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

Monday, 29 September 2014

Time for Tea....and some crafts with Kirstie Allsopp

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends, this time I want to share with you a rather special afternoon tea experience that I and Becca recently enjoyed.

As well as afternoon tea, I am also quite passionate about my crafts as is my friend Becca, and so when we saw that Kirstie Allsopp was hosting a craft fair, called The Handmade Fair, we knew we had to go along. The motto of the fair is "Everyone has a craft they can do!" which is something I agree with...you've just got to experiment and find the craft which you enjoy!

When we looked at the tickets available we saw a VIP experience, which included afternoon tea which Kirstie Allsopp would attend.....I think you all know where this is going...yes, we needed VIP tickets!! As well as the tea, there was a VIP lounge with free flowing tea served in china tea cups all day, a goodie bag and priority seating in some of the theatres. 

I was a little sceptical about the actual afternoon tea, knowing that it would be a mass-produced affair, but I'm pleased to report that I was pleasantly surprised by the afternoon tea. We enjoyed a traditional offering of sandwiches, scones and cakes, all washed down with tea and served on China.

Afternoon Tea
The Handmade Fair

The tea was served in the VIP lounge which was beautifully decorated with simple flowers in glass vases. When we sat down at the tables we found trays of sandwiches, and cake stands full of the sweet treats and scones. 

The sandwiches might not have been traditional finger sandwiches, and there were definitely crusts still attached.....but the bread was very fresh, as were the fillings. We could pick from cucumber, egg mayonnaise, salmon and cream cheese and ham. As you can see the fillings were generous....

Afternoon tea sandwiches
The Handmade Fair

The scones were on the large size - Becca and I shared one between us. 

Again, they were fresh and not at all claggy. They were served with strawberry jam and Rodda's clotted cream....

Afternoon tea scones
The Handmade Fair

There wasn't a huge variety of sweet treats on the top tier of the cake stand...we had macaroons and lemon drizzle cake to pick from, but there was a nice selection of different macaroons to tempt us....

Afternoon tea treats
The Handmade Fair

I really enjoyed the lemon drizzle cake, which looked a little dry but actually tasted quite wonderful. The macaroons were also lovely, with a crispy shell and quite gooey in the middle!

However, the best bit of the tea was to come.....as Kirstie joined the room about half way through. She spent time talking to us as a group, then she opened the floor out to questions....and guess what....yes I actually got to ask Kirstie a question!

Talking scones with Kirstie Allsop

I was given a microphone and amazed myself at how eloquent I managed to be considering I was talking to my crafty idol! Can anyone guess what I asked....I steered clear of craft all together...and asked her whether she was a cream or jam first lady!

Now, who can guess what Kirstie answered.....I am pleased to report that she is a cream first kinda lady, the cream being the base of the scone with jam on top! As you can imagine I was very pleased to hear that!

Scones - the Kirstie way!

All in all we had a fantastic time at the Handmade Fair and really enjoyed the VIP experience - it was great to have a lounge to escape to when we were planning what to do next. Plus having free flowing tea on tap was rather nice!

We learnt a lot in the workshops, spent our pennies in the shopping villages and thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon tea. Asking Kirstie my scone question was the highlight of the day and it's just a shame that this wasn't recorded. I'll definitely buy a ticket for next year's show!

Thank you for popping by today,

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Tried and Tested....Whittard English Rose Tea

Hello there,

Welcome back to another tried and tested tea article from Tea With Me and Friends.

Recently I received a wonderful box full of tea goodies from Whittard and Joanne at Halpern. I have to say that I was rather excited as I rummaged through the box that arrived with me and I look forward to sharing with you the various teas that I have enjoyed as a result.

I will start with the English Rose Tea that I was sent, complete with a cute little infuser. This is part of the Alice in Wonderland themed range on offer at Whittard, and I was rather pleased to also find this charming fine bone china mug to drink my tea from....

English Rose Tea
 from Whittard

The mug has a lovely key handle, which I thought was a brilliant quirky touch. Although Joe found it a little too delicate to use ("I'll snap that" were his exact words), I am pleased to report that anyone with normal sized hands will find the handle a good size and easy to use. The design is very elegant and would make any Alice in Wonderland fan happy!

The tea itself is a blended black tea with flavouring, which is best enjoyed without milk. The black tea leaves are enhanced with rose petals to produce a rather fruity blend, which I found really pleasant. 

The leaves are very dark in colour as expected, punctuated with the colourful rose petals. I'd recommend about a teaspoon of them per cup, infused in freshly boiled water.

I really liked the handy infuser, which was easy to use and allowed for simple brewing once my water had boiled.

If you look closely you might see me in the reflection!

Once brewed the tea has a beautiful amber colour and wonderful aroma. 

If I'm honest - I'm not normally a rose tea fan, as I often find them very artificial and far too floral to enjoy. However, the rose in this brew was quite subtle and gave a sweet, almost fruity taste to the tea which I enjoyed.

English Rose Tea
from Whittard

I found this to be a very mellow tea, that I enjoyed at different times of the day - but it was particularly refreshing in the afternoon with a slice of cake! 

In fact I enjoyed this tea so much that when I worked away from home this week (three nights away) I took my loose leaf tea, infuser and mug with me! Now, I think this might make me a bit of a tea snob....but I really enjoyed having a decent cup of tea at the end of the work day!

Tea on the road....
I took my home comforts with me!

The tea and infuser come together as a lovely gift set and costs £14 and the mug costs £15. To find out more about these items and more of the Alice in Wonderland range (there is lots more to see!) visit the Whittard website.

I'd like to thank Whittard and Halpern for sending me these items to try. Please note that although I have been asked to review these products by the companies, all opinions expressed are my own and I have not been influenced.

Thank you for popping by today,

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Time for Tea....Meudon Hotel, Cornwall

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends, today we are joined by Ele Crossland, who shares my passion for afternoon tea and fab food in general. I recently saw a photo of Ele's on Twitter of some rather lovely looking scones and I asked her to share her recent scone adventures with us......

Picture the scene. A warm afternoon in early September. A sheltered valley overflowing with deep green, sub-tropical vegetation, a quiet, paved terrace, bathed in sunshine, and a generous tray of warmed scones, clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. Is this the stuff of novels? No, it's what you can look forward to on a visit to the Meudon Hotel, Mawnan Smith, Cornwall.

Meudon Hotel - Cornwall

We stumbled upon this gem by accident. Having been let down by our first choice location for cream tea (they had run out of scones), we retraced our route along the coast road to this hotel, pulling into its driveway purely because it had a cream-painted Rodda's milk urn outside with the words 'cream tea' stencilled on.

The staff were so friendly and warm they actually chirped. Chirped! Blinking our way into the cool, shaded foyer (decorated with paintings by local artists), we were instantly put at our ease. Cream tea? No problem. Cream tea for four, in the garden, it'll be five minutes. It was as easy as that. Out into the garden, my breath was taken away by the gloriously verdant gardens. The hotel is set at the head of a deep V-shaped valley, running down to the sea and a little rocky cove. Immediately behind the hotel, there are landscaped terraces with overflowing pots of flowers, quiet fish ponds and plenty of comfortable wooden furniture. It truly is a haven. And then our cream tea arrived, carried out with some ceremony by two very smartly dressed waiters. No need to ask for extra hot water, it came as standard.

Cream tea - Meudon Country House Hotel

A basketful of fresh, warm scones, pots of tea and got water and brimming bowls of thick, sticky, fruited jam and a piled bowl of clotted cream. We asked where the cream came from. The hotel proprietor pointed to the cows in the field over the road saying, “Those cows produce the milk which is sent to the creamery”.

A rather scrummy scone - Meudon Country House Hotel, Cornwall

The scones were warm, light and fluffy with a satisfyingly crispy crust. Accompanied by the sticky red jam and thick, yellow cream they were perfection. To our shame we soon polished off all of the cream and jam. Both bowls were cheerfully replenished by the waiters, along with fresh tea, water and milk.

Tea in the Meudon Garden is a relaxed affair. Time slows down, and the peaceful garden with its abundant, colourful flowers, sounds of birds and cows and comfy sears (and sun loungers too!) is the perfect place to while away a late summer afternoon. The staff seemed genuinely delighted and comfortable for their guests to relax and potter. Needing to walk off a little of the tea and make room for dinner we enjoyed exploring the cakey gardens, with numerous paths winding between the vegetation down to the bay. We took it a little further and made our way home along the cliff top coastal path. With stunning views over the open sea to Falmouth and the sheltered I let of the Helford passage, this was a perfect way to round off a quintessentially Cornish afternoon.

