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

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Time....to get a little crafty!

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends....sorry we've been missing for the last week, time has escaped us recently! But don't fear.....we're back today with another scrummy post!

Recently, Sheree and I visited The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court, for a spot of crafts....and of course some afternoon tea! We booked our tickets really late this year, but managed to take advantage of a great offer which upgraded our tickets to VIP giving us access to the VIP lounge and an afternoon tea.

Both of us visited the fair last year and left feeling really inspired by the craft activities and stalls, so we felt another visit was in order. The location of the fair had changed ever so slightly this year.....crossing the road from the grounds of Hampton Court palace to the green opposite, but everything else looked vaguely familiar. Think lots of bunting and pretty tents full of crafts and you'll get the picture......

The Handmade Fair - Hampton Court

Our ticket this year gave us access to a talk in the Super Theatre, a craft activity from the Grand Makes selection and also a mini skills workshop. For our Super Theatre we watched the Mollie Makes mash-up featuring Mr X Stitch vs Lisa Comfort.

The mash-up saw these two very different sewists taking a tote bag and making it into an apron and our VIP tickets gave us great seats in the front row....

I'm a big fan of Lisa Comfort and so it was great to see her in action! We enjoyed listening to the banter and watched in awe as Lisa sewed perfected straight lines in a flash (I'm still a novice with the sewing machine).

After this we made our way over to The Grand Makes tent where we enjoyed learning the basics of cross stitch with Mr X Stitch (we weren't stalking him - honest!)....

Mr X Stitch taught us how to start a new cross stitch pattern so you have a perfect back and front, and gave us some tips as we started our first couple of rows. After the session finished we got to take out cactus projects home, so we can finish them off.....mine is...well...lets say still work in progress!

After a morning of craft just one thing was required....a good cup of tea...and of course some cake!
Now, in the VIP tent there was no shortage of teacup....

Decisions, decisions....which teacup will I choose today?

But I have to say that we were ever so slightly disappointed with the afternoon tea offering, which was exactly the same as last year...even the cakes were the same!

Another afternoon tea adventure!

There was nothing wrong with the food exactly (apart from it being rather limited - eight scones were given to a table of nine guests!), but it wasn't particularly inspiring and I was disappointed to see the same sweet treats and savouries.

The finger sandwiches were crustless and fresh....

but the fillings were a rather standard affair, including salmon and cream cheese, ham salad and cucumber. However, it was nice to have a mixture of brown and white bread to choose from.

The scones were a good size and were served with clotted cream and strawberry jam....

Scones enjoyed the Tea With Me and Friends way!

The cakes included small squares of lemon drizzle cake and mini macaroons, both of which unfortunately tasted rather like they had come straight from a packet. A disappointing end to this afternoon tea adventure.

Afternoon tea - The Handmade Fair

After we had recharged our batteries it was time for a mooch around the shopping tents, although they were so packed full of people it was hard to actually mooch....or see anything! There were plenty of stalls, offering a wide choice of craft retail therapy, but the tents were really full and we didn't feel like we could linger and look at things. 

Our day ended with our skills workshop, where we were taught how to make simple ric rac roses.....

All in all this was a bit of a mixed experience, we enjoyed the talks and learning new skills but it was a shame that the afternoon tea was a carbon copy of the previous year. It's always inspiring being surrounded by creative ideas, and the next day I got my sewing machine out and made myself a new simple dress.

Did you visit The Handmade Fair this year? If so we'd love to hear about your experience.

Thank you for popping by today,

Friday, 25 September 2015

The Friday Review....Birchall Tea....Part Two

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends.

Do you remember a little while ago we enjoyed a tea-riffic tea tasting event with Birchall Tea?  Last time we told you about the company itself.....but we didn't tell you much about the teas. Birchall Tea has black teas, green teas as well as fruit and herbal infusions in their range and today we are taking a taste of their Redbush.

Now, I'm not the greatest fan of Rooibos teas and so I decided to ask the lovely Beth to sample this one for me as I know she rather enjoys a cup of Rooibos.

I can honestly say that this is the nicest Redbush tea that I have ever tasted – and I am a real connoisseur, having been a regular drinker of Redbush (or Rooibos as I call it, having been introduced to it by my South African family) for the last 6 years.

Redbush Tea - Birchall Tea

The design of the bag is very sumptuous - from the way it looks to quality of the material used - and already makes you feel like you’re in for a treat. 

The taste of the tea is smooth, incredibly flavoursome and full, which leads to the whole experience being extremely satisfying. 

I will be keeping a close eye on where I can source these teabags as my box is not going to last very long – having devoured 5 cups the first day I had it!

Well it certainly sounds like Beth enjoyed this Redbush! This red rooibos tea is made from the soft needle-like leaves of the South African plant, Aspalathus linearis, it is rich in anti-oxidants and naturally caffeine free.

You can buy this tea directly from Birchall Tea on their website, where you can also find information about the rest of their range.

Thank you for popping by today,

Monday, 21 September 2015

Time for a....Tea Recipe

Hello there,

Happy Monday! Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - we hope you had a tea-riffic weekend!

Since last week's tea recipe proved to be quite popular I decided to head back to the kitchen this weekend and try something new. I have to admit that I am new to creating tea recipes and therefore I have stuck to a similar recipe to last week....using up a different fruit from my fruit bowl.

This time I had some fresh raspberries....

 I had a think and decided to pair my raspberries with some green tea. On this occasion I have used a Dragonfly Tea Emerald Mountain Green Tea which is a light, smooth green tea....

