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

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Time for Tea...The Gin Palace

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - we hope you've had a lovely week.

Last weekend we were lucky enough to sample the brand new afternoon tea on offer at The Strand Palace hotel in London. Within the hotel you will find The Gin Palace a rather lovely cocktail bar, and last week they started serving their new gin afternoon tea!

The Strand Palace Hotel was built and first opened by J. Lyons & Co. (known for their tearooms) in 1909. After extensive redevelopment in the early 1920s the Strand Palace Hotel reopened in 1926 and became an art-deco showcase boasting an impressive 980 bedrooms. Set in an architecturally listed, iconic Art Deco building, The Strand Palace Hotel is located right in the heart of the capital on the Strand.

The Gin Palace (formerly known as the Mask Bar) is the inspiration for this new afternoon tea offering at The Strand Palace, which starts with a gin tea cocktail.....

Gin Afternoon Tea - The Strand Palace

There are five different gin based cocktails to pick from including the Earl White, made with Hoxton Gin, infused with coconut and Earl Grey Tea, or the signature Gin Palace Tea made with Hendricks Gin, Fresh Mint Tea, cucumber ribbons and apple juice. 

We tried four of the five cocktails on offer and they were all really good, and the helpful bar staff can help with suggestions if you are spoilt for choice!

The cocktails are well made and generous in size....

Gin Tea Cocktails - Gin Palace

Once you are settled with your cocktail and have also picked a tea to enjoy with your feast, the food is served on a modern cake stand. Everything is served together, and its worth noting that the scones are warm....

Gin Afternoon Tea - The Strand Palace

As you can see....there is rather a lot of scrummy looking food in this afternoon tea feast! 

As tradition dictates we started at the top of our cake stand with the generous finger sandwiches. The fillings included Cucumber and Cream Cheese, Egg Mayonnaise with Cress, Shredded Chicken and preserved Lemon and Beetroot Gravlax with Juniper on Rye Bread - so something for everyone there!

Afternoon tea sandwiches - The Strand Palace

As you can see, each of the sandwiches was well filled - no stingy sandwiches here! I particularly enjoyed the egg mayonnaise which also had chives in the mix (a very nice addition). Neither Lorna nor I were that keen on the shredded chicken sandwich.....however this was more a texture thing than a dislike of the flavour. The chicken was more smooth paste than shredded which seemed a bit odd - the flavour of chicken and lemon however was very good.

The sandwiches were all really fresh, with soft bread....and not a crust in sight!

We were offered more sandwiches, but as they were quite large we opted not to enjoy anymore and move onto the scones instead.

Afternoon tea scones - The Strand Palace

As I mentioned earlier, although not covered, the scones are indeed served warm....and they were still warm by the time we got to them, despite taking our time over the savouries. They were served with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

One of the things we really liked about the scones is how homemade they looked! They were irregular in size, and slightly flatter than your average hotel scone.....but this gave them a certain charm! They also tasted really good!

Finally we made it to the sweets....again the choice was quite amazing, with something for everyone. 

This afternoon tea had quite a traditional feel to it and the cakes reflected this -  we enjoyed Bakewell Tart, a Raspberry and Juniper infused shot, Victoria Sponge with Strawberry Jam, a Blueberry and Lemon Tart, a chocolate macaroon and a Chocolate Cup with a Vanilla and Mocha Mousse.

Afternoon tea sweets - The Strand Palace
All the cakes were tasty and fresh, they were also good sizes.....not too big, not too small! 

If I am honest I think the name of the tart is slightly misleading as the only blueberries in it are the ones on top.....however, it is a really good lemon tart. We both loved the raspberry and juniper infused shot - such a bright, vibrant colour.....it had a sharp, refreshing taste.

The Victoria sponge could have had a little more jam, but again it was really tasty and the sponge was fresh. My favourite sweet was probably the chocolate cup.....number one it looked so cute....but also that vanilla and mocha mousse was divine!

The cutest chocolate cup - The Strand Palace

We really enjoyed the ambiance in the Gin Palace, and the place settings and china used were very pretty....with gin bottles being used as vases. In addition, all the staff we encountered at The Strand Palace were very friendly and helpful.

Served from 2pm until 5pm, every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, this quirky afternoon tea is priced at £29.95 per person. The quality of the food is great, and any gin lover will appreciate the well made cocktails. A great option for a group of friends, looking for a well priced afternoon tea in a central London location.

We'd like to thank The Strand Palace for inviting us try this afternoon tea - but please remember although we sampled this tea for free it has not effected our tastes buds and all opinions expressed here are our own.

The Strand Palace also offers a traditional afternoon tea, a cream tea and also an Indian inspired afternoon tea - to read more about them pop by their website.

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Friday, 30 October 2015

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

Hello there,

Happy Friday - the weekend is in sight!

This Friday review we are featuring another two teas from the Birchall Tea range....this time we've been sampling their green teas.....

Birchall Tea - The Green Teas

Birchall Tea has two green teas in it's range....a classic green tea and a green tea with peach. 

I tried both teas in their prism teabag form. The prism teabags give the leaves room to move when brewing....

The Mao Feng Green Tea is single origin, sourced from China. Although the leaves are dark to begin with (photo above left), once brewed the tea produced is a clear yellow colour.

Birchall Tea - Green Tea

This is a smooth, light green tea. Very enjoyable.

However, if you fancy something a little different you could try the Green Tea & Peach, which is a traditional green tea, blended with real fruit pieces and marigold flowers. This tea has a lovely, fruity aroma when brewing and produces a bright yellow tea.....

Birchall Tea - Green Tea & Peach

The taste is fruity and refreshing - but not overpowering. Its quite a delicate flavour, and it makes a nice change to traditional green teas.

Both teas contain anti-oxidants, which are known for their cleansing and detoxifying qualities and contain less caffeine than black tea.

To find out more about these and the other Birchall Teas in the range pop by their website. Have you tried any of the other Birchall Teas? We'd love to hear which is your favourite....

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Time for Tea.....The George in Stamford

Hello there,

Welcome back to another tea-riffic guest post here at Tea With Me and Friends, this week we are joined by the lovely Victoria Redshaw who enjoyed a rather scrummy afternoon this week at The George of Stamford. Let's find out about Victoria's afternoon tea adventure....

The George of Stamford is a former coaching inn, acting as an oasis in this Lincolnshire town, which is renowned for its Georgian architecture.  Traditional décor, with sofas and comfortable armchairs are the order of the day in the lounge, heated by a large fire, which is where my mother and I took our afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea
The George of Stamford

Perhaps unusually, people are unable to book for afternoon tea with the argument being that there are many nooks and crannies in which to find a spot to eat.  Afternoon tea is served from 3.30pm, but we were incredibly early (by an hour!) so my mother took herself to buy ANOTHER pair of shoes whilst I enjoyed a pot of tea and was able to people watch.

We ordered the Champagne Afternoon Tea for two, which included a glass of champagne each; cheers!  


A pot of English Breakfast tea was also taken by us, but other options were available.  

So, onto the main event.  Four finger sandwiches each were served with different fillings: smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise, cucumber and cream cheese and rare roast beef – and not a crust in sight!  They were very traditional and delicious, with the right amount of filling.

Afternoon tea sandwiches - The George of Stamford

The scones were on the top tier of the stand, but knowing our afternoon tea etiquette, we sampled them next.  Delicious and light, they were served with a homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream.  By this time, we both needed a little rest before attempting the sweet treats.

Deliciously light sweet treats ensured that my eyes really were larger than my stomach!  A small pastry case with a raspberry and strawberry, on top of a bed of crème patisserie took my fancy first.  This was swiftly followed by a light Victoria Sponge, almond sponge and then that delicious looking chocolate layer cake.  Suffice to say, I have the “cake shakes” as I’m typing this!  My mother was slightly more sensible and opted to have her two remaining cakes boxed up and sent back to my husband in a food parcel.

Afternoon tea sweet treats - The George of Stamford

The George is a traditional place to have a traditional afternoon tea.  At a cost of £28.95 each, including a glass of champagne, in such great surroundings this tea is worth it!  The service was attentive, without being fussy and the food was fresh.  

Now, who should I take next time…

Now doesn't that afternoon tea look wonderful? We do love a traditional afternoon tea!
A big thank you to Victoria (and her mum) for sharing this afternoon tea adventure - we always love to hear about the teas you have enjoyed. For more information about this afternoon pop by The George of Stamford's website.

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Time for Tea...Cafe Royal, London

Hello there,

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

Last weekend Lorna and I enjoyed a rather wonderful afternoon tea adventure with our mum and the lovely Becca at Cafe Royal in London. Tea is served in the The Oscar Wilde Bar, which was formerly the iconic Grill Room, it has now been restored to its authentic Louis XVI detailing and is quite stunning.....just take a look....

Tea With Me and Friends enjoying a spot of afternoon tea!

We decided to opt for the The Champagne London Royal Tea....after all, a glass of bubbles with your afternoon tea is always lovely!

The crockery was all plain white, but this was perfect in the very ornate and shiny Oscar Wilde Bar (be warned....there are mirrors everywhere!). Each table had a very beautiful red rose....

Afternoon tea - Cafe Royal

Now, unfortunately we arrived slightly late for this particular afternoon tea adventure and so our amuse bouche was served with the rest of the savoury treats on a three tier stand....

Afternoon tea savouries
Cafe Royal

We couldn't believe how much food was provided as part of this afternoon tea - it's a real feast! As well as the amuse bouche there are another five different savouries on that little stand! 

So, on our top tier we had the amuse bouche which was a Low Sidecar muffin with goat's cheese and tomato, plus a finger sandwich containing Cucumber, cream cheese and beetroot. I'm not a huge fan of goats cheese....and the muffin had rather a lot on it and so I didn't really enjoy it.....however Becca (our resident goats cheese lover) really enjoyed it!

The finger sandwich was fresh and well filled, and there wasn't a crust in sight!

The next tier down contained  a Prawn brigade with spices and London honey and a Smoked "Wilde" salmon, quail's egg and cress round. Both of these were really tasty - I particularly enjoyed the prawns, with the slight sweet taste.

Finally on the bottom tier we found a Smoked wild boar roll with pickled apple, English mustard and crackling and the most amazing Chorizo, caramelised white onion and thyme "Wellington" - I could have eaten rather a lot of those! Again, the wild boar wasn't for me - but mum really enjoyed it.

We were offered a second helping of savouries.....but very wisely we declined. 

Next we were served the pre-dessert....an iced fruit tea and a crown biscuit. The tea was indeed very fruity and super sweet and the crown biscuit was buttery and delicate - the perfect biscuit!

Afternoon tea pre-desserts
Cafe Royal

Once we'd enjoyed these treats the scones were brought to us. 

They were served warm with strawberry preserve, lemon curd and of course clotted cream. The scones smelt wonderful when they arrived at the table, but unfortunately they were slightly claggy in texture. We all only ate one scone each.

Afternoon tea scones
The Oscar Wilde Bar - Cafe Royal

By this stage we were all rather full already...
...but just take a look at the six sweets that were served next.....

Afternoon tea sweets
Cafe Royal

So, in the name of afternoon tea adventures we pushed on. 

On the top tier we discovered a Spitfire lollipop and a round of Victoria sponge. The lollipop had a rich chocolate centre and the Victoria sponge cake was light and filled with fresh cream and a little raspberry preserve....both were very enjoyable....

On the next tier there was a small piece of Battenberg  and an Underground themed macaroon. The macaroon was particularly good - both crisp and chewy...

Finally on the bottom tier we found a Pearly King and Queen Opera and a Raspberry "Regent". The Opera cake was rich and chocolately with pretty pearly buttons on top....but it was the raspberry regent that stole the show....

The raspberry regent was the perfect size to be popped in your mouth in one go - I'm not sure whether this was good manners or not but the taste explosion in your mouth is worth the risk of offending fellow diners with your bad manners! 

Just when we thought we were going to burst we were offered a slice of cake from the cake trolley! Yes, there was even more food to come! There were three different types on offer....I opted for the lemon drizzle...

Lemon drizzle cake - The Oscar Wilde Bar

I didn't manage to eat the whole piece, but it was a lovely lemon cake!

This whole feast, including a glass of Veuve Clicquot and your choice of tea costs just £55 per person, which we think is exceptional value. The quality (and quantity) of the food is really good and the service was excellent. 

As well as the serving staff there is also a toastmaster who speaks several times during the sitting, the toastmaster also pops around and talks to guests to ensure everyone is enjoying their experience. 

For more information about this afternoon tea please visit the Cafe Royal website.

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Friday Review....Adagio Teas (part two)

Hello there,

Happy Friday! We hope you've had a fab week!

So, another Friday is with us and this week on The Friday Review we're featuring some more Adagio Teas. If you popped by last week you'll know that the kind people at Adagio Teas recently sent us a rather cool cup and infuser, along with a selection of loose leaf teas. Last week we tried the White Tropics tea...this week we have another three teas to try...

The three teas are a pu erh hazelberry, a jasmine silver needle and a thai chai.

Let's begin with taking a look at the pu erh hazelberry, which combines the flavours of strawberries and hazelnut with the earthy smoothness of a Pu erh tea.

The leaves have a really mouthwatering nutty aroma which burst from the packet when you open it.  The tea once brewed is a dark brown colour and has a very nutty aroma.

I tried this tea without milk first and I found it a very unusual flavour. It had a smokey taste with a vaguely nutty hint to it. I also tried the tea with milk and thought this improved the flavour, as it added a slightly more creamy flavour.

Next lets take a look at the Jasmine Silver Needle white tea....

Jasmine Silver Needle white tea is made up of young tea leaf buds with a whisper of jasmine aura. 

This tea had a delicate fresh jasmine aroma and was a pale yellow colour once brewed. The flavour was light and delicate, making it a rather refreshing cup of tea.

Finally  lets take a look at the thai chai....

This is an alternative to a traditional masala chai and includes black tea, coconut, cinnamon, ginger root, cardamom and lemon grass. I could really smell the cinnamon and hints of ginger in this tea.

This is a really lovely, warming cup of tea. It had a cinnamon aroma with a slightly sweet cinnamon flavour.

To find out more about these and the other teas in the Adagio Teas range pop by their fab website. 

We'd like to thank Adagio Teas for sending us these teas to try, its great to discover new tea ranges. But please remember that this has not effected our taste buds at all, and all opinions expressed in this article are our own.

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Afternoon tea news....a spooky afternoon tea from Lancaster London!

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - we are feeling a little bit spooky currently as Halloween is fast approaching and so we thought we'd feature some of the Halloween inspired afternoon teas on offer.

Let's start with the Frightful Fancies Halloween Afternoon Tea from Lancaster London.......

Halloween Afternoon Tea 2015
Lancaster London
Priced at just £30 per person, the tea includes a host of spooky sweet treats such as Eye ball lolly pops (chocolate, raspberry and passion fruit flavour); Black macaroons with a pumpkin filling; Butternut squash tartlets; White chocolate and pistachio opera cakes; and Pumpkin cupcakes.   

Plain and raisin scones will be served warm, with home-made strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream.

The tea also includes savoury classics with a contemporary twist such as Roast beef filled Yorkshire pudding with horseradish cream; Wild mushroom, chicken and tarragon tartlets; Lancaster London smoked salmon sandwiches; Egg & wild cress sandwiches; and Cucumber sandwiches accompanied by a selection of fresh loose leaf teas.

This spooky Afternoon Tea spread will be served in the hotel’s  first floor Lounge Bar from 2pm until 5.30pm.

Those eye balls sound delicious (a phrase you don't hear very often)!
If you try this spooky feast we'd love to hear what you thought of it - leave us a comment or send us a photo on Twitter or Facebook!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Afternoon Tea News.....Chocolate Afternoon Tea, The Langham

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends....

So, as you know, its been Chocolate Week this past week....and we've already shared with you some of the fab chocolate things you can experience to celebrate and some scrummy chocolate recipes. Today, we have some seriously scrummy photos for you....from Cherish Finden, Executive Pastry Chef at The Langham.

To celebrate Chocolate Week Cherish has created this chocolate masterpiece....

Served from the 12th October – 1st November in celebration of Chocolate Week and using Langham N°150 Chocolate. 

Among other delights you will discover.....
Roasted pistachio and white chocolate mousseline with raspberry, 
Masala bubble tea with Langham chocolate agar agar and 
Langham N°150 opera slice with espresso reduction.

Cherish shared these photos on social media recently and they left me drooling ever so slightly....the shine on the chocolate is just amazing....

For more information about this tea please visit the Langham London website.

If you are lucky enough to try this afternoon tea in the next week or so we'd love to hear all about it - send us a photo on Twitter or Facebook!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Time for Tea...The Avon Gorge, Bristol

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - we hope you've had a fab week!

This week I have been away with work quite a lot, visiting Hereford and Bristol. When I'm away I'm not normally in one place for very long, but this time I found myself in Bristol with a little spare time...so I decided to indulge in a little afternoon tea....for my dinner! That's perfectly normal isn't it??

I was staying at the Avon Gorge Hotel in the Clifton area of Bristol, which is located right next to the Clifton Suspension Bridge. In fact in their Bridge Cafe you can enjoy a spot of afternoon tea overlooking the bridge....

Afternoon tea at The Avon Gorge
Peer through the window...that's the Clifton Suspension Bridge!

There are various different options you can enjoy in the Bridge Cafe, but I opted to sample their afternoon tea for one, which is served with a fresh pot of tea....

The tea selection was a little limited, but there was something for everyone on the menu. I went for their Breakfast Blend, which was a good, strong cup of black tea. As I was dining alone, the afternoon tea spread is not served on a tiered cake stand. However, I liked the presentation of the food, everything looked very appealing and there was plenty of cream and jam....

Considering it was just me enjoying the tea, I was really impressed with the sandwich selection - I had four different finger sandwiches plus the small roll too...

The sandwiches were lovely, made of fresh, soft bread and there wasn't a crust in sight! The fillings included salmon, cream cheese, cucumber and ham. The mini roll was also fresh and was filled with egg mayonnaise. All were very tasty.

Next lets move onto the scone...the GIANT scone....

Now, when your scone is as big as your teacup you've got to hope that the baking has been perfect. Experience has shown us at Tea With Me and Friends that scones of this size can either be really claggy...or really dry. I have to say that this one smelt amazing...it was all I could smell when the plate was put in front of me and I couldn't wait to tuck in.

However, it was rather claggy and I have to admit I didn't eat it all...there was just too much of it!! I was really pleased that I had generous servings of cream and jam. It was a shame really because the flavours were good.

On the other hand...one thing that could have been a little larger were the cakes. Take a closer look at these miniatures....

Here we have a Chocolate slice, a mini fruit pavlova and a square of orange polenta cake.

Each one was like a little mouthful of heaven - perfect in taste and texture. I might have been a little greedy...but I just wanted a little more of them! The chocolate slice actually tasted like chocolate (often any chocolate cake leaves me a little cold as it doesn't really taste of chocolate) and the orange polenta cake was divine - full of orange flavour! The mini pavlova was crisp and chewy - just perfect!

Now I have to say that the service, although friendly, wasn't the best I have ever received. I wasn't asked about dietary requirements and no one asked if I was ok during my afternoon tea adventure. However, this isn't a high end hotel and therefore the service will be different.

The afternoon tea cost £15.95 plus service and I left feeling full, so I think it was good value. You also have a rather wonderful view....

For more information about the afternoon tea at the Avon Gorge Hotel please visit their website.

Have you enjoyed an afternoon tea adventure in Bristol - do you have a favourite place to go? We'd love to hear from you - drop us a line!

Thank you for popping by today, 

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Friday Review....Adagio Teas

Hello there,

Happy Friday! Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - we hope you've had a fab week!

It's Friday....so we're back with another tea review for you...this week we have been discovering adagio teas who specialise in bringing fresh teas to tea lovers, direct from tea farmers. Their website offers teas, teaware, blends and gifts and includes a range of black, white, green and herbal teas to name a few.

The lovely people at adagio have sent us a selection of teas to try.....and a lovely pink porcelain cup complete with infuser....

Isn't that a cute cup!

So, we decided to try the cup out with the white tropics tea first (you know us - we can't resist a white tea!).

Let's take a look at the tea first....White Tropics is a blend of sweet white tea from China and the flavour of coconuts and pineapple....which sounds like the perfect cup of tea to us!

The tea leaves have a fruity aroma that hits you when you open the packet, there is a distinct smell of coconuts. The blend includes white tea leaves, pineapple flavour, coconut flavour and rose hips.

It is recommended that you use two heaped teaspoons per cup and allow the tea to brew for approximately 3-5 minutes. Let's take a look at the cup we are using to brew our cuppa....

To prepare tea, you simply place leaves inside the metal infuser inside the cup and then fill the cup with hot water. Once brewed you just need to remove the infuser (the cover doubles as a coaster) and enjoy your cup of tea. The cup also comes with a cover....which makes an excellent coaster for the infuser (as demonstrated above).

This cup is perfect for enjoying a perfect cup of tea (e.g. one made with loose tea leaves) with ease and little mess. I have used this at home....but also took it into the office with me! Fab! 

The cup costs £16 from the adagio teas website.

Moving back to the tea itself....

Once brewed the tea was a pretty amber colour and a slightly unusual aroma which was different to the tea leaves before hot water was added.

I really enjoyed the delicate fruity flavour, it was a lovely, refreshing cup of tea....but I wasn't so sure about the aroma. I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was...or what I wasn't keen on.

To find out more about the teaware and teas on offer from adagio teas take a peek at their website. We'd like to thank adagio teas for sending us these lovely samples - but please remember that their kind gift has not effected our taste buds and all opinions expressed within this post are our own.

Pop back next week to see what we thought of the other three teas....

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna