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

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Time for Tea....Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Hello there,

Welcome back to another fab guest post from Tea With Me and Friends, today we are joined by the lovely Victoria Redshaw who is sharing a rather special afternoon tea adventure with us....all the way from Dubai! Now I have heard rumours about these rather extravagant afternoon teas in Dubai, but have never heard a first hand review and so was very keen to hear more....

Last year, my friend Suzie and I visited and blogged about our afternoon tea at The Portrait Restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery.  Fast forward 10 months and Suzie is now living and working in Dubai.  And so, our plan to have afternoon tea at the world’s only 7 starred hotel, the Burj Al Arab (the one which looks like a sail) was formed…

Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai

On entering the main lobby, you are faced with an incredible fountain which I’m sure is the height of two double decker buses and afternoon tea is served above it.  All that glitters IS gold in this amazing hotel.  We’d booked the Ultimate Afternoon Tea, which costs 560 AED (approximately £100) per person and features a seven course tea and a glass of champagne.  It needs to be amazing for that price, doesn’t it?  

A quartet of men playing Arabian music was a pleasant accompaniment and once they finished, we were entertained by the beautiful sound of a harpist.  Not to mention, on our arrival the men’s tennis world number one, Novak Djokovic was posing for photographs ahead of the Dubai Tennis Open!

There are three sittings for afternoon tea, and the only available option when we booked was at 1pm; the others are at 3pm and 5pm, however we were never hurried.  With a flourish, our waiter poured our glasses of champagne and allowed us to peruse the extensive tea menu.   Course one was a berry tart – perfectly light and included fresh berries.  Remember that Dubai is effectively in a desert, so all these items have to be imported.

Berry Tart...enjoyed in the desert!

The finger sandwiches were brought next on different types of bread, but all were completely crustless.  The salmon “round” really did have a tiny bit of edible gold on it, and a little bit of caviar on the side.  Of course, the normal cucumber sandwich was divine.  In fact, it was all jolly good but there’s no endless supply of sandwiches.  However, we didn’t need any more sandwiches as course number three was the Chef’s Carvery – a perfectly pink piece of beef, with a “jus” and some potato.  Really, really good!

Afternoon tea sandwiches at Burj Al Arab

The Chef’s Carvery at Burj Al Arab

Thankfully we had a palate cleanser of a lychee and rose sorbet next; supremely light and set us up well for the scones.  One each of the fruit (called a “raisin scone” by our waiter) and plain scone and perfectly warm.  Interestingly, the preserves were an orange marmalade, a passion fruit jam and traditional strawberry, served with “Devonshire Clotted Cream”.  I can’t confirm that it definitely came from Devon, but it was delicious.

The palate cleanser

Afternoon tea scones at
Burj Al Arab

Suzie had told the staff at the hotel that it was my birthday, which it will be shortly, so our waiter presented me with a small piece of gateau with a lit candle and proceeded to sing “Happy birthday”! 

Two more courses to go and I think we were wondering whether we’d be rolled out of the hotel.  The selection of French pastries was paraded before us and we selected one or two each.  All absolutely exquisitely made.  This was before the final course of “cake”!  

We’d also selected a champagne cocktail to drink after our glass of champagne.  When you’re in such amazing surroundings, I think it’s only right to ensure you make the most of it!  I don’t think I’ll ever stay at the hotel, as the cheapest suite (no standard doubles here!) is a mere £2500 per night.

Victoria and Suzie enjoying a spot of afternoon tea!

The interior of the hotel is simply incredible.  It really does look like a billowing sail from both the exterior and interior design.  If you ever visit Dubai, it is an amazing experience to have afternoon tea here.  Unlike most other hotels, you are unable to visit on spec and I believe they charge an entry fee, which is high enough to prevent most people from having a look around.  

Wow! What an amazing sounding afternoon tea - edible gold on sandwiches! A huge thank you to Victoria for sharing this afternoon tea adventure with us and for taking all those lovely photos! If you'd like to know more about the Burj Al Arab hotel please visit their website. I can't wait to see where Victoria and Suzie visit next for a spot of afternoon tea!

