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

Shoes, Glorious Shoes

Give a girl the right pair of shoes…

Shoes by Shaherazad

The shiny, sparkly Shoes by Shaherazad

Well, the past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind, with birthday celebrations for family and friends, lots of hard work and a rather annoying arthritis flare-up! Rest and relaxation were much needed…

In the time when I have been out and about, I’ve been very excited to wear my new, sparkly and oh-so-shiny shoes from 18 Hour Heels from Shoes by Shaherazad. These beauties are customisable with their sparkly “shoellery” and perfectly at home either in the office or out on the town!

Shoe jewellery

Sparkling jewellery for shoes – “Shoellery”

The heels look fabulous – attracting many a compliment and “oohs and ahhhs” from my colleagues – and these sparklers go with pretty much everything in my wardrobe, so I decided to experiment to see if they really were comfy enough to wear all day and all night, if needed!

Out and About
I’ve worn them in the office during the day and out to work events in the evening, still getting home with comfy and blister free footsies! Top marks so far…

Birthday treats
I wore them for my Grandma’s 86th birthday celebrations up North in February, getting my “dancing shoes” on with my mum and grandma to watch Anton and Erin perform at the Liverpool Philharmonic! I wore them all day and night for my special birthday day out, which involved shopping, afternoon tea at the Ham Yard Hotel, more shopping, cocktails and a delicious dinner at The Ivy.

Silver skirt and black and gold heels

Shining silver and gold celebrations

I also wore my fabulous heels to birthday parties for both my sister in law and a good friend; again, very comfy to wear on the journey into the West End, throughout the evening and on the journey home. Admittedly, suffering from PoTS, I don’t stand up too much, but still do a lot of walking around and still have a 15 minute walk to my train each morning and evening on my way to and from the office and from any train back from Waterloo after being in Central London. Add that to a day in the office and anything after work, or before and after a night out, and you’re on your feet for more than you think!

Shoes by the fire at the Bingham, Richmond

Sparkling shoes and a warm fire

And my conclusions?
These shoes made me feel confident and fabulous, ready to take on anything that is thrown at me (uneven pavements, busy commute, crazy work days, you name it…!) Knowing that these shoes contribute to excellent women’s causes makes them all the more special to me. Being genuinely comfortable and beautifully crafted in the UK, whilst still undeniably stylish, makes them my top choice. But there’s much more to them than that. These are shoes with a conscience, designed to make a difference to the lives of women around the world. With 500 women helped so far and counting, the company aims to empower women globally and support women’s charities with every sale, through their partnership with Global Giving UK. Global Giving UK’s CEO, Eleanor Harrison, recently wore her shoes like mine (the appropriately named style, “Dream then Do”) to receive her OBE – what could be more fabulous or more inspiring than that?!

Please do take the time to check out Shoes by Shaherazad and the great work this company and its hardworking founder, Shaherazad Umbreen, are doing. What a fantastic enterprise!

Shoes and tea

Shoes and tea – a winning combination!

Time for tea?
In between stepping out and a much needed rest, I’ve been very lucky to try a huge number of fantastic teas – more on each and every one soon, but in the meantime, check out your exclusive Tea with Rachael discount of 30% off your first tea subscription box from the lovely people at Tea Tourist – just enter TEAWITHRACHAEL30 at checkout.

More great offers to follow soon, too – enjoy!

Rachael xx

Float like a dragonfly, enjoy a cup of tea!

A delightful evening of tea tasting and appreciation

I recently attended what was arguably the best bloggers’ event in the whole time I’ve been writing Tea with Rachael! It’s taken a while to put together this post, as I really wanted to do it justice, so I hope you get a sense of it all when reading.

The lovely people at Dragonfly Tea invited a small group of bloggers and tea enthusiasts to a very special and exclusive tea tasting masterclass with the family run tea brand’s very own Georgia Ginsberg, carrying on the grand tea tradition of her father, who founded Dragonfly 15 years ago, and her great grandfather, who introduced the people of the UK to Rooibos. I’m already a big fan of Dragonfly’s Rooibos blends, having a large box of both the Vanilla and Earl Grey Rooibos teas on my desk at work, so was very excited to try more of their teas.

The Tea House Collection

The beautiful tea and floral displays at the Dragonfly Tea event

The Tea House collection
The event was in honour of the launch of the new Tea House Collection, celebrating rare and precious teas such as Oolong, Matcha, white tea and the finest quality green tea, created to commemorate Dragonfly’s 15 year anniversary and with the aim of bringing them to a wider audience and making them more accessible, as well as including great blends of some old favourites and classic teas, such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey.

Earl Grey cocktails

Delicious Earl Grey G & Tea cocktails

Tea cocktails
Held at the Waitrose Cookery School in the regenerated, revamped and downright trendy area surrounding London’s Kings Cross, we were welcomed with some creative tea inspired cocktails. My tipple of choice was the very stylish Earl Grey G & Tea, but there were also other delectable choices of Oolong Island Iced Tea or the alcohol free Green Tea Mojito Cocktail. The cocktails were complemented with a selection of tasty and moreish canapés, again, inspired by tea. The lemongrass and ginger tea meringue choux were a particular hit!

Lemongrass and ginger tea meringue choux

Lemongrass and ginger tea meringue choux

Time for tea…
Georgia talked us through all the Tea House blends and we tasted each one in a very cute little glass cup! I was very surprised to find that I really liked the green tea – never usually one of my favourites – but this was light and refreshing. I was also reminded of how much I enjoy a good cup of Oolong – the delicious Eastern Beauty Oolong is one of the tea choices that I took home from the evening.

Garden Mint and Verbena Tea

Tasting the Garden Mint and Verbena

After hearing about the fascinating history of the Dragonfly brand, the different teas, carefully selected tea blends, their uses and – very importantly – how they should be brewed, we were asked to put our tea tasting skills to the test with a blind tea tasting. I teamed up with the lovely Nicola of Little Vintage Star and we were two of the three ladies to guess them all correctly! After a tie breaker question about Japanese tea, I was delighted to win the competition, and was stunned to receive the most beautiful bouquet of flowers!

Beautiful bouquet of flowers

The wonderful flowers I won for the tea tasting competition

My Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

My Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

How to make a girl feel special…
As well as the stunning flowers, we were each given the cutest branded marshmallows, our two choices of our favourite Tea House Collection teas, an adorable glass teapot/cup, an origami dragonfly and the very exciting Dragonfly birthday candle, Tea Chest Number 1 – an exclusive preview of the Dragonfly scented candle created by renowned perfumers, Alberto Morillas. The candle gives off a comforting scent of tea, cosy winter fires, and general loveliness! I’ve been burning mine since the evenings have got colder, while enjoying a good cuppa, and love it!

Everything about the Dragonfly brand is one of quality – each aspect is carefully and thoughtfully presented, reflecting the company’s heritage and ethos. Each tea is blended with love and the floral branding and packaging are so pretty!

Delicious Dragonfly marshmallows

Yummy Dragonfly branded marshmallows

What a fantastic event and a really fun and fascinating way to spend an evening! Huge thanks to Georgia, all the team at Dragonfly and the lovely people at Babushka Communications for organising and for inviting me.

The Tea House Collection is available online now and Dragonfly Teas can be found in a number of good supermarkets and health food shops. The Tea Chest Candle Number 1 will be available in time for Christmas and would make a fab gift for a lot of people I know! You can register as an Early Bird for when they’re available – there are options to buy the candle or you can get a lovely, boxed gift set that also includes two Tea Collection teas of your choice.

Georgia mentioned while we were learning all about the different teas a phrase that is used among Dragonfly’s tea suppliers and all the different people they work with to bring their teas to life, “Tea Friends”. I often talk about my tea friends, and apparently this phrase means more than just friendship; it’s a promise of collaboration and support among people who work with tea, a badge of honour, if you will. I think there is no better phrase to sum up this fantastic event, the people there, and the lovely new range of teas, which each show how much work has gone into them and all the tea loving people who have been involved in the process.

Dragonfly Teapot for One and Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

My amazing little Dragonfly mini teapot and candle

Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

Dragonfly’s Tea Chest Number 1 Candle

Goodnight, my lovely Tea Friends – hope you are enjoying a good cuppa and a cosy corner somewhere this cold autumn night!

Rachael XX

Caffeine – friend or foe?

In the latest in my series about tea for health, I thought it would be good to get to the bottom of the ever-changing approach to caffeine. Is it good for you? Some articles claim that caffeine can support your health, others say it is detrimental – I’d like to investigate and draw my own conclusions.

The truth about caffeine?

Caffeine applied topically can help get rid of cellulite and firm the skin. It’s a key ingredient in many expensive and high street body creams for this very reason. Caffeine is also added to some “Max” or “Ultra” painkillers, such as Paracetamol or Co-Codamol, to speed up the pain relief process.

A little caffeine boost can help when you’ve overindulged a little the night before, or if you’re just downright exhausted.

Tetley's Superteas

Superteas, including Alert, from Tetley

My personal feeling about caffeine is that everyone responds to it differently. Certainly, you shouldn’t be relying on it for an instant energy all day, every day, and this is often an easy trap to fall into. However, the occasional boost, as long as you have not been advised to avoid it, does no harm, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve certainly found my Alert tea from Tetley useful to perk me up in the mornings, which is an everyday tea blend with the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee added.

With Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS for short!) I have to be careful not to have too much – I have had the odd incident when a very large cup of coffee has caused palpitations – although I do find the odd caffeine boost helpful when taking my pain medication and as a much needed pick me up on days when I’m feeling particularly tired and drained.

A good cuppa tea

A nice cup of tea

As a seasoned tea drinker for most of my life, I have never had any problems drinking caffeinated tea, and usually have several cups a day. The levels of caffeine in black tea are higher than in green tea, but still not the same as you will find in a cup of coffee.

In fact, I have it on good authority from a bonafide tea expert that the caffeine in tea is actually different to that in a cup of coffee – Georgia Ginsberg, Director of family run and fabulous tea company, Dragonfly Tea (more on this great tea brand coming soon), discussed the caffeine content in tea when we met recently and said that there is definitely less caffeine in tea and there is actually a difference in the way it is absorbed when compared with coffee. Tea is also full of antioxidants, which are good for your overall health, protection from external factors such as pollution, and assist with anti-ageing and immunity.

Decaff tea from Whittard of Chelsea

One of Whittard of Chelsea’s decaffeinated options

Vouchercloud recently published a very illuminating article on caffeine, which provides some useful and surprising results for the caffeine content of a range of popular drinks, including a variety of different types of tea. It makes for interesting reading – thank you to Vouchercloud and Whittard of Chelsea for providing a wealth of information on the subject. Vouchercloud also has a number of money-off offers at the moment – worth checking out for getting your fix of Whittard’s tea and stocking up on your favourites!

 

 


How much caffeine is in my drink?

Type of Tea Serving Size Caffeine Quantity        Caffeine Level
Black Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 14-90 mg Moderate
Black Tea (Decaffeinated) 240 ml (cuppa) 0-12 mg Low
Darjeeling Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 19-55 mg Moderate
Oolong Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 50-75 mg Moderate
English Breakfast Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 40-70 mg Moderate
Earl Grey Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 55 – 90 mg Moderate
Lady Grey Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 14-40 mg Moderate
Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 12-30 mg Low
Jasmine Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 17-30 mg Low
Lemon Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 12-30 mg Low
Matcha Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 70 mg Moderate
White Tea 240 ml (usual size cuppa) 30-50 mg Low
Rooibos Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Peppermint Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Red Berry Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Ginger Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Camomile Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Other Drinks
Coffee 240 ml 150-200mg High
Coca-Cola 330ml (can) 32mg Low
Diet Coke 330ml (can) 42mg Low
Coke Zero 330ml (can) 32mg Low
Coca-Cola Life 330ml (can) 26mg Low
Redbull 250ml (can) 80 mg Moderate
Relentless 500ml (can) 160 mg High

Source: Vouchercloud

Cutting down on caffeine

If you’re looking to cut down on caffeine, but not cut it out completely, there are a number of tasty teas to try. Green tea is lower in caffeine than black tea, thanks to the oxidation process used on the green leaves to turn them into black tea that releases more caffeine from the leaves. White tea is even less processed, so is another good choice. Oolong is the best of both worlds, like a refreshing combination of green and black teas.

Good quality green tea is light and should never be bitter. Be careful how you brew it – don’t use boiling water or leave it to steep too long, or it will taste stewed and bitter. There are a wide variety of flavoured green teas you can try. Floral, relaxing Jasmine Green Tea, combinations of mint and green tea, or fruit flavoured green teas are all good options.

I’ve talked about some of my favourite brands on Tea with Rachael before and mentioned some in here already, but if you are looking for inspiration and a dizzying choice of blends, with or without caffeine, have a look at some of these tried and tested tea brands I enjoy regularly: Dragonfly Tea, Whittard of Chelsea, O-Teas, Teavivre, JollyBrew, Ahmad Tea, Chateau Rouge, Twinings, Clipper, Brew and Bites, The Kent & Sussex Tea and Coffee Co, to name just a few.

Caffeine-free treats

Rooibos and Honeybush

If you’re looking to cut right down or cut out the caffeine completely, there’s still plenty of choice. Naturally healthy Rooibos and Honeybush teas have been used medicinally for years in Africa and are a go-to if you want a comforting, caffeine-free brew, or if you’re feeling a bit under the weather. Peppermint and mint tea blends are caffeine free and great for digestion, helping you beat the bloat after a large meal or overindulging. Also great if you’re if you’re feeling a bit sickly. Ginger tea is also good for digestion and is a safe way to help fight nausea if you’re unwell or suffering from pregnancy sickness.

Lemon and rosemary tea

Lemon and rosemary tea from O-Teas

Herbal teas

Cosy, comforting herbal teas, such as lemon and ginger or lemon and rosemary are great if you have a sore throat, or as a warming cuppa in colder weather. I’m a fan of teas with lavender in, too – a natural antiseptic, whether in a herbal blend or mixed with black tea.

There are also the cold, herbal tea drinks I’ve blogged about before and are naturally caffeine-free – Honest and Tg Teas are refreshing and portable, so you can drink them anytime! More on these lovely tea treats in future posts…

Time for a detox tea?

Another great option if you’re looking for a caffeine free brew is a detox tea range. If you’re looking to drink detox teas for health benefits it’s a good idea to avoid any that have any laxatives or any nasties in them.

A great brand I’ve tried recently is Teagime, which tailors tea blends to your specific needs, to create, yes, you’ve guessed it, your very own Teagime. You fill in a health questionnaire and they blend the teas to support what you’re looking to achieve. In my case, it was avoiding the late afternoon slump, curbing sugar cravings and aiding a good night’s sleep.

Teatime teatox teas

A fabulous box of Teagime Teatox teas and illustrated tea guides

I was delighted to receive a tailored selection of teas from Teagime – one for morning, one for the afternoon, and one for night time. After filling in a questionnaire on their website abut my particular concerns and health requirements, they created blends specific to my requirements.

Everything about the brand is comforting and frankly, looks beautiful – from the information leaflet that comes with your box of teas, to the pink steepers that are provided for the loose leaf teas, to the logo and the look and feel of the website.

Tasty teas from Teagime

Not what you’d expect from a detox tea – the tasty teas from Teagime are a comforting treat!

The teas themselves are tasty, with an unusual choice of fruit and herb-filled flavours and a variety of custom-built blends tailored to you. Impressive, innovative, and highly recommended!

So many wonderful teas to choose from – with or without caffeine! How do you prefer your cuppa?

Until next time, hope you enjoy a nice cup of tea – or two – with or without caffeine, whatever you prefer xx

Tea at Tiffany’s – a bite of the Big Apple in Surrey

Twinings Tea, Audrey and Cat!

Tea at Tiffany’s – actually the very lovely Warren House!

New York is my all-time favourite city and my ‘happy place’, but I love my home in leafy Surrey, too.

A classic representation of New York, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is also one of my all-time favourite films. When I was last in New York, back in June last year, I bought a number of books inspired by both this iconic Audrey Hepburn film and the mythical status of Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue – “Fifth Avenue, 3AM” and “Summer at Tiffany’s”. It’s making me long to go back to the amazing NYC again! More on my amazing trip to the Big Apple soon…

My Holly Golightly looks

My Holly Golightly-inspired outfit – and Cat!

 

My lovely friends at The Secret Tea Society, also huge fans of both Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Audrey Hepburn, recreated the magic of the film and paid homage to the wonderful Audrey in a Breakfast at Tiffany’s-themed afternoon tea, right here in lovely Surrey!

Lovely, peaceful garden

The stunning secret grotto garden!

I was so excited to put on my little black dress (a cute little number from Anna Sui, bought especially for the occasion and based on the outfit that Holly Golightly wears when she visits Sing Sing); my black patent kitten heel Jimmy Choos (appropriately purchased in Saks Fifth Avenue during my visit last June) and some fabulous jewellery (a very sparkly choker-style necklace bought for me by one of my lovely Sisters-in-Law a few years ago) for this most elegant of teas! I even put my hair up in a bouffant bun!

Taking with me Cat (not my real cat, but a very lifelike soft toy!) and raincoat in reference to the iconic final scene of the movie, I headed over to the stunning Warren House, the venue for our special event. Greeted warmly by the lovely lady at reception and our tea sommelier for the afternoon, I headed into the stylish sitting room reserved just for the ladies of the Secret Tea Society. The sun beamed through the windows and the French doors were open onto a secret grotto – an adorable cobbled garden and fountain, which led to the statuesque grounds, where other happy guests were enjoying sumptuous afternoon teas.

Choosing our Twinings loose leaf tea

Choosing our Twinings loose leaf tea at Warren House – spoiled for choice!

After a glass of Champagne and catching up with the fabulous Secret Tea ladies, we sat down to play a few games – a prize for the best representation of Audrey Hepburn/Holly Golightly (my lovely table-mate, Clare, won with her striking Holly Golightly party look!) and a quiz to see who knew the most fun facts about the film (my table won, naturally!) Our prize was a copy of the film and, of course, some delicious tea, from Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company.

Lovely afternoon tea at Warren House

Delicious teatime treats at Warren House

Next, we chose our Twinings loose-leaf tea – I decided to try both the Darjeeling and Assam – two of my favourites and full of flavour!

 

Then we were delighted to see the fantastic spread appear before our eyes – delicate, flavourful sandwiches, dainty, melt-in-the-mouth scones, the most amazing mini cinnamon loaves, tempting cakes and sweet treats. After stuffing ourselves happily with as much as we could manage, there was stll plenty left to take doggy bags home!

The Tiffany's-inspired decorations I took home

Some of the lovely Tiffany’s-inspired decorations

We also each took home some of the beautiful decorations that our “Hostess With the Mostest”, Founder of the Secret Tea Society, Claire Worrell, had lovingly made: Tiffany-blue-green pom-poms, ladylike table flowers adorned with Tiffany-style ribbon and pearl decorations, matching feathers and shiny butterflies! I have mine proudly on display next to my Tiffany-coloured heart chalkboard in the kitchen.

What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon! I had such a good time, and it was tremendous fun not only seeing all my lovely Secret Tea friends again, but seeing everyone in their fabulous outfits. I also cannot recommend Warren House and the incredible team there highly enough.

Both an afternoon and an Afternoon Tea to remember! X