Time for a Tea Party – Tipsy Tea?

  

Fun in the sun?

The beautiful summery weather at the weekend inspired me to think about summer parties – sipping cocktails and fruity drinks in the sunshine, music and a BBQ! And my visit to the Foodies Festival provided even further inspiration, tasting yummy food and sipping summery drinks in the blazing sunshine on Hampton Court Green! (A full review of the fabulous Foodies Festival will follow soon!)

And then the sky went grey, the wind started to blow, and it rained!  My thoughts turned to hot drinks – tea, of course, and also proper coffee.  I have purchased some fab vintage finds over the past few weeks, having been on several successful charity shop rummages and bagging bargains from my favourite online vintage sellers, like the lovely Seld Emrys Jones.

So, I started to think about adapting summer parties for the great British weather, and came up with some more interesting ideas!

It’s all gone a bit Gatsby…

The Roaring Twenties are all the rage again, with the release of Baz Luhrmann’sThe Great Gatsby, and Boardwalk Empire being one of the box sets of choice, so why not live it up, Prohibition style, and enjoy a British-American summer party indoors, in the warmth of the house?  I’m a huge fan of all things 1920s – the fashion, art, furniture, jewellery – and love the decadent feel.  What better way to recreate that feeling that using your vintage teacups, saucers and other tea paraphenalia for the cocktails?

Tipsy Tea Cups

I love the idea of serving cocktails in tea cups (another nod to the 20s era!), like this fabulous Absinthe cocktail from the Powderpuff Girls at the Powder Room (very appropriate for the launch of Paul et Joe’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream themed summer range last year.)There are some fab places where you can try tea cup cocktails out and about, like The Tea Box in Richmond, and I’m hoping to get more inspiration from a visit to Prohibition and the 20s architecture in New York!

But far more fun to try it at home with your own vintage pieces, using vintage cups to serve the cocktails and retro coffee pots instead of jugs.

And then I found out about the lovely people at Tipsy Tea Cups, who decided to make their own very special vintage glasses after inspiration from a stay in a fab hotel.  They use their own (top secret!) bonding technique to fuse tea cups and saucers with wine and cocktail glasses to create some really unique and eye-catching pieces, that will certainly add that vintage feel to your party.  I particularly love the shades of blue in some of these beauties, which would go very well in my dining room (particularly the pearlescent piece with matching pot – perfect for pouring those cocktails!)

And Tipsy Tea Cups or vintage tea or coffee cups and saucers can help create the right mood and atmosphere, setting the tone for the evening, filled with tealights.  Why not match the scented candles to the cocktails or food being served?  For example, rose scented tealights to go with my rose and red berry cocktail, rosemary scented candles to go with rosemary foccacia, or lavender scented to go with lavender tea?

More tea?

But why stop the tea association there? Why not make some of the cocktails with actual tea? I tried this with loose leaf tea from the fabulous Monkey Char, a Richmond based tea company who make some really unusual fruity and floral blends that work particularly well for cocktails, as well as a refreshing brew!

 

 

 

Tipsy Tea with Rachael – The ingredients…

How to make it…

Simply brew the tea, let it cool, mix with a small amount of cordial and equal parts liqueur, and serve with ice!  And why not have the bubbly version, topped up with Champagne?!  The beauty of this cocktail is that it makes an equally delicious non-alcoholic “mocktail” version as well!  (Just add sparkling water for the fizzy version!)

My other favourite year-round cocktail, Rachael’s Ray of Sunshine, mixes apple juice, ginger beer, Belvoir apple and ginger cordial, apple flavoured vodka and a twist of lime.  I’ve included a picture here of some I made last Christmas, proving it really does work beautifully, come rain or come shine!

When the weather gets better, I’ll also share some summer cocktail ideas, including Mojito and Margarita-inspired cocktails using organic fruit juices.

So, until next time, whether it’s pouring with rain or the sun is pouring in the window, pour yourself something nice.  Enjoy a tipsy tea tipple (or perhaps a warming cuppa?) when it’s time for your tea break!

Rachael X

An Afternoon with Earl Grey

When I’m busy and feeling a bit tired and stressed in the afternoon, I like to take a tea break with Earl Grey.  And not just any Earl Grey, oh no!  I have a select list of favourites – and would like to share them with you!

Twinings Earl GreyThe Classic Earl Greys – a strong kick of bergamot to get you through the day…

Twinings Earl Grey – a true classic

I have a friend who swears by this blend and no other – and you can see why.  Always a failsafe cuppa –  a light, floral flavour with a strong kick of bergamot that enlivens the senses!  And it works very well in baking too!  As a novice baker myself, I’ll leave this to the experts – check out this fabulous Twinings Earl Grey Cake recipe, tried and tested by the same ever-faithful friend!  Scrumptious – and best enjoyed with a steaming pot of Earl Grey!

Ahmad Earl Grey – the discerning choice…

Ahmad Earl GreyThis is a real classic – great flavour and a strong aroma, again with a clear hit of bergamot.  This is very drinkable, as it has a lighter flavour than some other blends.  It works particularly well when you want to make up a nice big pot of tea.  I also find this very refreshing, so it suits all weather!  Note to self – don’t drink up all your stock at once!  I’m planning on stocking up on more of this lovely tea when I head over to America in a couple of weeks’ time.

 

 

Time for something a little bit different…

Twinings Lavender Earl Grey – two of my favourite things: lavender and tea! 

Twinings Lavender Earl GreyThis is great for winding down at the end of the day, or for the morning after the day before (have been known to provide this after parties to soothe those pesky hangovers)!

I come back to this favourite time and time again.  My husband bought me a full Twinigs tea chest last Christmas, where I was delighted to find this little treasure!  I have since stock-piled boxes of twenty teabags and find myself getting through them remarkably quickly!

I do find this tea rather addictive – one cup is just never enough!

Teapigs Darjeeling Earl Grey – a match made in heaven!

Teapigs Darjeeling Earl GreyI’m a big fan of Darjeeling, so when I first walked past a cafe selling Teapigs Darjeeling Earl Grey a few years ago, I was intrigued and excited! This blend is really unusual and a very refreshing, malty, comforting taste.  I like this tea first thing in the morning as well as an afternoon refresher – I find it goes well with breakfast, or keeps me going nicely when on the go.  And I have to say, I love the packaging – I’m also a big fan of sausage dogs, so the quirky label always makes me smile!

English Garden Empire Earl Grey – the Empire Strikes Back!

This is smoky, sultry and smells fabulous – either in or out of the pot!

English Garden Empire Earl GreyI made a pot of this after I was feeling sorry for myself and suffering following a wisdom tooth removal.  My friend, another fellow tea enthusiast, came round to the house to cheer me up and we decided to do a mini-tasting of the best Earl Greys and my favourites.

I particularly liked this flavoursome blend, firstly for the smell of the dry leaves, then the aroma once the pot was brewing, then the comforting, light Earl Grey taste. What makes this blend different is the smoky aftertaste, which is really quite different to anything I’ve tried before.  You can strongly smell the bergamot in the dried leaves, but once brewed it’s a very subtle flavour, and I think the smoky, malty taste makes it quite unique.

I’m feeling a bit tired and worn-out again today, so think it’s time for a tea break.  Looking forward to spending another evening with Earl Grey!

Until next time, enjoy your tea break (and why not join the marvellous Earl Grey?!)

Rachael X

Time for a Real Tea Break

Welsh dresser full of tea pots and cupsNot enough time for a tea break?!

Well, things have been so busy so far this year, that I have been neglecting to take regular tea breaks!  I’ve moved house (and now have a big kitchen to experiment in and my own proper garden – bliss!  So expect some new recipes and sunshine-filled garden posts on the horizon!)

I also had a wisdom tooth taken out, which meant I have been taking it easy, was stuck with very soft food and feeling a bit yucky for quite a while, so haven’t been as adventurous as I would usually like to be on the food and drink front!  Although it did mean I consumed copious amounts of comfort food, like mashed potatoes and home-made gravy (And Yorkshire Puddings, once I was able to chew a little bit more!)

So I’ve been neglecting the poor Tea Break blog. 🙁
And like buses, you wait for ages and several come along at once!  There’s so much I want to write about at the moment – the many fun things to do in the beautiful Borough of Richmond, delightful new teas and tea-related activities that I’ve been trying out, and summer interior design – in the house and in the garden!

To try and fit everything in, I’ve been working on a new website for Tea With Rachael – watch this space for a tea time one-stop-shop with a mix of food, drink, fun, fashion, things to see and do and, of course, all things tea-related!

In the meantime, I have been trying some lovely new teas and exploring some fun things to see and do, particularly in and around Richmond and Twickenham.

English Garden's Special Reserve Assam TeaTime for tea

English Garden's Special Reserve Assam Tea - packagingYesterday, I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I made a pot of English Garden’s Special Reserve Assam.  I find that a good strong cup of black tea does wonders when you’re feeling a bit below par, and this certainly did the trick!  The comforting, malty smell from the moment I poured the water over the leaves was so comforting.  It brewed beautifully, leaving me with a rich, deep-flavoured cuppa – exactly what I needed!  I savoured every drop and was very impressed – exactly the kind of blend I like, as I’m a big fan of strong black tea blends and always turn to these as my default/favourites!  I am also looking forward to trying their Empire Earl Grey later this afternoon – will let you know what it’s like in my next feature, on my favourite Earl Grey blends.

 

 

Thought I’d give you a little preview of the next few posts, that should be on the new website very soon!

Coming soon…

  • Time for Tea – An afternoon with Earl Grey
  • Time for Tea – Afternoon Tea at the Four Seasons, Canary Wharf
  • Out and About – Richmond Spring/Summer Special
  • Fit for Foodies – A gastronomic tour of Twickenham
  • Fit for Foodies – Foodies Festival 2013, Hampton Court
  • Kitchen Corner – Use by dates: recipes to make sure you use it all up!
  • Library Corner – Save the planet while catching up on your reading
  • Party Time! Fun party ideas for this summer

Until then, enjoy YOUR Bank Holiday tea break!

Rachael X