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

Monday, 29 September 2014

Time for Tea....and some crafts with Kirstie Allsopp

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends, this time I want to share with you a rather special afternoon tea experience that I and Becca recently enjoyed.

As well as afternoon tea, I am also quite passionate about my crafts as is my friend Becca, and so when we saw that Kirstie Allsopp was hosting a craft fair, called The Handmade Fair, we knew we had to go along. The motto of the fair is "Everyone has a craft they can do!" which is something I agree with...you've just got to experiment and find the craft which you enjoy!

When we looked at the tickets available we saw a VIP experience, which included afternoon tea which Kirstie Allsopp would attend.....I think you all know where this is going...yes, we needed VIP tickets!! As well as the tea, there was a VIP lounge with free flowing tea served in china tea cups all day, a goodie bag and priority seating in some of the theatres. 

I was a little sceptical about the actual afternoon tea, knowing that it would be a mass-produced affair, but I'm pleased to report that I was pleasantly surprised by the afternoon tea. We enjoyed a traditional offering of sandwiches, scones and cakes, all washed down with tea and served on China.

Afternoon Tea
The Handmade Fair

The tea was served in the VIP lounge which was beautifully decorated with simple flowers in glass vases. When we sat down at the tables we found trays of sandwiches, and cake stands full of the sweet treats and scones. 

The sandwiches might not have been traditional finger sandwiches, and there were definitely crusts still attached.....but the bread was very fresh, as were the fillings. We could pick from cucumber, egg mayonnaise, salmon and cream cheese and ham. As you can see the fillings were generous....

Afternoon tea sandwiches
The Handmade Fair

The scones were on the large size - Becca and I shared one between us. 

Again, they were fresh and not at all claggy. They were served with strawberry jam and Rodda's clotted cream....

Afternoon tea scones
The Handmade Fair

There wasn't a huge variety of sweet treats on the top tier of the cake stand...we had macaroons and lemon drizzle cake to pick from, but there was a nice selection of different macaroons to tempt us....

Afternoon tea treats
The Handmade Fair

I really enjoyed the lemon drizzle cake, which looked a little dry but actually tasted quite wonderful. The macaroons were also lovely, with a crispy shell and quite gooey in the middle!

However, the best bit of the tea was to come.....as Kirstie joined the room about half way through. She spent time talking to us as a group, then she opened the floor out to questions....and guess what....yes I actually got to ask Kirstie a question!

Talking scones with Kirstie Allsop

I was given a microphone and amazed myself at how eloquent I managed to be considering I was talking to my crafty idol! Can anyone guess what I asked....I steered clear of craft all together...and asked her whether she was a cream or jam first lady!

Now, who can guess what Kirstie answered.....I am pleased to report that she is a cream first kinda lady, the cream being the base of the scone with jam on top! As you can imagine I was very pleased to hear that!

Scones - the Kirstie way!

All in all we had a fantastic time at the Handmade Fair and really enjoyed the VIP experience - it was great to have a lounge to escape to when we were planning what to do next. Plus having free flowing tea on tap was rather nice!

We learnt a lot in the workshops, spent our pennies in the shopping villages and thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon tea. Asking Kirstie my scone question was the highlight of the day and it's just a shame that this wasn't recorded. I'll definitely buy a ticket for next year's show!

Thank you for popping by today,

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Tried and Tested....Whittard English Rose Tea

Hello there,

Welcome back to another tried and tested tea article from Tea With Me and Friends.

Recently I received a wonderful box full of tea goodies from Whittard and Joanne at Halpern. I have to say that I was rather excited as I rummaged through the box that arrived with me and I look forward to sharing with you the various teas that I have enjoyed as a result.

I will start with the English Rose Tea that I was sent, complete with a cute little infuser. This is part of the Alice in Wonderland themed range on offer at Whittard, and I was rather pleased to also find this charming fine bone china mug to drink my tea from....

English Rose Tea
 from Whittard

The mug has a lovely key handle, which I thought was a brilliant quirky touch. Although Joe found it a little too delicate to use ("I'll snap that" were his exact words), I am pleased to report that anyone with normal sized hands will find the handle a good size and easy to use. The design is very elegant and would make any Alice in Wonderland fan happy!

The tea itself is a blended black tea with flavouring, which is best enjoyed without milk. The black tea leaves are enhanced with rose petals to produce a rather fruity blend, which I found really pleasant. 

The leaves are very dark in colour as expected, punctuated with the colourful rose petals. I'd recommend about a teaspoon of them per cup, infused in freshly boiled water.

I really liked the handy infuser, which was easy to use and allowed for simple brewing once my water had boiled.

If you look closely you might see me in the reflection!

Once brewed the tea has a beautiful amber colour and wonderful aroma. 

If I'm honest - I'm not normally a rose tea fan, as I often find them very artificial and far too floral to enjoy. However, the rose in this brew was quite subtle and gave a sweet, almost fruity taste to the tea which I enjoyed.

English Rose Tea
from Whittard

I found this to be a very mellow tea, that I enjoyed at different times of the day - but it was particularly refreshing in the afternoon with a slice of cake! 

In fact I enjoyed this tea so much that when I worked away from home this week (three nights away) I took my loose leaf tea, infuser and mug with me! Now, I think this might make me a bit of a tea snob....but I really enjoyed having a decent cup of tea at the end of the work day!

Tea on the road....
I took my home comforts with me!

The tea and infuser come together as a lovely gift set and costs £14 and the mug costs £15. To find out more about these items and more of the Alice in Wonderland range (there is lots more to see!) visit the Whittard website.

I'd like to thank Whittard and Halpern for sending me these items to try. Please note that although I have been asked to review these products by the companies, all opinions expressed are my own and I have not been influenced.

Thank you for popping by today,

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Time for Tea....Meudon Hotel, Cornwall

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends, today we are joined by Ele Crossland, who shares my passion for afternoon tea and fab food in general. I recently saw a photo of Ele's on Twitter of some rather lovely looking scones and I asked her to share her recent scone adventures with us......

Picture the scene. A warm afternoon in early September. A sheltered valley overflowing with deep green, sub-tropical vegetation, a quiet, paved terrace, bathed in sunshine, and a generous tray of warmed scones, clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. Is this the stuff of novels? No, it's what you can look forward to on a visit to the Meudon Hotel, Mawnan Smith, Cornwall.

Meudon Hotel - Cornwall

We stumbled upon this gem by accident. Having been let down by our first choice location for cream tea (they had run out of scones), we retraced our route along the coast road to this hotel, pulling into its driveway purely because it had a cream-painted Rodda's milk urn outside with the words 'cream tea' stencilled on.

The staff were so friendly and warm they actually chirped. Chirped! Blinking our way into the cool, shaded foyer (decorated with paintings by local artists), we were instantly put at our ease. Cream tea? No problem. Cream tea for four, in the garden, it'll be five minutes. It was as easy as that. Out into the garden, my breath was taken away by the gloriously verdant gardens. The hotel is set at the head of a deep V-shaped valley, running down to the sea and a little rocky cove. Immediately behind the hotel, there are landscaped terraces with overflowing pots of flowers, quiet fish ponds and plenty of comfortable wooden furniture. It truly is a haven. And then our cream tea arrived, carried out with some ceremony by two very smartly dressed waiters. No need to ask for extra hot water, it came as standard.

Cream tea - Meudon Country House Hotel

A basketful of fresh, warm scones, pots of tea and got water and brimming bowls of thick, sticky, fruited jam and a piled bowl of clotted cream. We asked where the cream came from. The hotel proprietor pointed to the cows in the field over the road saying, “Those cows produce the milk which is sent to the creamery”.

A rather scrummy scone - Meudon Country House Hotel, Cornwall

The scones were warm, light and fluffy with a satisfyingly crispy crust. Accompanied by the sticky red jam and thick, yellow cream they were perfection. To our shame we soon polished off all of the cream and jam. Both bowls were cheerfully replenished by the waiters, along with fresh tea, water and milk.

Tea in the Meudon Garden is a relaxed affair. Time slows down, and the peaceful garden with its abundant, colourful flowers, sounds of birds and cows and comfy sears (and sun loungers too!) is the perfect place to while away a late summer afternoon. The staff seemed genuinely delighted and comfortable for their guests to relax and potter. Needing to walk off a little of the tea and make room for dinner we enjoyed exploring the cakey gardens, with numerous paths winding between the vegetation down to the bay. We took it a little further and made our way home along the cliff top coastal path. With stunning views over the open sea to Falmouth and the sheltered I let of the Helford passage, this was a perfect way to round off a quintessentially Cornish afternoon.

Wonderful views with your cream tea

I don't know about you - but that scone has left my mouth watering! What a wonderful accidental discovery! It sounds like the perfect afternoon to me, and those scones look scrummy topped with lashings of Rodda's cream!

A Cornish Cream Tea for one person at Meudon Hotel consists of two homemade scones, Cornish strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream served with a pot of Twinings Tea - all for £6

A big thank you to Ele for sharing her cream tea adventure with us - hopefully we'll see some more of Ele's adventures in the future!

If you have a cream tea adventure that you would like to share with us please get in touch, we'd love to hear from you!

Thank you for popping by today,