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

Enjoying an extended tea break…

Time for a tea break…

Need More Tea

Need More Tea?

Well, I’ve been enjoying an extended tea break, resting the old arthritic wrists from all the typing and enjoying some leisure and relaxation time to celebrate my birthday. I also had a wonderful birthday afternoon tea at the award winning Ham Yard Hotel – more on that in another blog post…

It’s given me time to try some really wonderful teas, and I’m going to share each of them with you over the coming weeks. A huge thank you to all the lovely people at Teakruthi, Varietea, Tea Tourist, The True Tea Club, Ahmad Tea, Whittard of Chelsea, Tetley and My Cup of Tea for my fantastic teas – trying your teas over the past few weeks has made me really happy, and I’m really looking forward to sharing my thoughts and recommendations.

I’ve also had some lovely birthday presents, including some fantastic mugs and tea gadgets, of which I am sure you will approve!

Finally, I’d like to thank and give a big shout out to the wonderful Shaherazad, creator of 18 Hour Heels, for the comfortable, shiny, sparkly and downright gorgeous shoes I’ve been wearing again and again on my adventures – much more to come on those, soon, too.

18 Hour Heels

Shiny, sparkly shoes by Shaherazad – my fabulous 18 Hour Heels

Until next then, hope you’re enjoying a lovely, relaxing cuppa and having a tea break of your own.

Rachael xx

Time for a very timely tea invention

The right time for a nice, strong cup of tea

Strong English Breakfast from Twinings

Strong English Breakfast from Twinings and a very special mug

The lovely people at Twinings got in touch with me again recently about some rather exciting news and it could not have been better timing! In recent weeks I’ve been enjoying my wonderful selection of teas and trying lots of different blends in some of my favourite mugs – both old and new – but I’m ashamed to say that some of my teas have been forgotten about as I’ve got distracted by the “To Do” list and other festive activities in the run up to Christmas. I’ll leave them to brew for the recommended three to five minutes (usually around five minutes for a nice, strong black tea, which is my everyday favourite). It seems I’m not alone…

Forget tea not?

According to the latest statistics collected by Twinings, 74% of British people – that’s almost three quarters of the population – make a nice cup of tea as their first drink of the day; and one third claim it’s the very first thing they do when they wake up. Despite this famous British love affair with tea, one in five surveyed (that’s 22%) admitted to regularly putting down their tea and forgetting about it!

Never fear, there is a solution – and one I really need in my life, as I’ve forgotten about two cups of tea today already! Twinings have created a prototype cup, which they are calling the ‘forget-tea-not’ – that not only lets you know that your tea is at optimum drinking temperature but reminds you about your tea so it doesn’t spoil by playing a rendition of the “Bing! Bang! Bong!” song when the tea reaches 68 degrees centigrade.

The designs for the Twinings Forget Tea Not Tea Cup

The designs for the Twinings Forget Tea Not Tea Cup

A lot of thought has gone into this from the tea lovers at Twinings – a collaboration between the famous tea house’s master blenders and some rather clever designers. The cup is hand painted in colours that match the branding of the Twinings English Strong Breakfast blend and it is all designed to optimise the tea drinking experience by ensuring the tea is at what they believe is the optimum tea drinking temperature after milk, 68 degrees centigrade, in a shape that maximises the ability to taste the different notes in the tea.

Having met a Twinings master blender myself and learned a lot about what has gone into making their English Breakfast blend over the decades, I can tell you that they genuinely love their morning cuppa and place special significance on the role of a god cup of tea at breakfast time, which is only right and proper, in my opinion!

The right start to the day

As part of their recent research, Twinings have also been looking in to the best ways to start the day – which, of course, while tea is a very important element in the process, often involves more than just the essential morning cuppa! I’m partial to a nice, strong cup of tea in the mornings and find it hard to function without one, but there’s more to it than that. They enlisted the help of psychologist, Dr Lynda Shaw, to get her top tips and life hacks for the best ways to start the day the right way. I identify with a number of these – the power of positivity and a positive start to the day to pave the way for a great day ahead is not to be underestimated, and I do find that a good cup of quality tea in one of my favourite mugs provides a much-needed smile to set me up for the day!

Starting the morning the right way with a good cuppa

Starting the morning the right way with a good cuppa – and a view!

Dr Lynda Shaw’s Morning Rituals That Set You Up For a Successful Day and Are Something to Look Forward to

1. Prepare your mind and write down three things you are grateful for, which will stimulate the rewards systems in the brain. In so doing, you will achieve a more positive outlook for the rest of the day.

2. Set your attitude by adding how you want to behave today – do you want to be calm, energetic, kind, or perhaps all three? A positive feedback loop in the brain will keep you on track.

3. One of the first things you probably do in the morning is make a cup of tea for yourself, so make sure it’s a quality one. Use your favourite tea in your favourite mug or cup and sit down and savour it.

4. How about getting physical? Stretch, run, walk, go to the gym. Exercise in the morning is a ritual that sets you up for the day, but choose something you enjoy to get a real glow.

5. Drink a glass of water to hydrate, then go through your automatic bathing routine which allows your mind to wander and muse wherever it wishes to go, giving space for creative thought.

6. If you take public transport to work, reading an article online on the way gives you topical things to talk about and helps you feel informed and in control.

7. Try waking 10 minutes early so that you can lie there with your eyes closed, allowing your brain to enjoy the alpha state. This is a creative place and you are likely to come up with new ideas or answers to difficult questions. Record them or write them down immediately.

8. Make your bed. It feels good later to come home to an orderly house, helping you to feel calm.

9. Eat your favourite food for breakfast – something that is colourful, such as fresh fruit and yoghurt, or make a smoothie with both fruit and vegetables. Your body will love you for it.

10. Text a friend or family member and tell them how great they are. Doing something meaningful at the start of your day will give you both a boost.

When can I try this magic mug?! I’m excited…!

This is very exciting news in my world – I’m really hoping that this prototype goes into production and am very much looking forward to the opportunity of it becoming available so I can have one for myself!

Until next time, I hope you enjoy your morning cuppa and it sets you up for a fabulous and very productive day – all the more important at this very busy and festive time of year!

Raising a good cuppa to you all – Compliments of the Season!

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