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

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Time for Tea....a trip down memory lane

Hello there,

All this talk about themed afternoon teas on the Tea With Me and Friends blog has made me think about the afternoon tea that we took our mum to on Mothering Sunday this year. As some of you will know, our obsession with afternoon tea all began with us taking Mum to The Savoy for afternoon tea on Mothers Day several years ago. This tradition has continued and we have taken mum to lots of different hotels for this annual treat - usually they are all very traditional.

This year however we decided to take mum to a slightly different afternoon tea....we took her to the Mad Hatters afternoon tea at The Sanderson in London. Now you may have already seen photos of this afternoon tea, it is a very popular tea to indulge in and photograph...if you have seen any photos you'll know its not exactly traditional.....

Mad Hatter Afternoon Tea - photo from the Sanderson website

The Mad Hatter afternoon tea is beautifully presented, it's very colourful and creative. We enjoyed the way the menu and sugar cubes were presented on the table, in fact the whole tea was styled rather well.

One lump or two?
The various fruity teas on offer to accompany our Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea were presented to us in small glass bottles - allowing us to see and smell the tea before picking our favourites to sample. Again, this was a nice touch - although as mum discovered those little bottles are very easy to knock over!
A novel way to present tea leaves!
The Sanderson website says that this tea will evolve and the flavours will change seasonally, and so please remember this is a trip down memory lane....this is what we enjoyed in March 2013.
Once we'd make our tea selections we started on the savoury plate...which on first sight was as far from traditional finger sandwiches as you could get!

Afternoon tea savoury selection
 The fillings however were fairly traditional with smoked salmon, cucumber and egg mayonnaise all featuring. The main difference was the fact that the sandwiches were rolled and they had different breads including a dark rye and a spinach bread. We also had a mini quiche of the day, which in our case was mushroom.
If I am honest I didn't really like the rolled sandwiches, they look interesting - but they were rather large and the texture was quite squidgy (never a good thing when it comes to sandwiches!).
We then moved onto the scones, as well as traditional sweet scones there were also savoury scones which were served with garlic and herb butter. The herb butter was very off putting however, and left a very distinctive flavour in your mouth - not the best mid-tea experience.
Finally we made it to the weird and wonderful selection of sweet treats...and there was plenty of choice....

The top tier of the afternoon tea stand - toadstool anyone?
 On the top tier we had carrot meringues served on a bed of pea shoots, along with some homemade strawberry and cream marshmallows (in the shape of toadstools).

A riot of colour - the Mad Hatter afternoon tea sweet treats!
We also had "tick tock" cakes, which were Victoria sponge cakes in disguise, green tea and white chocolate mousse served in a chocolate cup and melting mango cheesecake.
There were an awful lot of different flavours and textures going on during this afternoon tea....and it makes me think that maybe it is a little too creative. The traditional Victoria sponge cake wasn't the best that I've sampled and I think this might have been a case of style over substance....but this is just my humble opinion. Saying that I did enjoy the melting mango cheesecake, which was wrapped in patterned white chocolate and the homemade marshmallow was very good.

At this point we still had two more treats ahead of us....as Lorna is demonstrating below we each had a "Drink Me" potion to enjoy......

Plus there is the "Jelly Wonderland" to be explored...this is a cake stand full of fruit jellies that you can help yourself too.

The Mad Hatter afternoon tea is served daily between 12:30pm - 5:30pm and will cost you £38 each for a standard tea or £48 each for a champagne afternoon tea - making this afternoon tea a bit of a treat.

We all thought that this tea and the style of the experience was quite impressive, but unfortunately some of the items left us a bit cold. We also didn't have the best service on the day we visited, but I don't want to dwell on that too much. If you are looking for a completely different afternoon tea experience, then this will probably satisfy - you definitely will not find these sweet treats anywhere else!

Have you tried this afternoon tea? What did you think? Leave us a comment below...we'd love to hear your thoughts too.

Have you voted in our poll yet - we want to know what you think about themed afternoon teas...do you love them or are they not your cup of tea? Vote now before the poll closes!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Themed afternoon teas

Hello there!

Recently we posted an article on Tea With Me and Friends about themed afternoon teas and what Lorna and I generally thought of them - as we discussed as long as the style and substance is equally balanced then we are quite happy with a themed afternoon tea. After all.... we have hosted several themed teas ourselves!

A Halloween themed afternoon tea created by Lorna and I
Currently on our blog poll, everyone who has voted has said that they enjoy themed afternoon teas too and feedback on our Facebook page has been positive too! So we thought we would take a peek at some of the lovely Christmas themed afternoon teas that you could be enjoying in the next couple of months.

There are so many different Christmas themed afternoon teas on offer this year....here are just a selection of some of the ones that have been making us drool....

A festive treat at the Intercontinental Westminster

The Twelve Days of Christmas afternoon tea at The Intercontinental Park Lane
The Corinthia is offering this pretty tea - isn't that snowman cute?
I love the cute little gingerbread houses on offer at The Langham
Fancy a little mulled wine with your afternoon tea? Rubens at the Palace might have just the afternoon tea for you!
Chris Golding also sent me a sneak preview of the festive afternoon tea on offer at The Ampersand this year...
 I don't know about you....I'm feeling more than a little festive now (and I'm drooling a little!). If you enjoy a festive afternoon tea this year we'd love to hear from you - leave a message for us here or visit us on Twitter or Facebook.
Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Tea for Tea.....in the 1950s!

Hello there!

I hope you are keeping well today. Firstly I am sorry for all the photos in this post....I couldn't help myself!

This weekend Lorna, Becca and I did a little time travelling as we joined Rhythm Riot in Pontins Camber Sands for their action packed 1950s weekend! There was plenty of 1950s fashion, music, dancing and cars....all in the wonderful settings of Pontins. Lorna and I got into the swing of things with our new 1950s clothes....

1950s day wear!
But we also found time for a spot of tea and cakes. If you know the area, you'll know that the little town of Camber sits about 15 minutes away from the beautiful town of Rye....and it was to Rye we headed to (on a 1950s bus!) find some sweet treats!

On Saturday we visited Simon the Piemans....
We found this fab tearoom behind the main high street and were enticed in by the amazing window full of sweet treats and the inviting fire.....
Who wouldn't want to stop here for some tea and cake??

We were pleased to get a nice spot by the fire!
 Simon the Piemans didn't offer a full afternoon tea, I could have enjoyed scones and tea...but on this occasion I fancied something a little more substantial and so we all opted for savoury items followed by some cake. To start I ordered the egg sandwiches (good old fashioned sliced, boiled eggs with mayonnaise if requested) on brown bread, with a pot of tea.
Tea and egg sandwiches
The sandwiches were freshly made to order, the bread was fresh and filling plentiful. I'm glad they asked me about the mayonnaise though...it would have been a little dry without it! Meanwhile Lorna had opted for something a little different....

A large pork pie and salad. Lorna reported that the pork pie was very tasty, with the right amount of jelly!
We then moved onto the sweet items....and the menu keep us occupied for some time as there was a lot to pick from! In the end I decided to sample my first mince pie of 2013......

Warm mince pie and whipped cream - scrummy!
I was not disappointed with my choice....the pie was warm and served with whipped cream. The mincemeat was tasty and the pastry just the right thickness. All in all this was a rather scrummy mince pie!
Becca went for a piece of the scrummy looking chocolate and walnut brownie....

Becca let me try a piece of her brownie and I am pleased she did....it was rich, chocolately and full of walnuts. A very nice end to our lunchtime!
Unfortunately the service isn't the fastest, but the food was good and the tearoom itself is lovely - the open fire really makes the space. If you're in the area and fancy a piece of cake, its definitely worth a visit!
 The next day we headed back to Rye to sample the delights of The Cobbles Tea Room...again this is tucked off the main high street in Rye....but once you've found it you'll definitely visit again! Lorna and I had actually visited this tea room last year and so we knew some of the treats that lay behind the cute signage....

Afternoon Tea at The Cobbles Tearoom
First off we needed to order some drinks.....and Becca took our advice, ordering the Cobbles Special hot chocolate.....
Hot chocolate anyone?
Served in a teacup, this hot chocolate is rich and creamy, topped with marshmallows and then piled high with cream! Its a meal in itself and a must for all hot chocolate lovers. Lorna and I opted for a pot of tea.....
Time for tea?
 There was a good selection of black and green teas to pick from, and if you liked a particular tea you could also buy leaves to take home with you. This tea however, was to accompany the afternoon tea for one that I decided I needed to sample....

Afternoon tea for one....
 The tea consists of a pot of the house tea, sandwiches (picked from a list of fillings), a warm scone with cream and jam and a generous slice of cake (again picked from the selection on offer that day).
I was a little disappointed that I couldn't have the egg mayonnaise that I had ordered(there was only enough for one person and so I let Lorna enjoy the egg), instead I opted for tuna mayonnaise. However, the sandwiches were fresh and tasty. 
The scone was the highlight of this tea...not only was it served warmed....it was also homemade and extremely tasty. We enjoyed having a pot of cream and jam to ourselves, and piled our scones high!
There was several different cakes on offer...I opted for a lemon drizzle cake and Lorna went for the coffee and walnut. Both slices were large and tasty (although mine had a little too much drizzle on the top for my taste).
 We really enjoyed our experience at The Cobbles Tearoom, which is over 50 years old. The service was friendly and quick and the food was homemade. If you are visiting Rye, you should pop by!

Lorna and I enjoying our tea!
All in all we had a lovely tea-fuelled 1950s weekend.
Matching car and outfit...what more could a girl want?
I even picked out my next car!!
If you have an interest in the 1950s, then the Rhythm Riot weekend might be just the thing for you...take a peek at their website for more information!
Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Time for Tea....Bea's of Bloomsbury, St Pauls

Hello there,

Happy Saturday! We hope you are well today and maybe have some afternoon tea plans this weekend!

One of our lovely friends recently visited Bea's of Bloomsbury in St Pauls for afternoon tea. St Pauls is one of four locations where Bea's of Bloomsbury currently serves hungry Londoners tea, coffee and most importantly cake! With quirky surroundings, great food and special events we've always fancied sampling the delights that Beas has to offer so we were eager to hear about Sophie's experience.

Here is what Sophie had to say.....

Bea's of Bloomsbury is a coffee shop just near St Pauls Cathedral that offers a good value, casual, no frills afternoon tea, featuring its popular cupcakes and mini brownies. We loved the vintage setting, d├ęcor and quirky teapot lights hanging from the ceiling.
Quirky teapot lights surround you at Beas of Bloomsbury St Pauls
There was a selection of teas to choose from, followed by a platter of mini baguettes and then a two tire selection of cakes. There was two of everything - scones, selection of mini brownies, cupcakes, fruity marshmallows, cake bites, macaroons and chocolate meringues.
Sophie's afternoon tea - lots of sweet treats!
The cakes were lovely and we enjoyed the variety although this was not a dainty afternoon tea - everything was quite big and despite going there for lunch we got full very quickly. Bea's happily provided us with little boxes to take our leftover cakes home.
Unfortunately Bea's has not quite perfected the niceties of attentive service that we expected from an afternoon tea experience, we found it more coffee shop than afternoon tea experience. However, it is the perfect place to enjoy a good catch up over a cuppa and plenty of cakes in a quirky environment. They also offer lots of themed events and movie nights - details can be found on their website

A great selection of cakes and sweet treats!
 I think Sophie's experience demonstrates again that afternoon tea isn't just about the food and drink you indulge in, or the surroundings you enjoy your afternoon tea in. Of course great company is an important factor....but the service you receive is also part of that afternoon tea experience.

Don't those cakes look amazing though....and such a great selection to tempt your taste buds! Here is another photo from the Bea's of Bloomsbury website which will leave you drooling....
Quirky afternoon tea!
At £19.00 a head for the full afternoon tea and £26.50 each if you fancy a glass of Moet & Chandon champagne, Bea's offers a great value afternoon tea that I think Tea With Me and Friends will need to sample soon!

Thank you to Sophie and Rosie for sharing their experience with us!

Have you enjoyed afternoon tea at one of the Bea's of Bloomsbury cafes? We'd love to hear from you if you have - just leave us a comment below!
Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna
Square Meal

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Time for Tea...The Aviator

Hello there,

I hope you are keeping well.

This weekend I have indulged in a spot of afternoon tea with my friend Alex, we decided to go back to The Aviator hotel in Farnborough where Alex had taken me for a Birthday afternoon tea before. The hotel is privately owned by the TAG Group and overlooks the private airport which is also owned by TAG. Its a contemporary hotel, designed for elite travellers.

We both previously really enjoyed our afternoon tea at the Aviator and were keen to go back....unfortunately our experience this time wasn't quite as good. The presentation of the food was good, and the food itself looked and tasted wonderful....but the service was slightly lacking.

Afternoon tea is served in the Brasserie in the hotel, which is a modern space overlooking the airfield. The afternoon tea food is served on a modern glass cake stand, with plain white china.

A modern afternoon tea is served
When we first arrived, there was a Clipper Tea tea box on the table, full of individual tea bags for us to pick from. This is slightly different to the afternoon teas I have experienced before, where you pick a tea from a menu and it is presented to you in a tea pot. However, there was a good selection of Clipper teas to pick from including traditional teas, fruit teas and de-caf varieties.
The tea selection - I missed the usual tea menu
I have to say that I'm a bit of a stickler for tradition and although I have no problem with pouring my own tea, I think its a bit weird to be making your own tea. You are left with the tea box and a teapot full of hot water (which was refreshed when we requested), however each time we finished our cup of tea we needed to make a new one. It did feel a little wasteful too as you opened a new teabag for each cup you had.
Once we had our hot water the savoury selection was presented to us. We had warm scotch eggs made with quail eggs, which were really tasty. However, Alex's one was slightly runnier than mine.
The sandwiches underneath were all crustless and really fresh.

Sandwiches and warm savoury eggs
I was a little disappointed that the lady who brought these to our table didn't know what was in each sandwich. She pointed out the obvious ones (egg mayonnaise and salmon), but had to go back to the kitchen to find out what the others were (chicken mayonnaise and feta cheese). Each filling came on a different bread, which was lovely as the breads complimented the fillings.
We were not offered seconds of the savouries, however when I requested more egg sandwiches another plate was brought out to us.
We then turned our attention to the scones....

Scones, clotted cream and jam
We had one fruit scone each, clotted cream and a little pot of branded strawberry jam between us. The scones were a good size, but I found them a little heavy.
Finally we made it to the bit that Alex was looking forward to the most....the sweet treats...
Time for something sweet....
 On the top tier we had three different sweets...
A passion fruit and meringue cup which was wonderful, an earl grey and peach mousse which we loved and a little sandwich cake which was filled with a basil cream. I wasn't so keen on that cake, the texture was a little too soft and I wasn't a fan of the flavour.
The earl grey and peach mousse however was pretty amazing, it dissolved on the tongue and had a lovely flavour.

On the second tier we had an orange and liquorice macaroon and a chocolate and hazelnut cake.
I wasn't a fan of the macaroon, mainly because of the liquorice flavour. However, Alex who also doesn't like liquorice loved the macaroon - so it was just a matter of taste buds I think.

My favourite part of the whole afternoon tea was the chocolate and hazelnut slice, which reminded me of a Ferrero Rocher. It was delicate and light and had a slight biscuit base - I could have eaten a lot more of them!

So good it deserved its own photo!
 You can either have a traditional afternoon tea or a champagne tea, and the price will depend on whether you go during the week or on the weekend.
The traditional afternoon tea costs £19 during the week or £23 on the weekend. If you fancy a glass of bubbles the champagne afternoon tea costs £25 during the week and £29 on the weekend. I'm not entirely sure why it costs more on the weekend, but I think the price offers good value. The food is all fresh and very tasty.
There were lots of little issues with the service on Saturday and unfortunately this let our experience down. Not knowing the sandwich fillings and not offering us milk for our tea (we actually had to ask for milk!) were important things that let the hotel down. It was a shame really as I enjoyed the food we had.
However, I'll leave you with one last image.....

Yes....I actually left some of my scone! I don't think I have ever done that at afternoon tea before!
Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna
Square Meal

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Our Wish List

Hello there! Hope you're having a tea-rrific day!

Soooo....there are so many wonderful afternoon teas out there to be sampled and although Lorna and I have sampled a lot of afternoon teas already there are still a lot on our wish list.

Here we would like to share with you some of the afternoon teas that we hope to sample one day.....may we present our Tea With Me and Friends Wish List:

Served in quirky surroundings on wonderfully different china, this afternoon tea looks and sounds amazing! I have some friends visiting Sketch in November and I am very jealous!
This tea is served on fine china in the newly refurbished Diamond Jubilee Tea Saloon, which was opened by HM Queen on 1st March 2012....if its good enough for Royalty it must be good enough for us!
Served on their iconic striped china, this tea looks so elegant!
Elegant surroundings...fine china...do we need to say more? The Dorchester looks like the perfect place to spend a lovely afternoon nattering with friends and enjoying afternoon tea!
For something a little bit different we'd love to try the W Rock Tea - a traditional afternoon tea with a rock n roll twist looks fab! We just love that record cake stand!
The Lanesborough has won the UK Tea Council Award of Excellence in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012....with that many awards we think we definitely need to sample their afternoon tea!
The Langham offers several different afternoon teas in elegant surroundings....and with names like Bijoux and Wonderland we really think we should give them a try!
Compiling this list has been a bit of a challenge as there are so many wonderful sounding afternoon teas available. If you have sampled any of these afternoon teas please leave us a comment and tell us about your experience! We'd love to hear what you thought.
Also please get in touch if you think of another afternoon tea that we should include on our wish list....do you have a favourite place that we haven't thought of or discovered??
Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna