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

Monday, 29 June 2015

Meet the Pastry Chef....Dale DeSimone

Hello there,

Welcome back to another Meet the Chef blog post from Tea With Me and Friends where we meet the creative talent behind one of the afternoon teas we have recently enjoyed.

This time we asked Dale DeSimone all about his afternoon tea at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel. Dale has recently been appointed Executive Pastry Chef  and we enjoyed his afternoon tea adventure a couple of weekends ago.

Dale has over twenty years experience in the USA, the UAE and London , but his most recent experience was at Sketch restaurant by Pierre Gagnaire, where he was Head Pastry Chef. Dale has been cooking since he was very young, and has a special interest in chocolate. Dale will lead a team of nine pastry chefs at Grosvenor House.

If you missed our recent blog post about the Grosvenor House afternoon tea, here is a little photo....

Afternoonn tea - Grosvenor House

So...after enjoying this scrummy afternoon tea...we needed to ask Dale our afternoon tea questions....

Q. How long does it usually take you to create new afternoon teas?
I think it is hard to put a time on how long it takes to put together a menu.  The creative side of it is ongoing and never really stops.  Ideas are constantly evolving and changing. Once all the ideas for a specific menu are on paper there will be a series of tests and trials to follow.  The next step is training the kitchen and restaurant teams.  Only after this will our guests get their first taste.  This process could take as little as a week or as long as a month.
Q. Where does your inspiration for new teas come from?
Inspiration for me could come from anywhere – a patisserie, a book/magazine or a restaurant.  Sometimes my ideas come from things that are less traditional and completely unrelated to food – a display in a clothing store window, an art show, a walk through park.  Inspiration can strike at any time, when it does I try to make a note of it and save it for a time when I need it.

Dale DeSimone - Executive Pastry Chef - Grosvenor House

Q. What is your favourite part of your latest afternoon tea?
This is my first tea menu at the Grosvenor House and I am still finding the perfect fit for our Anna’s afternoon tea menu.  It is exciting that we are taking an approach focusing on seasonal British products and traditions.  I think that concentrating more on these products and flavours, and less on the garnish, will really help us to create something special.
Q. Do you enjoy a spot of afternoon tea yourself and have you tried tea anywhere else?
Afraid I am more of a coffee person… Just kidding… but not really…  My version of afternoon tea is to sample the patisseries and bakeries of the area during my time off.  In contrast to the traditional English afternoon tea, you would be more likely to find me at a shop that I have not been to before sampling the cakes and pastries they offer while enjoying a coffee or tea
Q. What is your favourite filling in an afternoon tea sandwich
Egg with horseradish… or maybe pickle and cheddar, that has grown on me since coming to the UK.
Q. The all important question - do you put cream or jam on your scone first?
That is funny…  I am American, scones for us are a breakfast treat and come in a huge variety of flavours.  The traditional English scone with jam and cream, or cream and jam, is nice but would be my second choice.

We'd like to thank Dale for taking the time to answer our questions - its great to hear from the person behind the afternoon tea creations that we enjoy.

If you'd like to know more about Dale's afternoon tea at Grosvenor House pop by their website.

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Time to Announce a Winner!

Hello there,

Welcome back to another post from Tea With Me and Friends....as you know we are now two years old and to celebrate we have been running a blog competition to win a tea adventure at Piacha in London.

Well, the competition closed on Friday....and we are very pleased to announce our lucky winner.....

Tea With Me and Friends Winner!

Congratulations Nicci!

We will be in touch with more information about your fab prize!

We would like to say a huge thank you to Pia from Piacha for providing us with our blog birthday competition prize...if you want to know a bit more about this fab tea bar in London visit their website or take a peek at our recent blog post.

We'd also like to thank everyone who entered and everyone who continues to join us on our afternoon tea adventures!

Tea With Me and Friends

If you want to see more from us don't forget that we have a YouTube channel where we post regular vlogs...from baking scones and cakes to ruling the country....its all covered in our vlog posts!

Thank you for popping by today,

Rachel & Lorna

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Time for Tea.....Boyds Brasserie

Hello there,

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

Recently we were asked back to Boyds Brasserie in London to sample their afternoon tea. Some of our regular readers will remember that I first tried the afternoon tea offering from Boyds last summer. It's always good to re-visit a tea, to see what developments there have been...

Afternoon Tea Boyds

If you've got a keen eye you'll notice the tea bag tag hanging from the teapot....yes, when we visited they still served teabags instead of loose leaf tea. I have been informed since our visit that they now only offer loose leaf which is good news for tea lovers out there.

