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

Saturday, 30 August 2014

How not to serve a scone....

Hello there,

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

Now, as you can probably imagine we have eaten rather a lot of scones since starting this blog! We've enjoyed debates about how you pronouce scone and how you dress your scones and we have our own opinions about how a good scone is served.

Ideally they should be warm and fresh, served with clotted cream and preserve.

Recently I visited the Isle of Wight, and found a beautiful little seaside cafe that was serving scones. The setting was perfect and so I thought I would indulge in a little scone therapy.

So far so good....beautiful setting, good looking scone and Rodda's clotted cream.

However, as I cut into my scone I realised that something wasn't quite right as the texture was a tad bit tought. Nether the less I continued to dress my scone......

Then I took a bite.......

Hmmmm...to say it was tough was a bit of an understatement. It was hot, that was sure, and hard! It turns out that the scone had been microwaved to "warm it"!!

It was such a shame as everything else about the experience was wonderful!

Thanks for popping by today,

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Tried and Tested.....Teapigs

Hello there,

Welcome back to another Tried and Tested tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. Today we are sharing with you some of the wonderful teas from Teapigs that we have recently enjoyed.

Now you might have seen teapigs before - but do you know much about them? Teapigs were born in 2006 by Nick and Louise who wanted to bring the world pure and simple, high quality tea. Their tea list includes 24 whole leaf tea varities, served either loose leaf or in their tea temples. Black, green, red or herbal teas can all be found on their website.

To start with I thought I would show you something quite different....popcorn tea! This is a Japanese favourite and blends together traditional green tea with toasted rice. Sounds crazy...but tastes wonderfully nutty and totally unique.

The tea temple is full of the toasted rice, which gives a wonderful aroma and whole green tea leaves. I brewed my tea for approximately 3 minutes and was pleased by the amber colour of my brew.....

It tastes like no tea I have tried before - very fresh, but with a distinctive nutty flavour. 15 tea temples will cost you £4.49, which is 30p a cup.

Next, lets look at the Super Fruit tea on offer, which is full of Hibiscus, elderberry, blackcurrant, raisin, natural flavours, ligonberry and blueberry.....

Fruity teas are usually my least favourite brew as they are often quite wishy-washy in flavour. However, Teapigs have changed my point of view by creating a fruit tea using whole berries in their tea temples to give more flavour when brewed.

I brewed my tea temple for about 3 minutes again and gained a cup of deep red, berry flavoured tea! It's a cheerful colour to look at in the cup and is very fruity on the tastebuds too. I would definitly buy this one again, and would like to try it cold as I imagine that would be very tasty too.

The Super Fruit tea is avalible as both loose leaf and in tea temples. Take a peek at the Teapigs website for the different sizes and prices.

Finally I wanted to share with you the mao feng green tea.....

This is a delicate, yet tasty green tea that produces a wonderfully pale green cup of tea. I have tried lots of different green teas, but this one gives flavour yet is not over powering - very refreshing.

This tea is also avaliable in loose leaf or tea temples.

Three very different, but very nice teas! For more information about Teapigs please visit their website.

Thanks for popping by today,

Monday, 25 August 2014

Time for Tea....The Savoy

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. I am sorry that we have been a little quiet recently, but don't worry we're still here with lots more afternoon tea news and gossip to share with you!

Today's post has been written with a slightly heavy heart, as it's about a hotel which I have always said was my all time favourite afternoon tea experience. I have to say I was a little nervous about going back to the hotel, wondering whether it would live you to expectations and previous visits.....so here goes....we'd like to share with you our recent afternoon tea adventure at The Savoy in London.

Now, some of you will know that The Savoy holds a special place in our hearts as its the first place that Lorna and I enjoyed a real afternoon tea, and it was so wonderful. We have visited three times previously, both before and after their refurbishment. On this occasion we were visiting to celebrate Alex's Birthday.

Afternoon tea
The Savoy

Now, there are lots of things about the experience that remain the same - the beautiful china (so beautiful that I own some if it!), the wonderful house champagne, the quality of the food and tea and the attention to detail. However, as you will see there are some things that have changed....and unfortunately change isn't always a good thing!

After we had sipped our bubbles and picked our tea (from the 31 different teas on offer), we were presented with the first two courses of our afternoon tea. Presented on the beautiful stand was the sandwich selection and the scones.

Afternoon tea sandwiches - The Savoy

There were five different afternoon tea sandwiches presented to us, each was fresh and very tasty - not a hint of crust in sight. The sandwiches were also the perfect finger sandwich size - easily nibbled by ladies enjoying tea! The fillings included:

Wiltshire bone ham with wholegrain mustard cream cheese
Coronation chicken on olive bread
Scottish smoked and poached salmon with dill mustard
Egg salad with watercress
Cucumber, fleur de marquis and dried tomato

In case you are wondering....fleur de marquis is a type of cheese. The coronation chicken and egg were my favourite sandwiche fillings. 

Next came the scones......

Initially we were presented with four rather large scones - a mixture of fruit and plain. Personally I felt they were too large and several of the group found the texture a little claggy. The scones were served with clotted cream, strawberry preserve and a rather good lemon curd. 

During the first two courses we felt that our tea could have been poured slightly more often.

Now, this is where things strayed from the norm. The stand was removed and we were presented with clean plates and cutlery. Then a server brought around a tray of pastries for us to pick from.....

Afternoon tea pastries - The Savoy

There were five different pastries, all of a rather large size. The server described each one and then asked us to pick one of two to sample. To be honest, the descriptions were so long that I didn't really pay enough attention and so found it difficult to say which ones I wanted to try. I also can't really remember what they all were! I know I tried the two closest to us in the photo - the cherry basket which was delicious and a apricot and honey sphere which was wonderfully light.

I was rather disappointed with how the pastries are now presented to guests. Previously a selection of smaller sized pastries would be presented on a cake stand, which I think is a lot more appealing.

As we were eating these pastries we were also asked to pick a piece of cake - we could have lemon and poppy seed or a raspberry loaf cake. These were presented to us, as we were still eating the pastries - making the table full....

By the time we got to the cake I was rather full. When I enquired whether we could take them home with us, we were told no. This was accompanied by a rather sarcastic comment from the server, which was not really expected from a hotel like the Savoy. 

Disappointed that we would not be able to take the cake home, I tried a bite of my lemon cake....once again to be disappointed as it was rather heavy and lacked the punch of a good lemon cake.

Finally, Alex was presented with a Birthday plate from the Savoy....

It was a lovely gesture, but by this point Alex couldn't eat anymore and so this was a bit of a waste. 

At £61.50 per person for this afternoon tea (with a glass of champagne) this really is a treat and I am sad to say that I have experienced much better afternoon teas previously from The Savoy. None of us were keen on how the pastries were served and the comment from the server really changed the tone of our afternoon tea.

However, I cannot fault the majority of the food, and the extensive tea menu has something for everyone, but I feel that on this occasion The Savoy fell short of expectations.

For more information about the afternoon teas on offer at The Savoy please visit their website.

If anyone else has visited The Savoy recently we'd love to hear about your experience - please get in touch.

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Square Meal

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Time for Tea.....Four Seasons Park Lane

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends, this weekend I was a guest at the Amaranto Lounge at the Four Seasons Park Lane to try their new vintage picnic afternoon tea. Now this is a really new offering from the hotel, we were only the third party to try it! As some of you will know, as well as afternoon tea I am also rather passionate about anything vintage and so I was really keen to try this concept for myself.

The Amaranto Lounge is a wonderful space, that also benefits from a rather beautiful outside terrace (something of a hidden gem), which made the perfect setting for our picnic afternoon tea (we were really lucky with the weather). As the name suggests the afternoon tea is served as a picnic....being brought to us in a wonderful wicker hamper....

Afternoon tea - Four Seasons Park Lane

Lets begin with a look at what we found in our hamper.....

Doesn't that all look wonderful? Please excuse the slightly dodgy camera work!

All the china, cutlery, glassware and food is all served within this hamper, and its quite a delight as it is unpacked in front of you by your waiter. The china is very beautiful, and the cream, jam and milk is all served in small glass bottles and jars. 

Each of the traditional afternoon tea tiers is served in a separate tin - the sandwiches can be found in one, scones in another and finally the pastries in a third.....

Alfresco afternoon tea - Four Seasons Park Lane

Once we had picked our teas from the selection of black, white, green and infusions on offer and the champagne had been served we decided to tuck into the first tin which contained the sandwiches.....

Afternoon tea sandwiches - Four Seasons Park Lane

The selection was quite traditional, but with a wonderful twist on each sandwich filling. The bread was cut incredibly thinly (I have never seen such thin cut bread before!), to allow the flavours of the fillings to shine. 

As you'll see some of the crusts had been left on (I can just imagine Lorna tutting at this point), but this was purposeful rather than by accident and added texture.

Sandwiches made with rather thin bread!

I was rather partial to the devilled egg sandwich which was flavoured with paprika and english mustard, and Becca really enjoyed the beetroot sandwich (both seen in the photo above). There was also a tasty cheese and vintage tomato, a beef and mustard variety and a salmon and cucumber on rye. 

All were fresh and tasted wonderful, and we were offered more after we polished off the first round.

We then moved onto the scones in the second tin.....

Scones - Four Seasons Park Lane

The scones were kept in their tin until we wanted to eat them to keep them warm, and the smell that wafted from the tin when we finally opened it was amazing! Inside the tin we found three plain and three fruit, perfectly sized scones. The scones were light and fluffy in the middle and were accompanied by clotted cream, strawberry preserve and tangy lemon curd.

Finally we made it to the pastries in the last tin.....

Afternoon Tea Pastries - Four Season Park Lane

The selection included strawberries and cream with a little mint, strawberry swiss roll (wrapped in white chocolate), dark chocolate cake, lemon meringue pies and mini raspberry Victoria sponges.

All the sweets tasted wonderful, but my favourite was the mini Victoria sponge filled with cream and raspberries - the sponge was light and the filling sweet. Becca really enjoyed the lemon meringue, which was very lemony! We were offered seconds of both the scones and pastries, but we had to decline both as we were rather full!

Afternoon tea Four Seasons Park Lane
 served on the beautiful terrace

The service we received was attentive throughout and the waiter was very knowledgeable about the afternoon tea he was serving. This picnic experience can be enjoyed inside the Amaranto Lounge or on their terrace and is priced at £96.00 for two people. As well as the food mentioned above, you will also enjoy a tea of your choice from the tea menu and half a bottle of rose champagne. 

This is a wonderful treat if you are celebrating something special or want to try a rather unique afternoon tea experience. I was worried that making it into a picnic might effect the quality of the food served, but everything was wonderfully fresh and the scones remained warm.

The Four Seasons offers several different afternoon teas including a traditional tea, an Italian inspired afternoon tea, a vegetarian afternoon tea and of course this wonderful picnic afternoon tea. For more information about the menus please visit their website.

Although I was a guest at the hotel on this occasion, this has not effected my thoughts on this afternoon tea and all comments here are my own. I would like to thank the Four Seasons for their hospitality.

Thank you for popping by today,

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Time for Tea....Chessell Pottery Barns

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. This weekend I escaped to the Isle of Wight for 36 hours with Joe. Whilst on our mini break we explored a lot of the island...but as you can imagine I made sure that we made time for a spot of afternoon tea too!

After looking through lots of tourist information I discovered Chessell Pottery Barns which promised a rather scrummy sounding afternoon tea. The cafe first launched a full afternoon tea in 2013 when they were joined by pastry chef Bridget Wells. The cafe at the pottery is very busy and you need to book afternoon tea at least 24 hours in advance...lets take a look to see if it's worth the wait.....

The afternoon tea is served on china which has been decorated at the pottery, ours had a very pretty strawberry pattern on it. The pottery is available to buy from the gift shop.

Afternoon tea
Chessell Pottery Barns
We began our afternoon tea feast with the savoury items on the bottom of the cake stand.....

Afternoon tea savouries - Chessell Pottery Barns

Our selection included ham finger sandwiches and egg and cucumber finger sandwiches on brown and white bread. There was also salmon and cream cheese served on fingers of focaccia and a beautiful mini cheese and onion quiche.

The sandwiches were fresh and there wasn't a crust in sight. The combination of egg mayonnaise and cucumber together was slightly odd - I think I prefer these fillings on their own. The salmon fingers were tasty and a good size. We also enjoyed the mini quiche, the filling tasted so good.... but the crust tasted slightly sweet (although it was very light).

Once we had enjoyed the savoury items we moved up a tier onto the scones.....

Strawberry jam and clotted cream ready for dressing scones!

Scones at Chessell Pottery Barns

We had a selection of plain scones and blueberry scones - all perfect in size and served warm (and wrapped). The scones all had a really good texture, not at all claggy, and were very fresh. I have never tried blueberry scones before, and really enjoyed the flavour.

Finally we made it to the top tier....the sweet selection.....

The sweet selection
Afternoon tea Chessell Pottery Barns

Now, I thought you might like a closer look at these sweets and so I have made a mini movie for you which features the raspberry choux pastry, the mini Victoria sponge cake and the beautiful strawberry tart.....

Don't they look wonderful? 

I particularly enjoyed the raspberry pastry which was filled with a tart raspberry cream. As well as the mini Victoria sponge, there was also a mini lemon and lime cake (a fabulous flavour combination). Both of these cakes were quite dense, but still tasted wonderful and were surprisingly light. The final sweet item was a chocolate and nut pastry, which Joe enjoyed.

Afternoon tea at Chessell Pottery Barns costs £14 per person and includes a choice of tea, coffee or soft drink. You also get to take away a little pottery keepsake once you have finished tea....

We got this beautiful little strawberry, which was a lovely touch. I think the cost of the afternoon tea per head is really good for the quality of the food on offer. 

Chessell Pottery Barns is open daily between the end of March and beginning of November. The pottery can be found three miles outside Yarmouth,  free parking is available. For more information please visit the Chessell Pottery Barns website.

Have you enjoyed a spot of afternoon tea on the Isle of Wight, if you have we would love to hear about it!

Thank you for popping by today,