motorways...... take a peek at their scrummy creation....

Afternoon tea at the Hilton London Gatwick Hotel
This festive Afternoon Tea comes complete with roast turkey sandwiches, marzipan Christmas pudding and mulled wine.

Featuring edible decorations is the "baubles of fun at Christmas time" afternoon tea at DoubleTree by Hilton Tower of London......

Festive afternoon tea at DoubleTree by Hilton Tower of London

This tea features White Chocolate & Coconut baubles and Chocolate and orange Baubles! You can also enjoy Apple and cinnamon scones with Sweet Apple chutney and Calvados cream.

Finally I have found this wonderful looking afternoon tea currently being served at The Langham.....

Wedgwood Festive Afternoon Tea - The Langham

Because this looks so amazing (and we love china) we thought you'd appreciate a closer peek at that top tier of sweet treats.....

Beautiful sweet treats - afternoon tea at the Langham
This festive afternoon tea includes pastries inspired by the Wedgwood Collections, including Wedgwood Tea Cups - White chocolate mousse, tropical jelly and dark chocolate sable and "White Cameo on Blue" - Strawberry and white balsamic Victoria sponge.

This has to be one of the prettiest afternoon teas I have seen recently.

We hope you've enjoyed taking a peek at these festive afternoon teas, if you enjoy one of these or another festive afternoon tea, we'd love to hear all about it!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

All photos are taken from the hotel's websites