As before we started our afternoon tea adventure with something a little bit different....

Afternoon tea - Boyds

This is a crayfish cocktail, which was fresh and tasty, served with "Croutons". Previously this dish was potted shrimps and I think the crayfish makes a nice change - perfect for the summer.

Once we finished the cake stand and scones were brought out...

Afternoon tea - Boyds

The stand is rather contemporary, made of metal and glass but the afternoon tea offered is more traditional. The sandwiches were cut into fingers and included Cucumber & Cream Cheese, Salmon & Water Cress and Egg Mayonnaise, Water Cress.

Afternoon tea sandwiches - Boyds

There were no crusts in sight, but the sandwiches were a little uninspiring if I am honest. They were also rather dry which was disappointing, very different to the sandwiches I sampled on my last visit.

The scones on the other hand were warm when they were served (on the previous visit they had arrived at the table cold) and came with plenty of cream and jam....

Afternoon tea scones - Boyds

As you can see they were a good size too.

Finally we made it to the sweet selection on the stand....

Afternoon tea sweets - Boyds Brasserie

The sweet selection included a nice variety - lemon drizzle cake, a fruit tartlet, chocolate cherry pots, sponge slices with cream and raspberries and a custard tart. To be honest the sweets were all a bit too large for us, although I did really enjoy the lemon drizzle cake which was zesty and fresh.

Once the sweet treats were finished we were presented with the sorbet selection...

Afternoon tea sorbets - Boyds

The chocolate cones were filled with lemon sorbet and raspberry sorbet - both of which were tart and refreshing. A nice end to our afternoon tea adventure.

The last time I tried afternoon tea at Boyds it was in the evening as part of an event, this time I sampled the afternoon tea in its usual environment on a Saturday afternoon. Although Boyds had the same beautiful interior as before it was lacking a little of the energy and buzz that the evening diners created. The service was also not as attentive as it could have been.

Saying that afternoon tea at Boyds Brasserie is priced at £19.90 per person and so is extremely reasonable. For more information please visit the Boyds Brasserie website.

Please note that although we were invited back to Boyds to sample the afternoon tea and received a complimentary glass of bubbles, we have paid for our afternoon tea and all opinions expressed here are our own.

Thank you for popping by today,

Friday, 26 June 2015

Time for...another celebration!

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends...doesn't time fly....at the end of June we will be celebrating two tea-riffic years of writing this little blog!

Cheers! Tea With Me and Friends celebrate two years!


We are constantly surprised at how this blog grows and can't thank everyone enough for their continued support...we're so pleased that you all enjoy a spot of afternoon tea as much as we do! We may not have made it to the finals of the UK Blog Awards again, but we are very proud of our new logo, our Facebook page and YouTube channel which are all new additions in the last year.

More than anything we love meeting and talking with new and old tea lovers - both in person and virtually!

We'd like to say a HUGE thank you to all the hotels and brands who have worked with us in the last year. We have had some amazing afternoon tea adventures and tried some scrummy new teas! We'd also like to say a HUGE thank you to all our lovely guest bloggers....and to Connie...our first guest vlogger! 

If you want to share your adventures please get in touch, we'd love to hear from you!

Do you remember when Lorna dressed her scone the "wrong way"?!

Lastly we would like to say the BIGGEST thank you to all our beau-tea-ful readers....thank you for coming back each week and reading our ramblings and watching our vlogs! Now for the exciting bit....we are very lucky to have another fab prize to give away this year to celebrate our Blog Birthday....this time we are joined by the lovely Pia from Piacha who is giving one lucky winner and a friend and tea-filled adventure....

Piacha Taste Journey
Piacha taste journey –  teas, cakes and jazz
an afternoon Piacha tea tasting with Pia
-two guests for one & a half hours at Piacha tea bar & shop, 280 Upper Street, London N1 2TZ
-discuss your taste profile and Pia will help you to select 8 teas to taste from the Piacha range
-sample your teas with matching cakes and sandwiches
-finish with a refreshing Piacha tea smoothie, homemade at Piacha with ice tea base, fruits & berries

Having spent a wonderful morning at Piacha recently I can confirm that this is a lovely prize to win, the teas are really good and Pia is knowledgeable and super friendly - you'll be in great hands!

The lovely Pia!
Sooooo.....how do you win this lovely prize I hear you say....

Either leave a comment here on the blog, telling us your favourite tea or send an email to us at teawithmeandfriends@gmail.com with your favourite tea and your name.