Wonderful views with your cream tea

I don't know about you - but that scone has left my mouth watering! What a wonderful accidental discovery! It sounds like the perfect afternoon to me, and those scones look scrummy topped with lashings of Rodda's cream!

A Cornish Cream Tea for one person at Meudon Hotel consists of two homemade scones, Cornish strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream served with a pot of Twinings Tea - all for £6

A big thank you to Ele for sharing her cream tea adventure with us - hopefully we'll see some more of Ele's adventures in the future!

If you have a cream tea adventure that you would like to share with us please get in touch, we'd love to hear from you!

Thank you for popping by today,

Monday, 22 September 2014

Meet the Executive Chef....Phil Yeomans

Hello there,

Welcome back to another meet the chef article from Tea With Me and Friends!

Last weekend Lorna and I went to the Marwell hotel in Hampshire, to try the new afternoon tea on offer from their new Executive Chef Phil Yeomans. Phil had joined Marwell only in August this year and we were keen to sample his afternoon tea.

Afternoon Tea - Marwell Hotel

We were really impressed with the quality of the food on offer - not a crust in sight on those sandwiches and the cakes and pastries were divine. We were all delighted when Chef Phil came out to meet us at the end of tea, we thoroughly enjoyed chatting to him and finding out what his plans are for the hotel.

For Phil it's important that his dishes are seasonal and local, he sources his ingredients from the local area and is keen to support local producers. This was reflected in the serving staff who were able to tell us where all the different ingredients came from.

Phil Yeomans
Executive Chef Marwell Hotel

Phil was also kind enough to answer our afternoon tea questions, so let's find out whether he's a cream or jam first kinda guy......

Q How long does it usually take you to create new afternoon teas?
Not long, with great local produce in Hampshire we look at what’s in season and around us and build from there. Usually we spend a week to put it together and perfect it before we go live.

Q. Where does your inspiration for new teas come from?
I think the inspiration is to develop treats that are different food combinations that work well together and have a wow factor. Making sure we use the best local in season food available -but I also believe there is place for the traditional cakes done amazing well

Q. What is your favourite part of your latest afternoon tea?
I love the salted caramel, chocolate pave with honeycomb, it eats so well and we get to show case our own honey, it’s a big crowd pleaser 

Afternoon tea treats - Marwell Hotel

Q. Do you enjoy a spot of afternoon tea yourself and have you tried tea anywhere else?
I do enjoy it, really loved having tea at the Lanesborough in London 

Q. What is your favourite filling in an afternoon tea sandwich?
I enjoy the classic smoked salmon with a good kick of lemon crème fraiche and malt bread 

Q. The all important question - do you put cream or jam on your scone first?
I go jam, the jam sticks to the bottom and then load the cream high on top 

Q. If you could invite any guest to enjoy afternoon tea with you, who would it be and why?
Would have to be mum- she loves a good afternoon tea and is well over due a treat 

 Well, would you believe - jam first! I have to agree with Phil about the salted caramel, chocolate pave with honeycomb though - so scrummy!

It was really interesting to listen to Phil, he is very passionated about using local produce and providing high quality, seasonal dishes. I can't wait to see how the afternoon tea at Marwell evolves.

Thank you to Phil and the team at the Marwell Hotel for their time.

Thanks for popping by today,

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Tried and Tested....Proper Tea White Peony

Hello there,

Welcome back to another tried and tested tea article from Tea With Me and Friends. Today I wanted to share with you a rather lovely white tea that I have tried recently enjoyed.

White peony tea
from propertea

Proper Tea is a contemporary tea room in Manchester which specialises in loose leaf teas. They offer a wide variety of different teas, something for everyone - including five different Earl Grey varieties, black teas, green teas, flowering teas and many more.

I have amongst my tea collection their white peony tea.....

White peony tends to be a refreshing tea, with a slight sweetness to it which I really enjoy. This tea didn't disappoint, it was smooth with a slight nuttiness, and a lovely golden colour when brewed for just under two minutes.

I found this a gentle, refreshing cup of tea which I could enjoy at any point of the day.

For more information about Proper Tea or their white peony tea visit their website.

Thanks for popping by today,

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Time for Tea....at Marwell Hotel

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends, and this time we are sharing with you a recent visit to Marwell Hotel in Hampshire.

Marwell Hotel has recently gained the talents of executive chef Phil Yeoman who is passionate about using local produce in all his cooking, and this includes the afternoon tea on offer. Lorna and I were lucky enough to be invited to try Phil's current afternoon tea, here's what we enjoyed.....

We were seated in the upstairs of the lounge area and were looked after very well by Holly. Holly not only offered great, friendly service but also a very good knowledge of the afternoon tea she was serving. After we had picked our tea selection from the Twinings teas on offer, the tea stands were brought out.....

Afternoon tea - Marwell Hotel

On the top tier was a selection of afternoon tea cakes and pastries, and nestled below them on the middle tier were the finger sandwiches. The scones were brought out after we had finished our sandwiches, which meant they were served perfectly warm.

The hotel supports local producers and this is reflected in all the food served at afternoon tea. 

The sandwiches were freshly cut and generously filled....

Afternoon tea sandwiches - Marwell Hotel

The filling variety included:
Smoked salmon and cream cheese
Cream cheese and cucumber 
Honey roast ham, and grain mustard

The bread was fresh and I'm pleased to report crustless. The sandwiches were a good size, cut into fingers and filled from end to end - there was no scrimping here! I really enjoyed the cucumber sandwiches.

Once we had finished the sandwiches the plates of scones were brought out.....

Afternoon tea scones - Marwell Hotel

Now...these scones were quite amazing....firstly...they were huge! We were served one plain and one fruit scone each, accompanied by locally produced strawberry jam and clotted cream. As mentioned before, as the scones were brought out after we'd finished our sandwiches they were lovely and warm when we cut into them.

The fruit scones had fruit all the way through, and both the fruit and plain ones had a lovely flavour and texture to them. They had a nice bite, were light inside and not at all claggy. I really liked the strawberry jam, which was a good consistency (perfectly for dolloping on top of the cream!) and flavoursome.

Finally we moved onto the top tier of the cake stand....those wonderful looking pastries and cakes.....

Afternoon tea pastries - Marwell Hotel

There were three different sweets to enjoy:
Chocolate marquise salted caramel
Glazed strawberry tartlet chantilly cream
Carrot cake coriander cress

I started with the carrot cake, which was light and delicious. I'm not normally a fan of carrot cake, but this I really enjoyed. I followed this up with the strawberry tartlet, which again was light and delicate...and those strawberries tasted amazing! Finally I enjoyed the salted caramel and chocolate piece of heaven, which was topped with homemade honeycomb. It was rich, but light and I loved the salted caramel running through it. 

This was a really lovely selection of sweets, and all were a good size.

All in all this was a wonderful afternoon tea, we were well fed and watered and all for £15.50 per person. If you are in Hampshire I would definitely recommend trying this afternoon tea - it's great value, especially considering the quality of the ingredients.

We also had the pleasure of meeting executive chef Phil at the end of our experience who told us about some of his plans for the hotel (we also asked him our afternoon tea questions). We'll feature all this in a future blog post, so watch this space!

I'd like to thank Marwell Hotel and Phil for inviting us to try their afternoon tea. Please note that although we were guests at the hotel, this has not influenced our thoughts on the tea and all opinions expressed are our own.

If you would like to find out more about the afternoon tea, please visit the Marwell Hotel website.

Thank you for popping by today,

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Afternoon Tea News....The Ampersand Hotel

Hello there,

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

I wanted to share with you a creation that will be featuring at the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington to celebrate London Cocktail Week. Pastry Chef Ji Sun Shin has created a wonderfully cute afternoon tea, complete with cocktail umbrellas....

Cocktail afternoon tea - Ampersand Hotel

Doesn't it look wonderful? The colours are so inviting!

Currently on offer at the hotel is the London Fashion Week afternoon tea, which features lots of legs and handbags......

London Fashion Week Afternoon Tea - Ampersand Hotel
Photo from Website

London Fashion Week Afternoon Tea - Ampersand Hotel
Photo from Website

The London Fashion Week afternoon tea is available from the 6th - 21st September and includes savoury gougeres and a selection of plain and white chocolate scones as well as the pastry selection.

Ji Sun is an extremely creative pastry chef, who thinks that flavour is just as important as the look when it comes to her themed afternoon teas. I had the pleasure of meeting Ji Sun at the beginning of  this year, read all about it here.

For more information about all the afternoon teas on offer at the Ampersand please visit their website.

Have you enjoyed one of the themed afternoon teas at the Ampersand Hotel, if you have we'd love to hear about your experience!

Thank you  for popping by today,

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Time for Tea.....With lots of Audreys!

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends - this time I would like to share with you a recent tea Lorna and I experienced with the lovely Secret Tea Society Ladies at Warren House.

Now if you are not sure who the Secret Tea Society are you should really take a peek at their website....led by our tea leader Claire, we are a group of like minded ladies who enjoy tea and a good gossip! We meet approximately once a month for afternoon tea at various locations - we're a very friendly bunch so if you fancy joining us take a peek!

This tea was a rather special one as it was a Breakfast at Tiffany's themed afternoon tea that was put on for us at Warren House in New Malden, Surrey. As well as a beautifully dressed room and themed games all the ladies were also asked to dress for the occasion....

An orderly queue of Audreys!

As you can see from the photo above, tea was served buffet style, which for this particular tea I rather enjoyed. All the food was on the buffet table, presented on stands and we could help ourselves. Tea was of the loose leaf variety and we were presented with a selection of Twinings leaves to pick from.

A selection of Twinings Teas to pick from

Afternoon Tea Stands - Warren House

We had a traditional selection of afternoon tea treats to indulge in:

Afternoon tea sandwiches
Scones with homemade jam and clotted cream
Various pastries and fresh fruit

The sandwiches were fresh and perfectly sized - not a crust in sight. The fillings were very traditional and included smoked salmon and cucumber, egg mayonnaise and ham.

Afternoon tea sandwiches - Warren House

Next we helped ourselves to scones and pastries.....

Sweet treats at Warren House!

From the lovely selection I decided to try the vanilla and strawberry panna cotta shot, the ginger spiced cupcake, the brownie and the tea bread.

I really enjoyed the panna cotta, which was rich and creamy and went beautifully with the strawberry compote on the top. I also loved the mini cupcake which was perfectly sized and full of flavour.

The scones were also a good size - not too big, not too small and were not claggy in texture. I particularly enjoyed the homemade strawberry jam as well, which had a really good flavour.

Afternoon tea sweets - Warren House

Our tea was served in wonderful, individual glass teapots. 
I loved the contemporary design....

Tea is served!

Finally I thought I should show you what Lorna and I decided to wear to this tea. We were all asked to dress in our best Breakfast at Tiffany's inspired outfits....and we decided to think outside the box a little....

Lorna opted for Audrey in her pink dress....and I went for "Moon River" Audrey, complete with guitar! 

All in all we had a wonderful afternoon, a big thank you to Claire for organising yet another wonderful afternoon tea and thank you also to Warren House for a lovely afternoon tea experience.

To find out more about afternoon tea at Warren House please visit their website.

Thank you for popping by today,

Saturday, 6 September 2014

A Wonderful Scone....

Hello there,

Welcome back to another scone themed blog post from Tea With Me and Friends! After the last post when I shared with you a rather disappointing scone that I had over the summer...I thought I should now share a quite lovely scone experience.

Today I went for a wander in my local antique shop in Farnham - it's a huge place with lots of different rooms stuffed to the roof with treasures! In the middle of it all is the Mill Stream Tearooms, which I may frequent on a regular basis (as its only a five minute stroll from my front door!).

I decided today not to indulge in a full cream tea, but I did fancy a scone and some tea......

To be honest I was a little surprised that I was served two scones, but they weren't too large and so I tucked into both. One was plain and the other fruited and I enjoyed them with butter and strawberry jam. 

The tearoom really is in the middle of the antiques....here are some of the surroundings you can enjoy while tucking into your tea and scones.....

Now I said this was a wonderful scone experience and it's because the scones were so tasty! They were served warm and they were light and fluffy - not at all claggy. The fruited one was full of raisins, no scrimping here!

Best of all, this little lot cost lest than £4.00 and the scones were homemade!

A really lovely treat for a Saturday afternoon.

If you happen to be in the Farnham area in Surrey and fancied a scone I would highly recommend the Mill Stream Tearooms!

Thanks for popping by today,