Thank you for popping by today,

Friday, 27 February 2015

The Friday Review....Twinings Fruity

Hello there,

Welcome back to another Friday Review from Tea With Me and Friends.

Since we started the Friday Review a couple of weeks ago we have featured quite a mixture of iced teas and a white tea...this week we decided to feature a fruity blend from Twinings.

Twinings - Mango & Cinnamon

This is a naturally caffeine free fruit tea which combines a sweet mango flavour with the warmness of cinnamon. When I first saw this tea I wasn't sure exactly what it would taste like, but I was intrigued by the blend....

Twinings - Mango & Cinnamon

The tea is a beautiful dark orange, almost red colour once it has been brewed for a couple of minutes, and it smells lovely and fruity. It makes a really warming cup of tea - perfect at any time of the day. The cinnamon makes it comforting, whilst the mango adds a touch of sweetness.

Twinings have a large selection of teas in their collection now including black teas, green teas, fruity teas and floral teas. Do you have a favourite Twinings blend that we should feature in a future Friday Review? If so please get in touch and let us know!

Thanks for popping by today,

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Time for Tea....Grange Tower Bridge Hotel

Hello there,

Welcome back to another fab Guest Post from Tea With Me and Friends, this time we are joined by the lovely Becca who recently enjoyed afternoon tea at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel as part of a weekend of Hen Party celebrations. Becca is all too familiar with the blog and suffers "don't touch that yet, I haven't taken a photo!" when she enjoys afternoon tea with us and so I knew we would have some lovely photos from her afternoon tea adventure in London!

Afternoon tea
Grange Tower Bridge Hotel

This afternoon tea was booked as part of a package based at the hotel for a Hen Party I organised. We were a big group of eleven, and the hotel accommodated us in our own private room, which was modern and comfortable. The china was all plain white...

The sandwiches included beef and tomato on white bread, egg and cucumber on brown bread, coronation chicken also on brown and the rolled up sandwiches in the photo below were salmon! 

Afternoon tea sandwiches - Grange Tower Bridge Hotel

I forgot to inform the hotel of our dietary requirements until 9.30am that morning (a strawberry allergy and a gluten free) but the hotel managed to not only give us individual sandwiches, they also gave us individual trays for our sweet treats as well. 

Carole (our gluten free guest) said the sandwiches made for her were delicious, normally she receives sandwiches that are dry and not very tasty so she was pleased with the offering.

The scones very big and extremely tasty, served with clotted cream and raspberry or strawberry jam. 

We also enjoyed chocolate covered strawberries, mini trifle desserts with chocolate spoons, chocolate cups filled with a yummy cream filling and topped with fruit, small pastry tarts, blueberry mousse slices and tasty little chocolates too! 

Afternoon tea - Grange Tower Bridge Hotel

We had a selection box of Twinings tea bags to choose from, and the hot water was topped up frequently so we could help ourselves to tea as we desired. We were also asked if there was anything else we wanted or needed frequently. 

Time for Tea!

Considering there was eleven of us in the group the afternoon tea was very good and the added benefit of having our own room meant we were free to play silly hen games too! The tea was very relaxed and we were not rushed at any point. Most importantly the bride really enjoyed it! 

Doesn't that sound wonderful....perfect for anyone who enjoys chocolate treats! I love the look of those blueberry slices.

Afternoon tea is served in the Knight’s Lounge daily between 2pm-5pm. For more information about their afternoon tea offering please visit their website.

A big thank you to Becca for sharing her afternoon tea adventures with us. If you've enjoyed afternoon tea somewhere and would like to share with us please get in touch - you can email us, leave a comment here or on our Facebook page.

Thank you for popping by today,
Square Meal

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Time for Tea....The Savoy

Hello there,

Welcome back to another lovely guest post from Tea With Me and Friends. Today we are joined by Verity, who started her afternoon tea adventures with a little trip to The Savoy in London. This is actually where Lorna and I enjoyed our first afternoon tea all those years ago and we were keen to hear about Verity's experience....

This was a belated birthday present from my Husband Gareth, who had brought me a voucher for a champagne tea for two, so I decided to use it last Sunday with my mum. We arrived early and were taken to our table in The Thames Foyer, such a lovely setting! We had rose champagne to begin....

Rose Champagne at The Savoy

For our tea choices I opted for The Savoy afternoon blend which was beautiful and my mum chose Moroccan mint which she said was delightful....

Time for tea...at The Savoy

The afternoon tea arrived on a stand and looked delicious, our favourite sandwiches were the coronation chicken and egg salad with watercress. All the sandwiches were on wholemeal bread as requested by us. When we finished our round of sandwiches we were asked if we would like anymore, which we accepted.

The scones (plain and baked raisin) were served warm with homemade lemon curd which was amazing, strawberry preserve and clotted cream.

Afternoon tea scones
The Savoy, London

We then choose from the tea pastries on offer, mum chose "Mr Green" and "Purple and White" which were both very tasty. When it was my turn the waiter asked if I would like all of them! He must of been pre warned that I have a very sweet tooth! I chose the remaining 3 and we both shared them. My favourite was "Gananka".

"Gananka" was a chocolate mousse with salted caramel, "Mr Green" was a pistachio eclair, "Purple and White" was a blackcurrant confit and sponge with coconut mousse, "Winter Whisper" was a creme brulee with caramelised hazelnuts and "Intense" was a vanilla bavaroise with passionfruit and mango....

Sweet afternoon tea treats at The Savoy

More sweet treats from The Savoy!

Then it was time for signature cakes we both chose Apple and cinnamon with mascarpone chantilly which was so nice. The whole time through afternoon tea all the waiters and waitress's asked if we would like top ups of tea and if we were ok.

As an extra surprise our waitress brought out a cake with happy birthday on it and a candle, and the lady on the piano played happy birthday - everyone clapped this which was very embarrassing but very nice!

Birthday surprises at The Savoy!

 I would definitely recommend The savoy for afternoon tea and would love to go back.

What a lovely Birthday treat for Verity, we are so pleased that she enjoyed her afternoon tea adventure at The Savoy. Afternoon tea is served in The Thames Foyer daily between 1pm-5:45pm and costs from £50.00 per person for a traditional afternoon tea, and £66.50 if you would like the rose champagne that Verity enjoyed. For more information please visit The Savoy website.

A bit thank you to Verity (and her mum) for sharing their afternoon tea adventure.....we hear she is indulging in a spot of afternoon tea very soon so watch this space for another guest post!

Thank you for popping by today,
Square Meal

Friday, 20 February 2015

The Friday Review.....Eros Tea

Hello There,

Welcome back to another Friday tea review from Tea With Me and Friends.

This week I have enjoyed a rather lovely, delicate cup of tea from a company called Eros. I think I picked up this individually wrapped tea bag at a hotel I stayed at recently....

White tea, elderflower & apricot tea from Eros

Such pretty packaging!

As you can see this is a white tea, blended with elderflower and apricot. The tea once brewed for a couple of minutes is a lovely golden colour, and both the taste and fragrance were light and fruity....

Eros Tea

This makes a lovely afternoon tea blend, as it's light and refreshing, not at all artificial in flavour or too sweet. A thoroughly lovely cuppa! 

I have discovered that you can buy this tea from Amazon (instead of finding it in hotel rooms like me!), currently priced at £4.25 for 20 individual tea sachets.

Have you tried any of the other Eros blends? They offer an English Breakfast, an Earl Grey, a red berry and a Lemongrass, Ginger & Citrus fruit tea amongst others in their collection. If you've tried one we'd love to know what you thought.

Don't forget to pop back next week to see what tea we've been enjoying!


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Time for a spot of......Afternoon Tea News

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends.

Now, some of you might have noticed that we have a lovely new badge on our sidebar which belongs to Afternoon Tea Online....

If you haven't come across this website before it's an online guide to afternoon tea across the UK, where you can book online to enjoy a spot of afternoon tea!

As well as searching for and booking afternoon teas on the website, you can also read afternoon tea themed articles and browse the various special offers. There is also a nifty search function that allows you to see afternoon teas in "best for...." categories such as "hidden gems" or "gluten free menus"

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Scone Wars Alert!

