Time for a blooming great tea party

After a few days of being quite poorly after the excitement of National Tea Day, I’ve had to have a bit of time away from the computer screen, so still have many tea adventures to share! One future tea adventure I would like to share with you, which I am very excited about, is that I am planning a Blooming Great Tea Party for Marie Curie in June. What better reason to invite people round for good tea, good food, fun and frolics? (And to get the good china out!) This year, Marie Curie have provided a wealth of inspiration for baking, food and tea pairings, as well as ideas for fun activities on the day and how to set up the tea party. I particularly love the celebrity recipes that have been shared, including the wonderful banana bread recipe from Stanley Tucci’s late wife – such a moving tribute!

Marie Curie

Marie Curie

Blooming beautiful!
I am planning a vintage style party – naturally – following a yellow theme to reflect the colour of the iconic Marie Curie daffodil. There will be a big, bonny bunch of yellow daffodils in the centre of the table, and I think my vintage blue and white china jug will contrast beautifully with the yellow tea set.

Time for tea
I’m planning to serve a variety of different teas, some traditional, some very new, and some old favourites with an interesting new spin. Some of my lovely tea friends have offered to help, so I should have plenty of good quality teas to go round!

Tea and cake

Tea and cake inspiration for the Marie Curie Blooming Great Tea Party

Afternoon tea with all the trimmings…
So, what food to serve? This will be afternoon tea with a twist and with a number of very specific requirements. I am gluten and dairy free, with allergies to a number of different foods.

A number of my guests will have special dietary requirements – so this means adapting recipes for no gluten, no dairy, no fish, etc. I plan to enlist the help of two of my best friends: one of them a very accomplished baker, who has created some fabulous gluten and dairy free cakes for me before; and one who is a talented chef and also now also gluten free.

Yellow outfit for National Tea Day and my Blooming Great Tea Party for Marie Curie

Mellow Yellow outfit for National Tea Day and inspiration for my Marie Curie Blooming Great Tea Party

What to wear?
I think I will wear my bright yellow jacket that was so appropriate for National Tea Day. I even wore it with a sparkly Marie Curie daffodil brooch, which will, of course, have to make another appearance for this event in honour of such a fantastic cause. I will be posting some more in the run up to the big day, with recipe ideas, different teas to serve, and table setting inspiration.

 

Get involved
You can join in the fun, too – you can sign up at www.mariecurie.org.uk/teaparty and plan your party for 23rd-25th June.

To get inspiration for your own Blooming Great Tea Party, visit the website at www.mariecurie.uk/teaparty/celebrityrecipes and decide what you would like to bake!

I will keep you updated on my progress…

Until next time,

Rachael XX

Foodies Festival Fun

The Fabulous Foodies Festival

View of Foodies Festival at Syon Park

The fabulous Foodies Festival at Syon Park

At the end of last month, we returned to Foodies Festival in our local area for the fifth year in a row, this time joined by some good friends, who were visiting from Birmingham to enjoy the VIP experience with us.

The second year at this picturesque venue, Syon Park, the well established Foodies Festival did not disappoint. It was even bigger and better than last year, including a beautifully designed VIP tent, with a grand piano bar, comfortable seating area and unlimited supply of tea, coffee, soft drinks and biscuits.

The grand piano VIP bar at Foodies Festival Syon Park

The grand piano VIP bar

After the threat of rain on a muggy morning, the weather actually stayed bright, hot and sunny for us, so we enjoyed a leisurely afternoon strolling around the many stalls, sampling delightful food and drink, listening to the live music, and even enjoying a mobile massage! What a treat – and what a great way to spend a sunny day!

Tea friends old and new…
Old tea friends, Teapigs, had a whole double decker bus devoted to tea lovers this time around, and the creative social enterprise tea company, Tea People, were there again this year, as well as our recent tasty treat provider friends from the Surrey Food Festival, Wholesome Bakes, who offer gluten, dairy and nut free cakes and bakes.

The Teapigs Bus at Foodies Festival Syon Park

The Teapigs Bus at Foodies Festival Syon Park

The Great British Sausage
Other festival favourites from previous years, such as the always impressive Great British Sausage Company, provided tasty snacks. You have to have a top notch hot dog at a food festival, don’t you think?

Burlesque baking!
We also enjoyed a truly scrumptious cake decorating demonstration from the vintage-tastic Burlesque Baker, Charlotte White, who we had the pleasure of meeting when we first arrived in the VIP tent and who decorated a delicious chocolate cake with pretty baby blue and silver icing and decorations. My friend, a talented and keen baker, enjoyed the tips on how to make different flower designs for cake decoration.

Anyone for a G&T?
I was also very excited to meet the team behind Silent Pool Gin at the festival, as they are local gin distillers, based nearby in Surrey, and their branding is just exquisite. I bought a set of their delicately decorated green-blue glasses, which I will share in a future post.