It's as simple as that! We'd love it if you also followed the blog or liked us on Facebook....but you don't have to!  A BIG thank you to Pia for giving us this fab prize - we know the winner will have a tea-riffic time!

Now for the boring bits....
The competition will run from Monday 8th June 2015 and will close at 6pm on Friday 26th June 2015, entries received after the closing time will not be included.

The winner will be picked at random and announced on the blog on 28th June 2015.

Entrants must live in the UK.

The prize does not include travel or any other costs incurred.

No alternative prizes will be offered.

The winner will be sent a voucher for the Piacha Taste Journey, which needs to be redeemed before 31st December 2015. The winner will need to book the experience directly with Piacha.

This post will stay at the top of the blog until the 26th June - for new afternoon tea posts please scroll down!

Another Tea With Me and Friends Afternoon Tea Adventure!
Good luck everyone!

Thanks for celebrating another tea-riffic year with us and thanks for popping by today!

Rachel & Lorna

Friday Review... French Earl Grey from T2

Hello there,

You may remember that I recently visited T2 (you can see that post here).  Whilst there I was describing the themes for my Mad Hatter's Tea Party this summer and how I wanted things to be not quite as they seem, traditional with a twist if you like.  I was recommended their French Earl Grey as an alternative to good old English breakfast tea and given a small sample to try out at home.  

So this week I gave it a go.  From the moment I opened the packet I could smell the lovely aromatic blend and it looks so appealing.  It has a traditional, medium bodied, black tea base but they have added hibiscus, rose petals, mallow flowers and sunflower petals to add a fabulous floral and fruity twist.

The floral twist makes for a delicious cup of tea which is absolutely lovely on a summers afternoon.  It manages to taste bold yet be delicate at the same time - I find it very difficult to describe so suggest you have a try for yourself!

If you would like to try this tasty tea or find out more about T2 you can visit their website here.

Have you tried any traditional teas with a twist?  We'd love to hear about them if you have.  And if you do have a try of this lovely brew please leave us a comment to let us know what you think and help me describe it!

Thank you for popping by today,
Lorna & Rachel

Monday, 22 June 2015

Time for....a spot of tennis?

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends....so it's that time of year again...tennis lovers everywhere will be glued to their TVs eager to watch a spot of world class tennis. The end of June not only means our little blog is two years old....but it's also time for a spot of Wimbledon tennis!

This also means that there are some wonderful tennis themed afternoon teas to be found.....we've got a round up of some of our favourites....

Pastry Chef Ji Sun Shin at The Ampersand in South Kensington is back again with her colourful and tasty creations...

Wimbledon afternoon tea - The Ampersand 

The Landmark Hotel in London is offering Wimbledon fans a rather elegant afternoon tea adventure featuring a Pimm’s jelly infused with mint and Flourless pistachio sponge, rose Champagne gel, lemon truffle treats....

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea - The Landmark 

Guests at the Dorchester can indulge in Wimbledon themed delights such as a strawberry champagne tarte or a mango and lime delice....

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea - The Dorchester

Guests visiting Sopwell House in St Albans can play a mini game of tennis with their sweet treats....

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea - Sopwell House

Finally there is the rather stunning tea themed around Wimbledon on offer at  Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel in Knightsbridge which includes a Pimm's and strawberry shot and Pistachio and mascarpone tennis courts....

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea -  Jumeirah Carlton Tower

Have you got a Wimbledon afternoon tea planned for the coming weeks? We'd love to hear all about it - leave us a comment or send us a photo!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Time for Tea....Grosvenor House, London

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea review post from Tea With Me and Friends, today we wanted to share with you our recent afternoon tea adventure to the Grosvenor House hotel in London. Afternoon tea at Grosvenor House is served in the beautiful Park Room, which has a relaxed elegance with low seating and beautiful china.....

The Park Room, Grosvenor House London

We enjoyed Anna's Tea on our visit, complete with a glass of bubbles and as we sat enjoying the experience I remembered exactly why I enjoy a wonderful, traditional afternoon tea. I love the quirky, themed teas we discover....but nothing beats beautiful china, wonderful service and traditional sweet treats along with your finger sandwiches and scones.

Afternoon tea
Grosvenor House, London

Once we had picked our teas from the menu and enjoyed our bubbles the sandwiches were served - there were seven varieties in total...yes...seven...

