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

Fun with festive teas

Time for a cosy, festive cuppa – part two!

Festive tea

Festive teas from Tea Sparrow

Tasty, festive teas from Tea Sparrow

The lovely people at Tea Sparrow sent me a host of fabulous, festive teas from their holiday tea box selection. What a treat for tea lovers! Tea Sparrow organise monthly tea boxes with a selection of teas from different suppliers around the world, some of whom have featured on Tea with Rachael before, like the tea experts at Just Tea and The Tea Guy. I’ve been enjoying some fab new festive flavours recently, and the selection from Tea Sparrow certainly didn’t disappoint, with tasty and classily Christmassy treats such as Winter Almond Rooibos from Tea Desire and Organic Christmas Delight from Sonnentor, the fresh, sweet tasting Safari Oolong from Just Tea, and the downright decadent Cream of Earl Grey from The Tea Guy.

Festive teas from Tea Sparrow

A festive selection of teas from Tea Sparrow

An elegant Oolong

I’ve rediscovered Oolong recently and find it so refreshing and easy to drink. The Safari Oolong from Just Tea blends the refreshing taste of Chinese Oolong  with the sweetness of Kenyan tea, something that Just Tea are known for. It was an almost fruity tasting combination and a great way to start the day.

Winter teas from Tea Sparrow

Tea Sparrow’s winter teas

Refreshing Rooibos

I’ve also been drinking a lot of Rooibos, particularly with some added natural flavours, in an attempt to fend off the winter lurgy and keep hydrated throughout the day. The combination of flavours in the Winter Almond Rooibos from Tea Desire is uniquely festive – almost like a comforting slice of cake. Delicious!

Comforting cinnamon

You’ll also know I’m rather partial to a bit of cinnamon, especially in the winter, so I was excited to try the Organic Christmas Delight from Sonnentor, which blends organic cinnamon pieces, raspberry leaves, orange and apple pieces, liquorice, cloves, marigold and cornflowers. It’s like Christmas in a cup and comforting for mind, body and soul. Liquorice, cinnamon and marigold are known to have tummy soothing properties, too, so this is still a treat even if you’ve over-indulged during the festive season! A clever idea for tea lovers at Christmastime.

Would you like a dash of cream with your Earl Grey?

Regular Tea with Rachael readers will know I love a good cup of Early Grey. While I’m not really allowed much dairy due to an intolerance, I do tend to have the tiniest dash of milk in my Earl Grey, treated myself to a calming cup of The Tea Guy’s Cream of Earl Grey after my weekend lunch and it was the perfect cuppa to satiate my sweet tooth. When you open the packaging, it smells like a box of chocolates – a sweet, creamy, vanilla scent – and the taste is just the same, with a refreshing hit of citrus bergamot to stop it from being too sweet. The note on the packaging essentially says you won’t be happy with any other Earl Grey after tasting this, and while my tastebuds are always open to trying different Earl Grey blends, I did love this and the combination of vanilla and Earl Grey flavours really bring together my favourites in a tea. Highly recommended!

I was really impressed with the friendly communication from the lovely Tea Sparrow team and really enjoyed the full selection of teas I received. A really nice idea for a festive tea gift and there’s bound to be something to suit all tastes in their carefully thought out selections.

Find out more about Tea Sparrow and their story at www.teasparrow.com – along with some great tea cocktail and comforting flu fighting tea recipes!

The gift of tea from Basilur

A festive tea book from Basilur Tea

A festive Tea Book from Basilur Tea

Basilur Tea sent me some of their beautifully packaged festive teas. I don’t know if you’ve seen their packaging before, but if you haven’t, get on the website and take a look! Beautiful artwork, sparkly tins and boxes and…tea books. Yes, that’s right, tea books! Ah, another combination of two of my favourite things! What a fabulous festive gift idea – and you can collect volumes of tea books to display on your shelves! Heaven!

Tea book volumes from Basilur Tea

Collect volumes of tea books from Basilur

A good quality brew

Sencha green tea from Basilur

Sencha green tea from Basilur

The tea is excellent quality, too – I enjoyed pure Ceylon and Sencha green teas and am keen to try some more of their teas, which come highly recommended on Twitter.

As you can see, I’ve been really spoiled for choice these past few weeks and am looking forward to enjoying many more festive cuppa in the run up to Christmas.

Big thanks to all the lovely tea people who have helped me try all these delicious teas ready for the Christmas festivities – thank you to Tea Sparrow, Basilur, Bruu and The Kent and Sussex Tea Company.

A cosy cup of tea

Cosy cuppa

I hope my festive tea tastings have given you some ideas and provided some festive inspiration. Only a few weeks until the festive season now – I hope you also get to enjoy many a good festive cuppa!

Until next time – Compliments of the Season to all, Cheers!

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

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