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

Saturday, 31 May 2014

June is Dietary Requirment Month!

Hello there,

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

The more people we meet on social media and the more we learn about afternoon tea and its current popularity in the UK, the more we have realised that there are many different dietary requirements that need to be catered for by hotels and tearooms providing afternoon tea.

Gluten free afternoon tea treats
St James Hotel (photo from website)

Whether it be gluten free, dairy free, nut free, vegetarian or lactose free (to name a few) in June we will be exploring the various different afternoon teas that are on offer that cater for a variety of different dietary requirements. As you may be aware Lorna and I have no real dietary requirements ourselves and therefore we will be joined by lots of our friends who have sampled the various teas on offer.

We want to hear about the good, the bad and the ugly....does an afternoon tea that caters for specific dietary requirements taste as good as a standard tea? What makes it different? What do the pastry chefs need to consider?

If you have a dietary requirement and have enjoyed a specially designed afternoon tea please get in touch, we'd love you hear about your afternoon tea adventures!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel and Lorna

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Time for Tea.....The Ampersand Chelsea Flower Show Tea

Hello there,

Welcome back to another brilliant guest post here at Tea With Me and Friends - this time we are joined by Jude and her husband who recently visited The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington. As regular visitors to the blog will know, this is a favourite spot of mine for afternoon tea and I am always keen to hear about the amazing new teas that Pastry Chef Ji Sun Shin creates!

 Jude visited The Drawing Room at the hotel for their rather special Chelsea Flower Show inspired afternoon tea. Now I know this tea is no longer available, but I wanted to share with you how beautiful it looked....

Afternoon tea at The Ampersand Hotel

The tea followed the usual format of a selection of savoury gougeres followed by white chocolate scones, which Jude found just as scrummy as me! But it was that top layer where it all got very creative and floral.....

Chelsea Flower Show Afternoon Tea
Ampersand Hotel

Let's take a closer look at those sweet treats....

Afternoon tea at The Ampersand Hotel

In addition to the wonderful food on offer, Jude also commented on the surroundings of The Drawing Room at The Ampersand - particularly the comfy seats and relaxed ambiance of the lounge. All in all a wonderful experience!

You may have missed the highly creative Chelsea Flower Show afternoon tea....but fear not as Chef Ji Sun has some more wonderful afternoon teas up her sleeve over the coming months! As well as the traditional afternoon tea and vegetarian variety which are always on offer, the amazing science tea is making another appearance between 26th May and 20th June. 

This has been one of my favourite afternoon teas at the hotel and features pastries including Hazelnut, walnut and chocolate cake with mango mousse volcano and chocolate dinosaur, Pistachio macaroon with cherry sauce pipette, Raspberry cake planet and a Citrus cocktail......

Science tea - Ampersand Hotel
Photo from website

Then between the 21st June and the 6th July you can experience the Wimbledon inspired Afternoon Tea.....

Wimbledon tea - Ampersand Hotel
Photo from website

Doesn't that look amazing? 

The pastries are all Wimbledon inspired and include Coconut mousse and mango passion fruit jelly tennis ball on a lime sponge tennis court, Ginger bread tennis racket, Strawberry and cream tart, Blueberry white chocolate ganache macaroon and a Pimm's cocktail shot.

These special chef's afternoon teas are available at £32.50 per person (a little more if you would like a glass of bubbles too), for more information pop by the hotel website.

A big thank you to Jude for sharing her latest afternoon tea adventure with us!

Thank you for popping by today,

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Time for Tea....The Rubens at The Palace

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends - this week we have a lovely guest post for you written by Hazel from Cupcake Daisy who recently visited The Rubens at The Palace in London for a spot of tea. Hazel creates and bakes amazing cakes herself and I was keen to hear what she thought about this afternoon tea....

The Rubens at The Palace offers a lovely traditional setting for afternoon tea with really friendly, professional staff. The afternoon tea offers diners a mix of both traditional and modern flavours. 

For example, whilst the sandwich fillings were traditional with cucumber and cream cheese, ham and mustard, Smoked Salmon and chicken, the scones we enjoyed had a slight twist as they are flavoured with ginger and honey. 

Afternoon tea - The Rubens at The Palace

In addition to the flavoured scones we also enjoyed plain ones, all served with Lemon Curd, Strawberry Jam & clotted cream. 

Afternoon tea sweet treats - The Rubens at The Palace

The desert tray was a modern twist on traditional deserts, which looked wonderful. However, some of the deserts were slightly lacking in flavour which was a little disappointing - it did not however detract from the wonderful experience that we enjoyed.

A glass of bubbles with your afternoon tea!

As it was Afternoon Tea week we were offered a complimentary glass of champagne and as a bonus at the end of the tea we were also offered the chance to peruse the new 350 square metres of Living Wall, which has been designed to provide waves of blossoming plants throughout the year. This was accompanied by another complimentary glass of champagne.

Although some of the flavours were a little disappointing we had a wonderful time and would definitely go back and enjoy this afternoon tea experience again.

It sounds like Hazel had a wonderful afternoon tea at The Rubens at The Palace. Tea is served between 2pm - 4:30pm during the week and between 1pm-5pm on the weekends. Pastry chef, Danielle Maupertuis, has created this very special Living Wall afternoon tea, which features some of their homegrown flowers! For more information about this unique afternoon tea visit their website.

I'd like to thank Hazel for sharing her wonderful afternoon tea adventure with us, this is one I would definitely like to try for myself. If you have experienced an afternoon tea that you would like to share with us please get in touch.

Thank you for popping by today,

Square Meal

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Afternoon Tea News......Mandarin Oriental London Launches Tea!

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. Today we have some tea-riffic news to share with you from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge as they launch their first afternoon tea in their new tea salon The Rosebery.

Afternoon Tea at The Rosebery
Mandarin Oriental

I bet you are wondering why I am so excited about this particular afternoon tea - well as well as being served in a beautiful tea inspired space (look at those green chairs and amber cushions!) the Mandarin Oriental also has their own Tea Master looking after the tea selections and brewing the perfect cup of tea for each guest.

Mandarin Oriental Tea Master at work
I had the pleasure of meeting the Tea Master this week and he talked me through the tea menu already on offer and the importance of perfect brewing in order to avoid bitter tea. I was also told about the exclusive blends on offer that have been created by The Rosebery in conjunction with the East India Company.

You can enjoy afternoon tea in The Rosebery every afternoon between 1pm - 5:30pm, after that the salon offers a selection of cocktails, Sake and Champagne until 11pm.

The Rosebery tea salon
Mandarin Oriental

The introduction of The Rosebery at the hotel is in fact a return to the early 1920s when the room was a stylish tea room frequented by Lord Rosebery, the British Prime Minister. The decor reflects the room's Victorian past, with a wonderful contemporary finish. A beautiful, light and airy space to enjoy a spot of tea in!

Unfortunately on this occasion I was too early to indulge in a spot of afternoon tea, but I will definitely be returning to sample the delights on their menu - to see what is included in the tea and for more information please visit the Mandarin Oriental website.

Thank you for popping by today,

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Did you know....it's British Sandwich Week 2014!

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends! Did you know that this week is British Sandwich Week? Nope, nor did we!

Afternoon tea sandwiches

The initiative of the British Sandwich Association - British Sandwich Week runs from the 11th - 17th May 2014 and is the perfect time to celebrate that wonderful food item the sandwich! The British Sandwich Association wants to highlight some of the positive attributes of sandwiches and remind us all of the importance of taking a lunch break during the day.

Celebrate British Sandwich Week 2014!

As some of you know, both Lorna and I originally enjoyed afternoon teas for the sweet treats - the sandwiches were the boring bit that we had to eat in order to get to the sweets! But the more afternoon teas we indulge in, the more we are enjoying other parts of the afternoon tea experience - particularly the sandwiches. The humble sandwich can appear in so many different ways at an afternoon tea, with such varied and wonderful fillings. It's always a delight to see what kind of sandwiches will be served.

Afternoon tea sandwiches

Our interest has peaked so much that earlier this year on Tea With Me and Friends we took a closer look at afternoon tea sandwich, and even held a poll to see which filling our readers preferred (in case you were wondering it was my favourite egg mayonnaise!).

Afternoon tea sandwiches
British Sandwich Week 2014

So whether you like yours cut into fingers or triangles, with or without the crusts (how shocking!) I think we should all make sure we enjoy a good sandwich this week!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel and Lorna

Monday, 12 May 2014

Time for Tea.....1920s style at Byfleet Manor

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends - this time we have a very special afternoon tea adventure to share with you.

If you have visited our blog before you will probably remember hearing about The Secret Tea Society which both Lorna and I are members of. Its a group of like minded ladies who meet at tea events across London and Surrey to indulge in our afternoon tea passion and have a good natter. I have been a member for a while now and have been to several events, I have to say that it's a wonderful group to belong to. Our tea leader Claire is wonderful and arranges the most amazing tea events for us.....and the other ladies are all so friendly and welcoming. To read more about The Secret Tea Society or to join us visit the website!

This particular tea affair was rather special as we were gathering together to celebrate the first Birthday of The Secret Tea Society....and what a wonderful experience it was. Claire arranged a 1920s afternoon tea party at Byfleet Manor in Surrey for us. Now if you are a fan of Downton Abbey you may just recognise the inside of Byfleet Manor, as it currently features in the TV programme as Dowager Violet's House.

The beautiful Byfleet Manor

Byfleet Manor is beautiful both inside and out, with extensive gardens. With the perfect theme and setting, the guests needed to look the part too dressing in 1920s style attire.....

Some of the gorgeous Secret Tea Society ladies
enjoying tea at Byfleet Manor

As it was a Birthday celebration each Tea Society member at the event received a gift - a beautifully decorated biscuit by Clare's Cakes and some wonderful loose leaf tea. Thank you Claire for such a thoughtful gift (I still haven't eaten the biscuit - its far too pretty!)......

Then the feast began....we were served tea in pretty vintage teacups and ate the daintiest sandwiches and pastries on vintage china. Here is the cake stand that was presented to the table.....

Afternoon tea at Byfleet Manor

Let's start with a closer look at those wonderful sandwiches.....

Dainty afternoon tea sandwiches

We enjoyed a wonderful traditional selection of afternoon tea sandwiches including cucumber, chicken, my favourite egg mayonnaise and salmon - served on both brown and white bread. The sandwiches were delightful - very fresh and tasty and no crusts in sight!

The scones were served on a glass cake stand, dusted with icing sugar and accompanied by fresh strawberries.....

Fresh scones - Byfleet Manor

We had one large scone each, which was generously fruited and served with clotted cream and strawberry preserve. I enjoyed my scone very much - it was light and fluffy.

Moving back to the main cake stand we have a layer of pastries and cakes to enjoy....

Fresh fruit pastries - Byfleet Manor

The cakes with the blackberries on top were circles of light vanilla sponge sandwiched together with scrummy lemon curd (a personal favourite!). The treats with the raspberries on top were pastry filled with cream and preserve - also very nice.

At this point we may have been getting full, but we still had the top layer of the cake stand to enjoy.....

Sweet treats - Byfleet Manor

This layer included a wonderful selection of sweet treats, including mini toffee tarts, fruit tarts and mini pieces of chocolate brownie - all perfectly sized to be enjoyed by ladies!

Finally, we each had a mini strawberry trifle - served in a little shot glass....

The trifle was light and refreshing, and I thought it was a lovely addition to afternoon tea.

As I mentioned earlier I thoroughly enjoyed the vanilla sponge with lemon curd, which not only tasted wonderful but was also beautifully presented.....

I really enjoyed all the food which was served at this afternoon tea - it was all fresh and both looked and tasted wonderful. 

We finished the afternoon with an awards ceremony - celebrating our favourite venues and also some special members of the Secret Tea Society. The certificate below belongs to the lovely Monique Lowe from Toasted Glass (amazing hand painted glassware) who has rather impressively only missed one of the tea events since the beginning of the Secret Tea Society!

Award time - Secret Tea Society

The whole experience was so enjoyable and totally unique! Byfleet Manor is a beautiful venue, styled authentically and Julie the owner is a wonderful hostess.

Byfleet Manor is a private residence which periodically offers events to the public - the next being a 1920s Murder Mystery Afternoon Tea. For more information pop by their website.

A big thank you to Clarie for arranging this afternoon tea - I am looking forward to the next one!

Thank you for popping by today,

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Time for Tea...The Kensington Hotel

Hello there,

Welcome back to another lovely afternoon tea guest blog at Tea With Me and Friends - this time we are joined again by Sheree who has recently visited The Kensington Hotel in London.....

So hubby took me to afternoon tea at The Kensington Hotel for my birthday treat (before taking me to see Gary Barlow at The Royal Albert Hall). I was really excited for this day! Tea is served in the Regency-style drawing room with period features, magnificent bay windows, chandeliers and fireplaces. I can imagine it being cosy in the winter months.

There is a small choice of teas, which made it simple for us. We chose the English breakfast and chamomile flower teas. 

The treats arrived on two two-tiered cake stands and I was excited to see some perfectly sized and filled finger sandwiches, some large scones and some of my favourite sweet treats. The traditional sandwiches included cream cheese, chive and cucumber; honey roast ham; egg mayonnaise and cress; and, smoked salmon and lemon crème fraîche. Upon request, my salmon sandwich was replaced with an extra ham sandwich, no problem. 

Finger sandwiches and scones
Afternoon tea at The Kensington Hotel

We had a choice of fruit and raisin scones, so opted for both and, although we only received one of each, they were large and plump with a lovely glaze. I have to say that I'm not usually a big fan of scones, but these were perfectly baked and warm and soft inside. I would've eaten a whole one if it wasn't for the treats that lay before me! The scones came with clotted cream and strawberry preserve but, given the size of the scones, we had to request more for decent scone coverage. 

Sweet treats at The Kensington Hotel

The cakes include a Victoria sponge (my favourite) and carrot cake as standard, which were both light and delicious, and the menu also stated a 'selection of cakes and pastries'. That day they had a fruit tartlet, almond finger and mini fruit trifle on offer. Much to my hubby's dismay there was only one each of the tartlet and trifle and for fear of having to ask that awkward question, "which one do you want?" and knowing I have a penchant for fruity things, so he didn't stand a chance, especially as it was my birthday, hubby asked if we could have an extra one of each and his wish was granted. The tartlets were lovely, each with a different fruit topping and a light custard filling, while the rhubarb trifle was sweet and refreshing. As it was my birthday I was also presented with a special cupcake on a decorated plate - a vanilla sponge with a light coffee butter cream icing. This was a lovely touch.

Afternoon tea
The Kensington Hotel

For me, this was one of the best teas I have experienced. For the first time I enjoyed everything on the menu. The drawing room was a lovely setting and, as it was a week day, it was a calm and relaxed tea. The waiting staff did tend to leave us to it, but this added to the relaxed atmosphere and is better than being rushed. I would definitely recommend this afternoon tea.

Sheree ready to tuck into her sweet treats!

The Kensington Traditional tea costs £25 per person, while a glass of champagne can be enjoyed for just an extra £5. For more information visit the Kensington Hotel website.

Doesn't that tea look wonderful! I would especially like to sample a piece of that Victoria sponge! A big thank you to Sheree for sharing her afternoon tea adventure with her - we are so pleased to hear a glowing review like this!

