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

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

 

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

#AngelCandy – Fragrant memories

My Angel gift boxThe lovely people at Thierry Mugler recently invited me to participate in #AngelCandy – a real treat and an experience for the senses!

I excitedly opened my beautifully wrapped gift box to find a sparkling miniature star of Angel Eau de Parfum, shining silver star confetti, and two delicate blue meringues, which were truly scrumptious!

Shiny Angel meringuesAngel has always been an evocative scent for me. I remember the first time I tried it, working in a designer boutique that sold both Mugler clothing and perfumes before and during university. It was so different, so unusual, and something about it was so memorable. I used to have an occasional spritz during the day, as a comforting scent to keep me going during long working days.

#AngelCandyOne of my best friends took a shine to the fragrance and wore it as her signature scent for many years. It will always make me think of her; of spending fun times out on the town or wandering the sunny riverbank of our hometown together.

I filled in my card of how it makes me feel, and it conjured up many different senses and emotions, all of them happy and contented.

I was asked to create a mood board of how it makes me feel, something I love doing and find really inspiring! So I created a few different mood boards, each showing the different paths that a memorable scent can lead you down, and expressing the feelings I associate with Angel and my favourite scents from life and nature.

Friendship moodboardOne mood board reflects the friendship, fun and memories that a waft of Angel brings to my mind. Another reflects the comforts of home and the contented, reassuring feeling I get when wearing certain fragrances, or when I smell certain scents, at home or away.

Home inspiration moodboardThe other mood board reflects the unique, otherworldly nature of this enduring fragrance – some of the elements that make it exciting and different and remind me of my good friend who I feel embodies the Angel Candy girl.

Ethereal moodboardHow does scent make you feel? There are always different associations, memories, and thoughts evoked by different fragrances, all there waiting to be explored.

I encourage you to explore your own, preferably when relaxing with a comforting cup of tea and sweet treat – that’s the time I find my inspiration! X