National Tea Day Adventures Part One – A festival of tea at Fest-Tea-Val

Every day is Tea Day for me

One month on and I’m still revelling in the tea celebrations and tea adventures I enjoyed on National Tea Day. It was a triple whammy of tea for me on 21st April. I started the day at my amazing local shopping centre in Kingston, The Bentall Centre, where I visited my old friends and tea favourites T2 and Whittard of Chelsea for quite a few morning cuppas. More on that soon…

I spent the rest of the day at Fes-Tea-Val, which took place on 21st and 22nd April 2018. I so enjoyed National Tea Day last year, with so many fantastic tea stalls and tea tastings in one place and so many tea enthusiasts and experts all under one roof, aptly hosted at the fabulous Kensington Roof Gardens, which sadly no longer exist. I met some wonderful tea people (including catching up with old friends, like Tea People!) and enjoyed some spectacular tea blends and accompanying treats, as well as making friends with a few flamingos…

Fest-Tea-Val at Chiswick House and Gardens

Fest-Tea-Val in the tranquil surrounding of Chiswick House and Gardens

Fest-Tea-Val

This year’s National Tea Day festival, however, went way beyond expectations. The fabulous celebration of all things tea, cleverly called “Fest-Tea-Val”, perfectly complemented the tranquil beauty of Chiswick House and Gardens – a genuine and very unexpected oasis of calm in between Richmond and Central London. It was much bigger than I thought it would be – more like a food festival and just as much fun (if not more fun, as everything centred around tea!).

A time for friends and family

I visted on the first day, on National Tea Day itself, 21st April. A couple of my friends met me at the event and were just as surprised at the size, scope and scenery of Fest-Tea-Val. We made a point of visiting every single stall and trying as many teas and treats as we possibly could!

Par-tea time!

The Fest-Tea-Val was divided up into different zones, with something for everyone: Tea ‘n’ Treat Village was exactly what you’d expect – full of teas and treats. Tea ‘n’ Tipple Boulevard showcased some of the more grown up delights on offer, with tea cocktails and tea-infused booze.

There were over 225 providers of tea and treats at the festival, with everything from loose leaf teas, specialist teas, posh teabags, organic teas, detox teas, tea-infused beer and spirits and some tea-inspired tipples. I came home with all kinds of edible goodies – from cheese, to tea-infused gin, to tea of all kinds. I must say I was very excited by my tea-inspired haul, as were my friends. 

As well as enjoying all the tea, tipples, food and frolics, there was live music, baking demonstrations and numerous how-tos. We all learned a lot about tea, and there was even time for some relaxation in the Vitali-Tea Garden.

A fashionable festival of tea

There was even a tent dedicated to fashion, bringing together some of my favourite things: food, fashion, and of course, tea.

So many wonderful tea people

I’m going to try to do some special posts for the different tea companies that we discovered, but there are certain companies that really made it a fantastic day for us, and I’d like to give a little shout out.

Hope and Glory at Fest-Tea-Val

The fabulous Hope and Glory stand at Fes-Tea-Val

Where there is tea, there is hope…

Independent tea brand, Hope & Glory, were one of the sponsors of the event and had both a fabulous vintage inspired stand and a cafe area, right by the riverside. It was a peaceful spot to sit down for a bit and enjoy some top notch tea and tuck-boxes, resting our weary feet as we surveyed our tea purchases and enjoyed a quality cup of tea and a stunning view out over the River Thames. The Hope & Glory afternoon tea lunch boxes were made up by top chef, Cyrus Todiwala, in a special collaboration to celebrate National Tea Day, presented in the Hope & Glory vintage-style tin tea caddies. We were delighted to meet the team behind the brand, including co-founder, Bharat Chudasama, who is so genuinely passionate about tea and welcomed us warmly with a lovely Earl Grey and the tasty tuck-boxes. We enjoyed a lengthy conversation about tea and our shared love of good quality teas until we realised the Fest-Tea-Val was closing and it was time for go home. But that meant going home to more delicious tea – and maybe some of the tea infused boozy treats, too!


A fab festival atmosphere in stunning surroundings

It was a really fab day out all round, perfect for tea lovers and foodies alike. We were exhausted after all the tea adventures, but it was so worth it!

Thank you to all the lovely team at National Tea Day for inviting me and for putting on such an awesome event. True tea lovers!

I’ve so many other lovely tea adventures to share in the coming weeks – from more National Tea Day fun, to some fabulous teas and treats to try at home. Much needed after such a busy time!

I’m looking forward to many more tea adventures, too, now that the weather is getting so much better.

Until next time, hope you’re enjoying a cracking cuppa!

Rachael xx

Rachael’s Adventures in Tea Land

Tea Adventures with Rachael: Part 3 – Adventures in Tea Land

Happy National Tea Day!

I’ve lived and breathed tea in the run up to and during #NationalTeaDay and I’ve loved every minute of it, although it’s been a busy few days! Each adventure needs its own mention, starting with a local tea adventure…

Adventures in Tealand with Whittard of Chelsea, Kingston

Alice in Wonderland

Whittard’s Alice in Wonderland collaboration

I was invited to the Whittard of Chelsea store at The Bentall Centre in Kingston, where, like Alice, I was drawn into a wonderful land and enjoyed more than a few cups of tea! Whittard have updated their Alice in Wonderland themed teas and tea ware for 2017 and it could not be more appropriate. I treated myself to a Cheshire Cat mug – as a Cheshire kitty myself! I love the Alice tea ware and hope to build up my collection over time.

Cheshire Cat Mug

The Cheshire Cat mug from Whittard

A tea for all seasons…

For a brand with an excellent pedigree and long heritage, Whittard has adapted and moved with the times and weathered all manner of economic and political crises to remain an oasis of tea loving heaven in the busy modern world. The colours, sights and smells when you walk in are all cheerful and comforting – like stepping into a treasure trove for a tea lover like me!

I thought I knew quite a lot about this well known tea brand, having been a regular shopper here and in other branches for many years; and having collaborated on some blogs in the past; but I learned a lot more during my visit from the lovely Beata, their resident tea expert, who was very well versed, not only in all things tea; but very knowledgeable about their own impressively wide tea range (over 100 teas, including the special edition blends, don’t you know?) and also knows a lot about their other tasty treats, such as coffee, hot chocolate, tea-inspired biscuits and even tea-infused jams and preserves.

Colourful teas and tea ware - including the Moringa Bamboo

Colourful teas and teaware at Whittard of Chelsea

Beata opened my eyes to some herbal blends and limited edition teas, too, such as the Moringa and Bamboo herbal tea – something I would never usually go for, but which was absolutely delicious and is undoubtedly incredibly good for you. I will definitely be popping in to buy this limited edition tea for as long as it’s available!

Whittard Tea Gift Selection

One of Whittard’s Tea Gift Selections

My magic number is…

I also learned that the numbers on the packaging of every Whittard tea have hidden meaning, whether denoting the date that blend was introduced, the number of different ingredients, or even social lucky numbers for the Whittard team.

A nice, personal touch; and also demonstrates their genuine love of their tea and how it is produced.

We also discussed my usual favourites and the different blends that would suit my tastes – strong, black teas; comforting chai; zesty Earl Grey blends; and anything with vanilla or cinnamon!

I came away with a much greater knowledge of the different teas available, my Cheshire Cat mug, some lovely goodies and even some vanilla flavoured coffee to share with my husband, who (shock, horror!) doesn’t drink tea! I also have some great tea party ideas for my forthcoming tea party fundraisers for Marie Curie and others (more on that in a later post…) thanks to the friendly team.

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon and perfect to celebrate #nationalteaday – thank you to the lovely team at Kingston’s Whittard for the warm welcome and a very informative visit.

More adventures to come…

In the next part in my tea adventures series, I’ll be sharing some of the tasty treats I’ve been trying in honour of National Tea Day celebrations, some of the wonderful tea people I met at The National Tea Day Festival at Kensington Roof Gardens, then more very British tea adventures through the ages with the lovely people at Twinings.

Until then, Happy Tea Day once again – hope you’ve had a few good cuppas today!

Rachael xx

Lovely Teas for the New Year

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed lots of lovely teas over the festive season and shared and received some fabulous tea gifts?

I have been thoroughly spoiled this time around, with some fabulous teas, teapots and mugs. I’ll be sharing some pictures of them over the coming weeks, along with reviews of all the fabulous teas.

A New Year Tea Gift

Top 100 Tea Blogs

Awarded Top 100 Tea Blog by Feedspot.com

I received a very lovely New Year’s gift this week – an award as one of Feedspot’s Top 100 Tea Bloggers! Delighted to see that a number of my fabulous tea friends are on the list, too, so do check it out.

I also received some sample teas from the downright lovely people at Lovely Tea Teas – a selection of favourites, such as Earl Grey and an Irish Breakfast black tea.

 

 

Lovely Tea Teas Earl Grey

The Earl Grey from Lovely Tea Teas

Lovely Teas

I was impressed with the refreshing Irish Breakfast tea to start my working day in my first weeks back at work after the festive holidays; and have been soothed by the relaxing, delicate Earl Grey as I nursed the lurgy this week. The branding and packaging is pretty (a lovely fit with the style of Tea with Rachael, in fact!) and reflects the genuine love of tea that the Lovely Tea Teas team has. Genuinely lovely teas from the very appropriately named Lovely Tea Teas company!

I do recommend checking out their rather comprehensive selection of loose leaf teas – there are some exciting and interesting blends there as well as the traditional favourites, so something to suits all tastes.

New Year, New Tea Adventures

I’ve also embarked upon some new tea adventures for January with Tea Tourist, the new tea subscription box that is passionate about tea and work with their pick of the best Tea Partners from across the UK to share their fantastic tea blends and support like minded tea businesses.

Reggae Refresh Tea

The tropically refreshing Reggae Refresh Tea from Born Wild Teas

This month’s selection showcases a wide variety of teas, all very suitably chosen for the month of January: Recover Tea, by Blendology, to aid recovery from the festive season; Rooibos Earl Grey, by Tea Leaf London, for a comforting yet healthy brew; Matcha from Teaologists and Gunpowder green tea by Morgan’s Brew Tea Company for the obligatory New Year health kick; and, to shoo away the January blues, the totally tropical smelling and tasting Reggae Refresh, by Born Wild Teas (a personal favourite after trying this amazing blend with lots of my favourite goodies in it!)

Tea Tourist are a friendly team and their tea box was welcoming and fun. I love the message inside the box that says, “Kettle on. Feet up. Relax. Let this adventure begin.”

How wonderful to begin new tea adventures for the new year from the comfort of my own home!

Until next time, I hope this inspires some tea adventures of your own.

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

Summer Recipe Corner: Guest Chef Scott Turnbull

Adventures in tea and food…

Changing my diet and lifestyle over the past few months thankfully hasn’t put an end to my tea adventures!

Teapots from The Teapot Dude

A fab range of teapots from The Teapot Dude – one for every occasion, from festivals, to weddings, to birthdays!

I was delighted when the lovely team at The Teapot Dude sent me a selection of their fantastic teapots – the versatile teapot peg design brightens up an ordinary cup or mug and can be matched to any important occasion.

Groovy Festival Tea from The Teapot Dude

Groovy, baby! A pre-Foodies Festival cuppa from The Teapot Dude – All you need is love!

I particularly enjoyed trying out the very latest design, All You Need is Love, inspired by festival fever, to get myself in the mood for Foodies Festival not far from my home in beautiful Syon Park.

Tasked with changing my diet to gluten and dairy free, I was a little worried about finding anything I could eat at Foodies Festival in Syon Park. I needn’t have worried – I came back with all manner of gluten and dairy free goodies!

In the process of experimenting with new dishes and alternatives to my usual favourites, also avoiding a number of other foods that cause me problems, I asked my dear friend Scott for some recipe ideas. Some summery, simple dishes that would complement some of my latest teas.

Tasty dinners for tea people

Tea People Tea and yummy Foodies goodies

Fabulous tea and goodies from Foodies Festival at Syon Park

These dishes go particularly well with the very different teas from Tea People that I picked up at the Syon Park Foodies Festival, especially the Masala Chai and the Choco Mint Rooibos. Tea People is a wonderful social enterprise organisation, blending a delicious, unique range of teas, giving half their profits to education projects in tea growing regions. I met the lovely team behind Tea People at Foodies and they have a wonderful story – find out more at www.teapeople.co.uk/our-story

Scott has come up with some mouthwatering recipes that fit the bill perfectly – I hope you enjoy them!

Bean Salad with pomegranate vinaigrette

Bean salad with pomegranate vinaigrette

Scott’s Bean Salad

Ingredients

215g Butter bean
235g Cannellini beans
1/2 finely chopped red onion
Handful of fine beans (topped & tailed)
1/2 handful of fresh chopped mint
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1tablespoons lemon juice
1tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 the chopped red onion
1/2 the chopped mint.
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice & pomegranate jewels.

  1. Cook the tinned beans as per instructions ( I do mine in the microwave – quick and easy!)
  2. Drain in a sieve under cold running water, then leave over bowl to drain further.
  3. Boil some water in a pan, add a pinch of salt, then add the fine beans once water is boiling. (Make sure you only leave in the water for 90 seconds, as you want the beans to still be green and crisp)
  4. After 90 seconds, drain and put into ice cold water to stop them cooking.
  5. Drain all the beans & place in a large salad bowl, add 3 tablespoons pomegranate jewels, 1/2 of the finely chopped red onion and 1/2 the mint and gently toss together.

For the vinaigrette:
Add all the ingredients from the list and whisk together until it begins to emulsify. Drizzle over the salad & enjoy. It’s that easy!

Mojito Chicken
This is a fab summer chicken dish, and the flavours complement the bean salad perfectly. Also great with summer cocktails!

Mojito Chicken

Scott’s Mojito Chicken

Ingredients
12 chicken legs (washed)
1tablespoons of soft brown sugar
1/2tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons of white rum
1 tablespoons of dark rum
1 lime
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (half the lime)
1/2 handful of fresh mint roughly chopped or torn.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt and finely ground white pepper into a large plastic container, add the chicken legs, and shake it up, baby!

Ok, now you’ve had your daily exercise, lets get to the fun part…!

Sprinkle the sugar  all over the chicken, pour over the lime juice and rum and sprinkle in 1/2 of the chopped mint. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight to marinate.

Once marinated, set the oven to Gas Mark 7/200 degrees in a fan assisted oven/220 degrees in an electric oven.

Place marinated chicken on a baking tray covered in tin foil, pour over the remaining juice, fold over the foil so it’s 1/2 covered and leave to cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

After this time, open up the foil, turn the chicken legs and leave for another 10-15 minutes to crisp up a bit.

Once done, decorate with a sprig of mint, place on plate and enjoy! Perfect with summer cocktails, iced mint tea, or a nice pot of Chocolate Mint Roiboos!

I hope you enjoy trying out these fabulous, healthy summer recipes. Follow Scott on Instagram at Callisto22 for more fab recipes and drool-worthy pictures of his latest creations!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Rachael and Scott xx

Scott and me at the Labyrinth Masked Ball

Guest Chef Scott Turnbull with me at the fabulous Labyrinth Masked Ball!