Dragonfly Tea - Emerald Mountain Green Tea

So, this is really simple....it takes a little time, but its easy to make and only uses three ingredients (four if you decide to add honey). 

I took a big handful of raspberries and placed them in my teapot before adding 200ml of boiling water. I then left them to infuse for about three minutes.

Now these raspberries were rather ripe....quite soft and squidgy....and I'm not sure if this helped with the flavour. If you have less squidgy raspberries you might need to leave them infusing for a little longer.

In the meantime I brewed one teabag in 100ml of water for two minutes.

I then added the green tea to the raspberry infusion and let it muddle for another couple of minutes before pouring into my teacup. 

The first thing I noted was the bright pink hue of the tea, it made for a really cheerful cup of tea!

Rachel's raspberry green tea

The flavour was fruity and refreshing, though not particularly sweet. If you prefer a sweeter tea you may want to add a little honey (I taste tested this and it was rather lovely). 

I enjoyed one cup hot and a second cold sometime later - mainly because I got distracted and forgot to enjoy the second cup while it was still hot! However, I am pleased that I also tried it cold as the flavours had intensified and it made a really refreshing beverage (I wish I had discovered it at the beginning of the summer!).

Tea With Me and Friends - raspberry green tea

Again, I haven't got a name for this recipe yet (other than raspberry green tea but that's not very imaginative!), so if you can think of any suggestions we'd love to hear them!

If you try this recipe out at home we'd love to hear what you think. 

Thank you for popping by today,

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Time for Tea.....Manor Farm Tea Room, Seale

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends....we hope you've got your cup of tea and you're ready to see some more scrummy scones!

Last weekend I visited Manor Farm Tea Room in Seale with my lovely friend Alexandra. The tea room is part of craft centre complex, which includes a couple of little shops (including Lyddy-Lou's gift shop and Seale Craft Shop) and is set in the courtyard of former dairy buildings. The village of Seale is situated just south of the A31 Hogs Back in Surrey, with Guildford to the east and Farnham to the west. It's tucked away, but if you are in the area it's well worth a visit.

I believe the tearooms are under new management, the previous owner retiring after running the tearoom for 15 years. It's a pretty tearoom, housed in a building complete with exposed beams and rustic chalk walls.

Manor Farm Tearoom, Seale

As you can see the tearoom is divided into the eating area and an open plan kitchen area - the homemade cakes are displayed along one wall and even the tea looks pretty...

The tea selection - Manor Farm Tearoom

For a small tearoom I was pleased to see a good choice of tea.....and it is loose leaf!

On this visit both Alexandra and I opted to indulge in scones with cream and jam. We could have plain scones or "ones with flies in" as Alexandra calls them! 

I decided a cup of tea was in order, while Alexandra went for coffee (I know!). The service was quick and friendly and the portions good....

Just look at the size of the scones....

I am pleased to report that the scones were fresh and well baked, not at all claggy despite the size of them! The servings of clotted and jam were generous too.

My pot of tea had three cups of tea in it and on this occasion I opted for an English Breakfast blend.

Afternoon tea scones - served the Tea With Me and Friends way!

This little lot cost me £5.00, which I thought was reasonable for the portion size and quality of the food. Alexandra's was slightly more.

All in all this is a great little find - all the staff were friendly and the choice of cake was good - there was something for everyone on their cake table, plus more in a cabinet!

Decisions, decisions!

If you happen to be in the area it's well worth a visit.

Have you visited the Manor Farm Tearoom? We'd love to hear about your experience here.

Thank you for popping by today,

Monday, 14 September 2015

Time for....a Tea Recipe

Hello there,

Happy Monday!

Well I thought we would start this week with a new kind of blog post from Tea With Me and Friends....how about a tea recipe?

Now we all know that tea tastes great and we all have our favourite teas.....but have you ever thought of trying something a little different with your cuppa? I've found that with a couple of extra ingredients and some time (not much I promise) you can create something quite new with your favourite teas.

Creating Tea Recipes at
Tea With Me and Friends

This weekend I decided to try experimenting with a white tea recipe....and I've come up with something you might like to try at home. Now, I haven't named this yet (I'm open to suggestions), but here is what you'll need:

  • White tea of your choice
  • two fresh plums
  • a little vanilla extract (just one or two drops)
  • boiling water 
This makes enough for two cups of tea.

Plum and white tea infusion
Tea With Me and Friends

First off you'll need to slice your plums and add them to a teapot with one or two drops of vanilla extract and 100ml boiling water. You need to leave this to infuse for about 3-4 minutes.

While this is brewing, make your white tea in another teapot (or I used a jug). I used one bag of Dragonfly White Organic Tea, but you can use your favourite white tea. You might remember that we first discovered Dragonfly Tea earlier this year when we tried several different blends.

Let this brew for about three minutes.

Dragonfly Tea - Swirling Mist
Organic White Tea

Next pour your white tea into your plum infusion, give it a stir and leave it to infuse for a couple of minutes (it will be worth the wait I promise!). 

Now your tea is ready to enjoy!

You will end up with a pretty dark amber colour and the tea will smell sweet. The flavour is fruity with a slight vanilla hint. 

It tastes great as a hot beverage, but I also discovered that if you happen to leave this tea (aka forgetting about your cuppa) and come back to it later it tastes great as a cold tea too - very refreshing!

I hope you try this recipe at home - if you do let me know what you think. I'd also love to hear any recipe name suggestions you might have for this....leave us a comment below!

Thank you for popping by today,