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

Monday, 31 March 2014

Tea from England?

Hello there,

I hope you have enjoyed tea month at Tea With Me and Friends, we have certainly enjoyed sharing our new tea knowledge and trying lots of different teas...something we are going to continue doing and sharing!

I thought we would end tea month with a look at some homegrown tea - now if you joined us earlier in the month you will know that tea is traditionally grown in China and India. But did you know that there is tea being grown in England too....on the Tregothnan Estate near Truro, Cornwall to be precise!

Cornish grown tea leaves
Photo from Tregothnan website
The estate has been growing and selling tea locally since about 2000, but it is now appearing in more and more places....including it seems Waitrose! Lorna and I discovered this tea recently when Mum decided to order it with her Mother's Day afternoon tea at Browns Hotel, London.

The estate now grows and blends tea creating a range of different teas and herbal infusions, including the Great British Tea, which we sampled at Browns Hotel. This is a blend of Cornish tea leaves and Assam, which the estate created for 10 Downing Street, to celebrate the government's GREAT initiative which is inviting the world to trade with Britain. The tea when brewed has a wonderful warm colour and a great strong taste, which we think could be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Great British Tea - Tregothnan, Cornwall
Photo from website
The Great British Tea is available in both bags and as a loose leaf tea - 10 sachets costs £4.00 or 25g of leaves costs£5.25. 

If you fancy trying the range for yourself or finding out a bit more about British grown tea, pop by the Tregothnan Estate website.

If you've tried any of the Tregothnan teas we'd love to hear what you thought of them.....

Thanks for popping by today,

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Time for Tea at Brown's - The English Tea Rooms

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. After all the themes, quirks and somethings a little bit different that we've enjoyed lately it was wonderful to enjoy a very traditional afternoon tea in The English Tea Rooms at Brown's in Mayfair to celebrate Mother's Day.

The jubilant mood was set with a glass of champagne (or a non-alcoholic cocktail if you preferred) and we took our time choosing our teas.  Getting in the spirit of Tea Month we opted for three different blends of black tea (optimal for sharing, don't you know!) and were all thrilled to try the Cornish tea which had a lovely depth of flavour and just goes to show that we Brits can do anything when we put our minds to it, even grow tea in our capricious climate!

Afternoon tea - Browns Hotel, Mayfair

The sandwiches were delicate and divine with lots of variety and subtle, well-paired flavours.  They were also bountiful but we piously declined subsequent plates so that we had plenty of room for the delights to follow.

Afternoon tea sandwiches
Browns Hotel

The scones (how do you emphasise the 'o' in text so that Rachel knows I'm pronouncing it correctly?) were petite, warm and simply scrumptious.  There was no shortage of cream and jam although shockingly I did have to request a top up of cream with our second helping of scones!

Scrumptious scones!
Browns Hotel

There was a lovely selection of dainty pastries and fancies atop the cake stand which were just the right size.  My favourite had to be the decadent chocolate tart which was simply to die for but I was somewhat disappointed by the battenburg cake which didn't have the distinctive almond taste I was anticipating.  Never happy to end a paragraph on a low note, I would also add that the lavender cake took me by surprise and was full of aromatic flavour which I was not expecting.

The afternoon tea sweet treats on offer at
 Browns Hotel were quite beautiful!

From the cake trolley (which we sadly never saw) we all enjoyed a slice of lemon drizzle cake which was moist and delicious.

Fresh from the Browns Hotel cake trolley - lemon drizzle cake

All in all we had a wonderful afternoon with fabulous food, superb service (if a tad rushed in the middle) in a splendid setting.  There is very little that could be done to improve this tremendous traditional afternoon tea.

A traditional afternoon tea at Browns costs £41.50 per person, if you would like to indulge in a glass of champagne (who wouldn't!) it will cost £51.50 per person. This is a high end afternoon tea, but the food and drink is of a wonderful quality and is plentiful.

If you would like to know more about the afternoon tea experience at Browns, pop by their website.

Thank you for popping by today,
Square Meal

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Time for Tea - Mother's Day Special.....The Stockwell Arms

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. Today we have a wonderful guest post for you, written by Jess who I met on Twitter. I recently read on her blog about her early Mother's Day celebrations and as this is something we do with our mum every year I asked her to share her experience. Here is Jess' review of The Stockwell Arms.....

In the historical town of Colchester in Essex, sits a recently refurbished Medieval Restaurant and Real Ale Hall called The Stockwell Arms. It's one of Colchester's most historic buildings situated in the Dutch Quarter. Not only does The Stockwell Arms have the most incredible lunch and dinner menus, they also produce a beautiful Afternoon Tea. Which I experienced whilst celebrating Mothers Day early this year, due to my Mother's hectic social life and the fact she couldn't possibly fit us in on Sunday 30th March!

Right, let's get down to the nitty gritty! On the lowest tier of the three tier cake stand, sat a vast selection of Finger sandwiches which were offered on a choice of white and rye bread. The selection included beef with horseradish, salmon, egg with onion and ham with whole grain mustard. My favourite was probably the egg and onion.

Afternoon tea - The Stockwell Arms, Colchester

The second tier contained a medley of impressive looking cakes including a passionfruit cheesecake, an orange cake, an apple and cream horn and a choice of chocolate cake, Victoria sponge and a coffee and walnut cake. For me it was a tough choice between the apple and cream horn and the passionfruit cheesecake, both equally delicious in their own special way!

The Afternoon Tea was finished off with a choice of a plain or a fruit scone offered with an assortment of local Tiptree jams and clotted cream. I've always preferred a plain scone, but the fruit scone was flavoured beautifully.

The choice of tea was incredible. They had everything from a traditional English tea to Chinese flowering teas! I tried the Jasmine fairies tea, which was delicious and my favourite of the herbal teas, the classic peppermint tea. If tea isn't for you there is also the choice of speciality coffees. Best of all the tea was unlimited, meaning you could try every flavour on the menu!

Being a Mother's Day treat and therefore a special occasion we decided to splash out and treat ourselves to a class of Prosecco each.

Its alright, I can discuss the price as my Mum is nosey and looked at the receipt. We spent a little over £60.00. It worked out as £14.00 each for the Afternoon Tea itself and just over £5.00 for a glass of Prosecco each. Great value for money in my opinion.

My only criticism (if you can even call it that!) would be the size of the cakes, scones and finger sandwiches. There was enough food to comfortably feed more than three people. In fact, there was that much food we even took a goody bag home.

All in all The Stockwell Arms really impressed and I would highly recommend it for a Mother's Day treat. For more information take a look at The Stockwell Arms website

Written by Jess Abbott, check out her blog 

Wow - that cake stand looks and sounds very impressive! I don't know about you, but my tummy is rumbling a little after reading that wonderful description!

A big thank you to Jess for sharing her Mother's Day afternoon tea experience with us. If you'd like to appear in a future guest post please get in touch!

Thank you for popping by today,

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Time for Tea......Mother's Day 2014

Hello there,

With Mother's Day less than a week away I thought it would be a nice idea to take a peek at some of the afternoon teas that have been specially created for Mother's Day 2014.

Firstly we have this scrumptious feast from the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington, London......

Mother's Day afternoon tea - Ampersand Hotel
This tea includes classic Victoria sponge, carrot cake and raspberry macaroons and is served in the Drawing Room.

The following scummy looking tea has been created by Andaz hotel on Liverpool Street, London and is served in their 1901 Restaurant......

Mother's Day afternoon tea - Andaz Hotel
This can be served as a traditional afternoon tea, with a cocktail or with a glass of bubbles.

Next we move onto pretty Mother's Day afternoon tea created at the Langham hotel in London.....

Mother's Day afternoon tea - Langham Hotel
This scrummy looking tea includes candy floss, a white chocolate and raspberry done and mini pink and white cookies.

Or how about this wonderful looking afternoon tea created by St Ermins hotel in London....

Mother's Day afternoon tea - St Ermins

This tea features a peanut butter cake, a lemon meringue pie and free flowing Bellini's!

Don't they all look lovely!

We are treating our mum to her annual Mother's Day afternoon tea at The English Tea Rooms in Browns Hotel, London this year. Apparently this was a favourite place for Queen Victoria to indulge in a spot of afternoon tea and we are looking forward to indulging ourselves! Pop back next weekend to see the tea that we've enjoyed!

Don't forget that we'd also love to hear about your afternoon teas - if you are spoiling your mother this weekend tell us all about it!

Thank you for popping by today,

Monday, 24 March 2014

Time for Tea....Hilton London Park Lane

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends! I recently indulged in a themed afternoon tea with a difference....as this one featured rather a lot of chocolate!

I ventured into London with my friend Kirsty to try the Chocoholics afternoon tea at Podium Restaurant located in the London Hilton Park Lane. As well as featuring rather a lot of chocolate, the tea is also themed around Pop Art. It's quite an impressive looking afternoon tea....but is there too much style and not enough substance??

Chocoholics Afternoon Tea
Podium Restaurant, London

Now this tea might look wonderful on its modern cake stand....but as you can see it is a rather large stand!

The tea is served on modern, white china and the cake stand is metal and glass. Unfortunately the stand was put in the middle of Kirsty and I on our small table, which meant that it hampered conversation a bit! We rearranged our table in the end, moving the stand to one side so we could see each other again!

Now this tea starts with the savouries....which you'll be pleased to know do not feature any chocolate at all! There is a selection of five open sandwiches served to each person......

Afternoon tea sandwiches
Podium Restaurant

These were quite big really...not your usual dainty finger sandwiches! The bread however was very fresh and the toppings generous. The selection included prawn cocktail, ham and tomato, cream cheese and cucumber, smoked salmon and egg mayonnaise. My favourite sandwich was probably the prawn cocktail, which was rather tasty....closely followed by the cream cheese and cucumber. Both Kirsty and I agreed that the cream cheese was amazing! While we're discussing the savouries I'd like to draw your eye to the egg mayonnaise sandwich on the far right - I have never seen so much egg mayo piled onto a thin piece of bread! It was tasty, but there was far too much of it. It oozed everywhere as you tried to eat it!

Once we finished with the open sandwiches we moved onto the scones, which were served warm on the bottom of the cake stand.....

Afternoon tea scones - with chocolate chips!

Now these were a good size, not too big and not too small...but we were a bit annoyed about the selection on offer...two were chocolate chip, one was plain and one was fruit! We ate one chocolate chip scone each and shared the plain one between us. The scones were a good texture, but to be honest the main attraction here was the toppings. We had traditional clotted cream and strawberry preserve (which was really lovely in texture and flavour) and then the best bit....there was a pot of the most amazing chocolate spread! Not the norm and Lorna will probably raise her eyebrow when she reads this...but I loved it!

After scones we moved up a tier....onto those attractive fruit and chocolate cupcakes.....

Chocolate and fruit cupcakes
Podium Restaurant

Now as you can see there are four very different cupcakes....and two of us.....and no extras provided.....so Kirsty and I had "that conversation" where we decided what each of us would eat. As tea was served we were told that there were boxes available if we wanted to take anything home with us, so we decided to share two of the cupcakes and take the other two home with us. However, cutting them in half in order to share was quite messy!

We tried the chocolate and blueberry cake (aka the purple one in the photo) and the white chocolate and pineapple cake (aka the one behind the purple one in the photo!). Now, if you have ever baked at home with fruit you'll know that you often end up with a bit of a weird texture to your cake. And I'm afraid that's the case here....there is rather a lot of icing on top of the cake (good if you like icing!) and then a rather soggy cake underneath. We could taste the different flavours, but it didn't make up for the odd texture.

We then moved to the top of the cake stand....which is extremely creative and appealing....this is where a lot more chocolate features.....

Chocoholics afternoon tea
Podium Restaurant

Isn't that appealing? But do you see the slight issue again? 

There is a lot of different items.....but only one of each (and no extras)...so again we needed to have "that conversation"! We decided we would continue in the way we started and cut the items in half - making this a very messy experience!

Among other things on this top tier we had a lemon cheesecake, a chocolate and marmalade cake, sable biscuits and a whoopee pie. Those little chocolate balls you can spy in the glass are edible and really rather scrummy....just a little difficult to liberate from the glass!

Some of the flavours in this tea really worked....we loved the chocolate cake with the marmalade which came in the squeezy tube....but other bits weren't so good....the lemon cheesecake had a odd taste to it and I couldn't tell you what flavour whoopee pie we had.

Chocoholics afternoon tea

This afternoon tea is served throughout the week and weekend and costs £32.50 per person or £40.50 per person if you fancy a glass of bubbles with your afternoon tea. Its a busy restaurant and so was quite noisy when we first arrived, but we soon got used to that. There was also live music provided in the form of a singer with a guitar.

If I am honest I think this afternoon tea looks amazing, but it doesn't all taste that good. It's also a little disappointing that there are so many exciting looking items and only one of each - if you don't like sharing your food you will miss out on items. I also found it a very messy experience, with lots of chocolate cream. I also wish there were less items, but duplicates of them.

On the plus side, the chocolate isn't over powering - more a nice theme running through the feast, and therefore it can probably be enjoyed by chocoholics and non-chocoholics alike!

For more information about the chocoholics afternoon tea, pop by the Podium Restaurant website.

Thank you for popping by today,
Square Meal

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Tried and Tested .....Twinings Tea - Awake

Hello there,

As we are coming to the end of tea month on Tea With Me and Friends I thought it was time that I shared with you another tried and tested tea review.

Recently I was a little disappointed to discover that one of my Twinings teabags had exploded in it's box. When I brought this to Twinings attention I am pleased to report that their customer service response was not only speedy, but also very customer focused. I received a letter from them within days, which also included some vouchers and also some new teabags to try - I was very impressed!

Great customer service from Twinings Tea

I have to say that I was rather intrigued by the attractive bright orange packaging of the Awake teabag and so I decided to give this one a try first. When I read about the tea on the Twinings website I found it is a herbal infusion featuring rooibos, ginger and ginseng making it a caffeine free way to kick start your day.

Just looking at the packet makes me smile!

The tea itself is indeed very refreshing and bright, as it includes a hint of peppermint and cinnamon with the other ingredients. I brewed the tea for a couple of minutes, as recommended by Twinings, and was pleased with the warm appearance of the brew.

A caffeine free way to kick start your day! Twinings Awake

This tea both looked and smelt great, and also tickled the taste buds - a great alternative to my usual cup of strong black tea or coffee first thing in the morning!

I'd like to thank Twinings for sharing with me! Have you tried this unusual infusion - what did you think?

Thank you for popping by today,

Time for Tea....Mill Stream Tearooms

Hello there,

I hope you are having a good day!

Yesterday I had a lovely day pottering, with no real plans I headed to Bourne Mill Antiques which is located a short stroll from my home in Farnham, Surrey. This is a haven for anyone who enjoys browsing lots of different antiques and vintage items - known to me and my friends as "the wonky house", many an hour is lost wandering the corridors of this gem!

Bourne Mill Antiques

While there, you might also like to pay a visit to the Mill Stream Tearooms which is located in the middle of the antiques centre. Here you can enjoy freshly made food and drink, whilst sat amongst some of the antiques. Its a wonderful stop for those a little weary from wandering around the antiques.

Enjoying tea amongst the antiques at Mill Stream Tearooms

Yesterday I decided it was about time I partook in their cream tea, and I'm glad I did. You have the choice of tea or coffee, which is served with two scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam. They have both plain and fruit scones - I opted for the fruit ones.....

Cream Tea - Mill Stream Tearooms, Farnham

Now I think you need a closer look at these scones, as the fruit content was really quite amazing......

Fruit scones - the Tea With Me and Friends way!

The scones were served warm, and were a good size and texture. They were light and fluffy on the inside, and tasted wonderful. There was also a good serving of both cream and jam, enough for both scones. I thoroughly enjoyed this cream tea!

The china is all mismatched, and that small red teapot that I had held a good three or four cups of tea! At £4.50 I think this is excellent value! However, if you fancied something other than scones, I am sure you will find something on the cake table to satisfy your cravings....

The delightful cake table at the Mill Stream Tearooms, Farnham

All in all this was a lovely experience - the tearoom is decorated with fresh flowers and the service is friendly and efficient. Definitely a hidden gem worth a visit if you happen to be in Farnham, Surrey.

For more information about Bourne Mill Antiques or the Mill Stream Tearooms visit their website or their Facebook page!

Thanks for popping by today,

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Tried and Tested.....Williamson Tea - Traditional Afternoon

Hello there,

Welcome back to another tried and tested tea article from Tea With Me and Friends, today we'd like to share with you a lovely Traditional Afternoon tea from Williamson Tea.

Now I first discovered Williamson Tea when wandering the tea aisle in a Supermarket, I was approached by a lady who couldn't reach the tea on the top shelf and she asked if I could reach a box for her. It turned out to be Williamson Tea, which she heartily recommended. The tea was on offer at the time and I thought "why not!", so I bought my first box of Traditional Afternoon tea! I am so pleased that the lady passed on this recommendation, as this is definitely one of my "go to" teas!

Williamson Tea are a family owned business who grow, select and blend their teas in Kenya on four different family owned farms. They tea comes in lovely silver cartons, loose leaf caddies and also fabulous elephant tea caddies.

Traditional Afternoon tea from
Williamson Tea

Their range includes a breakfast tea, an afternoon tea, a green tea, an earl grey and some of their own blends to name a few. My favourite has to be their Traditional Afternoon tea, as its easy to drink with a good flavour. The website calls it a classic afternoon tea, with good body. I love the golden colour that it has.

A nice cup of tea with Tea With Me and Friends!

In regards to cost, the tea bags are £2.49 for 50 bags or you can buy 100g of loose leaf tea for £4.05. You can also buy wonderful elephant tea caddies which start from just under £7 for a medium caddie.

Find out more about the range on the Williamson Tea website.

If you have any teas you think we should try, please get in touch!

Thanks for popping by today,

Monday, 17 March 2014

Time for Tea.....Science Tea at Ampersand Hotel

Hello there,

On Saturday Tea With Me and Friends headed back to the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington to try out their science themed afternoon tea. Pastry Chef Ji sun had mentioned this tea when we visited her earlier this year and we were both keen to try out this imaginative afternoon tea!

If you read about our last visit to The Ampersand in October 2013 you will know that the hotel offers a traditional afternoon tea, a Vegetarian afternoon tea and also a Chef's Special afternoon tea - which always has a wonderful theme. This particular tea is inspired by all things science and features a planet, lots of dinosaurs and a volcano!

On this occasion Lorna and I were joined by our friends Becca and Sheree and most of us decided to indulge in a spot of bubbles to begin our tea! The tea is presented on a three tier cake stand, complete with dry ice (this was Head Chef Chris Goldings fab idea!)

Science afternoon tea
Ampersand Hotel

I tried to get a good photo of the dry ice as it looks brilliant with the science theme, but it was quite tricky....

Dry ice really doesn't photo very well!!

This has to be the most appealing tea that I have set my eyes on this year - its colourful and creative and we all couldn't wait to try out the various sweet items on the top tier! But as we are good afternoon tea goers we started where we are supposed to...at the bottom....

Savoury gourgeres start the afternoon tea experience at
the Ampersand Hotel

The bottom tier contained a selection of filled savoury gougeres (savoury choux pastry puffs to you and me) which included Gloucester old spot ham; Cheese with fruit chutney; smoked salmon, dill and cream cheese and my favourite filling Coronation chicken. The savoury selection are made to order and so when served are really fresh - so soggy bottoms here! It also means that if you don't like any of these fillings, you can also pick from the vegetarian selection of fillings.

Once we had demolished these and been asked if we wanted any more, we moved up a tier and onto the scones.....

afternoon tea scones

The scones are baked fresh each day, and are served with clotted cream and strawberry preserve. There is one plain scone and one white chocolate scone per person, and both are rather scrummy! They are light and fluffy inside with a slight crunch to the outside - perfect!

Finally we made it...we were onto the main attraction.....

Sweet treats at the Science afternoon tea
at the Ampersand Hotel
This plate is amazing - there is something to drink, something to squeeze and of course lots to eat! The colours are bright and eye catching - definitely not your normal afternoon tea! As well as various chocolate dinosaurs there is also a sponge planet with white chocolate and jam filling, a macaroon complete with a pippet filled with jam to squeeze into the middle and my favourite bit......

One word - AMAZING!

This is a beautiful chocolate square of goodness, complete with a volcano (hidden behind the chocolate dinosaur) and also black sesame meringues. It was truly amazing and a delight to eat!

As Lorna commented, the brilliance of this tea is that it really captures your imagination - from the moment you see it with the dry ice swirling around you can't wait to try all the different elements! In fact as we progress through the sweet treats some of the other diners might have wondered what we were doing if they heard the "roars" coming from our table......

Chocolate dinosaurs at The Ampersand Hotel

Yes...we might have even played with our food a little! This afternoon tea is a fine example of the balance between style and substance - everything looked amazing and had us grinning like children in a sweet shop...but also tasted brilliant too.

I think this is probably the best afternoon tea that Pastry Chef Ji Sun has created so far and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. This tea is currently a limited edition tea (as with all the Chef Specials at the hotel) and is only due to run until the 21st March. Fingers crossed we will see it on the menu of the Ampersand again soon though!

Our tea with a glass of bubbles was £44.50 each and I'm pleased to report that we were offered more of everything and our tea was refreshed regularly. If you'd prefer to just enjoy tea from the wonderful selection on offer, the tea will cost £32.50 each.

The next Chef's Special afternoon tea at the hotel is their Mother's Day tea, but there is also a pretty, spring inspired Easter afternoon tea coming soon! For more information about all the teas on offer at The Ampersand hotel pop by their website.

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna
Square Meal

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Tried and Tested Tea - Bishop's Breakfast

Hello there,

Today's tried and tested tea is called Bishop's Breakfast from Char Teas who are based in Winchester. I first discovered this blend of tea when I enjoyed an afternoon tea at The Exclusive Cake Shop and Vintage Tea Room in Midhurst - this was just one of the teas on their extensive menu.

Bishop's Breakfast from Char Teas

Char Teas are loose tea suppliers that have been sourcing and selling teas since 2006, as well as a shop in Winchester they also have an online store where you can pick from over 150 loose leaf teas! If that vast choice sounds a little mind boggling Char have a section of recommended teas and a tea of the month to inspire you!

Right.....back to our tried and tested tea - Bishop's Breakfast is a broken leaf black tea, with a beautiful copper colour when brewed. The teas are from Assam, Ceylon and Sumatra and make a really warming cup of tea, that I think could be enjoyed at any time during the day.

Time for a spot of tea with Tea With Me and Friends!

The flavour is quite spiced, but not at all unpleasant and as you can see from my photo I enjoyed my tea black. I used the recommended one level teaspoon of leaves per cup, and brewed my tea for approximately three minutes. 

 Bishop's Breakfast is currently available from Char tea for under £4 for a 100g silver foil pouch.

Have you tried this tea? We'd love to hear what you thought!

Thanks for popping by today,

Friday, 14 March 2014

Tea Customs...

Hello there,

Carrying on with tea month, I thought today we would have a little look at how tea has been enjoyed over the years since it first became popular. If you have popped by Tea With Me and Friends before you will probably already know about afternoon tea and high tea, but I have discovered a couple of other tea customs.....

Lets start with Tea Gardens - these were public "pleasure gardens" which were designed for drinking tea and strolling, which were very popular in the late 18th century (sounds lovely to me!). These gardens were different to other public gardens are they were used as entertainment venues and would often feature bandstands. One such tea garden I have read about was called Cuper's Gardens, which was situated on the south side of the River Thames in London, overlooking Somerset House. Cuper's Gardens were popular during the 17th-18th centuries, and included an orchestra and often held firework displays. Rapid urban growth led to the closures of lots of tea gardens.

Time for tea with Tea With Me and Friends

Tea dances evolved from the tradition of afternoon tea, where as well as the refreshments we'd expect at an afternoon tea there would also be dancing. People attending tea dances would expect live music from either a small orchestra or a band, and various types of dances were performed including foxtrots, quicksteps and cha chas. Tea dances are still popular today, with various events taking place including Tea Dances at the Royal Opera House.

Can we interest you in some tea and cake?

Apparently the manageress of the Aerated Bread Company is thought to have established the first commercial Tea Shop in around 1864 when she persuaded her superiors to allow her to serve food and beverages in their shop. Tea shops spread in popularity across Britain as a lady could meet friends unchaperoned in a tea shop without sullying her reputation.

Tea breaks came about because workers initially began their working days very early - between 5-6am. Therefore employers allowed a mid morning break for these workers, when tea and food would be served. However, between about 1741 - 1820 some employers tried to put a stop to these breaks, believing that they made their workers lazy!

Have you been to a tea dance recently? Do you still have a morning tea break at your place of work? If you do we'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for popping by today,

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Tried and Tested Tea - Blue Chai

Hello there,

Next in our tried and tested tea series we are sharing with you something that is rather different to our standard cuppa!

A little while ago I was sent a sample of Blue Chai tea from Thailand. I had never heard of this tea before and so I decided to do a little investigating on their website...it turns out that Blue Chai is 100% dried butterfly pea flowers making it a herbal tea which is caffeine free. Even more unusual is the colour of the tea....

Blue Chai herbal tea

...yes it's blue!

To make this herbal tea butterfly pea flowers are harvested during bloom in the early mornings and then dried - no chemicals are used in the process...that blue colour is natural!

To brew the tea I followed the instructions and used approximately 6 flowers, adding boiling water....

Butterfly pea flowers ready to infuse!

I allowed the the infusion to brew for about five minutes, watching as the beverage turned blue before my eyes.......

Although I was a little apprehensive about drinking a blue drink I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted the tea. It had a rich, slightly earthy taste to it - a flavour that was good both hot or cold. The website gives you lots of details about the health benefits of the tea and other flavours that you can combine with Blue Chai.

One interesting fact is that you can further change the colour of this tea...simple by adding a splash of lemon......

Magical colour changing herbal tea!

...yes...now its a purple colour!

If you fancy trying this herbal tea, its currently available via the Blue Chai website, each 40g pouch will cost just under $15. Take a look at the website for more information about shipping.

If you have tried this tea we'd love to hear what you thought!

Thanks for popping by today,

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Time for Tea.....The Chocolate Teapot

Hello there,

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

Yesterday I spent a wonderful afternoon with Claire and some of the Secret Tea Society ladies at The Chocolate Teapot, which is a lovely little tearoom in Esher. Now, if you don't know about the Secret Tea Society and you love a spot of afternoon tea you should really read more about this group of tea-crazy ladies! We meet periodically at afternoon tea events which are organised by our super tea leader Claire - the events take place mainly in Surrey, London and the surrounding areas and our membership is growing quickly! At the events we indulge our sweet tooth in afternoon tea treats, drink copious amounts of tea and have a really good natter! Take a peek at the Secret Tea Society website if you're interested in finding out more!

This tea adventure brought us to Esher in Surrey, for a wonderful afternoon of treats. The Chocolate Teapot is situated just across the road from Esher train station, and is filled with vintage china and wonderful cakes!

The Chocolate Teapot, Esher

There were seven Secret Tea Society Ladies in attendance at this afternoon tea, and we sat around one long table in the window. As we waited for everyone to arrive we looked at the tea menu, which was short but sweet. The majority of us opted for English breakfast tea, which was served in beautiful china....

The sandwiches were presented first, brought out to us on pretty glass platters. Now these were a little controversial as you will see.....

Afternoon tea sandwiches - Chocolate Teapot style

Yes....they are cut into triangles rather than dainty finger sandwiches! Now the purists amongst us might be gasping right now (I can imagine Lorna's expression!)....but let me reassure you...there was not a crust in sight and the bread was nice and fresh. The fillings were very varied and tasty and included salmon, ham, cheese and tomato, tuna and prawns - a lovely selection! I therefore think we can forgive the little triangles!

Once we had eaten rather a lot of the scrummy sandwiches our plates were swapped for clean ones and out came the scones with cream and jam, served on pretty cake stands....

The cutest scones I have ever seen!

Now, I don't know if you can see this in the photo...but these little beauties are bite sized! They are possibly the cutest (and smallest) scones I have ever seen! The small size didn't compromise the scones however, which were light and fluffy on the inside and had a lovely crunch to them. They were served with a tangy berry jam and of course clotted cream. I probably could have eaten that whole platter to myself!

Once we had enjoyed our scones the final cake stand was brought out to us....and this was definitely worth waiting for.....

Can I interest anyone in cake?

We were presented with glass cake stands full of bite sized sweet treats! The selection was quite amazing really, with something for everyone! Included on the stand was carrot cake, coffee cake, two types of lemon cake, jam tarts, battenburg and vanilla cupcakes to name just a few of the cakes!

Shall we take a closer look....

A Chocolate teapot served at the Chocolate Teapot!

Everything was fresh and tasted wonderful! It was very hard to pick a favourite! It was a delightful end to our feast.

Overall service at the Chocolate Teapot was wonderful and very attentive - our tea was replenished regularly without the need to ask and we were given lots of clean plates and cutlery as required. The interior of the tearoom was really pretty, with lots of cakes and pretty vintage china on show....

I had a wonderful afternoon here and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good afternoon tea with a vintage feel. Here I am enjoying a cup of tea with the other Secret Tea Society ladies......

Tea With Me and Friends in good company with
the Secret Tea Society!
I know at this point I normally share with you the cost of the tea, but I have a confession to make! I know that we enjoyed a bespoke afternoon tea today, but I am not sure how much the usual menu costs! I have had a look around the Internet and I think the approximate price of an afternoon tea per head is under £10 - which is great value!

For more information about the Chocolate Teapot pop by their Facebook page.

Thanks for popping by today,