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

Celebrating a cosy Crocktober!

Fire up the log burner and the slow cooker – October’s here…

It’s the start of a new season – the evenings are getting shorter, there’s a crisp nip to the air, and the leaves are turning a beautiful golden shade. It’s Autumn – a lovely time of year, with a lot of fun events and activities to look forward to! What with my wedding anniversary, special friend’s and family’s birthdays, and, of course, Halloween, I do enjoy this time of year.

Cosy cottage

With the decidedly cooler weather, thoughts turn to cosy, comforting meals cooked at home. I have blogged before about the joys of slow cooker cooking and have cobbled together many a hearty casserole, particularly during the Autumn months. But did you know you can make cakes in a slow cooker, too?

Cosy log burner

Time to fire up the log burner

Crock-Pot hosts #Crocktober every Autumn, and 2016’s theme is a Weekender – the ideal time to try out some cupcake recipes as tasty weekend afternoon tea for guests. And what do you need when you have a selection of delightfully delicate cupcakes? A nice pot of tea – or two!

Crock-Pot has been experimenting with their Weekender cupcake recipes and asked me to make some recommendations of teas to accompany the cakes. Who doesn’t love tea and a sweet, sugary cupcake? I have to stretch the experimentation a little further in order to have gluten and dairy free versions, but here are my recommendations of tasty teas to try with your Crocktober Cupcakes.

Darjeeling and tasty mini cupcakes

A nice cup of Darjeeling with some tasty mini cupcakes

Why not try a light, refreshing, citrus infused Earl Grey to balance the sugary icing and contrast with the sweetness of the cupcakes, or perhaps a healthy green tea? Another option is a delicately flavoured Darjeeling, which doesn’t detract from the full flavours of the cupcakes but instead has the right mix of tanginess and depth to go with a gooey, tasty treat.

Cupcakes and a refreshing cup of Earl Grey

Cupcakes and a refreshing cup of Earl Grey

I’ll be sharing some Crock-Pot slow cooker casserole recipes over the coming weeks, but while we still have the bright, yet somewhat cooler weather, make the most of those sunny weekend afternoons with some Crock-Pot Cupcakes and a really good cup of tea!

Until then,

Enjoy!

Rachael xx

Every week is Afternoon Tea Week

I celebrated Afternoon Tea Week by, well, drinking lots of tea! But then every week is Afternoon Tea Week as far as I’m concerned!

The fab O-Teas tea tins

The beautifully packaged O-Teas range of tea

At home, I’ve been working my way through the impressively vast O-Teas range of teas, from various different favourite black tea blends, such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey, and some fab herbal blends that really helped soothe my sore chest and sinuses while suffering from the lurgy – a variety of tasty ginger tea blends and an organic lemon and rosemary tea that was exactly what I needed! I was also delighted to try Santa’s Little Helper – a comforting blend of black tea with cinnamon – and would happily drink this all year round! Festive!

O-Teas

The fabulous range of teas from O-Teas

Organic lemon and rosemary tea

Organic Lemon and Rosemary tea from O-Teas

 

Everything about this brand appeals to the tea magpie in me – fabulous packaging, beautiful design, and of course, deliciously refreshing tea!

It’s a resounding thumbs up from me for O-Teas – I’ve been recommending them to colleagues and friends and am looking forward to buying some of their stylish tins of tea for me and for gifts.

I’ve also enjoyed a few local afternoon teas in honour of Afternoon Tea Week, which I will share in future posts. Lots of tea and treats – especially when the sun is shining – never fail to make you feel better.

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed a suitable number of good teas during this important week in the tea lover’s calendar, and hope you enjoy more in the weeks to come.

Rachael xx

First Food Festival of 2016

Tasty food from Surrey Food Festival in Richmond

Tasty treats from Surrey Food Festival – tea, coffee, cakes, cookies and olive oil

I visited the Surrey Food Festival at Richmond’s Old Deer Park last weekend, and had a lovely time trying out lots of tasty food and drink in my local area and meeting some great people.

I met some fantastic artisan food providers, from the wonderfully meaty cuisine of Meat The Chef (chicken skin skin-on fries, anyone?), to Sussex oil and vinegar makers, Stratta, to the delightful team at tea and sweet treat makers, Brew and Bites, who tempted me with Persian sweet treats and their beautiful tea and coffee blends. I also found plenty of gluten and dairy free fare to taste and take home, thanks to Wholesome Bakes and online marketplace Free From Market. We even bought a few cheeky bottles of wine from The Vineking, which we were able to try out and taste at the festival and then, once we’d got expert advice from the wine experts on the stand, bring our favourites home with us.

So much good food and drink to take home
I returned with an impressive haul: herb flavoured olive oils from Stratta, Rosy Grey tea and Colombian coffee from Brew and Bites, gluten and dairy free cakes and cookies from Wholesome Bakes, and, of course, a cheeky Prosecco and Cabernet Sauvignon from local wine specialists, The Vineking.

Afternoon tea at home with treats from Surrey Food Festival

My own afternoon tea at home with tea and treats from the Surrey Food Festival and my new bespoke coasters from Individually Inspired

Time for tea
The obvious thing to do when I got home was to have my own special afternoon tea with my tasty treats, so I brewed up a refreshing and delicate pot of Rosy Grey, a blend of Ceylon black loose leaf tea, bergamot, rose petals and rose buds.

The tea is so pretty and smells divine – almost too good to drink! But drink it I did, and it was exactly what was needed after wandering around outside for a few hours and feeling a little tired after all the fresh air!

Paired with a gluten and dairy free raspberry cupcake and served on the lovely Tea with Rachael coasters that Individually Inspired made for me, it was the perfect time to take a moment and relax. I also had a good look through the show guide and the Taste Awards brochure for inspiration for other fabulous foodie finds!

Rosy Grey tea from Brew and Bites

Rosy Grey tea from Brew and Bites – looks and smells too pretty, but tastes just as good to drink!

I’ll be heading to Foodies Festival at Syon Park again next Bank Holiday weekend with some fellow foodie friends, so am looking forward to enjoying our VIP tickets and trying even more tasty treats!

Until next time, hope you also get to enjoy some fabulous food this Bank Holiday weekend – a whole extra day to take the time to sit back, relax, and have a good cup of tea! (And maybe a cake or two…!)

Enjoy,

Rachael xx

 

The Great British Brew – Part Two

Happy New Year! Well, better late than never…!

I’ve been taking a bit of an extended tea break over the past few months. As well as getting some much needed rest, I’ve had a few fun tea adventures along the way.

London New Year fireworks

Happy New Year!

With a New Year, comes new hope; and renewed resolve.

I love the timeless quotes that Sykes Cottages picked out in their recent Great British Brew survey – this one is very appropriate at the start of a shiny new year!

Where there is tea, there is hope

Where there is tea, there is hope…

A rather different cup of tea

Massis Tey Latte

The award winning MASSIS tea Tey Latte

Awesome Person

Confidence in a cup from MASSIS tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not long before the festive break, I had the pleasure of attending a very special event for MASSIS Tea. From their fab, creative home, The Madd Hatter’s Cafe, in the heart of London’s West End, which twinkled with pretty festive lights and decorations, we were serenaded by a number of excellent bands and singers, and had the opportunity to try some exotic taste combinations.

MASSIS tea are the creators of the unique Tey – an espresso-like tea shot, made with a signature blend of tea leaves using a conventional espresso machine, that was designed to redefine the nation’s favourite drink and do something truly different with the Great British Brew. Tey works particularly well in lattes and tea cocktails.

Festive decorations

Festive decorations at the MASSIS Tea Concept Store, the Madd Hatter’s Cafe

On this freezing December evening, I was looking forward to trying a Gingerbread Hug – a Tey Latte – excited at the prospect of combining two of my favourite things, tea and gingerbread! I certainly wasn’t disappointed by this warm and toasty hug in a cup!

I also enjoyed a wee tipple in the form of a tea cocktail – a beautifully fragrant and flowery blend including gin and rose petals. A great source of inspiration for parties – and it was great to see that they have something to suit different tastes and seasons. It’s not difficult to see why MASSIS tea won a 2015 Sussex Life Award for Food and Drink Innovation of the Year, with their combination of “creativitea” and a knack for what flavours go together.

Tea cocktail

A MASSIS tea Tey cocktail – almost too pretty to drink! Almost…

I will definitely be popping in to their concept store again for a cup of something different when I’m next near Covent Garden, and look forward to seeing more from the very enthusiastic and knowledgeable MASSIS tea team.

Adventures in hospitalitea

Gluten free afternoon tea at Beatons

A specially made gluten free option for my afternoon tea at Beatons Crowthorne

The Beatons tea menu

Plenty of tea choice at Beatons

My tea adventures have thankfully continued into 2016. Just last week, I was delighted ti be invited to the unofficial launch of the latest of the lovely Beatons Tearooms and Bookshops, the nearest one to my home yet, in Crowthorne. Welcomed by our gracious hosts, Paul Mitchell, franchisee of the Crowthorne Beatons, his friendly team, and Beatons’ expert Creative Consultant, Liz Darcy Jones, I was honoured to join a table of distinguished guests, including journalist and TV presenter, Juliette Foster.

Delicious cakes at Beatons Crowthorne

The delicious selection of cakes at Beatons Crowthorne

I thoroughly enjoyed a couple of lovely pots of tea, including a rich, earthy Assam and the signature Beatons blend; along with a carefully made, gluten free afternoon tea – even though it’s not officially on the menu, they had a number of great gluten free options for me to indulge in, such as delicate finger sandwiches on gluten free bread, a moist and delicious orange and polenta cake and even gluten free crumpets!

It was a cosy and very enjoyable afternoon of fine, loose-leaf teas, great food and intelligent and enlightening conversation with some lovely ladies.

cakes and chandelier at Beatons Crowthorne

The delicious cakes and sparkling chandelier at Beatons Crowthorne

The official opening of Beatons Crowthorne will be on 30th January, in aid of Berkshire’s Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice, where they will be joined by the Mayor of the Borough of Bracknell Forest and best-selling Berkshire author, Virginia Macgregor. I’m sure it will be a fun filled event to celebrate Crowthorne’s new bookshop, where guests will enjoy signature teas, carrot cake, live music from the local Skin and Blister Sisters, and even some poetry!

New Year’s Resolutions – Green Tea

Tea features heavily in my New Year’s Resolutions – I intend to drink more of it and try out new blends, as ever, but also plan to increase my intake of healthy green teas. I was kindly sent some rather special green teas from the lovely, entrepreneurial ladies at Tg Teas, Sophie and Hua, including a delicately flavoured ginger and lemon zest green tea and some healthy, low sugar iced green tea drinks, which proved rather a hit with my colleagues in the office, particularly following festive indulgences!

 

Tg Teas Ginger and lemon zest green tea

Ginger and lemon zest green tea from Tg Teas – healthy and delicious!

 

Tg’s ethos, to get people off the sugar and drinking healthy green tea, really resonates at this time of year, and their approach to tea, from their packaging, to their branding, to the all natural ingredients used in the tea, is really refreshing.

Here’s to a healthy, happy New Year!

Be sure to enjoy lots of tea in 2016 – I certainly will!

Douglas Adams quoted about the restorative power of tea

Douglas Adams on the restorative power of tea

Rachael xx