Afternoon tea sandwiches Grosvenor House, London

Afternoon tea sandwiches Grovenor House, London

Now these were perfect finger sandwiches, cut into bite sized portions, made with fresh bread and with enough fillings to really taste them. Amongst the varieties we sampled were salmon and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise, roast beef, roast ham and cucumber. We enjoyed them all....and there was definitely something for everyone!

Once we had enjoyed the sandwiches we were presented with warm scones (wrapped) and a selection of five different preserves....yes five....and clotted cream

Afternoon tea preserves - Grosvenor House, London

Afternoon tea scones - Grosvenor House, London

The buttermilk scones looked homemade and had a beautiful texture and flavour. All the preserves were very delicate in flavour, not too overpowering, and included Strawberry, gooseberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, rhubarb and ginger. Again, there was definitely something for everyone there and we certainly enjoyed the choice....

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

Once we'd tickled our taste buds with all those different preserves (the blackcurrant was lovely!) we made our way to the sweet treats....

Afternoon tea sweets
Grosvenor House, London

Sooooo....you might be looking at that stand and thinking "Rachel and Lorna won't be pleased...there is only one of each sweet treat on that stand" and you would be right to think that....except we were told from the very beginning (and throughout our afternoon tea) that if we wanted any more of anything we could just request it.

So, knowing this we were happy to enjoy the sweet treats together, splitting cakes and deciding if we wanted any extras. Each item was beautifully presented and tasted wonderful. 

Afternoon tea sweets - Grosvenor House

On the top tier there was a dark chocolate cake and a piece of carrot cake topped with pineapple. Lorna enjoyed the elderflower jelly which was light and delicate. 

Afternoon tea sweets - Grosvenor House

Below that we found a rather wonderful lemon meringue, a decadent chocolate mouse cake and a wonderful strawberry tart which had been spiced up with some fresh ginger. We loved how traditional flavours were mingled with slightly more exotic flavours to produce some exciting afternoon tea treats.

In the end we decided that we didn't need any extra sweet treats....especially since there was one last treat left....a visit to the cake table!

The afternoon tea cake table
Grosvenor House

The cake table has a selection of five or six larger cakes which guests can pick from. Apparently the majority of guests end up taking their cake home with them (we did too) and the hotel is perfectly happy to box up your choice for you. This is a lovely touch as you can continue enjoying the experience in the comfort of your own home.

We thoroughly enjoyed this afternoon tea adventure - everything was fresh and tasty, the flavours were delicate and pleasing. The service was wonderful, all the servers were friendly and knowledgeable, and Park Room is light, airy and elegant.

Afternoon tea - Grosvenor House

Afternoon tea costs £35.50 per person or you can enjoy Anna’s Tea with a glass of Pommery Brut Champagne for £48.50 per person. This is a great value, traditional afternoon tea - perfect for anyone looking for an elegant afternoon tea adventure with friends or family. There is also a Children's tea for younger members of the family. For more details visit the Grosvenor House website.

We'd like to thank Grosvenor House for inviting us to sample their wonderful afternoon tea and for the wonderful service we experienced. Please note that although we were guests of the hotel, this has not effected our taste buds and all opinions expressed in this post are our own.

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Friday, 19 June 2015

The Friday Review.....Margaret's Hope First Flush Darjeeling

Hello there,

We are rather excited this week at Tea With Me and Friends Towers as we have been sent a rather wonderful tea chest to sample....

Margaret Hope's First Flush Darjeeling

Margaret's Hope Estate was founded in 1865 and is one of Darjeeling's oldest tea gardens, found in the foothills of the Himalayas. The Estate is named after the founder's daughter Margaret, who visited the estate from England and fell in love with the Darjeeling tea. Sadly, Margaret died from a tropical disease on her return trip to England and never realised her dream of making the tea gardens her home. To this day the Estate preserves the traditional methods of the founders.

This wonderful little chest contains "First Flush" leaves....the very first leaves of 2015. It's the first leaves which are considered one of the finest teas to be produced worldwide. So all in all this was going to be a pretty special cuppa.....

The chest itself is so cute.....

Margaret Hope's First Flush Darjeeling -Whittard

The tea is cultivated at altitudes of 915-1830m, mainly from the original China Jat bushes which would have been growing in Margaret’s day. The leaves have tinges of light green in them.

It's worth noting that a first flush crop is very dependent on the weather conditions - too much or too little rain could ruin a crop easily.

Margaret Hope's First Flush Darjeeling

This tea should be enjoyed without milk and only brewed for a couple of minutes to preserve the delicate flavour.

Once brewed the tea is a beautiful golden colour, which reminded me of a glass of champagne. It has a really fresh and clean flavour which is slightly sweet. It's very refreshing.

Margaret's Hope First Flush Darjeeling

We thoroughly enjoyed this tea and would recommend it to anyone looking for a very special brew. It is available from Whittards, visit their website for more information.

We'd like to thank Whittards for sharing this very special tea with us - however please not that our taste buds have not been affected and all opinions expressed here are our own.

Have you been lucky enough to enjoy a First Flush tea? If so we'd love to hear from you...

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Afternoon Tea News.... Street Food Afternoon Tea

Hello there,

We have a spot of afternoon tea news to share with you at Tea With Me and Friends today....we do love sharing new afternoon teas with you and this is rather different....

Street Food Afternoon Tea, The Arch London

This rather exciting looking afternoon tea has recently been launched by the Arch London in Marylebone and if you hadn't guessed it's inspired by London's Street Food scene. It embraces the diverse, multicultural flavours found in London’s Street Food scene.

Street Food Afternoon Tea
The Arch London

Be warned though - this is a very contemporary afternoon tea! Instead of scones, guests will be served fresh warm cinnamon and sugar doughnuts filled with apple jam.

The savoury delights served with this feast will include Mini Beef Burgers with Onion Marmalade in Brioche Buns; Smoked Chicken, Chilli, Avocado and Mango Tortillas, Mini Handmade Scotch Eggs with Piccalilli; and Chicken Satay served with a Peanut Dipping Sauce and Sesame Seeds.

Savoury afternoon tea treats at The Arch London

Finally the sweet treats.....they will include homemade Macaroons; Mini Coffee Éclairs; and a Lemon & Mango Rice Pudding with Toasted Coconut. Adding a little of the tradition of afternoon tea are the Strawberry & Pistachio Tarts, and Mini Raspberry Victoria Sponges. 

Sweet afternoon tea treats at The Arch London

This quirky afternoon tea is priced at £29 per person, and £38 if you fancy a glass of bubbles, visit The Arch London's website for more information. 

If you enjoy this afternoon tea we'd love to hear all about it - send us a photo and let us know your favourite bit!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Time for Tea.....The Playboy Club, London

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends....this week we are sharing with you a recent visit to somewhere we have visited a couple of times before...but we always have a good time so we keep heading back! It might be something to do with the tea-riffic teapot cocktails....

Afternoon tea cocktails - Playboy Club, London

Or maybe it's something to do with the scrummy afternoon tea treats, which includes their iconic bunny ears.......

Afternoon tea, Playboy Club, London

Or perhaps it's the excellent service, which is always friendly and welcoming? Whatever it is....The Playboy Club in London have got it right with their afternoon tea with a with "a playful twist and a tail". Afternoon tea is served between 5-7pm Tuesday to Saturday in Salvatore's Bar.

The tea costs just £30 per person and includes a teapot cocktail, there are four alcoholic and one non-alcoholic cocktail to pick from....all with a scrummy tea base.

The savoury selection is always quite impressive and substantial....

Savoury afternoon tea treats
Playboy Club, London

On this occasion we enjoyed a crusty baguette filled with roast beef and horseradish, along with a cream cheese and salmon bellini....

Afternoon tea, Playboy Club London

There were also lovely finger sandwiches (with no crusts in sight), made on fresh granary bread and filled with egg and thinly sliced asparagus...

And finally my favourite....which we have enjoyed before and I was pleased to see again....the bruchetta....toasted bread....lots of tomatoes and balsamic...scrummy....

There are no scones served with this afternoon tea, but to be honest we never really miss them. 

This is a contemporary tea served in a contemporary environment... I think it might feel a bit odd to sit in the bar dressing our scones while others sip on their cocktails!

The sweets on offer are also filling enough that scones are not really required....

Afternoon tea sweets - Playboy Club, London

This time we enjoyed a lovely piece of carrot cake, a vanilla macaroon, some strawberries and cream and a rather scrummy chocolate mousse cake, complete with chocolate bunny ears.

Everything served was fresh and of a good size. The flavours were well balanced and everything went well together. A very enjoyable sweet plate and end to our afternoon tea adventure.

I particularly enjoyed the chocolate mousse cake, the bottom part was sponge, the top chocolate mousse. It was decadent, without being too rich and looked super cute too....

Afternoon tea Bunny Ears Cakes
Playboy Club, London

No extras are offered....but if they were I'm not sure you could fit them in anyway! All in all a lovely afternoon tea experience - perfect for enjoying with a group of friends!

For more information pop by the Playboy Club's website.

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna