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

Sunday, 7 February 2021

BRUU tea subscription - discover new tea without leaving the house!

 Hello,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - we hope you are keeping well and safe.

Recently we were sent a tea subscription box from BRUU tea, a UK company who want to share their love and affinity with tea with everyone! BRUU tea's mission is to get people trying better tasting tea and their focus is tea subscription services. The subscriptions are based on individual's preferences and therefore hopefully you should receive teas that you really enjoy each month. 

So, let's tell you a little about our box....


First off, it's letter box sized, so no worries about missing your tea when its delivered at the beginning of each month. 

The box contained three named tea pouches, a mystery tea and some chocolate as an extra treat!


I liked the packaging, each tea pouch was labelled clearly and came with a little card to give you information about the tea. On the front of the card is the name, type and brewing instructions. On the back of the card you learn what the tea is, where it's from and why BRUU thinks its a great tea to try. Personally I love learning about new teas and blends when I try them, I think its interesting to read where they have come from etc. 

In my box I had a black tea, a green tea and a fruit tea. I was pleasantly surprised that I hadn't come across the black tea or the fruit tea blend previously.

I liked the handy little information cards, which can be stored easily for future reference. Although because they are nice and small, the print is also a little small!

On to the teas themselves.....

The black tea - Surianalle from Kerala in India


First thing I noted....the tea leaves are really fine, some will probably escape your strainer. The tea once brewed is a lovely, punchy morning tea. It's got a nutty brown colour and a really fresh taste, perfect for starting your day. I don't think I have come across this before, but really enjoyed it. 

The green tea - Mao Jian from Hunan, Xinyang China


A light yellow colour once brewed, I have to say this isn't one of my favourite green teas. To me it tastes "green", and I can't really taste that sweet and floral notes described on the tasting card...but that could just be me!

The fruit tea - Turkish Apple 


This blend surprised me - it includes lemongrass from West India, apple from Turkey and pineapple from America. The leaves have an almost creamy smell to them (this sounds weird, but honestly it smells creamy!). The blend creates a lovely warming cup of tea, perfect for the grey weather we are experiencing in the UK at the moment. The pineapple and apple brings the sweet notes, perfect against the mild spice of the lemongrass. I think you could enjoy this at any point in the day. 
I really enjoyed this blend! 

The important bits: The subscription starts from £10 and you receive three pouches of tea, enough for 20-40 cups depending on the tea. Subscription options are either rolling monthly or in blocks of 3, 6 or 12 months and you are free to cancel whenever you want. Postage in the UK is free, but BRUU tea will ship their subscription boxes outside of the UK too.

I'd like to thank the team at BRUU teas for sending us this subscription box. But please note that this gift hasn't effected our taste buds and all opinions expressed in this blog post belong to me!

If you'd like to find out more about BRUU tea please pop by their website.

Thanks for stopping by today,

Rachel 

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Coffee and Cake worth walking for!

 Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends - we hope you are keeping well today.

As you know, we love to support local, independent businesses especially when they help with our coffee and cake cravings! Imagine my delight when I discovered that Bakehouse, the fabulous baker from Aldershot who we have featured before on the blog, has teamed up with The Coffee Cabin! 

May I present Farnham's newest mobile coffee van...Candice!

The van serves tea from T2, along with coffee from DT Roastery in Winchester, hot chocolate, and freshly baked treats from Bakehouse. Amy, the owner, is super friendly and serves the coffee with a smile, even in the awful wet, cold weather we're experiencing at the moment. 

Being a mobile offering, means that Amy and Candice the van move around the area, so you need to check out the Instagram account to find out where they are.



I have visited the Coffee Can twice now, both times they have been located on the Shepherd and Flock roundabout in Farnham (passed the pub and down the lane a little bit). But they have also spent some time in passed week at The Royal Oak pub in Wreclesham. So far I have enjoyed a black americano and a mocha, both have been delicious. I particularly enjoyed the mocha, which was chocolatey and a little bit bitter - the perfect blend. I also want to head back for a hot chocolate, which looks delicious! 

Cake-wise I have sampled the peanut butter slice and the salted caramel cupcake. As you already know I love Bakehouse cakes, which are always fresh and so full of flavour. The salted caramel cupcake was really good though, with the perfect ratio of cake to icing....it's possibly my favourite cupcake from Bakehouse so far! 




I should also mention that Amy uses biodegradable cups for her hot drinks.

