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

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Time for a Little Christmas Cheer (part two).....

Hello there,

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

Last time we featured the fab Christmas themed afternoon tea created by pastry chef Ji Sun Shin at the Ampersand Hotel in London. If you loved those pastries you can read all about Ji Sun's creative process in our interview with her that took place earlier this year.

Today, we are featuring another highly creative pastry chef - this time Zoe Wager from the Conrad London St James (previously known as the Intercontinental Westminster). We also met Zoe earlier this year when she showed us her amazing seaside themed afternoon tea. So we were really keen to see what Zoe would create for Christmas......

Christmas afternoon tea - Conrad London St James

Among the selection of festive savouries on offer are a turkey ballotine, a venison bite in puff pastry and a creamy brussel sprout salad with goat’s cheese (I'm not sure I like the sound of that!). There are also a variety of finger sandwiches. The savouries are of course followed by warm scones and preserves.

Once you have polished off the savouries and scones, you are presented with the most beautiful winter scene....complete with edible snow!

Festive snowman meringue
Conrad London St James afternoon tea

How cute is that snowman? 

The sweets that you can enjoy at this afternoon tea are so magical, you might not want to eat them! Presented in a glass frame and with plenty of that edible snow you will find mini battenburg slices, snowflake macaroons, snowmen and Christmas trees!


Christmas Afternoon Tea - Conrad London St James

Celebrate Christmas at the Conrad London St. James with a festive afternoon tea and free flowing champagne for just £45.00 per person, without Champagne is £37.00 per person. 

This beautiful afternoon tea is already available and can be booked until 24th December. For more information please visit the Conrad London St James website.

If you have enjoyed this magical afternoon tea we would love to hear from you and see your photos! Please get in touch!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Time for a little Christmas Cheer....

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends.....can you believe that we are only a month away from Christmas already? This year has flown by in a whirl of afternoon tea and tea bags!

Here at Tea With Me and Friends Towers we might be a little bit obsessed with Christmas (well OK, Rachel is probably much more obsessed than Lorna!), and we do love a well themed afternoon tea. So over the coming weeks we thought we would share with you some of the lovely Christmas afternoon teas that we have discovered.....

Let's start with a look at what super pastry chef Ji Sun Shin at the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington, London has created.....

Christmas afternoon tea at Ampersand Hotel

This scrummy looking Christmas themed afternoon tea begins with Savoury gougeres filled with such delights as turkey & cranberry, Stilton & apple, smoked salmon & cream cheese and a sausage & pear roll.

This is followed by a warm selection of plain and white chocolate scones, served with Devonshire clotted cream and homemade strawberry preserve.


The sweet treats on offer at the Ampersand this Christmas

Finally it's time for the Christmassey pastries. The selection includes.....mince pies, short bread Christmas trees, mulled wine jelly shots and Dark chocolate mini entremets.

I do love a good mince pie and so its lovely to see this appear with the sweet selection. I also love that little moose on the macaroon.

Christmas afternoon tea at Ampersand Hotel

Christmas Afternoon Tea is available at the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensignton from 1st December - 28th December. The tea costs £32.50 per person or £44.50 per person with a glass of bubbles! To find out more pop along to the Ampersand website.

If you enjoy this afternoon tea during December or another Christmas themed afternoon tea we would love to hear from you! Please get in touch by leaving a comment here or visiting us on Twitter or Facebook!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Time for Tea....in Cuba??

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends! As some of you may know, Lorna and I took a little break last month, disappearing off to Cuba for a week of sunshine and beautiful beaches.....

Beautiful Cuba

 Now as you, wherever we travel we always try and find a new afternoon tea adventure to try and share....but this proved rather challenging in Cuba, where coffee is the preferred hot beverage (it is rather good coffee!).

We did find some food in our hotel which reminded us a little of afternoon tea, there were some savoury items which looked a bit like afternoon tea sandwiches....

Not a crust in sight on these cucumber open sandwiches....

.....We also found tomato open sandwiches!

We were delighted to find these crustless wonders.....but when we tried these tomato and cucumber delights, unfortunately they were a little dry on the edges and a little soggy in the middle! 

The sweet treats we found looked a lot more promising....

Sweet treats for Tea With Me and Friends.....

....not quite afternoon tea though!

There was plenty of choice when it came to sweet treats at our hotel buffet, all perfectly sized and very tasty! The raspberry cake and the chocolate and vanilla slice in the bottom photo were particularly good, with great flavours and textures. However, they were all more pudding than afternoon tea. 

So with no afternoon tea adventures to share with you, we have decided to give you a slightly different post which looks at something else that Cuba is very famous for.....a spot of rum!

Our Cuban holiday had a rum theme!

While in Cuba we might have tried a little bit of rum....in fact we might have enjoyed various rum based cocktails during our holiday! 

We drank rum in minty mojitos, which consisted of white rum, sugar (traditionally sugar cane juice), lime juice, sparkling water, and mint. We enjoyed it in refreshing daiquiris made of white rum, lime and simple syrup. And we drank it in creamy pina coladas, made with white rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice....

Pina Colada by the pool....

I think I enjoyed the lime daiquiris most as I found them rather refreshing in the Cuban heat. Lorna was rather partial to a Cuba Libre - white rum, lime and cola.

While in Havana we were taught how to drink dark rum correctly, swilling it around our mouths (this was an interesting experience that I'm not sure our mouths thanked us for) ....

Rum tasting in Cuba

We also visited the Havana Club museum in Havana, where we enjoyed a guided tour....

Havana Club Museum


As well as the history of Havana Club in Cuba and the rum making process, we also visited their rather impressive bar....


Havana Club Museum Bar

There was also a trip to the Floridita bar in Havana, which was once the regular haunt of Ernest Hemming and in 2012 was home to the world's largest Daiquiri..... 

World's largest daiquiri 
This giant cocktail was whipped up by Cuban mixologists at the club, and weighs in at an impressive 71 gallons! The cocktail was created as part of the celebrations honouring the 195th anniversary of El Floridita, and it took two waiters half an hour to fill the glass.

After a week in the sunshine I think it's safe to say that we left Cuba with a greater appreciation for all things rum! We hope you have enjoyed this slightly different post....pop back soon for more afternoon tea posts!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Time for Tea.....The Bentley

Hello there,

Welcome back to another fab guest post from Tea With Me and Friends. We always love hearing about the afternoon teas that you enjoy and we delighted when Nicci from Very Vintage Teas got in touch via our Facebook page to tell us about her recent adventure.....

The Bentley is a stones throw from Gloucester Road tube station in Kensington and the easy journey was even more pleasurable as the weather on the 31st October was one of the warmest on record!
We were welcomed into the opulent lobby and shown to the Peridot room where our champagne tea was to be served.  It was filled with natural light and was very welcoming.

Afternoon tea at The Bentley

We were given a chance to order tea (jasmine pearls for me, English breakfast for my friend) which arrived in time for it to sit while we awaited our champagne and afternoon tea. My only criticism of the tea was that it was not what I call ‘proper’ jasmine pearls, but in a bag. Despite this it was still a very good accompaniment to the champagne tea.

The sandwiches were an absolute delight! Cucumber and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise, tuna and cucumber, coronation chicken and smoked salmon blinis. Every component was super fresh and very tasty. There is much to be said for well-seasoned, simple food!

Afternoon tea sandwiches - The Bentley

The teeny-tiny scones were warm, light and very fresh. The perfect size to pop into ones mouth in one go! These were served with a generous amount of clotted cream (I can’t bear to scrimp on cream) and a delightful blackcurrant jam. I can imagine this would not have been to everyone's taste as it hits a little sharp on the palette but I love tangy, zingy jams so was pleasantly surprised.

Afternoon tea scones - The Bentley

An afternoon tea is surprisingly filling but we soldiered on to the tiered stand of sweet treats. This consisted of delectable little bites in the form of chocolate nut brownie, cream filled choux bun, mini victoria sponge, passionfruit and white chocolate layer sponge, raspberry layer sponge and a strawberry mousse. These really were gorgeous little pops of flavour that were beautiful to admire on the stand too. Good food really does encompass all the senses! 

Afternoon tea sweets - The Bentley

Afternoon tea at The Bentley is not just for special occasions. Go on, treat yourself…

Nicci


Don't those sweets look scrummy! Afternoon tea at The Bentley is available daily between 3pm-6pm and costs £25.00 per person, or £35.00 per person if you fancy a glass of bubbles with your tea. To find out more about afternoon tea at The Bentley please visit their website.

A huge thank you to Nicci for sharing her afternoon tea adventure with us! To find out more about Nicci visit her on Facebook! If you've enjoyed an afternoon tea recently and have some scrummy photos we'd love to hear from you!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna


Square Meal

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Tried and Tested....Homemade Cold Brewed Tea with a little help from Whittard

Hello there,

Welcome back to another tried and tested tea article from Tea With Me and Friends. Recently I was invited to try out the Cold Brew T Bottle from Whittard which has been designed to make cold brewed loose leaf tea to be enjoyed at home.

Cold brewing at home!

Having not tried cold brewed tea before I was rather intrigued by the end results. On reading more about the process I found out that a cold, slow infusion produces a brew with reduced tannins and therefore a smoother, less bitter taste. Perfect for summer picnics, but also enjoyable with meals at anytime during the year as the tea tends to be really refreshing.

The Whittard Cold Brew T Bottle makes the whole process of cold brewing at home incredibly simple, with five simple steps....

1) Add 15g (5-7 teaspoons) of your favourite loose leaf tea to the bottle (fruit and herbal infusions are not suitable for use with cold brew)

2) Fill the bottle to the mark with cold water.

3) Add the lid/spout

4) Let the tea brew in the fridge for 3-6 hours

5) Serve and enjoy 

As well as the bottle Whittard also sent me some Mango & Bergamot loose leaf tea to try as a cold brew. This was a blend that I haven't tried before, but have become a huge fan of. It's a naturally sweet green tea, blended with mango and a hint of bergamot. 

Cold Brew T Bottle - Whittard

I followed the simple instructions above, putting 6 teaspoons of the leaves into my bottle before adding cold water. I then left the bottle in the fridge for about four hours to infuse before trying the brew. There is a clever filter in the lid which allows you to pour directly from the bottle into your teacup of choice.

The Whittard Cold Brew T Bottle

Not really knowing what to expect from a cold tea brew (and not being a huge fan of iced coffee) I was pleasantly surprised by the end results. The tea was a bright, clear green-yellow colour when poured out of the bottle, and no tea leaves made it into the cup. The flavour of the Mango & Bergamot blend was clear and smooth and very refreshing...definitely something I would drink again.

I am looking forward to trying more tea varieties from my cupboard in the future.




The bottle itself is elegant in design and sits neatly in my fridge. I think this would make a lovely present for the tea-lover in your life who already has lots of tea accessories and is looking for something a little different.

To find out more about the Cold Brew T Bottle visit the Whittard website. I'd like to thank Whittard for sending me the Cold Brew T Bottle. Please note that although I have received this product all opinions expressed are my own.

Do you have a favourite tea gadget that you think we should know about? Is your infuser the best? We'd love to hear about how you blend your teas at home and whether you've tried a cold brew before!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Time for.....something a little bit different

Hello there,

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

Today I wanted to share with you a little project that I have heard that features a tearoom in Hertfordshire. Now this is a little bit different from our usual post, but when I read about it I thought it was a really interesting project....

Tea for Two is a short comedy film which has been written by Mark Brennan, the story centres around the eccentric Jim & Alice, a long-retired couple running a seemingly idyllic village tea shop. The tearoom which will feature in the film is Westmill Tea Room in Westmill Village Green,
Near Buntingford in Hertfordshire and before Mark had started work on this film he had never had a cream tea (hard to believe I know!) but now he is more than a little partial to the odd scone or two!

Westmill Tea Room - photo from website

Also on the team is Pastry Chef Fiona Cairns and her team, who is one of the Executive Producers and creative partners. The team have already announced John Challis (from Only Fools and Horses) as the actor playing Jim and will be announcing the female lead soon.



Now you're probably wondering why I'm telling you about a film that isn't finished yet....well this is where it gets even more interesting as Mark and his team are currently crowd funding via Indiegogo in order to raise budget for the film. You can get involved and support the production by contributing any amount of money to get this film on the road. Take a peek at their campaign to find out more about the project and the various perks on offer if you donate set amounts.

I'm quite excited to watch this film develop and look forward to watching it next year!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel

Monday, 10 November 2014

UK Blog Awards 2015

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends!

You may remember that we entered our little afternoon tea blog in the UK Blog Awards 2014 and were amazed to make it to the finals. We went to the award ceremony in London back in April and had a wonderful evening, meeting the UK Blog Awards team and other fab bloggers, but sadly we didn't win. Encouraged by your support and the success we experienced last year I am pleased to announce that we have decided to enter the 2015 awards!

UK Blog Awards 2014
Tea With Me and Friends

The UK Blog Awards are based initially on a public vote, then the top ten blogs in each category are put forward to a professionally judged round - we therefore need your help! The public vote runs between Monday 10th November 2014 until Monday 1st December 2014 and this year we have entered ourselves in two categories:


All you need to be able to vote is a valid email address and access to the Internet. You can vote for us just once in each category (multiple votes from the same email address will be disregarded) - but if you want to vote in both categories you can!

We'd love to make it back to the finals again this year, but we really need your help and ask that you follow the links above to cast your vote! We'd love it if you told your friends and family about the awards too!

UK Blog Awards 2014 - Tea With Me and Friends

We'll keep you up to date with the progress and thank you for your continued support.

Rachel & Lorna

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Time for Tea....Limewood Hotel

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. Last weekend Alex and I visited the Limewood Hotel in the New Forest for a spot of afternoon tea.

Limewood is a boutique country house hotel, set in the heart of the New Forest National Park, 1.5 miles from the small town of Lyndhurst. However, this is no ordinary country house hotel as it manages to combine the beautiful country house setting with a contemporary twist, giving guests a beautiful, modern setting to enjoy.

Afternoon tea is served in the courtyard, which is a beautiful indoor space, full of light due to a beautiful glass ceiling.......

Limewood Hotel, New Forest

The setting is elegant and comfortable, with discreet staff who leave you in peace to enjoy your afternoon tea and a good natter, but reappear when you need another pot of tea. 

We began our afternoon tea adventure with a rather lovely complimentary glass of bubbles, which we enjoyed as we picked our teas from the good selection on offer.

Afternoon tea - Limewood

Afternoon tea is served between 3-5pm everyday, and you can pick from a full afternoon tea experience or a cream tea. We of course went for the full afternoon tea adventure, which to our delight was served on cute little individual cake stands. 

The afternoon tea is served on a mix of plain white Wedgewood and pretty blue and white patterned Portmeirion china.......

Afternoon tea is served!
Limewood Hotel

We began our afternoon tea with the middle tier of the cute little stands, the sandwiches....

Afternoon tea sandwiches - Limewood Hotel

We were initially presented with four perfect finger sandwiches, with no crusts in sight! 

The selection included ham and piccalilli (I'm not a fan myself, but it wasn't too bad!), a salmon on brown, a cheese and pickle and an egg mayonnaise (although Alex was sure it was made with salad cream!). The sandwiches were fresh and the bread was soft, more sandwiches were brought out when requested (yes we requested more!).

Once we'd devoured the sandwiches we moved onto the scones which were served with strawberry preserve and clotted cream....

Afternoon tea scones - Limewood Hotel

We had one plain and one fruited scone each, both were rather scrummy and not at all claggy. The scones were a good size and I really enjoyed the strawberry preserve.

Finally we made it to that wonderful top tier....

Afternoon tea cakes - Limewood Hotel

We each had four beautiful sweets, the selection included a welly boot biscuit, a white chocolate dome with seasonal fruit filling, a delightful carrot cake and a scrummy flower pot of chocolate and caramel. Each sweet treat was perfectly executed and a good size. We weren't offered anymore sweets, but to be honest we didn't need anymore as these four were the perfect end to the afternoon tea experience.

I really enjoyed the pot, which had layers of chocolate and caramel inside. The carrot cake was also really good - light and moist, with the right amount of topping.

This afternoon tea experience costs £23.00 per person, and you can add a glass of bubbles for an additional £11.50 each. I think this is excellent value for the quality of the food on offer. The tea menu is also extensive and has something for everyone.

If you fancy a little luxury that won't have your bank manager wondering what you've been up to and happen to be in the New Forest area then I'd definitely recommend a trip to the Limewood. For more information visit their website.

Do you know of a hidden gem that we should know about? Somewhere hidden away that gives a wonderful afternoon tea experience? Please get in touch, we'd love to hear about your afternoon tea adventures!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Time for a Spot of Winning Afternoon Tea

Hello there,

Welcome back to another guest post at Tea With Me and Friends. Do you remember in the summer Lorna and I celebrated the blog running for a year with a little competition? The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington helped us celebrate by giving us an afternoon tea for two to give away. Lots of readers joined in the fun, but it was Lucy from Foodie Force who was the lucky winner.

Lucy recently enjoyed her afternoon tea prize.....let's see what she thought of her afternoon tea experience....

Two minutes from South Kensington station the Ampersand Hotel and The Drawing Rooms have been beautifully designed. The Drawing Room instantly put me at ease. It has a wonderful warm and homely interior with freshly baked goods on display (a FoodieForce paradise).



We opted for the traditional afternoon tea, which began with Tartines....


Highlights had to be the coronation chicken and smoked salmon. The coronation chicken had the right balance of creaminess and spice. 

Service at the Ampersand Hotel is seriously relaxed, now this won't be to everyone's cup of tea (pardon the pun), but for me I personally found this refreshing. Where you are quietly allowed to enjoy the wonderful food and the company of friends without being rushed. 



What followed have to be the best scones I have ever had. Now this is no exaggeration, this woman knows her scones and these were super light and wonderfully fluffy. With the addition of clotted cream and strawberry jam, all I could have wished for is that they were bigger. 

The Ampersand definitely have their p√Ętisserie down to a fine art.



The lemon meringue tart, chocolate brownie and English breakfast tea bonbon were seriously delicious.   

A wonderful afternoon tea. I very much look forward to visiting again in the future to stay in their superbly modern boutique hotel. 

We'd like to thank Lucy for sharing her experience with us, to read the full blog post please visit Lucy's blog - Foodie Force. We're really pleased that Lucy enjoyed afternoon tea at the Ampersand as much as we do, her photos certainly made our mouth's water! 

The traditional afternoon tea at the Ampersand costs £27.50 per person or £39.50 with a glass of Champagne. The Ampersand offers a range of different afternoon teas, including themed and vegetarian options. For more information please visit their website.

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Tried and Tested...Pukka Herbs Uplifting Blends

Hello there,

Welcome back to another tried and tested tea review post from Tea With Me and Friends. Recently we were asked if we would like to try a new range of herbal teas from Pukka Herbs, the organic herb specialists. Having not tried any of the Pukka teas before, we were keen to see what they have to offer.

Pukka was first founded in 2002 by Sebastian Pole and Tim Westwell who have a mutual passion for natural health and wellbeing. Pukka uses only organic herbs in their products, they are certified by the Soil Association as a totally organic business. Their range currently includes 35 herbal, green, fruit and black teas, along with 37 food supplements.

Pukka Herbal Teas

I recently had a homemade afternoon tea at home with a group of friends, which I thought was the perfect opportunity to try out the new uplifting blends from Pukka. The first thing we all commented on was how pretty the packaging is - pretty patterns in bright colours adorn all the boxes, which would look wonderful in any kitchen!

The four uplifting blends we had to try included Wild Apple & Cinnamon with Ginger, Womankind, Detox with Lemon and Chamomile, Vanilla & Manuka Honey.

The first two teas belong to the "Feel Alive" family at Pukka....

Womankind - Pukka herbal tea

Womankind was created by Pukka to help women "balance and bloom", the tea is a blend of cranberry, rose and sweet vanilla - giving a pretty pink brew. The aroma is slightly earthy, with a hint of sweetness. This blend is a caffeine free, everyday tea which has a pleasant taste of rose and cranberry, with a lingering aftertaste of sweet vanilla. 

The second tea from the "feel alive" family is the Detox with Lemon....

Detox with Lemon - Pukka herbal tea

Lorna really enjoyed this soothing blend of aniseed, sweet fennel, cardamom, lemon, lemon myrtle and lemongrass. The brew was pale yellow in colour, and had a spicy, aromatic aroma - it's definitely an uplifting cup of tea, perfect for a cold winter morning.

Again this is a caffeine free blend, which tastes wonderful hot .....but also rather good once its gone cold! There was nothing overpowering or artificial about this blend.

Next we moved onto the "taste alive" family of teas. 
These are Pukka teas that are bursting with flavour.....

Chamomile, vanilla and manuka honey - Pukka herbal tea

Melissa was the taste tester for the Chamomile, vanilla and manuka honey blend and her initial comment was that it smelt just like a freshly baked tarte tartin, a tasty blend of apples and caramel. 

The honey and vanilla make this cup of chamomile an altogether sweeter cup of tea, very smooth and comforting. The brew was a pale yellow in colour and makes for a perfect caffeine free everyday cup of tea.

Finally we enjoyed one of the "super fruity" teas....

Wild apple & cinnamon with ginger
Pukka herbal tea

The Wild Apple & Cinnamon with ginger blend was tested by Becca, who really enjoyed this fruity tea, which reminded her of Christmas. The blend is warming - perfect for the winter months, with the ginger and cinnamon complimenting the apples. 

Again, this is a caffeine free blend which gives a pale yellow brew - slightly reminiscent of mulled wine. Again there was no artificial tastes with this cup of tea.

All these blends come as teabags with a RRP of £2.39 for 20 tea sachets. For more information please visit the Pukka website.  We'd like to thank Pukka for inviting us to sample these new blends.

Please note that although we have received samples of the teas to try, all opinions expressed within this post are our own.

Have you got a favourite herbal blend that you think we should know about? If so please get in touch and let us know!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna