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

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Time for....some tea inspired baking with Piacha tea

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - we hope you're having a tea-riffic day.

Today I am sharing with you a little recipe that made me very happy. You may remember that we discovered the fabulous tea from Piacha a while ago - Pia has so many delicious blends on offer, but Black and Cherry is one of my favourites. It's a sweet tea, that I find very refreshing. For ages now I have been trying to include this tea in my baking - always focusing on cakes. But they always fail - with hardly any flavour carrying through to the cake.

Tonight however I decided to try something different - I had seen teabag shaped biscuits all over the Internet (Ok - mainly on Pintrest....the place I seem to spend most of my time!!) and it struck me that maybe I could include Black and Cherry in a biscuit. A lot of the teabag biscuits I came across were flavoured with green tea (often using Matcha powder) but then I came across a couple of recipes which included earl grey tea. After doing a bit of research about whether you can actually eat tea leaves, I decided to give it a go and worked on a recipe using the Black and Cherry tea leaves.....and I'm so glad I did....

Black and Cherry tea bag biscuits
from Tea With Me and Friends
These biscuits are light and crisp and have a beautiful cherry flavour that will make you smile. Plus, they are super simple to make!

You will need:
1.5 heaped tablespoons of Piacha Black and Cherry loose leaf tea
130g plain flour
50g caster sugar
20g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter
splash of water
100g chocolate - optional

A straw for poking holes
Bakers twine (or other thread)

This will make: 16 teabag biscuits

Preheat your oven to:
200c or 180c (fan oven)

To make the biscuits:

    • First you need to grind up the tea leaves as small as you can - either in a food processor, with a pestle and mortar or like me in a bowl with the back of a spoon.
    • Now combine all your dry items (so that's the tea leaves, flour and both sugars) in a bowl, mixing them well
    • Next you need to add the butter - rub this into your dry ingredients so you end up with a bread crumb like mixture. Don't worry if it starts to combine together at this stage,
    • Now add a splash of water and carrying on combining the mixture to make a dough. At this stage less is definitely more - you don't want a sloppy dough
    • It's time to chill your mixture - this is important to stop the dough expanding when baking in the oven. Roll your dough out, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
    • Once chilled, we get to the fun part - making the teabags! First put flour on your clean work surface, then roll out the dough until its about 0.5cm and then cut out your little teabag shapes. I used a straw to make the hole at the top of each teabag.
    Use a straw to poke holes in the top of your biscuits

    • Once you've cut all your teabags, place them onto a cold baking tray and place in your preheated oven for 12 minutes or until the edges of your biscuits turn a golden colour.
    • Remove your biscuits from the oven and allow to cool
    Tea bag biscuits in the making!

    • Once cool you can thread your twine through the holes in the top and dip your biscuits in melted chocolate. Don't forget if you go down the chocolate route you'll need to leave the biscuits to dry before you can tuck in.
    • Enjoy with a cup of tea!
    Teabag biscuits....perfect with a cup of tea!

    To be really honest these biscuits don't really need the chocolate dip - the light cherry flavour is sweet enough. However, if you do add the chocolate it doesn't ruin them either!

    These biscuits make a lovely gift for a tea loving friend.....or just gobble them all up yourself (like I did!).

    I'm sure this simple recipe will work well with other tea leaves, so if you don't have any Piacha tea at home why not experiment with your favourite tea - just remember to grind up your leaves! If you try a different tea yourself, we'd love to hear what you baked - leave us a comment or send us a photo!

    To find out more about Piacha teas and the fabulous tea bar in London pop by the Piacha website!

    Thank you for popping by today,

    Sunday, 27 March 2016

    Time for Tea....Godalming Vintage Tea Parties

    Hello there,

    Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - we hope you're having tea-riffic weekend!

    Last weekend Becca and I decided to pop by the  Home & Vintage Spring Brocante at Grayswood Village Hall in Surrey. I love vintage things nearly as much as I love afternoon tea.....so the opportunity to explore a new (to us) vintage fair is always a good thing! As we wondered around the various stalls we noticed a little sign pointing up to a tearoom.....this day was getting better and better!

    Upstairs we discovered a pop-up tea room, which was being run by the ladies of Godalming Vintage Tea Parties - a catering company who put on vintage style tea parties.

    Godalming Vintage Tea Parties create a quintessentially English tea time celebration with their delicious homemade sandwiches, scones, cakes and tea - all served on vintage china.

    By the time we arrived at the tea room it was later in the afternoon and visitors to the tea room had been enjoying tea and cake all day....this meant that the lovely tea table wasn't as full as it normally is....however, there was still a great selection of treats to enjoy including chocolate cake, chili brownies, scones and carrot cake....

    As to be expected at a vintage style tea room - there was plenty of vintage china to enjoy those scrummy cakes and tea on....just look at all those teacups.....

    After lots of drooling over the cakes while we made up our minds what we wanted to indulge in, Becca opted for a gooey chili chocolate brownie and I decided to go for a scone with clotted cream and jam. And of course we needed tea....lots of tea...to wash it all down!

    The ladies helped us to our treats over to the table....

    This feast costs us just £5.00, which I thought was excellent value.....just look at the size of the portions (especially the scone!!). I think we managed to get six cups of tea out of that teapot too!

    Let's start with Becca's sweet treat - the chili chocolate brownie...

    This was rich, gooey and generous in size. The chili heat reminded me more of ginger than chili, but was extremely scrummy and went down well with a cup of tea.

    My scone was HUGE....

    I probably would have liked just a little bit more clotted cream with the scone as it was so big, but overall it made a lovely cream tea. The scone was firm in texture, but not claggy, it worked well with the clotted cream and strawberry jam.

    The tea room was friendly and had a very pleasant atmosphere, vintage style music filled the air as we enjoyed our tea. The ladies of Godalming Vintage Tea Parties were friendly and professional. I imagine a personalised tea party put on by them would be great fun!

    Here is the full table at the beginning of the day....

    To find out more about Godalming Vintage Tea Parties pop by their Facebook page - and if you have a tea party with them we'd love to hear all about it.

    Thank you for popping by today,

    Saturday, 26 March 2016

    Time for....A Guest Post....Urban Retreat Lounge, Harrods

    Hello there,

    Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - we hope you're well today!

    This post we are joined by the lovely Melissa, who is sharing her recent afternoon tea adventure at the Urban Retreat Cafe at Harrods. The cafe is on the 5th floor of Harrods and is part of the Urban Retreat salon and spa. Melissa was enjoying her afternoon tea before heading off to see the Mariah Carey concert at the O2.

    The Urban Retreat Cafe serves light refreshments from breakfasts to small plates, salads and sandwiches to full afternoon tea feasts or cream teas.

    The afternoon tea menu includes:

    Selection of open sandwiches
    Spiced Coronation chicken 
    Smoked salmon, lemon mayonnaise
    English cucumber, cream cheese & herbs

    Freshly Baked Scones
    Cornish clotted cream & strawberry preserve

    Miniature treats & fancies
    Strawberry Eton mess "cheesecake" pot
    Rich chocolate pot, salt caramel, hazelnuts & honeycomb
    Mango & passion fruit slice 
    The Chocolatier's truffles & macaroons 

    Here are Melissa's thoughts: We had open sandwiches on nice rustic bread but there was only one of each variety. We also had one scone each, which was warm and fluffy and delicious - but there was only one tiny pot of jam and a dollop of cream between us. We asked for some butter which took about 10 mins to arrive and unfortunately we had to ask for it twice. 

    The dessert pots, cake, macaroons and chocolate were all really gorgeous. 

    We had a choice of tea from the menu, we both had Royal breakfast blend. However I asked for another pot and didn't realise we were charged an extra £5 for it. ( I've never had to pay for more tea at afternoon tea anywhere before!) 

    I would go there again for an informal tea, it was enjoyable but definitely nothing special. Most customers were people who'd had treatments in the salon or staff on lunch. 

    This afternoon tea is £20 per person, and so for the price offers a good, informal afternoon tea adventure - perfect for enjoying with friends on a shopping spree maybe?

    For more information pop by the Urban Retreat website.

    We'd like to thank Melissa for sharing her afternoon tea adventure with us - we always love to hear about the scrummy afternoon teas you've been enjoying!

    Thank you for popping by today,
    Rachel & Lorna

    Friday, 25 March 2016

    Time for something a little different....a cup of coffee!

    Hello there,

    Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends!

    So, some of our regular readers might find this blog post a little shocking.....normally we feature tea on this blog....well tea, bubbles and the odd cocktail or two (ok maybe three or four), but today we're going to feature my other favourite hot beverage - coffee!

    Yep, Lorna and I are partial to a cup of coffee...in fact we drink quite a bit of coffee during an average week! One of my work colleagues found this little fact very shocking when I requested a cup of coffee instead of tea recently - exclaiming "but you write a tea blog!".

    So, when Purssells London contacted us recently, asking if we'd like to try their coffee....we thought...why not!

    Purssells London Coffee

    So who are Purssells London?

    They are a contemporary coffee roaster , whose coffee is classified as Speciality Coffee. They are proud of the quality, provenance and taste of their coffee.

    Their range includes seasonal espresso blends, as well as light and meduim roasts as well as a decaffeinated coffee.

    We were sent the current seasonal espresso blend to try - Queen's India

    Purssells London Coffee
    Queen's India

    This coffee is made with Brazilian, Colombian and Ethiopian coffees. It is roasted slightly darker to complement milk based drinks - it's supposed to be a refined and sophisticated espresso coffee. It is the most popular Purssells coffee.

    As it's an espresso blend, the grind is very fine and the coffee smells amazing - I just love that burst of coffee aroma when you first open a new packet!

    Purssells London coffee

    When brewed the coffee is smooth and rich - a really enjoyable cup of coffee.

    You can either buy the coffee in individual packets or as a monthly subscription. For more information pop by the Purssells London website.

    I'd like to thank Purssells London for sending us thier coffee to try - but please remember that this has not affected our taste buds and all opinions expressed in this article are our own,

    Thank you for popping by today,

    Thursday, 24 March 2016

    Time for a spot of Easter 2016 afternoon tea....Part 3

    Hello there,

    Welcome back to Part 3 of our Easter afternoon tea round up! Today let's start with a look at the Easter themed afternoon tea on offer at Mews of Mayfair....

    Mews of Mayfair is situated in the heart of Mayfair, and boasts interiors by James Williamson and Lucy Ford. Mews features extravagant chandeliers, large leather sofas, and outdoor seating on the cobbled courtyard. 

    Their Easter afternoon tea includes Hot crossed bun, Simnel cake, Easter egg shaped biscuit and a Strawberry trifle ....

    For more information about this afternoon tea please visit the Mews of Mayfair website

    Another scrummy looking Easter afternoon tea which features hot cross buns is being served at The Dorchester....

    As well as a selection of finger sandwiches and scones, guests can enjoy a selection of Easter themed French pastries and hot cross buns! For more information pop by the Dorchester website.

    If you happen to be a little further a field this Easter - we also came across this rather cute Easter afternoon tea being served at L'Hotel in Paris....

    The sweet treats being served as part of this afternoon tea feast include:

    Spéculoos Gianduja
    A delicate sandwich made from two Speculoos biscuits
    filled with gianduja (nuts & chocolate) cream

    Delicate, light marshmallow in the shape of a hen

    Meringue “Française”
    Banana & coconut mousse with
    creamy caramel & caramelized peanuts

    Chocolate Bar
    A light and crispy cocoa biscuit with a
    dark chocolate mousse topping

    There is also an Easter egg filled with apple compote, whipped cream and Madagasgar vanilla.

    For more information about this afternoon tea please visit the L'Hotel website.

    We hope you've enjoyed this look at some of the Easter afternoon teas on offer - if you enjoy a spot of Easter afternoon tea this weekend we'd love to see the scrummy treats you enjoy!

    Thank you for popping by today,
    Rachel & Lorna

    Tuesday, 22 March 2016

    Time for a spot of Easter 2016 afternoon tea....Part 2

    Hello there,

    Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - this week we are bringing you a round up of some of the Easter themed afternoon teas on offer this March and April.

    Today let's take a peek at the Easter afternoon tea from Corinthia London....

    Easter afternoon tea - Corinthia London

    The sweet treats on this afternoon tea plate include an orange butter cream macaroon “Easter Bunny”, a carrot cake cased in a chocolate plant pot complete with mini carrot and a traditional Easter Simnel cake decorated with marzipan.

    In addition to these treats on Easter weekend all afternoon tea guests also receive a handmade Golden Easter egg. The Easter egg could contain a surprise gift - ranging from a manicure by ESPA Life at Corinthia to a decadent dining experience at Corinthia London. 

    Easter Afternoon Tea is available from Monday 21st - Monday 28th March 2016. For more information pop by the Corinthia website.

    Meanwhile, over at the Ampersand in South Kensington, Pastry Chef Mi Kyung Jeong has the following Easter afternoon tea creation on offer....

    Easter afternoon tea - the Ampersand, London 

    Guests at this afternoon tea will enjoy a selection of savoury sandwiches, freshly made scones and Easter bread. In addition the sweet treats on offer include Bergamot macaroons, Chocolate cake, Mixed fruit tart and shortbread chicks in Popping candy floss with chocolate eggs.

    Easter afternoon tea - the Ampersand, London

    This Easter Afternoon Tea is available at the Ampersand from 21 March – 03 April 2016 and costs from £32.50 per person. For more information pop by the Ampersand website.

    We hope you've enjoyed today's roundup of Easter themed afternoon teas - don't forget to pop by later this week to see some more Easter sweet treats!

    Thank you for popping by today,
    Rachel & Lorna

    Monday, 21 March 2016

    Time for a spot of Easter 2016 afternoon tea....Part 1

    Hello there,

    Welcome back to Tea With me and Friends - we hope you're well today.

    With Easter weekend just a week away we thought we'd share with you some of the scrummy Easter themed afternoon teas that are on offer this March.

    Let's start with the Langham London and the tea-riffic looking afternoon tea that Pastry Chef Cherish Finden has created for Easter....

    Easter afternoon tea - Langham London

    As well as sandwiches and scones, there is a wonderful selection of sweets on offer to guests:
    Bunny See-saw, 64% chocolate, raspberry and lightly roasted pistachio financier
    Chicken or the egg, English rose and lychee log
    The Rabbits Warren, Milk chocolate Chantily
    Sunny side up, Chocolate Easter egg
    Bunny Show Jumping, White chocolate mousse and tropical jelly

    Easter sweet treats - Langham London
    This super cute Easter afternoon tea costs £49 per person and is available between the 21st – 28th March 2016. For more information pop by the Langham website.

    If you happen to be in the Plymouth area you might want to visit Boringdon Hall for their traditional Easter afternoon tea...

    Easter afternoon tea - Boringdon Hall, Devon

    The sweet treats on this afternoon tea include White Chocolate and a Mango Egg, a Rhubarb and Custard Tartlet, a Lemon Balm Meringue Nest, and a cute little Warm Hot Cross Buns.

    This afternoon tea costs £19 per person and is available throughout April. For more information please visit the Boringdon Hall website.

    We hope you've enjoyed these Easter themed afternoon teas. Don't forget to pop back later this week to see more of the Easter afternoon teas we have discovered!

    Thank you for popping by today,
    Rachel & Lorna

    Saturday, 19 March 2016

    Time for Tea.....Lancaster London

    Hello there,

    Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends, last week Lorna and I were lucky enough to be invited back to the Lancaster London for a spot of afternoon tea again.

    You might remember that we last visited Lancaster London in December 2014 - in fact it was our last afternoon tea of 2014! We enjoyed Chef Ben Purton's creations so much back then and we were super excited to go back again.

    As with our last visit, the service was fast and friendly - with everyone who we encountered knowledgeable about the afternoon tea. Once we had picked our teas the afternoon tea stand was brought out.

    Afternoon tea sandwiches - Lancaster London

    The savouries included something for every taste including the following sandwiches:

    Ham & English mustard 
    Piquillo pepper and hummus 
    Lancaster London home smoked salmon 
    Free range Barradale Farm egg and wild cress 

    In addition to the well made finger sandwiches there were another two savoury delights to enjoy - a warm Coronation chicken tartlet and roast English beef with horseradish cream and watercress.

    The finger sandwiches were made with fresh bread and there wasn't a crust in sight! The amount of fillings matched the bread, making them very enjoyable. The in house smoked salmon was scrummy. I also really enjoyed the coronation chicken tartlet - I might have enjoyed more than one of those!

    Next came the scones - we had three each, one plain, one fruit and one apple. These were served with strawberry preserve and clotted cream

    Afternoon tea scones - Lancaster London 

    The scones were a good size - not too big, not too small. But to be honest two were enough as there is plenty of other treats on this afternoon tea stand. We also weren't overly keen on the apple scone.

    Finally we moved onto the sweet treats - a very pretty selection indeed! 

    The treats included:
    Signature chocolate & honey lolly pops
    Pistachio and Amarena cherry slice
    Raspberry tart with vanilla custard
    Honey apple cup cake
    Lemon macaroon

    Afternoon tea sweet selection - Lancaster London

    There were two stand out items for me - the chocolate and lolly pops were amazing.....they were so good that we might have eaten them whole! Plus the mini raspberry and custard tart - the pastry was crisp and buttery and the filling light.

    I wasn't so keen on the pistachio and amarena cherry slice, the flavours weren't quite right for me, but that's just personal preference. If you love macaroons, then you'll love the lemon macaroon on this plate - it's crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle!

    Afternoon tea sweets - Lancaster London

    This afternoon tea costs £30 per person, or if you'd like to add a glass of bubbles it's £40 per person. We were offered refills of both tea and food throughout the afternoon tea , and could change our tea choice if we wanted. Overall this afternoon tea is great value - perfect for sharing with friends.

    For more information please visit the Lancaster London website.

    We'd like to thank Chef Ben and his team at the Lancaster for looking after us so well, but please remember that this has not affected our taste buds and all opinions expressed in this article are our own.

    Thank you for popping by today,
    Rachel & Lorna

    Tuesday, 15 March 2016

    Time for.....some really nice post from Baker Days!

    Hello there,

    Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - I hope you're well today!

    This week Tea With Me and Friends Towers received some rather lovely post......now I know we are really lucky to receive lots of wonderful post (mainly tea) but this post was especially sweet....

    Yes....that's the cutest little cake....and yes, it came through my letterbox!

    Bakerdays specialises in personalised cakes, which come in a variety of sizes....one of which fits through a standard letterbox! The Bakerdays website lets you pick your own cake design, size and flavour and if you order before 2pm, they can deliver your cake the next working day, virtually anywhere in the UK! All their letterbox cakes come complete with candles and balloons and their large cakes come with cake slicer.

    This all sounds like a great concept.....but is the cake any good??

    The short answer to this is......yes! It's surprisingly good! 

    I was sent the chocolate variety to try (there are six to pick from vanilla, chocolate, fruit, half & half, gluten free or dairy free).....and I have to admit that I didn't try the cake as soon as it arrived....but it was still fresh and rather scrummy!

    The cake was moist and rich and covered in a layer of icing - not too thick, not too thin. 

    The letterbox cake is 5" in size and serves 3-4 people and it is delivered in a small keepsake tin which keeps it safe in the post. There are designs for all occasions from Birthdays and anniversaries to new jobs, driving test or engagement designs.

    This size cake costs from £14.99 for the vanilla sponge. 
    For more information about costings and delivery please visit the Bakerdays.com website, or pop by their Twitter or Facebook page.

    Please note that although the lovely people at Bakerdays sent me this complimentary cake to try, it has not affected my taste buds and all opinions expressed in this blog post are my own. I'd like to thank Bakerdays for sending me some cake through the post - it certainly brightened my day!

    Thank you for popping by today,

    Thursday, 10 March 2016

    Time for.....a cocktail or two!

    Hello there,

    Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends....today we have something a little different for you.....today we have no afternoon tea photos to share....but we do have some cocktails!

    Recently we had a new bar and restaurant open in Farnham called The Botanist, and I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening party to enjoy cocktails, canapes and live music with the Botanist team.

    If you've never heard of The Botanist before (they currently have 9 locations), then let me tell you a little more about them.....think rustic interiors with a pretty vintage feel, lots of live music and an extensive cocktail list.....oh and apparently their hanging kebabs are rather tasty too!

    Opening night was a lavish affair with flower crowns, trays of cocktails and nibbles, live music and some bubbles to celebrate. As we enjoyed the gorgeous interior, marvelling at the attention to detail, live music was pumped around the building to entertain us. Live music is a big feature of The Botanist, with different acts performing throughout the week.

    The Botanist Farnham - main bar area complete with chandelier

    From the main bar area to the toilets - I loved all the fixtures and fittings.....it felt like somewhere I wanted to live! In the main bar area there is a fabulous chandelier that I could probably gaze at for hours, as its made of so many different objects!

    The walls are adorned with all kinds of pictures and hangings. Everywhere you look there is something different to make you smile.

    As for the cocktails....well there is something for everyone on the menu. I counted 15 different long cocktails listed, including delights such as the blueberry and apple cooler which features Blueberry purée, Ketel One vodka, Crème de Mure, apple juice, lime juice, ginger beer and sugar or The Botanist which is made of Ketel One vodka, Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, elderflower liqueur, red amaranth, mint, jasmine syrup, lime juice and topped with lemonade. 

    There are also a selection of short cocktails such as the Chocolate Rose made with Ketel One vodka, rose liqueur, rose syrup, liquid chocolate, milk and cream or the Rose Mai Tai which features Dried pink rose buds, Bacardi Carta Oro rum, rose liqueur, almond and rose syrups and lime juice.


    In addition there is also a wide selection of martinis on offer and also several different cocktails to share with friends....including the Raspberry and Sage watering can or the Rose Garden Punch Bowl. 

    On the opening night we had the pleasure of sampling quite a few different cocktails, and although we enjoyed some more than others, they were all really well made by the bar staff. 

    Don't worry if cocktails don't float your boat though as there is also a good selection of wines, bubbles, craft beers and spirits (including an impressive selection of gins). 

    Cocktails and flower crowns!
     Although we didn't get to try any of the full menu on the opening night, I've heard really good things about the food on offer and look forward to returning to try out deli board (diners pick four items from a selection of meats, cheese and other items) and the hanging kebabs!

    Opening night at The Botanist Farnham

    It was very exciting to be part of the opening night and I'd like to thank The Botanist Farnham for inviting us. For more information about The Botanist pop by their website.

    Thank you for popping by today,