If you happen to be in the Farnham area of Surrey and fancy a cup of coffee, I'd definitely recommend looking for Amy and Candice the van! I'll be heading back....there are a lot more cakes to sample!


Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

It's Pretzel time!

 Hello there!

Happy new year....is it too late to say that now?? Don't know about you, but can't believe we're mid way through January already! 

Anyway, here in the UK we are still in lockdown. Staying home is still not that much - missing friends, family and loved ones. There is only so much baking you can do yourself....so I've been looking at the different sweet treats that can be delivered to me at home. We need to provide our own moments of joy and for me these can definitely lie in cake and biscuits! There are so many companies now offering their sweet treats via the post, I thought it was about time I indulged a little.

I found PostBox Pretzels on Instagram, they came highly recommended and I thought the concept was quite different. Basically they make crunchy pretzel sandwiches, covered in chocolate stuffed with yummy centres. Better still....they post them to you!


They offer a selection of flavours including Honeycomb, caramel crisp, s’more, chocolate orange & The Nutty One.  You can either pick specific flavours to make up a box or opt for one of their selection boxes. When picking your own, you can also select your favourite chocolate coating, giving you even more variety.

I opted for the surprise selection to cut out the anxiety of picking from one of the fabulous flavours listed on the website (what if I regret my choice??). The box includes four fresh pretzel sandwiches, with the option to add a personalised message if you are sending as a gift.

Delivery was fast and no need to worry about being home for when your pretzels arrive (although that's not really an issue in the current situation for many of us), as the box fits perfectly through a letterbox. I can confirm that the box makes a very pleasant thud as it hits the floor!


I really liked the packaging, which helped the pretzels arrive safely. If you get the surprise box everything is labelled so you know what to expect when picking your first pretzel to try. As you can see I had the S'mores, Honeycomb Crunch, Chocolate Orange and Caramel Crisp. When I ordered a box for my sister she got a different selection, so you really never know what you'll get when ordering a surprise box! I also love the toppings, don't they look delicious?

I loved the combination of crunchy pretzel and the various softer fillings. I can confirm that the Chocolate Orange was my favourite, which features an orange infused ganache in the middle of the two sourdough pretzels. Mine was coated in a milk chocolate and it was so delicious! Coming in close second place was the S'mores one....in the middle was marshmallow, ganache and salted caramel...such a great combination. Again it was topped in milk chocolate and covered with mini marshmallows. I did also really enjoy the caramel crisp, which was coated in dark chocolate and included a generous serving of gooey caramel in the middle. The honeycomb crisp was a little too sweet for me, but that was personal taste rather than anything else. I'm not a huge fan of white chocolate.



There were four pretzel sandwiches in my box...and I somehow managed to make them last four days. They were a lovely afternoon treat with a mug of steaming hot coffee!

As mentioned, I also sent a box to my sister. She also loved them, her favourites were the smores and chocolate orange ones. 

If you want to find out more about Postbox Pretzels pop by their website. 

Thank you for popping by today, we hope to see you again soon!

Rachel xxx

Monday, 10 August 2020

Time for.....lots of Cupcakes from Bakehouse!

Hello there,

Welcome back to Tea With Me and Friends.....home to all things sweet and delicious! We hope you are keeping safe and well wherever you are in the world. These are difficult times, but I hope these sweet treats will at least make you smile (and maybe even drool a little - you have been warned!). 

During the pandemic lockdown (which is easing slowly in England as I write this) I did a lot of home baking, but there were times when I also wanted a treat....a tasty treat baked by someone else. Sometimes there is nothing better than a delicious piece of cake that you haven't made yourself and living alone made that a bit difficult! I was lucky enough to discover Bakehouse, a local baker from Aldershot in Hampshire, via a Facebook recommendation, who offered all kinds of cakes and treats delivered to your door. A dream come true!

When lockdown struck, Ellie started a weekly BakeDrop menu of cupcakes, loaf cakes and biscuits which could be delivered or collected either on a Monday or Friday. The team also offer an afternoon tea menu, which can be delivered or collected on other days but needs to be pre-booked. The BakeDrop menu changes each week and includes a variety of bakes. I've ordered from Bakehouse several times now and wanted to share my experience and support this fabulous local business.

                                                   

Let's start with some of the treats from the BakeDrop menu...each week there will be two varieties of cupcakes, a loaf cake, a tray bake, cookies and some kind of savoury treat. Some weeks you can also buy cake cups too, which are amazing! The choice is really varied each week and you'll be hard pressed not to find something you like! You can order via Facebook or Instagram, its really easy....you just tell the team what you want, pay and then wait! You can opt to collect or they will deliver up to 6 miles from head quarters. 

You've already seen some of the wonderful cupcakes that I have tried over the last couple of months at the top of this article. Flavours offered have included chocolate, carrot cake, strawberry and cream (delicious vanilla sponge filled with strawberry jam), red velvet, mint choc chip, Biscoff biscuit (which comes with a chunk of biscuit), chocolate orange, salted caramel, custard cream, lemon, key lime pie, cinnamon caramel, coffee & walnut (which is a personal favourite) and gin and tonic! I bet you're drooling just reading that selection!

Each cupcake I have tried has been light and flavoursome, topped with a generous helping of butter icing. I really enjoyed the coffee and walnut that I tried recently (great coffee flavour and chucks of walnut), but to be honest there hasn't been a cupcake that I haven't enjoyed yet! The flavours are always well balanced and taste exactly how you think they should. The cakes last quite well too...although who wants to make your cupcakes last....you want to gobble them all up...or at least I do!

I was also impressed with the cake cup that I tried, which was jaffa cake flavour and included a combination of orange sponge, chocolate orange frosting, chocolate sauce, fresh cream and chunks of jaffa cake! Blooming amazing...all that jammed into one cup to enjoy with a spoon! Cake cups don't appear every week, but when they do they are always great combinations such as jammie dodger, millionaire shortbread, red velvet or chocolate peanut m&ms. The cake cup I tried was well thought through, with flavours and textures blending well - a real treat!

I haven't ordered any traybakes, cookies or loaf cakes yet, mainly because the cupcakes are always at the top of the menu and I usually get seduced by something amazing straight away! But if you make it further down the menu and are tempted by the bigger treats you could try lemon drizzle loaf cake, bakewell slice, white chocolate coconut cookies, ginger cake, Oreo cheesecake bar, chocolate raspberry brownie or choc chip cookies to name just a few! Next time I order I think I need to try something other than a cupcake!!

The menu also usually includes sausage rolls, some kind of pinwheel or pastry twist or cheese roll. My favourite is the sausage rolls, which are stuffed full of meat and rolled in flaky pastry - they really are lovely and again last well for a nice weekend treat if you order for a Friday delivery.

As well as all of this deliciousness available on a weekly basis you can also order afternoon teas - if you are lucky Ellie sometimes has spares which she makes into boxes that you can add to a Friday delivery. These are always advertised on Facebook or Instagram and are worth looking out for. Otherwise you need to get organised and order in advance. 

I got lucky one Friday night and got myself a spare box for one....

         

Afternoon tea boxes include finger sandwiches (with not a controversial crust in sight) with traditional fillings, scones with tubs of clotted cream and jam, fruit kebabs (so we can pretend to be healthy), a cupcake (as this was a spare I didn't have a cupcake this time), usually a chocolate honeycomb ganache pot or a raspberry jelly pot (as you can see I got both of these - the chocolate ganache is outrageous....so rich and creamy!). There are also luxury options, vegan options and gluten free options plus a children's version of each variety. Oh and there is a tea and coffee selection included! 

Its the perfect afternoon tea in a little white box! Everything was fresh and well packaged up, so the sandwiches didn't get soggy or stale and nothing leaked during the delivery.

I can confirm that the scones passed the taste test - not at all claggy, but light in texture. The perfect vessel for enjoying cream and jam! 

On top of all this, Ellie is really lovely and its a pleasure to order scrummy cakes from her. Communication is great and payment really easy. If you happen to be in the Aldershot / Farnham area in Surrey and are in need of cake (I'm sure this is a common problem for more people than just me!) then I would recommend taking a look at Bakehouse. 

Just to note that this is in no way a paid ad, I have paid for all the treats I have enjoyed from Bakehouse myself and just wanted to share them with you. For more information pop by the Bakehouse Facebook page. 

Do you have a favourite local baker who has been keeping you in cake during lockdown...if so we'd love to hear all about them - leave us a comment!

Thank you for popping by today,

Rachel 

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Time for Tea....at The Ritz London - a post Covid-19 lockdown adventure!