If you have an afternoon tea that you would like to share with us please get in touch by leaving us a comment on the blog or emailing us at teawithmeandfriends@gmail.com

Thank you for popping by today,

Square Meal

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Time for Tea....Edible Garden at the Intercontinental Westminster

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. Last weekend Lorna and I were lucky enough to be invited back to the Intercontinental Westminster to sample their latest themed afternoon tea - the edible garden. The hotel has partnered with Laurent-Perrier, offering a unique afternoon tea experience which is inspired by the beautiful Laurent-Perrier garden at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

This particular afternoon tea experience includes free flowing Laurent-Perrier champagne during the service plus a wonderful selection of teas which included both traditional varieties plus garden inspired teas such as Lemon Verbena Herbal Tea, Blackcurrant and Hibiscus Herbal Tea, Whole Rose Buds, Flowering Osmanthus. I opted for the Blackcurrant and Hibiscus tea which had a lovely fruity flavour without being too overpowering.

We were particularly impressed by the visual impact that the savoury selection made once served - it was brought out on two plates and included an impressive selection of savouries....

Edible Garden afternoon tea - Intercontinental Westminster
 Among other items the plates included baby vegetable shots, garden pea and basil tarts, a miniature eggs Benedict and the only traditional sandwich - roast beef and horseradish on beetroot bread. The range of textures and flavours was quite amazing - definitely not your usual savoury selection!

Edible Garden afternoon tea - Intercontinental Westminster

When the plates are presented at the table, the waiter describes each item and suggests the preferred order to sample the delights. The beginning point for the savouries was the baby vegetable shots, which I have to say that both Lorna and I didn't like very much. But this was a personal aversion to avocado mousse rather than anything else (our waiter commented that the shots had received very mixed comments from diners so far)!

As you'll notice from the photos above there were a couple of items were there was only one piece (e.g the salmon on rye) but they were all large enough to share easily.

Once we had finished the savoury items we moved onto the traditional scone plate. We were served one lavender infused scone (served warm) and one mini Chelsea bun - these were served with both lemon and raspberry curd, clotted cream and also strawberry rose jam.

Scones and mini Chelsea buns -
afternoon tea treats Intercontinental Westminster

I thoroughly enjoyed the mini Chelsea bun...especially when I dolloped lemon curd on it! As you can probably tell from the photo there was no shortage of fruit in the buns!

Finally we were served the sweet treats....these were served on a beautiful slate encased in a glass greenhouse. Unfortunately our greenhouse was removed before I managed to take a photo, but I have this photo from the hotel's website as it was a rather impressive sight!

Edible Garden afternoon tea
Intercontinental Westminster

Amazing isn't it?

The sweet treats that are included in this tea include a Lemon box hedge, a Raspberry meringue pie and a Laurent-Perrier strawberry champagne bubble among other items. Again, there were lots of singular items, but all were large enough to share.

Let's take a closer look....

Sweet treats - Intercontinental Westminster

As well as the cakes and pastries, the slate also includes the most delicious chocolate "dirt" and pebbles! 

Lorna was particularly partial to the dirt.....

Edible Garden afternoon tea - even the dirt is edible!

The sweet selection included a wonderful variety of flavours and textures, all the items were very enjoyable. In fact it's quite hard to put my finger on my favourite part, but I think it might be the raspberry meringue pie which tasted amazing and those chocolate pebbles!

All in all this is a lovely afternoon tea experience - really quite unique in its look and flavours. Perfect for garden lovers, but also enjoyable for anyone wanting an unusual afternoon tea. As usual the service at the hotel was good, with our tea being refilled regularly.

The Edible Garden afternoon tea is available until the 26th May and costs £44 per person, for more information visit the Intercontinental Westminster website. We would like to thank the hotel for inviting us to sample their latest afternoon tea and for their hospitality.

Thank you for popping by today,

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Time for Tea.....or a stroll and some cake!

Hello there,

Welcome back to another post from Tea With Me and Friends afternoon tea blog, this time we have a slightly different post for you. Last weekend I was treated to a fab walking tour of London by my friend Becca as a Birthday treat - but this was no ordinary walking tour....no it was a cupcake and macaroon walking tour!

We had such a lovely time strolling the streets of London, learning about history both old and new and enjoying cupcakes that I decided I had to share the experience with you! The tour is run by Great British Tours and lasted two and a half hours, during that time we took in no less than seven cupcake/macaroon stops! We met our lovely tour guide John at Covent Garden, along with 17 other people.....

John the Tour Guide
Great British Tours
John was incredibly knowledgeable and told us lots of fascinating facts about London in a very friendly manner. But as well as London in general, John was also very clued up on the bakeries we visited along the way, telling us facts about each one before we enjoyed a treat or two!

The places we visited included:
Cupcake Bakehouse Former
Sweet Couture Boutique bakery 
Hummingbird Bakery 
Patisserie Valerie 
Fortnum & Mason's

At each wonderful venue we were given a cupcake or macaroon (sometimes two!), in some cases we had a free choice in others we all enjoyed the same sweet treat! As you can imagine that was rather a lot of cake and so we were really pleased that most places gave us small boxes or bags to take our goodies home with us!

The thing I enjoyed most about the tour was that we discovered some new places that we've never tried before. From the list above I think my favourite place was Yauatcha who had the most amazing display of sweet treats on a patisserie counter that had us all drooling....

Sweet treats at Yauatcha

Yauatcha is a Michelin starred Dim Sum restaurant in Soho, but it also has the most amazing macaroons and other sweet treats. One of the large macaroons costs £8.50 each, but there is a selection of smaller macaroons (the more traditional size) which cost £1.60. The choice is quite amazing and I can highly recommend the salted caramel variety!

More amazing sweets at Yauatcha

If you are expecting a tour completely about cakes and macaroons then this might not be the tour for you, as a lot of the commentary is about the sights and sounds in London. But John did describe each bakery really well. All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my tour.....but do remember it is a walking tour and therefore there is a lot of this.....

Follow the leader.....

But I have to say that the walking is worth it as you will see a lot of these.....

Cupcake and macaroon walking tour

And you'll get to sample lots of these....

Not forgetting of course some of these.....

Laduree macarons

For more information about the tour pop over to the Great British Tours website. Have you ever been on a cupcake tour at all? We'd love to hear about your experience!

Thanks for popping by today,

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Time for Tea.....The Goring

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea blog post from Tea With Me and Friends. This time we have another fab guest post for you as we are joined by the lovely Beverley from Try Nordic who recently enjoyed afternoon tea at The Goring in London.

The Goring has been serving afternoon tea for over 100 years and in 2013 they were awarded the coveted Top London Afternoon Tea Award by the UK Tea Guild. With this in mind I was keen to hear about Beverley's experience.....

Afternoon tea - The Goring
Photo from Website

Beverley reported that the sandwich selection was nice, with traditional fillings such as chicken, cucumber, ham and mustard and our favourite filling - egg mayonnaise.

The scones were very light, and were served with preserve and clotted cream. The pastries which were served consisted of a pistachio tartlet, a cherry chocolate slice, a lemon curd profiterole, a blood orange macaroon, a white chocolate tea cake and a rhubarb treat served in a shot glass - a bit like a trifle, but not a trifle! Don't they all sound wonderful? I think the blood orange macaroon intrigues me the most.

Beverley commented that the service was brilliant and the ambiance wonderful. The hotel had a very calm and pleasant atmosphere, making it a rather enjoyable and relaxed afternoon tea adventure!

Bollinger Afternoon Tea - The Goring
Photo from website

A traditional afternoon tea at The Goring costs £39.00 per person, or you can indulge in The Bollinger Tea which includes a glass of Bollinger and fresh strawberries for £49.00 per person. For more information please visit The Goring website.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Beverley for sharing her afternoon tea with us. If you have enjoyed an afternoon tea that you would like to share with us please get in touch.

Thank you for popping by today,