Afternoon of Delights at Lainston House

As I hinted in the last FoodTeaLife post my birthday surprise turned out to be afternoon tea at Lainston House Hotel in Sparsholt – a wonderful treat!

I do love a good afternoon tea experience, it’s just so indulgent and befitting of a special occasion – so I’m happy to say that Lainston House did not disappoint on this front! Here are a few snaps from the scrumptious feast…

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The adorable crust-cut-off sandwiches even featured a special miniature brioche roll with an egg mayonnaise filling – delicious! The cakes were delightful too, a good selection including this delicate raspberry macaron…

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The cake stand’s top tier had an extra surprise…toasted tea cakes as well as scones! Scones are of course the traditional end to afternoon tea but the inclusion of tea cakes made for a nice change. I’m not ashamed to say I scoffed it all! It was excellent.

I haven’t even mentioned the tea yet! There was a nice choice of loose leaf blends, I opted for a strong and malty cup of Assam. The staff at Lainston house were very attentive too, making sure to replenish our hot water regularly.

To top it all off it was was a beautiful day to explore the stunning grounds too…

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All in all, a very special birthday! A huge thank you to the best family in the world for such a luxurious treat xXx

Exciting New Tea Range: Emeyu

I was lucky enough to be given some beautiful tea from Emeyu to try by the people at Mozzo Coffee. You know how much trying new teas excites me so this was quite a treat, especially as I was given so many different blends to try, including tea bags and loose leaf. In fact there was so much tea I had to get everyone in the office involved in some tea tasting!

A beautiful set of drawers containing Emeyu loose leaf tea and a silver tin of hand-stitched tea bags

Yes that’s right…hand-stiched tea bags! How wonderful. There were so many lovely blends it’s hard to know where to begin talking about them, but I’ll give you a little run through of some my favourites.

One beautiful little hand-stitched bag of green tea

I’m a huge Earl Grey fan and Emeyu’s Organic Earl Grey didn’t disappoint, light and delicate – it was delightful to drink black from a china cup. Likewise the Organic Assam had a nice, not too strong flavour and was ideal to start the day off with.

Always enjoy my Assam tea with a little milk

The fragrant fruit and herbal blends were very pleasant too, the wonderfully named ‘Eight Butterflies’ was a lovely afternoon treat, like a sweet, floral green tea is the best description I can give. The Organic Red Fruits tea was also very refreshing, as was the Rooibos Tea (which I don’t usually drink, but now think I might revisit…).

Very few of these lovely tea bags left

I could go on and on here, as there was also White Teas, Jasmine, the intriguingly named ‘Dragon’s Dew’ and so many more but I’m going to recommend you explore the Emeyu Tea website and treat yourself to trying some of this high quality Chinese tea…I’ve just been browsing and am feeling all a bit kid-in-a-candy-store right now. The tea is just packaged and presented so beautifully – so good for gifting!…Mother’s Day or Valentine’s – if you’re stuck, one of the Emeyu Tea Libraries  would make a perfect pressie.

Emeyu White Tea with Jasmine Pearls

So it’s top review from me for this stylish range of teas, with its excitingly named blends, pretty packaging and refreshing flavours…indeed even my little pet bird’s taken a fancy to Emeyu tea.

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Iago takes a liking to the Emeyu Tea range

And now, because I’ve become one of those people who looks for any excuse to post photos of their pets…here’s one last picture of Iago enjoying Emeyu tea to finish this post…

We’re a tea loving household

All that’s left to say is a big thank you to Mozzo for introducing me to the Emeyu range – thanks! 🙂

Ultimate Afternoon Tea at Bettys…

I recently enjoyed a little pre-Christmas girly trip to York with my lovely mother and sister…and when in York there’s a certain tea room that’s a must visit – I’m talking about Bettys of course!

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Okay, so yes this place is a total tourist trap and there’s usually a substantial queue to get in, but if you embrace this and celebrate the fact that this tea room is a world famous attraction, you’ll have a fabulous time.  Essentially it’s like visiting one of London’s hot spots, whatever day or time you choose to go, there will usually always be plenty of others who had the same idea.

Three ladies full of festive cheer were certainly not going to let anything stand in the way of an afternoon tea at Bettys…feast your eyes on this…

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Mmmmm…do you want a closer look at that cake…?

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On to the tea! Being that it was almost Christmas I enjoyed a seasonal special, Bettys Spiced Christmas tea…

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A black tea with light notes of cinnamon, spices and citrus it was lovely both with and without milk.

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After ordering another round of tea and loading up with souvenirs and gifts to take back home we departed feeling full and happy. York’s a wonderful city to explore, especially in winter…cold, crisp air and beautiful buildings full of character and charm. I suppose in many ways it’s very similar to Winchester really, only larger and somehow grander, probably why it appeals to me so much. Here are a few of the trip’s highlight’s aside from the tea and cake fest at Bettys…

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During our trip the streets of York were host to a rather magical ice festival, with quirky works of art carved out of ice dotted around the cobbled streets. These were two of my favourites…

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I must say a huge thank you to my mum for making the trip happen, and to both my mother and sister for a wonderful time full of fun, food and laughter xXx

In Nature’s New Red Rose Tea – My Review

I think you all know how much I love tea, so I was absolutely delighted to be contacted by the lovely people at In Nature, who make high grade pure flower tea. They’ve just launched four new teas and very kindly sent me a box of their brand new Red Rose Black Tea to try. And what a beautiful box it was! I was like a child at Christmas when the post came…

What a lovely treat to find in the post…a beautiful box of tea!

Opening the lovely box to reveal the bag loose leaf tea inside was rather exciting and made quite an occasion of making a nice weekend cup of tea, especially with the five detailed steps to follow on brewing the perfect cup of tea. Yes, the tea also came with a little printed leaflet all about tea and a guide to brewing – it even taught me a thing or two! For instance, I had no idea that making a second cup of tea from the same tea leaves a the first cup actually tastes even better, but I gave it a try and found this statement to be true, what a wonderful discovery!

I opened the box to find some fragrant loose leaf tea and an interesting little leaflet all about tea

I could write more about the interesting little leaflet, which came with all sorts of extra information including the many health benefits of tea, but I guess I should get down to business and talk about the tea itself…

Brewing my cup of In Nature’s new Red Rose Tea

The Red Rose Tea had an intense earthy aroma that reminded of being in a garden on windy day and inhaling the scent of a variety of flowers and plants. It had a wonderful dark, but sweet flavour, quite rich and full-bodied (yes I just described a tea as ‘full bodied’ – just go with me on this!). As it was a black tea I had mine with a little bit of skimmed milk, but if it didn’t necessarily need this, if you drink your earl gray black you’d enjoy this tea black too. Overall I found this fragrant tea very soothing to sip on wet and windy evening.

Ahh…lovely tea

Now I must advise that this tea will be a little different if you’ve only ever enjoyed tea made with standard teabags before. In Nature teas are all imported directly from China and are completely pure, with nothing added and this definitely comes across in the flavour of the tea. If you’re unused to loose leaf teas or more traditional tea from China, the taste may be a little strange at first but it is quite pleasant, you get a real sense that you are drinking something natural and good for you. My partner Tom does business in China and is sometimes given tea to bring home and there’s just something about the taste of the tea, it’s like you’re tasting hundreds of years of tradition in a cup.

Tradition in a cup

I urge you to try give proper pure Chinese tea a try if you haven’t before. Before the people at In Nature contacted me I wouldn’t have known where to buy such high quality tea from China, but now I’m happy to recommend them – so check out their website to find out more. They’ve got quite a variety of special blends, even the famous Puerh Tea (drunk by Victoria Beckham for it’ health properties!). Right now there’s even a special offer on – throughout October you’ll receive a free box of Floral Oolong Tea with every order!

So go forth tea lovers and enjoy…I think I might just indulge in a little tea shopping  spree myself at www.innteas.com

Off to put the kettle on!

xXx

Celebrations at Soho’s Secret Tea Room

Here at FoodTeaLife I don’t venture outside of Hampshire too often, but when my good friend Ellie invited me to her birthday celebrations at Soho’s Secret Tea Room I thought it might just be worth the train fare. And indeed it was, we enjoyed a fabulous feast of cakes, scones, cucumber sandwiches and course tea.

Afternoon tea delights enjoyed at Soho’s Secret Tea Room

More delightful cakes and scones!

It was an absolutely delightful experience and well worth the trip for non-Londoners. Full of vintage details from the gramophone playing 1940s jazz to the adorable tea cups and cake stands, you feel as though you’ve stepped back into a simpler, happier time. I’d advise donning your best vintage attire for a visit so that you get the full escapist experience.

Soho’s Secret Tea Room is just lovely and full of vintage charm

On to the teas…There was a nice selection of loose leaf teas to choose from but not so many that it was daunting, I quickly picked out a lovely sounding Lapsang blend and enjoyed it very much. It was especially nice to drink from a china cup too (I’m a subscriber to the theory that tea tastes better this way).

Pretty china cups and saucers

Between our party of ten we shared five afternoon tea cake stands of delicious home baked goodies and though we tried our hardest we couldn’t quite finish it all!

Our post tea party table…

Luckily the lovely staff gave us paper take away bags to ensure we could all enjoy our cake later. Aside from the loving the tea, I  also thought the scones were perfectly done and good size (not too large!) too. And though I didn’t try it, the lemon meringue pie received very positive reviews from across the table too. All in all I can only really describe the entire outing as just lovely and pure delight.

So Hampshire folk, next time you pay a visit to the West End be sure step into Soho’s Secret Tea Room for some relaxing refreshment and indulgent 1940s escapism.

Lovely Local Finds…

Winchester and its surrounding villages have some wonderful places to eat. It’s full of interesting, tucked way little places, some are a little harder to find or a little less well known, hidden down side streets, underground or above shops. This week’s entry is dedicated to these places…here are a  few of my favourites…

The Forte Tea Rooms

Known as ‘Winchester’s best kept secret’…this is one of those places that you notice and always mean to pop into, then when finally you do it turns out to be an amazing little discovery (which plenty of people have already discovered). There’s some steep steps to climb to reach this place but it’s well worth the climb! If you’re a tea lover like me you’ll love this place, they have plenty of lovely loose leaf teas to choose from and a great menu of freshly prepared food, tasty soups and sandwiches, hot food, cooked breakfasts and cakes – what more you could want?!

Bean Below & Twyford Stores

This place gets a huge endorsement from me as a regular customer! Twyford stores is an excellent source of amazing local produce, whether it’s Lyburn Cheeses , the Oven Door Bakery, Judes Ice Cream or Hedge End Butchers.  The appropriately named Bean Below cafe is equally is a fantastic with great sandwiches, smoothies, teas (from local tea company Ahmad Tea) and a seasonally changing evening menu for the weekends. If you haven’t t ventured out to Bean Below – give it a try sometime soon!

Ginger Two

Okay, so this place is fairly well known but it is off the main high street and very easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. It’s a truly fabulous tea-room, cafe and also a sort of homewares boutique. The cakes are absolutely divine and there’s a great selection of hot beverages to choose from (always a win with me!).

Leaf Bean

This cute little cafe in Stockbridge Road used to be my local point of call when I lived in the Fulflood area, it’s a charming cafe that does great food – as well as takeaway hot drinks (very handy in the days when I walked to work!). It’s really family friendly too – for all the yummy mummies out there!

The Bridge Patisserie

This place is right at the bottom of town and always makes me feel like I’ve found a lovely little secret place. Being a patisserie there’s plenty of indulgent sweet treats on offer (including handmade chocolates!), but they’ve also got a nice selection of baguettes and paninis on the savoury side of things, as well as a nice relaxed space to sit down and eat in.

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The cafe in the guildhall can sometimes be easy to miss, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Serving up tasty light bites made from locally sourced ingredients, the bright and spacious layout makes for a laid back atmosphere to sit and enjoy.

These are just a few of my favourites that I highly recommend a visit to. I’m  sure there’s plenty I’ve missed, maybe even some I don’t know about – do let me know your own local recommendations and Hampshire favourites…