Hello there,

We hope you're all keeping safe and well in these challenging times. Covid-19 has certainly changed the world we knew at the beginning of 2020, as we've all had to press pause on life in order to slow the spread. In England we are slowly emerging from a lockdown state - taking our first tentative steps towards a normal existence. There are so many things I've missed and I have wondered what life would be like after lockdown - would we enjoy the things we did before with social distancing and face coverings in place. 

As I'm writing this, in England we are now being encouraged to start doing the things we enjoyed before....we just have to make sure we take the appropriate precautions and are sensible about what we do.  Shops and restaurants are starting to open up again, we can go and have our hair cut (if you can get an appointment) and non-essential travel on public transport is permitted again. Lorna and I were invited to be guests at The Ritz in London in their reopening week, after three months of being closed to the public. The Ritz are offering afternoon tea initially (their other restaurants will open in the following weeks). There are temperature checks on the way in, social distancing inside (and therefore less seats available) and the staff are all wearing facial coverings - we wondered whether any of these measures would have an impact on the afternoon tea experience.

We headed into London wearing our face masks, although we didn't travel on the tube we both felt ok about travelling on the trains. Generally people followed social distancing and kept their masks on while on the train. London itself was much quieter than we had ever experienced before, but I'll admit that people weren't so good at keeping the distance on the main streets - this is when it's good to know your way around the quieter back streets.

On arrival at The Ritz hand sanitiser was available and we greeted by a member of staff who took our temperatures - on passing this test we were allowed into the main hotel and shown to our seats in the legendary Palm Court. Tables were arranged further apart from each other than normal and all staff had face masks on, the distance meant we felt comfortable in taking our face masks off. From this point the afternoon tea experience felt pretty normal, its amazing how quickly you get used to people wearing masks as they ask for your tea preference and dietary requirements. 

The afternoon tea stand is elegant, containing a selection of finger sandwiches and patisserie treats. We are told that scones, cream and jam will be brought out later. 


The sandwich selection was very traditional, but varied, it included:

Ham and mustard
Cheese and chutney
Cucumber and cream cheese
Chicken and tarragon mayonnaise
Smoked salmon
Egg salad on a Brioche roll

The sandwiches were dainty - the perfect nibbling size, with no crust in sight! The bread was fresh, fillings well balanced and choice varied. My favourite was the cheese and chutney, which came on a tomato bread but the egg salad was a strong contender as well, the egg was paired with chopped shallots and watercress and served on a brioche roll.

         

We were offered additional sandwiches and then the warm scones were served, along with clotted cream and strawberry preserve. We had both plain and fruited scones....


As you can see the fruited scones were packed full of sultanas....nothing worse than a fruit scone where you have to search for the fruit! The scones were light and fluffy in texture, the perfect base for the clotted cream and strawberry preserve.

We made our way to the top of the cake stand to find three delicacies each ....


Each one was a good size and looked beautiful (almost too good to eat!). After so many treats already it was a relief that there were only three sweet items to sample. Possibly a bizarre thing for a cake lover to say, but there is nothing worse than being overwhelmed when you get to the cakes after enjoying sandwiches and scones.

The pastry items were all well executed, with flavours well balanced.

       

Our selection included a chocolate mousse so light it just disappeared as you ate it, a beautiful cheesecake with blueberries and the caramel puff of wonderment! The flavours worked well in each pastry, but also complimented each other as you enjoyed this course of afternoon tea. 

And just when we thought it was all over we were offered cake from the cake trolley, both Lorna and I opted for the Victoria sponge....


The sponge was light and lemony, complimented with strawberry preserve and fresh cream. It was probably one of the best Victoria Sponge's that I've had the pleasure of encountering!

Service throughout our whole experience was attentive and friendly, with waiters introducing themselves as they brought us the various courses. We didn't feel uncomfortable at any point, as the appropriate safety measures were adhered too, but didn't negatively impact our experience. 

I'd like to thank The Ritz for hosting us as their guests for this gifted experience. Please note that our guest status has not effected our thoughts on the afternoon tea and all opinions expressed are our own. 

If you are thinking about enjoying an afternoon tea, but are worried about safety measures I would encourage you to speak to the establishment where you would like to visit. Hotels, restaurants, cafes and tearooms are really looking forward to serving afternoon tea again and will no doubt be doing everything to try and make visits as comfortable as possible.

For more information about The Ritz London please visit their website. 

Thank you for popping by today - if you've had an afternoon tea experience we'd love to hear all about it. Please leave us a comment!

Rachel & Lorna