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends!

Do you remember when we first started writing our little afternoon tea blog and there was a bit of a debate about the way your scones should be dressed? This subject continues to be a hot topic of conversation which rears its head whenever we introduce new people to our blog! People are very passionate about whether the cream or jam or should be put on first (I can see some of you muttering to yourselves as you read this!).

Lorna and I are firm believers that cream goes on first.....it can be spread to give a good solid base for the preserve or curd which goes on top...the jewel in your crown if you like. We know however that not everyone shares our passion (including our best friend Becca....who puts whatever she reaches first on her scones first - scandalous!).

Last weekend scone wars started all over again on Twitter....and all because I innocently commented on a photo of Philip Schofield, who had enjoyed afternoon tea at Claridges....

Now, I didn't really expect a reply from Philip...but look what happened next...

Yes....you read that right! He said jam first!

As you can imagine Lorna was outraged....

For those of you that remember Lorna has tried the jam first method on one of her scones....

Tea with Me and Friends
Scone Wars!

The result was a bit of a mess and we decided that cream first was definitely the way to go!

Scones dressed the wrong way (according to us!)

With this experience in mind I tried to make Philip see the light with a lovely scone photo.....

But it seems he was not to be swayed!! It appears it takes all sorts to make the world go around....and even celebrities get their scone dressing wrong!

The debate quickly spread as people joined in our conversation, I even got included in Tweets like this.....

I love how passionate people are about this subject....and everyone has very valid reasons for their preference! 

Thanks for popping by today,

Friday, 13 February 2015

The Friday Review....Hampstead Iced Teas

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends, today we are starting a new series of articles where we share with you our thoughts on various tea inspired beverages.....welcome to The Friday Review!

Recently Becca and I decided to try out some of the iced teas from Hampstead Tea. Now I know its not exactly the weather for ice tea, but we fancied something a little bit different and refreshing....plus the pretty packaging of these teas really caught our eye.....

Hampstead Tea - Iced Teas

We found these in the refrigerated section of a local food market and cost cost just under £2.00 each. We opted to try the Lemon Green Iced Tea and also the Raspberry Darjeeling Iced Tea. There is one other iced tea variety to try - Elderflower oolong.

Hampstead Teas herbal teas come from biodynamic growers all over the world, wellbeing and Fair Trade are both promoted by this tea company. As well as the iced teas, Hampstead Teas offer a range of black, green, herbal and fruit teas.

Both the teas we tried had a pleasing look when poured....

Hampstead Tea

We decided to try the Lemon Green Iced Tea first, which not surprisingly was the slightly more yellow beverage. This is supposed to be a tangy and fresh tasting iced green tea....

Hampstead Tea
Lemon Green Iced Tea

To be honest we couldn't really taste the lemon in this tea - it was a very refreshing drink which we enjoyed....but if you want a lemony hit you might be a little disappointed.

Next we moved onto the  Raspberry Darjeeling Iced Tea which is a more fruity blend....

Hampstead Tea
Raspberry Darjeeling Iced Tea

This tea had a ruby appearance and again was very refreshing.....but we struggled to taste the raspberry flavour. You could definitely tell which was the green tea and which was the darjeeling, and they both had refreshing and robust flavours...they were just missing the fruit aspect.

Saying this both teas are organic and natural, with no artificial flavours and so I think you can expect the flavours to be more subtle. 

We would drink them again as we found the blends refreshing....they would be lovely enjoyed on a summers day!

For more information or to discover the other teas on offer at Hampstead Teas please visit their website.

Do you have a favourite tea that you would like to see featured on The Friday Review? Maybe there is a tea that you want to know more about? Please get in touch and let us know!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Monday, 9 February 2015

Time for Tea....Randolph Hotel Oxford

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. This time we are sharing our afternoon tea adventures from our recent mini break in Oxford.

We decided to pay a visit to the Randolph Hotel, which is a five star Macdonalds hotel situated in the centre of Oxford. To be honest Lorna and I had dithered a lot about this mini break and as a result we didn't have any afternoon tea booked. We were therefore really gratefully that the Randolph could accept us as walk-ins on this Sunday lunchtime.

Afternoon tea is served in The Drawing Room, which is a grand but relaxed space within the hotel. The decor is comfortable and welcoming, and the service is friendly and discrete. I liked the muted tones, punctuated with splashed of red.....

The Drawing Room - Randolph Hotel Oxford

The china used at the hotel is plain white and stylish and there is a good selection of black, green, white and herbal teas on offer for guests to pick from....

Time for tea?

On arrival at our table within The Drawing Room we find a discrete nod towards Alice in Wonderland. For those in know Alice in Wonderland was penned by Charles Dodgson, an Oxford don, after he made up a story to keep Alice Liddell and her sisters amused while on a boating picnic up the River Thames from Folly Bridge in Oxford. Alice enjoyed the story so much that she begged him to write it down.....

Lorna and I opted to try the celebration afternoon tea (well we were on a mini break) and so began our afternoon tea with a glass of champagne. Once we had enjoyed this, our tea and tea stand were served....

Afternoon tea
Randolph Hotel Oxford

Look at the size of those scones!

We started at the bottom of that pretty cake stand with the wonderful selection of finger sandwiches. Now, there was a slight controversial hint of crust on some of the sandwiches and the cucumber and cream cheese sandwich was a tiny bit soggy....but on the whole we enjoyed the selection....

Afternoon tea sandwiches - Randolph Hotel Oxford

The bread was all fresh and soft and the sandwiches cut into fingers. The selection included the previously mentioned cucumber and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise and rocket,
ham, smoked salmon and cream cheese and a rather wonderful turkey sandwich. Now, normally if I hear the words "turkey sandwiches" my heart sinks a little...I'm not a fan of turkey at the best of times and don't really enjoy it in sandwiches. However, this turkey was different as it was complimented with some kind of spice. We couldn't put our finger exactly on what it was, but it was really tasty!

The sandwiches were all a good size, with the fillings being just right (nothing worse than too little or too much filling in an afternoon tea sandwich!)

After we had enjoyed the brilliant selection we moved up a tier to those wonderful scones....

Time for scones - Randolph Hotel Oxford

The scones were lovely - a great size, with a wonderful crust and light and fluffy in the middle. They were served warm and tasted fresh. They were served with clotted cream, a strawberry preserve and a wonderful lemon curd.

Admittedly we don't usually mention the scone accompaniments much on the blog, concentrating instead on the main event. However, both the jam and the lemon curd were both so good that I feel they deserve a special mention. The jam was full of flavour...and fruit! The curd was light and tangy and went so well with the creamy clotted cream. 

Once the scones had been devoured we moved onto that top tier to enjoy the wonderful sweet treats.....

Sweet treats - afternoon tea - Randolph Hotel Oxford

As you'll notice there was a good selection....and there was one of each for both of us (an important factor to Lorna and I). Our selection included something for every taste with mini rhubarb crumbles, dark chocolate mousses, blueberry and lemon slices and mini bakewell tarts.

Every item looked perfect, they were small and perfectly formed. Plus the hotel gets bonus points for remembering to give us spoons for the crumbles (so often we are served something in a small shot glass or dish and have to use the tea spoon to eat it! 

My least favourite item was probably the crumble, but that was personal preference (Lorna polished hers off very quickly!). The bakewell tart was lovely, with a crisp shell and tart raspberry and almond filling. But my favourite sweet treat was the chocolate mousse...

Not only did it look wonderful, but it was light and chocolately and if I was being greedy I could have easily eaten another one (or two!).

The celebration afternoon tea costs £36.50 per person, but if you do not want the bubbles a traditional afternoon tea costs £29.50 per person. For more information on the afternoon teas on offer please visit the Randolph Hotel website.

We thoroughly enjoyed this whole afternoon tea experience. The food was of a high quality, there was a good tea selection and the service was friendly and polished. If you happen to be in Oxford and want a good quality afternoon tea, this is definitely somewhere to consider.

Do you have any other recommendations for afternoon tea in Oxford? If so we'd love to hear about them....

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Square Meal