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

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Time for.....some reading...The Tea Book

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends, we hope you are having a tea-riffic day so far!

Recently we were very excited to receive a copy of The Tea Book by Canadian Tea Sommelier Linda Gaylard through the post. The reason for our excitement...firstly this beautiful book is dedicated to all things tea from sections which allow readers to find out about tea generally, to a section on the history of tea and a collection of wonderful recipes. Secondly this is a DK book.....and we always love DK reference books, they tend to be beautifully presented and full of great information.

So grab a cuppa and let's take a closer look at this book dedicated to all things tea....

The Tea Book
Linda Gaylard

As I mentioned, this book is full of beautiful images, but there are also plenty of useful diagrams and reference maps which will help increase the tea knowledge of any reader. If you are curious about tea origins or want to learn a little more about your favourite hot beverage this is definitely the book for you. The imagery is is colourful and really adds interest to the content.

Linda is certified by the Tea Association of Canada and is also a graduate of the Tea Sommelier programme of the George Brown college in Toronto. In 2009 Linda launched The Tea Stylist, when she was invited to author The Tea Book she set out to create a book which would give readers the basis of knowledge about tea in a visual and informative style.

This is the kind of book you can pick up and start reading at any time when you have a spare moment. The content is both informative and engaging and includes information about Teas of the World, including key facts for each area. There is also a spread about afternoon tea, including the origins of afternoon tea and a little tea etiquette

However, I think my favourite section of the book is the 75 tea beverage recipes at the back which includes matcha lattés, tea smoothies and tea cocktails. The instructions are easy to follow and there are plenty of photos for inspiration.

There is something for everyone from a "Rosy Rooibos" featuring rosebuds and rooibos to the "tangled garden" which includes among other things white peony tea, elderflower and vodka.

The Tea Book
Linda Gaylard

This book is perfect for anyone interested in tea, or anyone wanted to expand their knowledge - it would make such a lovely gift for a tea-loving friend.

I'd like to thank Linda and DK UK for sending us a copy of this book. Please note that although we have received a complimentary copy of this fab book, all opinions expressed in this blog post are our own.

Do you have a favourite tea book that we should know about - we'd love to hear all about it, leave us a comment below!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Time for Tea....The Goring

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends! We hope you are well today.

So, this week I went on a very special afternoon tea adventure.....a couple of weeks ago we received a lovely email from Valerie from Portland who enjoys a good cup of tea and reading our little blog,  inviting us to join her for a spot of afternoon tea during her holiday in the UK. I was so delighted to receive the email, and even more delighted when I realised I could make the date Valerie had suggested. Unfortunately Lorna couldn't join us this time, so Valerie will just have to come back to the UK soon so we can all have tea together!

The Goring, London

Valerie suggested The Goring for this afternoon tea adventure, somewhere I have heard lovely things about but never visited myself, and so I eagerly accepted the kind invitation. For those who don't know, The Goring has been serving Afternoon Tea since it opened its doors over a century ago and it just happens to be the place where Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, stayed the night before her wedding to Prince William. 

The hotel is a family-owned luxury hotel, which first opened its doors on 2nd March 1910. It truly is a beautiful hotel, and the service we experienced was warm, friendly and faultless.

We were seated in the opulent Bar & Lounge area of the hotel, the section we sat in had a cheerful yellow colour scheme...from the walls to the seats to the china....everything looked bright and cheerful.....

The Goring, London

Our afternoon tea adventure began with an appetiser....a little cauliflower and cheese delight, topped with toasted rice....it sounds a bit odd I know, but bear with me as it actually tasted rather lovely and was a nice, light start to the afternoon tea....

Afternoon tea appetiser - The Goring

The appetiser is served in a small shot glass and has a smooth texture which works well with the toasted rice topping. 

Once we had finished these the afternoon tea stand was brought out.....

Afternoon tea
The Goring

Are you drooling yet?

So, as tradition dictates we started at the bottom of that beautiful cake stand with the traditional finger sandwiches. The selection included Salt beef and horseradish mayonnaise, Ham & mustard, Smoked salmon & soft cheese with dill and Cucumber with mint & crème fraiche served on either white or brown bread.

Afternoon tea sandwiches - The Goring

The sandwiches were perfect fingers and the bread was soft. They were well filled and everything tasted fresh and well balanced. I even enjoyed the salt beef as the horseradish mayonnaise was light and not at all overpowering.

Once we had finished our sandwiches (and declined seconds) we moved up a tier onto those  scones....

Afternoon Tea scones - The Goring

We had one fruit and one plain scone each and they were served with clotted cream and preserve - a choice of strawberry or raspberry. The preserves were particularly good, full of flavour and very fruity. However, the scones I'm afraid we found a tiny bit claggy right in the middle. They did have a great flavour though, and I think if there were a little smaller in size they would have been perfect.

We were offered more scones and sandwiches on several occasions throughout the afternoon tea, and the waiters made sure our teacups remained topped up. 

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

Afternoon tea sweets - The Goring

Our selection included:
Caramel-apple choux
Sea buckthorn curd
White chocolate mousse and passion fruit
Raspberry pistachio and violet tartlet
Opera cake

Now...I know you might be asking "exactly what is Sea buckthorn curd Rachel?" And to be honest until I got home and turned to trusty Google I had no idea what we had eaten!

Apparently Sea buckthorn are orange berries...found on Scottish coasts....they look like this.....

Sea buckthorn - orange berries

In this case they have been made into a curd and combined it with a lovely buttery biscuit base (it's the yellow treat with the three white flowers in the photo above). They had a light, fruity taste...the texture was a bit odd at first but both Valerie and I decided we enjoyed it once we'd finished it! 

The Opera cake with that mini macaroon was a delight - the coffee and chocolate really well balanced. We also enjoyed the tartlet, the combination of raspberry and violet was unusual but worked well.

But the stand out sweet treat for both of us was the White chocolate mousse and passion fruit ball....

Sweet treats - afternoon tea at The Goring

This white chocolate ball was a delight to eat, inside the shell is a light white chocolate mousse and in the middle of that a ball of passionfruit. Its fruity, delicate and not too sweet - really scrummy!

The tea menu at The Goring is extensive and includes black, white and green teas, an Oolong Tea and a variety of fruit and herbal infusions. I went for the The Goring Afternoon Blend which is a blend of Assam and second flush Darjeeling - it was light tea, bright in colour which I enjoyed without milk. It made a lovely accompaniment to the afternoon tea feast.

The Goring Afternoon Tea Blend

All the staff we encountered during our visit were professional but very friendly, adding to the wonderful experience. 

We enjoyed The Traditional Goring Tea which costs £42.50 each, but you can add a glass of Bollinger and it will cost £52.50 per person. This afternoon tea would make a lovely treat for celebrating a special occasion and I think the cost is reasonable considering the quality of the food and the general experience (you leave feeling well looked after). For more information about this afternoon tea please visit The Goring website.

I had such a lovely afternoon with Valerie and I hope she returns to the UK again soon, it was so nice to natter to someone who is passionate about a good cup of tea and enjoys a spot of afternoon tea as much as Lorna and I do.

Valerie enjoying a spot of afternoon tea
The Goring

Have you visited The Goring for a spot of afternoon tea? What was your favourite part of the experience? Leave us a comment - we'd love to know what you thought.

Thank you for popping by today,

Friday, 28 August 2015

The Friday Review....Birchall Tea - Part One

Hello There,

Well, it's that day of the week again....it's Friday and that means we want to share a new tea with you....but this week we have something a little different to share.

Yesterday I was invited to a tea tasting event held by Birchall Tea, a fifth generation London based tea company with over 140 years of history. Today we are one of the world’s largest exporters of East African teas shipping 36 million kgs of tea worldwide per annum.

A history of Birchall Tea

Quality is really important to Birchall Tea, something they highlighted during their informative and very enjoyable tea tasting. Their teas are always 100% pure main grade black leaf tea...you know what that means? 

No powder, dust or stalk in your cuppa!

Birchall Tea

So, after we had an introduction to the company we were given a first hand experience of their teas with a tea tasting session

We were shown exactly what is inside the tea bags of several different brands of black tea....

Tea bags exposed - spot the dust!

Can you tell which one is from an economy teabag? 
I'll give you a hint.....its the pile of light brown dust on the far left hand side.

The teas were then brewed, following their individual brand instructions....

Tea tasting from Birchall Tea

Once brewed to perfection, we examined the difference in the teas - from the leaves to the colour of the brew....we also tried each of the teas too. The experience was led by Sinclair, a very knowledgeable member of Birchall Tea, who answered all our questions as he guided us through the experience....

Tea tasting from Birchall Tea

Once we had finished the black tea tasting, we sampled the other teas in the Birchall Tea range which includes green teas and a range of fruit and herbal infusions. From a fresh and fruity Green Tea & Peach blend to a warming Lemongrass & Ginger or the fresh and punchy Peppermint. There is something for every taste bud!

Birchall Tea

I particularly enjoyed the Green Tea & Peach which is a traditional green tea, blended with real fruit pieces and marigold flowers. It has a wonderful peachy aroma, but the taste is light and fresh and not at all overpowering. I was also told a wonderful recipe to try with this tea....watch this space for another blog post coming soon!

The other tea I enjoyed was the Red Berry & Flower tea which is a smooth blend of sweet red berries and refreshing hibiscus. This tea is a beautiful ruby red colour, and has a full flavour...but because of the hibiscus flower it is not too sweet. I tried this tea hot, but I think it would make a wonderful cold brew or iced tea too.

Red Berry & Flower tea - Birchall Tea

Now I'm not going to tell you too much about the other teas, as I will leave that for the next blog post, but if you want to find out more about Birchall Teas you can visit their newly launched website.

I'd like to thank Birchall Teas for inviting me to their tea tasting event, it's always good to learn about different tea brands.

Watch this space for more blog posts about Birchall Teas!

Thank you for popping by today,

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Meet the Chef.....Dennis Easton, The Capital Hotel

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - we hope you are well!

Do you remember a couple of weeks ago we featured the afternoon tea launch at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge. Their fab looking new tea is a very traditional affair, featuring Victoria Sponge, Bakewell Tart and scrummy scones!

Afternoon tea
The Capital Hotel, Knightsbridge

After trying some of the scrummy afternoon tea we were delighted when Sous Chef Dennis Easton agreed to answer our nosey afternoon tea questions! So, what are we waiting for....let's ask those all important questions (and find out if Chef is a cream or jam first kinda guy!)....

How long does it usually take you to create new afternoon teas?
Six to eight weeks.  It's nice to take time to play about with different concepts, ideas and to work out what individual cakes and savoury bites work well together.  A great taste is essential but it is equally important to create a beautiful presentation with a variety of flavours, textures, and colours.

Where does your inspiration for new teas come from?
All sorts really but in the case of The Capital’s new afternoon tea it was childhood – a real nostalgic throwback to being a kid and loving that genuine British tea experience.

Sous Chef Dennis Easton - The Capital Hotel

What is your favourite part of your latest afternoon tea?
The Neapolitan ice cream, it's such a classic.  Ice-cream was and is always such a special treat.

Do you enjoy a spot of afternoon tea yourself and have you tried tea anywhere else?
Yes, I like to go for afternoon tea. The Savoy is probably one of my favourites in London but there are always new things to try.

What is your favourite filling in an afternoon tea sandwich?
Beef & Horseradish or Egg & Cress – again, they are the epitome of a typical British tea.

Sous Chef Dennis Easton - The Capital Hotel

The all-important question - do you put cream or jam on your scone first?
Jam first – and in case you ask, it’s tea first, not milk!

If you could invite any guest to enjoy afternoon tea with you, who would it be and why?
Winston Churchill: he’s a national hero and I am sure he would approve of our Great British Afternoon Tea at The Capital

Oh my - jam first? Well, I suppose we can forgive Chef as his scones are rather good (not sure if we've already mentioned the scrummy scones!).

Afternoon tea scones - The Capital Hotel

We'd like to thank Chef for taking the time to answer our questions - we always love hearing about how afternoon teas are created....and asking that nosey cream/jam question! We also love hearing where Chefs have enjoyed afternoon tea themselves!

The new afternoon tea at The Capital Hotel is available from Wednesday 9th September - more information can be found on their website.

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Time for...something a bit lighter

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends!

Today we are featuring something a little bit sweet, but perfect for those midweek sugar cravings when you don't want to over indulge too much (well they work for us!).

Have you tried...chocolate covered corn cakes? Yes, we know what you are thinking....has all that sugar and caffeine finally gone to our heads....but bear with us on this one!

Milk chocolate corn cakes - Kallo

Now these are from Kallo and come in at just 78 calories per cake making them a sensible treat (yes I know there are two on my plate!). If you haven't heard of Kallo before, they are a company who focus on food products for "sensible happy eating" - hence chocolate covered corn cakes! 

For Kallo a sensible diet should be about what you can eat rather than focusing on what you can't eat (sounds very sensible to me).

Let's take a closer look at the corn cakes....

Chocolate covered corn cakes from Kallo

These corn cakes have a thin coating of milk chocolate on one side, making them sweet enough to conquer a mild chocolate craving, but with less than 80 calories per cake they won't ruin your waistline (unless maybe you eat them all in one go!).

We were sent these corn cakes to try and if I am honest I was a little dubious at first - after all....we are all about cakes, tea and scones here at Tea With Me and Friends! I was concerned that they would be a bit like munching on cardboard. However, I am very pleased to report that there is just enough chocolate on the corn cakes to make them a very enjoyable treat.

Milk chocolate corn cakes - Kallo

For more information about these corn cakes and to see the other products in the Kallo range visit their website

We'd like to thank Kallo for sending us these corn cakes to try - but please remember this hasn't affected our taste buds and all opinions expressed here are our own.

Do you have a favourite Kallo product? Have you tried these chocolate covered corn cakes before? What did you think about them?

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Time for a....Mad Hatter's Tea Party!

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends....sorry we haven't posted much in the last week...it was the excitment of Afternoon Tea Week! That and we've been busy preparing for a rather special tea party...a Mad Hatter's Tea Party in Lorna's garden!

For those of you who have visited our blog for a while now you'll know that we enjoy hosting afternoon teas as much as we enjoy going to fancy ones in hotels or tearooms. This particular tea party was Lorna's idea, we've had it booked in our diairies for a while and wanted to enjoy it in the garden ....thank goodness the weather was kind to us!

Now, Lorna's styling was pretty amazing for this afternoon tea....so I might have taken the odd photo or two....but I thought you wouldn't mind drooling over some extra photos in this post! So, grab a cup of tea and a piece of cake and sit back....presenting our Mad Hatter's Tea Party....

Mad Hatter's Tea Party
Tea with Me and Friends

In the centre of the Lorna's garden we had several tables, all piled high with iced tea and bubbles (we were a little too hot for traditional tea) sweet and savoury homemade goodies. Lorna also added beautiful flowers in various bottles and jars, along with all kinds of weird and wonderful items.

We followed a traditional afternoon tea menu, starting with savoury items....

Afternoon tea savouries
Tea With Me and Friends

Afternoon tea cheese scones

We had egg mayonaise finger sandwiches, Queen of Hearts savoury tarts and cheese scones smoothered in cream cheese. Plus these was a large tomato and cheese tart. Lorna opted for just one sandwich filling as we had quite a few savoury options to pick from.

We then had blueberry and lemon curd scones with clotted cream....

Afternoon tea scones and cakes
Tea With Me and Friends

We really had to pace ourselves with this afternoon tea as we went a little crazy with the baking! 

The sweet treats included vanilla biscuits, starwberry shortbreads, merguine mushrooms, gin and tonic cake and passionfruit and coconut rum cupcakes with lime icing.

There really was something for everyone....

Afternoon tea biscuits

Passionfruit and coconut rum cakes with lime icing

Strawberry shortbreads

Afternoon tea cakes
Tea With Me and Friends

I told you there would be lots of photos!

Now obviously we enjoyed our afternoon tea served on Lorna's vintage china collection...but we also got to use some lovely glasswear for our bubbles and even the cutlery looked pretty....

They gave me that teeny tiny glass!

A spot of Lorna's handy craft
made the cutlery pretty!

Now with such a wonderful setting for the tea party it would have been rude if the guests didn't look the part too....so here we are...before we got too hot in the sun and changed back out of the fancy dress.....

Mad Hatter's Tea Party
Tea With Me and Friends

We had a tea-riffic time....with great company and scrummy food! We'll be sharing some of the recipes on the blog soon, just in case you fancy creating your own Mad Hatter's Tea Party at home!

A big thank you to Lorna for hosting such a fab tea party!

Thank you for popping by today,
we hope you've enjoyed all the photos!

Rachel & Lorna

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Time for....some Pistachio Macarons

Hello there,

Happy Sunday! We hope you are well and have enjoyed our week of afternoon tea news, reviews and recipes to celebrate Afternoon Tea Week 2015. Today we have one last recipe for you...this time from one of our lovely friends - Julie.

Julie sent me this photo last week.....

Pistachio Macarons - made by Julie

My immediate reaction was....wow they look good! My second reaction was to ask Julie if we could share her photo on the blog....and whether we could also have the recipe!

Luckily Julie agreed....so here we go....let's make some pistachio macarons....

You will need...
50g shelled unsalted pistachios
200g cups icing sugar
75g ground almonds
120-125g egg whites (about 3 eggs)
a pinch of salt
40g caster sugar
green food colouring paste

Piping bag
Baking trays

Preheat the oven to 170c

Just in case you forgot how good these look!

How to make them....
1. Use unsalted shelled pistachios, grind finely in a food processor, along with icing sugar and ground almonds until they are combined. Set aside.

2. Tip the egg whites into a clean dry mixing bowl, add the salt, and using an electric whisk beat until they will only just hold a stiff peak. 

3. Continue to whisk while adding the caster sugar a teaspoon at a time. Mix well between each spoonful to ensure the sugar is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next spoonful.  You should end up with a thick, white and glossy mixture.

4. Now add the green food colouring, mixing thoroughly to ensure that the colour is evenly blended.

5 Using a large metal spoon fold the ground sugar and almonds into the egg whites. 

6. The mixture should be thoroughly mixed and smooth - once ready it should easily drop from your spoon. 

7. Fill your piping bag with the mixture and pipe evenly sized rounds - about 5cm across - onto your prepared baking sheets. 

8. Once finished, tap the bottom of the baking sheets sharply on your work surface (this removes any large air bubbles)

9. Leave the macarons for between 15-60 minutes, until they have set and formed a dry shell. They should not be sticky when tested with your finger tips. 

10. Bake the macarons on the middle shelf of the preheated oven one sheet at a time for 10 minutes. The tops should be crisp and the bottoms dry. 

11. Leave to cool on the baking sheet. Once cool, the macarons can be filled - here Julie has used a White Chocolate Ganache, made with white chocolate and double cream.

Pistachio Macarons
Are you drooling yet?

Don't they look wonderful?

I'd like to send a HUGE thank you to Julie for sharing her photos and the recipe with us. If you give the recipe a go at home we'd love to see your macarons too - send us a photo!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Time for....an afternoon tea launch, The Capital Hotel

Hello there,

Well I hope you've been enjoying Afternoon Tea Week.

We were very excited to be invited to a little afternoon tea launch that took place at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge this week. The Capital is a family-owned and family-run hotel in the heart of Knightsbridge, and they are taking afternoon tea back to its roots with a very traditional English experience.

Afternoon tea
The Capital Hotel

Launching on Wednesday September 9th The Capital Afternoon Tea features those traditional British favourites: Victoria sponge, Bakewell tart and crumpets all baked by the Michelin-starred team behind Outlaw’s at The Capital. 

When we arrived at the launch we found a beautiful spread, demonstrating what the new afternoon tea will look like, we were also given a sneak preview of their Christmas offering!

The afternoon tea launch table
The Capital Hotel

 The afternoon tea includes everything you would expect from a traditional spread. The sandwich fillings include cucumber, egg and cress, ham and mustard and a smoked mackerel pâté, there is also bacon and mushroom quiche to tempt the taste buds. There are plain and fruit scones which are served warm, with home-made strawberry jam and Devonshire clotted cream. The sweet selection includes Victoria sponge, Bakewell Tart....and something rather wonderful....a Neapolitan ice cream sandwich!

Afternoon tea savouries
The Capital Hotel

Afternoon tea scones - The Capital Hotel

Ice Cream sandwiches for afternoon tea
The Capital Hotel
As this was a launch event we didn't get to try the full afternoon tea experience, but we did get to sample some wonderful canape versions of the afternoon tea menu. Particular favourites were the lemon drizzle cake and the ice-cream sandwich.

Mini Ice-cream sandwich at The Capital Hotel

Rather scrummy lemon drizzle cake - The Capital Hotel

This afternoon tea adventure is accompanied by a selection of Jing’s tea blends ranging from old favourites such as Earl Grey to Green tea from Japan or fruit infusions. 

Jing Tea at The Capital Hotel

In additional to this wonderful spread the Capital’s award-winning Barman, Cesar, has created two afternoon tea cocktails using a spot of Sipsmith London Dry Gin for the base.  You can pick from The Basil Street Spritz which includes blackcurrant and hibiscus infused tea and Champagne or how about the Capital Citrus Blend which blends marmalade, orange, lime and apple juice, with Bohea infused tea and Curaçao.   

A sneak peek at the Christmas afternoon tea at The Capital Hotel

Afternoon tea is served at The Capital between 2pm - 5:30pm every afternoon and costs just £29.50 per person, making it a very affordable experience. Afternoon Tea with one of the cocktails costs £35 per person or The Capital Champagne Afternoon Tea comes with a glass of Ayala Champagne and costs £39.50 per person. For more information please visit The Capital Hotel website.

We'd like to thank The Capital for inviting us to their launch, we're hoping to pop back soon for the full afternoon tea experience.

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna