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

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Afternoon Tea News.....We do like to be beside the seaside!

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends! Today we are sharing with you a brand new afternoon tea that has been dreamed up by Executive Pastry Chef Zoe Wager at the Intercontinental Westminster.

We were at the Intercontinental Westminster celebrating a friend's Birthday this weekend and Zoe kindly came out from her busy kitchen to meet us and show us the next brilliant afternoon tea that will be on offer to guests this summer. It was a pleasure to meet Zoe, and just look at what she showed us.....

Seaside Afternoon Tea - Intercontinental Westminster

The presentation of these pastries is just wonderful and will instantly remind guests of the traditional British seaside, complete with little colourful beach huts and sand castles on the beach! It really is quite wonderful and perfect for the summer months!

Zoe has been at the hotel since the beginning of the year and has already wowed us with the Edible Garden afternoon tea, and this one is just as creative.....but more importantly it also tastes wonderful....

British Seaside Afternoon Tea
Intercontinental Westminster, London

Those little beach huts are chocolates and both the buckets and the sand castles hold wonderful surprises within for guests enjoying this summery delight! I am particularly fond of the sand castles and could probably eat quite a few of them! 

Every item on the slate looks beautiful and is perfectly sized. I would definitely love to sample the whole afternoon tea!

Time to build some sand castles at the Intercontinental Westminster?

To find out more about the afternoon tea experience at the Intercontinental Westminster pop by their website. 

I'd like to say a huge thank you to the hotel and Zoe for giving us this sneak peek!

Thank you for popping by today,

Friday, 27 June 2014

Time to....Announce a Winner!

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends!

We are now officially a year old....hasn't that time flown by in a blur of wonderful (and not so wonderful) afternoon teas! We'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone for their support in this first year and a big thank you to everyone who joined us in our fab Birthday competition.

I'd also like to say a big thank you to The Ampersand Hotel for joining us in our celebrations and for providing our wonderful prize - a champagne afternoon tea for two!

Afternoon tea - Ampersand Hotel
Photo from Website

We opted to use a number generator to pick the winner from all the entries......

So who was our lucky winner.....

(Hmmmm...technology is failing me today!)

The winner is Lucy - congratulations!
Lucy left us the following comment....

I love the intricate biscuits in the shape of a musical instrument. My favourite thing about afternoon tea is that it is all about decadence. There is no rushing, you get to try new twists on a traditional afternoon tea. But best of all you get to eat the cakes first should you choose.

Lucy please can you contact me on teawithmeandfriends@gmail.com with your contact details and I will send you your voucher for tea! We hope that you enjoy your tea at The Ampersand and maybe share some photos with us afterwards!

We're looking forward to sharing another year of afternoon teas with everyone....and don't forget if you would like to feature as a guest blogger please get in touch!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Time to Celebrate!

Hello there,

**Competition is now closed**

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - today we are very excited as our little blog is nearly a year old! It's been an amazing first year, we're featured over 60 different afternoon teas, including experiences from the 1950s and the 1920s! We've featured large hotels and tiny tea rooms and lots in between!

We've met pastry chefs and poked our noses into hotel kitchens, and we've featured afternoon teas from so many lovely guest bloggers. Plus we were finalists in the UK Blog Awards 2014.

Most importantly we've met loads of wonderful people, all united in our passion for a spot of afternoon tea! We can't thank you enough for your support this year and we hope you continue to join us on our afternoon tea adventures as we have lots more to share with you!

Competition Time....

We are delighted to announce that we are being joined by The Ampersand Hotel in celebrating our first blog birthday. To celebrate we are holding a little competition and The Ampersand Hotel has kindly given us a champagne afternoon tea for two to give away!

Ampersand Hotel Afternoon Tea
Photo from Website

The winner of our competition is in for a lovely experience at the Ampersand Hotel, which is one of our favourite spots for tea! The present day hotel opened in the Summer of 2012 in South Kensington and is home to Head Chef Chris Golding and the talented Pastry Chef Ji Sun Shin.

What do you need to do to enter this little competition I hear you cry - well just leave us a comment under this post telling us your favourite thing about afternoon tea! You do not need a blogger profile to enter, and you do not need to follow the blog (but we would love it if you did!).

Please remember if you are visiting us from an IPhone you will need to click onto the mobile view at the bottom of this page to leave a comment in the comment box.

The boring bits....

The competition will run from 8am on Monday 2nd June and will close on midday on Thursday 26th June 2014, the winner will be picked at random and announced on the blog on 27th June 2014.

Entrants must be over 18 years old and must live in the UK.

The winner will be sent a voucher for a champagne afternoon tea for two at the hotel, which needs to be redeemed before 30th November 2014.

This post will stay at the top of the blog until the 27th June - for new afternoon tea posts please scroll down!

Tea With Me and Friends!

Good luck to everyone in the competition and thank you again for all of your support.

Best wishes,
Rachel & Lorna

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Afternoon Tea News....It's Time for Wimbledon!

Hello there,

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

As you'll probably know if you are a tennis fan Wimbledon 2014 started on Monday 23rd June. The famous tennis championships were founded in 1877 and today attract top players from around the world.

To celebrate Wimbledon 2014 we thought we would take a look at the Wimbledon themed afternoon teas that are on offer, all photos are from the hotels......

First off we have the Wimbledon themed afternoon tea at The Marylebone Hotel which features Pimms jelly and strawberry tarts....

Strawberries & Cream afternoon tea - The Marylebone Hotel

Browns Hotel have crafted some of their delicious pastries to remind guests of the tennis....

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea - Browns Hotel

The Landmark hotel has created a Wimbledon themed afternoon tea which includes delights such as Pimm’s jelly embellished with cucumber foam, classic strawberry and cream meringue tart or the chocolate mousse and earl grey cream.....

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea - The Landmark

The Corinthia Hotel has created an afternoon tea based around tennis terminology, including a Lemon and lavender sable biscuit racket!

Anyone for tennis? Afternoon Tea at The Corinthia

Finally we have the beautifully crafted afternoon tea on offer at The Ampersand Hotel....

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea - The Ampersand Hotel

These are just some of the Wimbledon themed afternoon teas that I have discovered, there are lots out there to be discovered...but be quick as all of these teas will be limited addition!

If you have enjoyed a Wimbledon themed afternoon tea we'd love to hear from you, please get in touch by leaving us a comment!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Time for Tea.....Mandarin Oriental Knightsbridge

Hello there and welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. Now I must warn you - this post is full of photos!

Lorna and I were recently invited to the Mandarin Oriental in London to try their new afternoon tea in the Rosebery salon. The Salon has been open for just six weeks and so we were keen to see what was on offer. The Salon itself is a really beautiful space, decorated in greens and ambers to reflect the teas that guests enjoy. At night, the salon becomes a Champagne bar serving a selection of champagnes, champagne cocktails and Sake.

The Rosebery Tea Salon - Mandarin Oriental
Photo from website

Now the interesting thing about the Mandarin Oriental is that they have two Tea Masters who work within the Salon, offering guests a wonderful tea experience. They blend teas, give recommendations and match teas with food. The Salon has a good selection of teas which have been crafted by the East India Company, the selection includes fine teas such as an afternoon tea blend or the Dragonwell Lung Ching, as well as a selection of rare and limited teas. The rare and limited teas include "Golden Tip" which is from a rare reddish tea bush cultivated near Ceylon’s Adams Peak and "Heart of Persia" which has saffron as a key ingredient.

Guests who want to enjoy afternoon tea at the Mandarin Oriental can either opt for The Rosebery Afternoon Tea, The Rosebery Tea Master's Choice Afternoon Tea or The Rosebery Sake Afternoon Tea. We decided to put the Tea Master to the test and plumped for the Tea Master's Choice tea, which included the standard afternoon tea menu plus three tea varieties from the rare and limited tea menu selected by the Tea Master.

The rare and limited tea selection
Mandarin Oriental

Our Tea Master Ester introduced herself to us at the beginning of our experience and asked us about the kind of teas that we like to drink. She then brought over all the teas on the rare and limited list in small bowls, for us to see and smell. Ester told us a little about the different teas and recommended a selection that she thought we would enjoy.

The black Oolong being prepared - the Mandarin Oriental

Ester's suggestions for us included the Golden Tips mentioned above, the Mi Lan Dan Cong which is a Black Oolong and finally the Heart of Persia which is a Ceylon tea. Each tea was presented to us beautifully in a simple tea ceremony, and we were encouraged to try each one before a pot was brewed to ensure we enjoyed it. The teas were served to us throughout the afternoon tea meal.

The Tea Master's Choice - Mandarin Oriental

It was a wonderful experience to have Ester on hand throughout the tea, she kept our teacups topped up and peppered us with wonderful nuggets of tea information. For example - did you know that in Russia jam is sometimes used to sweeten tea? 

I also have to share with you the beautiful china that tea is served on....

Mandarin Oriental Afternoon Tea China
This has been designed exclusively for the hotel and is available to buy from the Rosebery (I think we might be buying some of the beautiful teacups!)

Now that I have shared with you the teas, the Salon and the china I think I better move onto the wonderful food that we enjoyed! The tea stand was brought out to us and hung on an ornate mandarin tree, meaning that the stand hovered elegantly over the tea table. I have never seen tea served like this before and love the concept as it gave us more space on the table!

This photo really doesn't do it justice, but you'll get the idea......

Afternoon tea
Mandarin Oriental

The tea offers a large selection of savouries, elegantly arranged on the bottom tier of the tea stand. Instead of traditional finger sandwiches, the sandwiches are shaped like tear drops, using just one piece of bread. 

Afternoon tea sandwiches - Mandarin Oriental

The savoury fillings include:
Slow roasted organic chicken and buttered corn 
Smoked salmon tartar with crème fraîche and dill 
Cotswold egg and mustard cress 
Cucumber, cream cheese and pea shoots
Portland crab and crayfish fondue on brioche
Wiltshire cured ham and heritage tomatoes

All the fillings were very generous without being too heavy and most importantly were fresh. The bread too was fresh and cut thin, with not a crust in sight! Both Lorna and I adored the crab and crayfish in the mini brioche roll, we could have eaten rather a lot of them!

After we had finished off our sandwiches and declined the extra serving that we were offered, we were served the scones (which were warm when served)....

Scones and cream - Mandarin Oriental

We had one plain and one fruit perfectly sized scone each. The scones were light and very tasty - although Lorna's fruit scone only had one sultana in it! The scones were served with Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry jam, rose petal jelly and homemade lemon curd. The strawberry jam was rather scrummy and was our favourite topping.

Again we were offered an additional serving of scones.

Finally we made it to the top tier....those beautiful sweets and pastries....

Afternoon Tea Sweets - Mandarin Oriental

The homemade pastry selection included:
Green tea éclair
Milk chocolate passion fruit tart
Coconut and pineapple gâteau
Greek yoghurt and mango
Wild strawberry délice

Each item both looked and tasted wonderful and although there was only one of each on the plate we were offered more. I think our favourite pastry was the Milk chocolate passion fruit tart, although that green tea éclair was also rather amazing. The pastries were a good size, were very light and the flavours well balanced.

Just when we thought we had no room left we were offered a small slice of cake and finally a chocolate truffle! It really was a feast and we left the experience feeling very satisfied.

The whole Tea Master's Choice afternoon tea is a wonderful experience for anyone who is interested in teas and trying some rather unique blends. Ester was extremely knowledgeable and happy to share her tea wisdom with us, she was also very friendly. The experience costs £62.00 per person and so it is one of the most expensive afternoon teas we have experienced, but if you enjoy tea I think it is definitely worth every penny. If you would prefer the standard afternoon tea which includes all the food mentioned above plus your choice of house blend tea for £45 per person. For more information about the teas on offer please visit the Mandarin Oriental website.

All in all the Rosebery is a wonderful place to enjoy a spot of afternoon tea, the surroundings are elegant and relaxing and the service is brilliant - a good combination of friendly and efficient.

I would like to thank Nicole, the Rosebery Manager, and the rest of the Rosebery staff and Ester the Tea Master for their hospitality. 

Thank you for popping by today,

Please note that although we were guests of the Rosebery, this did not effect the article that we have written and all opinions expressed are our own.

Square Meal

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Tips and Recommendations For a Vegan Afternoon Tea

Hello there,

Welcome back to another guest post from Tea With Me and Friends. As it's dietary requirement month on the blog we are joined by Stephanie Dreyer from VeegMama to share her vegan afternoon tea recommendations and tips.....

I love afternoon tea.  It used to be a decadent indulgence with my girlfriends when I was in my twenties, something special to feel grown up and worldly.  As I moved into my early thirties and became a mother to three small babes, it became an afternoon escape with my fellow mom friends where we could feel like ladies, not just moms.  Now, as I bask in my late thirties with 8 and 10 year-old daughters, afternoon tea is one of my favourite mother-daughter activities.  

My afternoon tea adventures have been changed since I went vegan four and a half years ago.  As a vegan, I do not consume any animal or animal derived products, including meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese, eggs, honey, or butter.  As you might imagine, that presents some challenges in the way of traditional afternoon tea menus with their egg salad, salmon, and chicken sandwiches.  Baked goods are traditionally laden with milk, butter, and eggs, and then there are the spreads.

Fortunately, a vegan afternoon tea is not too hard to come by these days.  All it takes is a little planning and a willingness to ask for what you need.  The creative and mouthwatering vegan tea menus available today continuously amaze me.  The beautiful presentations alone make vegan teas stand out next to their carnivorous counterparts.  

To make the most of afternoon tea if you are vegan, here are some tips to get you started:  

1. Call ahead.
Let the restaurant know ahead of time when you will be visiting and see if the chef can prepare something special for you or adapt some dishes to your needs.

2. Look up the menu beforehand.
Most restaurants are happy to accommodate you if you ask.  Check out the menu online before your visit to get an idea of what could easily be veganized or adapted.  For example, could they leave off the cheese in the caprese sandwich, or use hummus instead of cream cheese on the cucumber sandwich?

3. Bring your essentials.
You certainly do not want to bring your whole meal with you (What is the point of dining out then?), but if you know you must have almond milk or agave mixed in to your tea, there is no harm in bringing a small container with you.  The same goes for margarine or another vegan spread that you enjoy on your scones.  When you call ahead, ask if the restaurant will be able to provide these things.  
I recently had the great fortune to visit London at the end of last year, and of course, had to make afternoon tea part of my itinerary!  (You can read about my vegan London trip here.)  I only had time for tea during one of the four afternoons I was visiting, but during my trip planning research, I discovered that there are an abundance of options available for Londoners.  Here are just a few:

TimeOut London put out this comprehensive list of afternoon tea spots in London.

You can read more about my vegan tea adventures in the U.S. here and visit me at VeegMama to learn about my new approaches to healthy living through food, wellness, and personal fulfillment. 

 You can connect with me via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

A big thank you to Stephanie for joining us for dietary requirement month on the blog. Have you got any vegan afternoon tea recommendations that you'd like to share? If so please get in touch with us!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel and Lorna

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Time for Tea...Sketch

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends, this time I wanted to share our latest afternoon tea adventure when we visited Sketch in London.

I have heard lots about the quirky tea on offer at Sketch and was keen to try it for myself, so recently Alex, Becca and myself headed into London for a spot of tea! Conceived by French master chef Pierre Gagnaire and restaurateur Mourad Mazouz, Sketch first opened in 2012 and has been offered quirky food, drink and entertainment ever since. Sketch is made up of several different rooms, all with a different feel and all full of amazing art installations. Its a feast for the eyes as well as the belly!

On the day we visited Sketch we enjoyed our afternoon tea in the glade, which is a magical woodland bar...think beautiful painted trees on the walls, lots of green and gorgeous 50s rattan furniture. It's a really relaxing environment to enjoy tea in. The crockery, cups and teapots used were all glass and very modern, but suited the environment - we particularly liked the cups.

Afternoon tea - Sketch 

Liquid refreshment came in the form of an optional Dubonnet & Gin cocktail, along with a good selection of black, white, green and oolong teas. I loved that the teapots were glass, this was especially pretty for Becca's tea choice which was a flowering tea. We were advised on the perfect brewing time for each tea by our waitress, which I think is always a good sign.

Afternoon tea stands - Sketch

When the stands are presented they were quite spectacular, with a great variety of items included. The waitress talks you through the whole stand, highlighting if something is warm and needs to be enjoyed first.

Despite my sweet tooth I really felt that the savoury selection was the highlight of this tea, offering a great selection of savouries featuring a range of flavours and textures

The afternoon tea savouries - Sketch

The savouries included a selection of rather scrummy finger sandwiches:
smoked salmon and Jacob’s cream
cucumber, ricotta and asparagus
mozzarella and pesto croque monsieur
egg and mayonnaise, quail egg, caviar

All the savouries were tasty, although the cucumber, ricotta and asparagus was a little too soggy for me.

The croque monsieur was served warm and wrapped in paper and ribbon, it was definitely my favourite savoury item. It was perfectly toasted, not too greasy and those slices of bread were so thin - it was divine and enjoyed by all of us.

The Sketch Croque Monsieur - a masterpiece!

There was one large fruited scone each, served with clotted cream and two jams - fig and strawberry. The jams were both very tasty - but those square scones caused great debate!

Square afternoon tea scones at Sketch

Finally we made it to the top tiers of the stands and the sweet selection.....

Sweet treats at Sketch

If I am honest although these were sweet treats nice, and perfectly sized they didn't really hit the spot and after such a quirky tea they were quite standard! The choice included a pistachio macaroon, an almond and berry tartlet, a coffee éclair, mini strawberry cheesecake in a glass, mousse malabar marshmallows, meringa tarta, raspberry meringue and sketch opera cake. 

They all looked wonderful and were perfectly created, but I was just a little disappointed that they weren't more unusual.

Sweet selection at Sketch Afternoon Tea

This tea costs £34 per person for the standard afternoon tea, or £40 each if you want to indulge in the scrummy gin cocktail. We were offered more of everything, but we didn't really need anything (other than extra cream) as there was so much included.

Everything was fresh and tasted good, and we all thoroughly enjoyed our quirky afternoon tea adventure - I just wish that they were a little more inventive with those sweet treats.

If you want to read more about Sketch and their afternoon tea, visit their website.

Thanks for popping by today,


PS - have you entered our fab champagne afternoon tea competition yet?

Square Meal

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Afternoon Tea News - Gluten Free Tea at Pantry at 108

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea article from Tea With Me and Friends - this is another in our series of articles where we are sharing some afternoon tea news rather than a tea we have sampled.

As it's currently dietary requirement month on the blog we have decided to feature the Gluten Free Afternoon Tea which is currently on offer at Pantry at 108  which opened in April 2014 at The Marylebone Hotel, London.

Gluten free afternoon tea at Pantry at 108

The menu for this wonderful looking afternoon tea is as follows:

The Savouries
Smoked salmon with cream cheese, cucumber, egg mayonnaise and ham sandwiches on gluten free bread
Super food salad, endive

The Sweets
Coconut cake
Lime cake
Banana and pomegranate cake
Chocolate and blueberry cake
Sherry trifle

Gluten free scones
Clotted cream and jam

I love the sound of that banana and pomegranate cake!

This afternoon tea costs £28.00 per person and the hotel also offers a dairy free afternoon tea. For more information head over to their website.

Meet the Chef.....

Executive Chef Russell Ford

We also had the opportunity to ask Executive Chef Russell Ford a couple of questions about afternoon tea and his gluten free creation. Chef Russell took on the role of executive chef at The Doyle Collection hotel group’s Marylebone and Kensington hotels in December 2011, having previously worked within the Le Méridien Piccadilly and The Dorchester and also spending some time in Australia.

We asked Chef Russell about his afternoon tea....

Q How long does it usually take you to create new afternoon teas? 
It takes two months from the concept to the final product.

Q. Was it more difficult to create your gluten free afternoon tea? 
Yes as we need to source a number of different ingredients that can be harder to find. It’s also a lot more difficult to get the gluten free recipe for the bread and pastries just right, so we needed to allow more time for sampling and tasting!

Q. Where did your inspiration for your gluten free recipes come from? 
I undertook a lot of research and am constantly inspired by recipe books, foodie websites and eating out.

Q. Do you have any gluten free taste testers to try your recipes? 
Our expert chefs and our staff in particular are always willing taste tasters!

Q. Do you enjoy a spot of afternoon tea yourself and have you tried tea anywhere else? 
I love going for afternoon tea, I have tried all the top places including Claridges and the Dorchester.

Q. The all important question - do you put cream or jam on your scone first? 
Clotted cream first

Q. If you could invite any guest to enjoy afternoon tea with you, who would it be? 
Scarlet Johansson

We'd like to thank Chef Russell for sharing his thoughts with us, we're hoping to visit the Pantry at 108 in the near future so watch this space for a full review.

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Friday, 13 June 2014

Afternoon Tea News.....Hotel Cafe Royal launches new tea!

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea news post from Tea With Me and Friends! Today we are sharing with you the news of a new afternoon tea on the block - this time from Hotel Cafe Royal in London.

On Monday 16th June Hotel Cafe Royal launch their The Importance of Being Ernest afternoon tea, which celebrates the arrival of Oscar Wilde’s play, The Importance of Being Earnest, at the Harold Pinter theatre on 27th June. The hotel has created an exclusive afternoon tea to be held in the Oscar Wilde Bar. Executive Chef Andrew Turner and Executive Pastry Chef Andrew Blas, have taken inspiration from the play’s characters and the history to create a unique and playful menu.

The Importance of Being Ernest afternoon tea
Hotel Cafe Royal - photo from website

Guests can enjoy a selection of tea sandwiches, pastries, scones and cakes as well as additional ‘savoury terminus’ dishes. Turner has paid homage to the famous cucumber sandwich episode in the play with the inclusion of original ‘cucumber’ sandwiches; a savoury version of  the classic 15th century bun with caraway and icing sugar, filled with pickled cucumber. The selection of tea sandwiches also includes: 

veryman’s smoked wild boar, crackling, pickled apple and English mustard bun 
Gold puff goat’s cheese and wine jelly engagement 
Cured venison and pear chutney sandwich with red onion marriage 
London Cure smoked salmon, quail’s egg and cress Prism 
Original ‘Cucumber’ sandwiches 

Blas continues the theme with a range of pastries including chocolate box ‘n’ ring; Lady Bracknell lollipop and Dandy raspberry regent. The full pastry range will include:

Chocolate box ‘n’ ring 
Lady Bracknell lollipop 
Made in heaven Opera 
Cherry lane Absinthe Green Fairy 
Dandy raspberry regent 

Guests will also be treated to traditional scones with clotted cream and a choice of preserves. The menu is then finished off by a selection of Hotel Café Royal’s famous house-made cakes such as Lemon drizzle, Piccadilly Bunsbury and traditional fruit cake. 

The tea can be enjoyed at £42 per person, or if you fancy some bubbles with your tea it will be £55 per person. For more information please visit the Hotel Cafe Royal website.

Thank you for popping by today,

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Afternoon Tea News.....The Ampersand Hotel

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea news post from Tea With Me and Friends! Today we wanted to share with you the next exciting afternoon tea that has been created by Pastry Chef Ji Sun Shin at The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensignton.

Chef Ji Sun has been up to her creative tricks again....this time being inspired by the Proms.....

Proms inspired afternoon tea
Ampersand Hotel

Available at the hotel between 18th July and the 5th September, the afternoon tea offers guests a selection of savoury gougeres and delicious scones served with cream and preserve. Plus a selection of sweet treats inspired by the BBC Proms, which starts with the first night of the Proms also on the 18th July. What a wonderful collection of musical sweet treats!

For more information about the various afternoon teas on offer at The Ampersand, please with their website.

Don't forget about our fab Birthday competition - The Ampersand has kindly given us a champagne afternoon tea for two to giveaway to celebrate our blog's first birthday! Take a peek here for more details about how to enter!

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel and Lorna

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Meet the Pastry Chef.....Zoe Berkeley

Hello there,

Welcome back to another "meet the chef" article from Tea With Me and Friends, today we are meeting Zoe Berkeley the founder and owner of bake-a-book bake shop and tea room bake-a-boo in London. Bake-a-boo is opened on the weekends only, offering special treats for everyone, including a selection of sweet treats which are free from wheat, gluten and dairy.

Zoe Berkeley - bake-a-boo

We recently featured the sensitive teas created by Zoe, there are so many varieties that we decided to ask Zoe some questions about her creations....

Q. You offer a great selection of "sensitive teas" on your menu at bake-a-boo, was it more difficult to create your these afternoon teas?
We recently introduced vegan and sugar free teas to our menu and it took me a few weeks playing with ideas to get these tea menus right. I had to do lots of experimenting with the vegan scones, to me scones are the most important part of afternoon tea and we get so many compliments for our ‘normal’ scones. I wanted the vegan scones to be really yummy!

Creating a gluten free afternoon tea was slightly easier as we already bake so many gluten free cakes, getting that right took less time, so it really depends how much you are challenging yourself and how many things you have to bake without!

Q. Where did your inspiration for your sensitive afternoon tea recipes come from?
I am gluten and dairy free myself, and have been for 11 years for many health reasons. Back then it was so hard to find cakes and treats, and you were very isolated if you went out to eat. Now it’s much easier to have food allergies as people are more aware and there are so many products available now.

When I first opened bake-a-boo the idea would be that there was something for everyone – we catered for most of the common food allergies so no one would feel isolated and everyone could treat themselves. This is why we now offer full afternoon teas that are vegan, sugar free, dairy free and gluten free, as well as the standard afternoon tea which is ‘full of everything!’

Sweet treats at bake-a-boo
Photo from website

Q. Do you enjoy a spot of afternoon tea yourself, have you tried tea anywhere else?
I LOVE afternoon tea – especially scones, but unfortunately due to my dietary requirements it’s quite hard for me to have afternoon tea anywhere else! But my good friend who runs Little Lady Blog took me for afternoon tea at One Aldwych last year and they were brilliant at catering for my needs, I really appreciated that.

Q. The all important question - do you put cream or jam on your scone first?
Jam first – cream on top! I don’t understand the other way round!!! Why???

Apparently jam on top is the Devonshire way and cream on top is the Cornish way, so I’m rooting for the Cornish way  – the Cornish say it’s done this way because apparently this is because the Devonshire lot are ‘ashamed’ of their cream – which I always find funny!

Q. If you could invite any guest to enjoy afternoon tea with you, who would it be and why?
Oh wow that’s a difficult one!! I would love to have tea with Erin McKenna who runs babycakes in the US, I read an article about babycakes in New York soon after I opened bake-a-boo in 2006 and I couldn’t believe how similar our stories were. She opened babycakes (a gluten free and vegan bakery) in New York about a year before I did, she has the same food allergies as me and had the same struggles in starting her business. Erin also used to work in fashion, which I also did previously to starting bake-a-boo. Our stories were almost identical. I would love to have tea with her as I think we would really get on and we have so much in common, and cake is our lives!

If I could cheekily chose 1 more person it would be Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Despite the fact that I have wanted to marry him since I was 16, I actually say him because he is a really fabulous, humble, and inspiring person, and he really is one of my heroes! I met him last year and made him a cake, he was so excited by it! He’s renowned for eating huge stacks of pancakes on ‘cheat days’ so I know if I got him on a cheat day he would love afternoon tea! Just don’t tell my boyfriend!

We'd like to say a big thank you to Zoe and her team for this article, and we hope to be popping by bake-a-boo really soon!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Afternoon Tea News.....bake-a-boo Sensitive Teas

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea article from Tea With Me and Friends, as June is dietary requirement month on the blog we decided to take a look at the range of sensitive afternoons teas on offer at bake-a-boo in West Hampstead London.

As well as a traditional afternoon tea bake-a-boo offers three different sensitive tea options for people with dietary requirements, these include a gluten free tea, a second tea that is both Vegan and dairy and egg free and finally a sugar free tea.

Sensitive afternoon teas on offer at bake-a-boo

I am really quite impressed with the variety of sensitive teas on offer....
but what does each one include......

Gluten free  
Selection of gluten free finger sandwiches
Gluten free scones with jam & cream
Gluten free cupcakes
Gluten free apple and date cake slices
Dark chocolate dipped strawberries
All served on tiered cake stands with a refreshing pot of tea!

£19 per person (minimum two people)

Vegan / dairy and egg free
Selection of vegetarian filled dairy and egg free finger sandwiches
Dairy & egg free scones with jam & vegan cream
Dairy & egg free chocolate cupcake
Vegan muffin
Dark chocolate dipped strawberries
All served on tiered cake stands with a refreshing pot of tea! (soya milk is also available)

 £20 per person (minimum two people)

Sugar free 
Selection of finger sandwiches
Sugar free scones with diabetic sugar free jam & cream
Sugar free apple and date cake slice
Banana, coconut and sultana bites
Fruit salad
All served on tiered cake stands with a refreshing pot of tea!

£20 per person (minimum two people)

Sensitive afternoon tea - bake-a-boo

Bake-a-boo is the mastermind of owner Zoe, who is also the creator of this selection of teas and the other sweet treats and homemade bakes on offer at bake-a-boo. Zoe knows all too well how hard it is to indulge in a spot of afternoon tea when you have dietary requirements as she herself has been diary and gluten free for the last eleven years.

Pop back to the blog later this week when we meet Zoe in a "meet the pastry chef" article all about her and her afternoon tea creations at bake-a-boo. In the meantime have you ever tried any of the bake-a-boo sensitive teas - if so we'd love to hear from you.

Thank you for popping by today,

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Time for Tea.....Gluten Free Afternoon Tea Feature

Hello there,

Welcome back to another guest post at Tea With Me and Friends and this time we are joined by Kelly who is going to share with us some of her gluten free afternoon tea adventures....

Like Rachel and Lorna, I'm a big lover of Afternoon Tea - the food, the tea and spending an afternoon enjoying delightful conversation in a posh London hotel is always a perfect way to spend an afternoon.   But there is one difference between Rachel and Lorna and myself - I have a gluten intolerance.

I'm not one to back away from a challenge so in 2013 I made it my New Years Resolution to eat as much Afternoon Tea as I could to find the best Gluten Free Afternoon Tea in London.

Not all 5 Star Hotels are created Equal

Unfortunately some of London's top hotels are still struggling to get their gluten free Afternoon Tea right - from undercooked & overcooked scones and pastries tasting foul it can feel like you are stepping on egg shells.  My stand out hotel from last year was The Goring Hotel in London for their Afternoon Tea - everything was to die for!

Gluten free afternoon tea - The Goring Hotel

Gluten free scones - The Goring Hotel

Cheap and Nasty

If you are on a budget and looking at spending £20 per head for your Afternoon Tea then you will get the bulk standard finger sandwiches, scones, a chocolate brownie and bakewell tart - I have seen this numerous times.  Never fret, there is a great cheap £20 Afternoon Tea at The St James Hotel and Club who specialise in Gluten Free Afternoon Tea and they have a great selection of pastries.

Gluten free afternoon tea
The St James Hotel and Club

The Bees Knees - Vintage Tea Rooms

Surprisingly the Vintage Tea Rooms dotted around England offer some of the best gluten free Afternoon Teas and can actually outclass some of London's top hotels.  Case in point would be Southill Vintage Tea Rooms in Bedfordshire that have a great gluten free selection - they employ someone with a gluten intolerance so all their cakes are amazing!

Gluten free cakes
Southill Vintage Tea Rooms

Gluten free scones - Southill Vintage Tea Rooms

If you would like to read my round up of the best Gluten Free Afternoon Tea's in London then please check out my blog.

I don't know about you....but I'm drooling a little bit after looking at all of those scrummy photos! To see more gluten free afternoon tea photos and other articles pop by Kelly's fab blog! A huge thank you to Kelly for sharing her afternoon teas with us!

If you've enjoyed a gluten free tea and would like to share it with us please get in touch - we'd love to feature you as a guest blogger!

Thank you for popping by today,

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Afternoon Tea News.....Coworth Park Launches New Tea

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. Today we are sharing with you some exciting news as Coworth Park in Ascot launch their new Meadow Tea. Celebrating British summertime the Meadow Afternoon tea is inspired by flowers that grow on the estate and features exclusive fragrant hand-blended tea.

Meadow Afternoon Tea - Coworth Park
Photo from Website

The Meadow Tea will be served in the elegant Drawing Room of Coworth Park when the meadow blooms, between the 1st June and 31st September 2014. Pastries will be accompanied by a selection of finger sandwiches and scones, and complemented by seasonal homemade compotes.

Head Pastry Chef Luke Frost has created such delights as a Raspberry and Rose Fancy which is a twist on a British favourite inspired by the pinks and reds of Coworth Park’s own rose garden with layers of raspberry and rose between light sponge and the Gooseberry Fool with estate picked elderflower.
There will be two sittings each day at 2:30pm and 4:45pm. The Meadow Afternoon Tea is priced at £29.00 per person or from £42.50 per person for champagne meadow tea, for more information please visit the Coworth Park website.

Meet the Head Pastry Chef

Head Pastry Chef Luke Frost
Coworth Park

To celebrate the launch of this summery afternoon tea we asked Chef Luke some afternoon tea questions......

Q How long does it usually take you to create new afternoon teas?
Guests at Coworth Park are treated to individually hand crafted pastries when enjoying tea in our drawing room. Perfecting each pastry from idea to final result can be less time consuming than you may think due to the skills of my team, although it’s the often the ones you believe to be the easiest that pose the most difficulty. The art here is to balance colours, flavours and textures to ensure a balanced selection for the guests to enjoy which is where the creativity comes in. 

Q. Where does your inspiration for new teas come from?
I love Coworth Park’s mantra ‘Rewriting the rules’ and my current afternoon tea selection reworks classic British pastries. In the summer I cannot fail to be influenced by Coworth Park’s stunning wild flower meadow and this year the view from the Mansion House will provide fresh inspiration for the team in both flavours and presentation. 

Q. What is your favourite part of your latest afternoon tea?
Manchester Tart, a staple in any northern bakery, is normally made with powdered custard and heaps of dessicated coconut. My modern interpretation has banana crème brulee, homemade jam and coconut marshmallow and I think best represents an example of reworked British classics.

Q. Do you enjoy a spot of afternoon tea yourself and have you tried tea anywhere else?
I love the experience of Afternoon Tea, lingering over something so delicious in the late afternoon is wonderfully indulgent. At my own wedding reception I chose to have Afternoon Tea, it was more relaxed and guests could socialise rather than be restricted by a seating plan. Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester is a classic that cannot be rivalled. 

Q. What is your favourite filling in an afternoon tea sandwich?
This is a tough choice, both egg & cress or smoked salmon would be contenders but I have to pick Coronation Chicken. Last summer at The Dorchester I had a chicken and mango sandwich on cumin bread which was a modern adaption on the traditional coronation chicken and it was excellent. 

Q. The all important question - do you put cream or jam on your scone first?
Jam first. It’s all about what you want to feel on you palate and the aftertaste you want left in your mouth and for me that means the lingering smoothness of the clotted cream. 

Q. If you could invite any guest to enjoy afternoon tea with you, who would it be and why?
I am very interested in both the history and architecture of buildings so it would be fantastic to sit with The Earl of Derby who is the original owner of Coworth Park. I would love to discuss how the estate has evolved over the years and his thoughts about the hotel today. 

A big thank you to Chef Luke for answering our questions, I hope to enjoy tea at Coworth Park in the near future as the Meadow Tea sounds wonderfully summery.

Thank you for popping by today,