So, we enjoyed a day of food, fun, drinks, learning about how to prepare, make and decorate food, learning about different drinks, some much needed relaxation and massage, and, as usual, lots of tasty tea. What could be better?

Foodies Festival is still running throughout the UK – upcoming dates and venues can be found at FoodiesFestival.com. Other Foodies Festival locations in the London area are Blackheath, 8-10th July, and Alexandra Palace, 27th-29th August, and not far away in Oxford, 2-4th September.

There’s also a Foodies Festival coming up soon “Up North” in my old neck of the woods, at Tatton Park, 15th-17th July, as well as Harrogate, Edinburgh and Oxford still to come in August and September.

I hope you get the chance to enjoy the Foodies Festival experience this year!

Rachael x

The experience of tea – enjoying tea, your way, at home

Making the most of the full tea experience

What first springs to mind when you think about tea? Does it conjure up images of a lavish afternoon tea with vintage china and tableware, or a cosy cuppa snuggled up at home? For me, it’s both: as a true tea lover, I am equally happy enjoying a luxurious high tea sitting in a fancy hotel, taking tea in a cosy corner of a traditional tea room, curled up with a steaming mug of tea and a good book or stack of magazines.

I talk a lot about enjoying the experience of tea and sharing my tea adventures, both outside the home and inside, but Tea with Rachael all started when I thought about how I really get the chance to sit down, breathe and take a break with a good cup of tea at home.

A cosy cuppa

As a vintage enthusiast, I have an impressive collection of pretty teapots, delicate tea cups and saucers, but rarely lay the table as a full afternoon tea in the comfort of my own home. On a weekend, I am usually found in a cosy spot with my aforementioned book, magazines and big mug of tea, unless the weather is good, in which case I lay out tea on the balcony to make the most of the sunshine and riverside view.

Something that occurred to me while enjoying a good cup of tea at home was the number of different elements that go in to the experience of drinking tea. I have my favourite mugs, teapots, blends of tea, and am always seeking out pretty trays – both new and old – on which to set out all the tea paraphernalia. I like to think of my style and preferences here as unique to me, to my own tastes and tea experiences.

Cosy cup of tea

Blogging fuel – a cosy cuppa

Another essential piece of this mix is the humble coaster – something that is plentiful in my home. I am also a keen interior design enthusiast, collecting furniture and treasured pieces for the home – again, both old and new – and coasters that reflect these designs and my home style while protecting my furniture have an important part to play in both the look and feel I am hoping to achieve in my home and the overall tea drinking experience. I even use coasters on my outdoor table, as it’s white and I don’t want to spill tea, coffee or red wine on it! I have a variety of designs that reflect my interests and personal tastes, ranging from Anne Boleyn to cats, to historical and local photography.

Celebrating moments and memories

It was considering this element of my tea-loving life that I discovered Individually Inspired. The company’s founder, Dinesh, makes individually designed, personalised gifts, which can be tailored to suit vintage and modern interiors alike. A delightfully personal memento of special occasions, I particularly like the Engagement Plaques in wood and slate. These individually designed gifts work beautifully to commemorate engagements, birthdays, weddings, Christenings and naming ceremonies –  even special anniversaries or honeymoons.

New York plaque from Individually Inspired

Celebratory New York engagement plaque from Individually Inspired

 

Bespoke slate Paris plaque

A bespoke plaque from Individually Inspired to celebrate that special time in Paris…

 

 

One area that we have been discussing is a bespoke range of wooden coasters that can be customised and personalised with individual designs and messages. Here’s a prototype of a Tea with Rachael teacup design, which sums up my philosophy on enjoying a good cuppa with friends and family. Counting a considerable number of fellow tea enthusiasts among my friends and family, I think that personalised coaster collections would make fabulous gifts for them!

Bespoke coaster design

Creativity in action: Dinesh of Individually Inspired designing a bespoke Tea with Rachael coaster

 

 

Bespoke wooden Tea with Rachael coaster

One of a set of bespoke Tea with Rachael coasters from Individually Inspired

I’m interested to hear what kind of coasters my fellow tea lovers like. Are you a vintage lady or gent, or do you prefer something more modern? What bespoke designs would you choose/create? What else do you use to protect your furniture and good tea ware?

Until next time – enjoy that cuppa, and make sure you don’t make a ring on the table!

Rachael xx

The Great British Cuppa: Part One – How do you take your tea?

Winter is here and the festive season isn’t far away – time to cosy up with a cuppa…

Premium Earl Grey

A cosy cup of Earl Grey, anyone?

Winter is officially here! The golden Autumn leaves have almost disappeared, Halloween has been and gone, and the festive season is fast approaching. My thoughts are turning to cosy afternoons tucked up at home or in front of a fire in an atmospheric, historical or country house hotel, with a great pot of tea and a sweet treat!

As you would expect at this time of year, the days are getting shorter, the nights are drawing in, and it’s got a lot colder. So what better time to get really cosy with a good cuppa tea?

What makes the Great British Brew?

Mug of tea

A nice mug of tea – do you prefer a cup or a mug?

This month, there has been some fabulous research into the perfect cup of tea and the enduring British love affair with tea. With the importance of a good cup of tea and the tradition and ceremony of a properly made afternoon tea having a resurgence over the past few years, it seems our nation’s obsession with the perfect cuppa is showing no sign of waning.

Sykes Cottages have just completed a major piece of research all about The Great British Brew. Tea has inspired our artists and literary greats over the years, being the source and subject of many a famous quote. I’ll be sharing some of these as tea inspiration over the coming weeks.

They have also explored how the great British public likes to take their tea, asking 2,000 people in Britain about how and when they have their tea, with some interesting results:

  • Over half of British people take their tea white with no sugar
  • 84% of people in Britain drink at least one cup of tea per day
  • People drink more tea the older they get – 33% of Brits over 55 drink five cups or more each day. This compares to a figure of just 11% for 18-24 year olds
  • It seems our tea making abilities also improve with age, as 68% of those surveyed aged 55 or over claimed they made the best tea, as opposed to 41% of 18-24 year olds.
  • It may come as no surprise that we’re a fussy bunch when it comes to making our tea, with 59% of those surveyed saying they preferred to make their own cup of tea

How to make the perfect cup of tea

How to make the perfect cup of tea

How do you make the perfect cuppa?

With perfect timing, Whittard of Chelsea have just produced their guide to making the perfect cup of tea. It’s important to take into consideration the type of tea you are using, the temperature of the water, and what you are planning to use to brew your tea in. As big fans of tea will know, as a general rule, 3-5 minutes is about the right time to brew black teas, in freshly-boiled water, depending on how strong you like your brew. Lighter, more delicate teas, such as Darjeeling, white or green teas, should be brewed for no more than 3 minutes. It’s also important to remember that the water needs to be a little cooler for green and white teas, so don’t pour your water on these teas as soon as it’s boiled.

Have a look at Whittard of Chelsea’s useful and detailed guide to making the perfect cuppa.

How do you like your tea in the morning? Or afternoon, or evening…?

What’s your favourite kind of tea, and how do you take yours?

A nice, strong pot of tea

I like a nice strong black tea with the tiniest splash of lacto free milk or milk alternative

Do you prefer loose leaf tea or teabags? A rich, earthy Assam, or light, fragrant Darjeeling? Or perhaps a refreshing white or green tea?

Mine’s a nice strong cup of black tea with the tiniest splash of lactose-free milk or milk alternative, please!

Until next time – enjoy your perfect cuppa and a cosy corner in the cold – more comforting tea treats on the way soon!

Rachael XX

Autumn is here – time to get cosy

I’ve been having a little break from blogging for a while, for a number of reasons, so it seems fitting that I should pick things up again in the Autumn, particularly on the day the clocks go back!

Time to get cosy

Autumn is here – time to get cosy

I have so many tea adventures, local events and vintage finds to share, it will keep me busy for some time!

I will also be introducing some guest bloggers and contributors over the coming weeks and months, sharing their love of vintage, tea, home decoration, fashion and beauty.

New guest contributor – Gordon Harpur of Vintiqa.com
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce Gordon Harpur of Vintiqa.com, an online treasure trove of vintage and antique furniture and homewares. Vintiqa was set up as a fuss-free alternative to ebay and Gumtree for vintage, design and antique lovers. The fabulous finds are from all up and down the country and curated personally by the team, as well as them handling the logistics, such as delivery, for you. Definitely people after my own heart!

Vintage finds of the week
Gordon will be selecting his top picks to share on Tea with Rachael and I hope you will enjoy browsing and finding your own vintage treasures on Vintiqa. My personal favourite find this week is this stunning marble topped antique bedside table. A rather grand addition to any bedroom, and it provides plenty of storage, which is always a must for me!

Or how about a rustic Danish farmhouse rocking chair, which I think would be perfect draped with cosy blankets and snuggled with some cushions on a chilly autumnal evening?

Danish Rocking Chair

A lovely, rustic Danish rocking chair on Vintiqa

That’s exactly what I’m going to do right now – curl up in a cosy chair with my favourite cushions and fluffy blankets – and a cup of tea, naturally!

Until next time, stay cosy and enjoy the cold autumn days and nights in style, with a good cuppa. I’ll be back to catch up soon.

Rachael xx

Time for a cosy cup of tea

Time for a cosy Autumn cuppa