National Tea Day: A Sneak Preview

I’ve just been told about the biggest Par-TEA of the year, The UK’s only dedicated tea Fes-tea-val – National Tea Day!

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How amazing does a huge celebration of tea sound?! Let me tell you it has a show-stopping agenda, packed full of prac-tea-ly everything you could ever imagine that involves our nation’s favourite drink.

Here’s a sneak preview of what’s in store for the weekend (plus a few fun facts about tea!)…

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FOR THE FAMILY

Tea ‘n’ Treat Village – An entire village of treats, snacks, bakes and cakes and everything else delicious you can think of! This isn’t just a chance to delight in sweets galore though, there’s a host of celebrity masterclasses open to everyone. Mich Turner MBE will be teaching tea lovers how to bake and decorate the perfect tea accompaniment and Alana Spencer, winner of The Apprentice 2017 and Founder of Ridiculously Rich will be showing visitors how to pair cakes and bakes for the ultimate treat combination.

Tea Bazaars – This is the ultimate market place for lovers of great food, great drink and great homeware and the perfect place to find delicious and unusual new products. Each tent has a selection of unique sellers so whether it be artisan snacks or teas from all over the world you’re guaranteed to find something new.

The British Bou-tea-que – In honour of the Queen’s Birthday and National Tea Day itself, The British Bou-tea-que will be showcasing the best of Britain’s tea, treats and fashion. Not only will this area be filled with a bespoke selection of some fabulous British businesses, it’s also packed with activities for the whole family including afternoon tea etiquette lessons, selfies with Queen Victoria and a Chocola-tea parlour.

The Picnic Park – With riverside views, the Picnic Park is the perfect place for families to relax, refuel and enjoy all of their newly purchased goods. This area is also packed with activities including dance classes, an Art-Tea Zone and a Sparkling Tea Bar to help guests stay refresh and hydrated throughout the day.

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FOR THE HEALTH CONSCIOUS

The Vitali-Tea Garden – Set against the backdrop of the glorious ‘Italian Gardens’ this is a healthy experience to really savour. From anti-oxidant properties, to benefits for the guts to glowing skin the benefits of our nations favourite tipple are endless. Visitors can chat with health gurus and tea professionals, try and buy organic products and new to the event this year are a number of personal training and yoga activities.

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FOR THE SECRET SCEINTISTS

Masterclasses and Mixology – National Tea Day isn’t just about consuming tea but also learning about it and the ways it’s consumed all over the world. This is why the organisers have put together an agenda of masterclasses for visitors to enjoy and benefit from. Whether it’s using tea as an ingredient in cocktails or blending your own tea under the guidance of a tea master everyone has something to learn. Guests are invited to explore ways in which tea is so much more than milk and 2 sugars and how it can actually be the perfect complement to any food.

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FOR THE CULTURALIST

The Museum of Historic Tea ware – Perfect for anyone who appreciates fine tea, art or culture, The Chitra Collection showcases some of the finest and most historically significant pieces from the collection and spanning a thousand years of history. This exhibition, on display at Chiswick House for two days only, will highlight the importance and diversity of tea drinking customs across the globe.

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FOR THE PAR-TEA ANIMALS

Tea & Tipple Boulevard – With top entertainment including DJ Sammy Porter, The Tailormade, the Electric Violinist, The U.K’s very own Michael Buble Act and DJ No Sugar; the internationally renowned Dutch Female DJ’s, this is a line up which cant fail to get festival season started. Tea ‘n’ Tipple Boulevard is a mixture of The Strip meeting Mayfair as guests will have the chance sample tea cocktails and tea infused beer in a sleek and stylish setting.

To find out more about National Tea Day and to book tickets for the Fes-Tea-Val, visitnationalteaday.co.uk.

All images and stats in this post kindly provided by National Tea Day.

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Trends, tastings & tipples at The Restaurant Show

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Each year in early October the The Restaurant Show takes place, with The Bar & Pub Show running alongside it (as well as Conscious Hospitality and the Catering Equipment Expo). These are trade events for the hospitality sector and I’m lucky enough to get to work on them. I say lucky, because although it’s hard work, it’s also amazing seeing and trying some of the latest food & drink trends. It’s a full on few days but I always come away excited about what I’ve seen and tasted. Here are a few of my favourite finds…

Poetic License Distillery

Poetic

Only 1000 bottles of the Elderflower & Gooseberry Gin are made, so it was a treat to try a little sip at The Bar & Pub Show. I tried it neat at 10.30 in the morning – that’s how committed I am to the cause! A lovely gin that I hope to see in pubs and bars soon.

Masons Yorkshire Gin

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Sticking with the Gin, I was also thrilled to discover one which combined my other passion in life…tea! Yes, Masons Gin add loose leaf Yorkshire Tea (around 4KG of it!) during the production process to get this uniquely refreshing gin. I was a little bit more sensible and sampled this with some Fever Tree tonic – I can’t wait try some again soon!

Sorvinesse – The Wine Sorbet Company

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Savignon Blanc Sorbet anyone? Yes that’s right a sorbet made with real wine, just a little so that it can still freeze. A little wine is all that’s needed, these taste just like wine but a fraction sweeter. Available in both red and white wine – these wine sorbets are a UK first! I highly recommend Sorvinesse to restaurant owners, wine sorbets would make a lovely light way to end a meal.

Botonique

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It’s not all about booze, I absolutely loved Botinique – a soft drink for wine lovers. It’s fair to say I’m not a soft drinks fan, I tend to see them as just pointless sugar…If I’m not drinking I’ll just have water. However, Botonique has totally changed my opinion here. It was complex and refreshing and serving it in champagne flutes, has sophisticated, enjoyable feel. I could see myself switching to it during a night out. It was created by a wine connoisseur, who didn’t enjoy soft drinks either but knew she needed to cut down a little on the wine. It’s been described ‘a soft drink with all the pleasure of wine’. I really hope pubs and restaurants start stocking up on this, it’s a great concept and very enjoyable.

Isigny Sainte-Mere

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I always love the stand from Isigny Sainte-Mère, a French brand consisting of two complementary dairy cooperatives. It’s absolute cheese heaven and I was delighted to come across a fondue cheese, which is actually a blend of three different cheeses! It’s sure to make the perfect fondue! I am certainly fond of fondue, it’s not something you see much of in UK restaurants but it’s firm favourite on a ski trip.

Y3K

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I sampled Y3K’s delicious Cookie Mousse Cake, a real American indulgence! It’s made with America’s two favourite cookies – chocolate chip and Oreo – I can see this being a hit in casual dining chains and family friendly restaurants. Yum!

Pel Waste – Baby Jaws Glass Crusher

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This is an ingenious, compact glass crusher that can reduce glass waste by up to 80%. This is obviously meant for the bars and pubs – but with the amount of wine we get through in my household I could really do with this at home!

Aperol Spritz – by Campari

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Aperol has obviously been around for a while, but it certainly seems to be enjoying a moment right now. On my recent trip to Sardinia, literally everyone was drinking it every night it the hotel bar. I’m seeing Aperol Spritz on more and more UK drinks menus too. Their stand at The Bar & Pub Show was a bright bold orange display, that you just couldn’t miss. Cheers to them for their amazing stand and fab free samples!

These were just a few of the brilliant finds and foodie brands I got the chance to chat to at the show – for more check out the shows’ Twitter feeds @barpubshow and @restaurantshow or browse exhibitors on the show websites. If you’re in the industry, I highly recommend a visit next year!

 

The Afternoon Tea Awards

I was lucky enough to attend second annual Afternoon Tea Awards at  London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, thanks to the event’s fabulous sponsors, luxury tea company, Newby Teas.

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As if that wasn’t exciting enough the awards were presented by author and star baker, Martha Collison and hosted by AfternoonTea.co.uk (a brilliant website for afternoon tea recommendations).

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Newby Teas welcomed us with gorgeous tea-filled goody bags and a chance to sample all their blends. There were also bubbles from Lanson and of course, some delicious afternoon tea treats. I think it’s fair to say it was certainly the best awards ceremony I’ve ever been too!

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The awards are set up to recognise the best in afternoon tea and tea service, from some of the UK’s best hotels and restaurants. A team of expert judges anonymously call in for afternoon tea and look at all aspects of the experience for each prestigious venue (how can I get this job?!).

So, where are the best of the best places to enjoy tea and cake?

Afternoon Tea Award Winners 2017

  • Best Traditional Afternoon Tea – Hotel Café Royal
  • Best Contemporary Afternoon Tea – Mirror Room at Rosewood London
  • Best Themed Afternoon Tea – Churchill Afternoon Tea at The Wellesley
  • Best Children’s Afternoon Tea – Millennium Hotel London Mayfair
  • Best Tea Service – Fortnum & Mason

There were also several venues who received a highly commended accolade, including local hotel Lainston House (see the full list here).

Newby Teas

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The team at Newby Teas are no stranger to awards themselves, they actually have over 100 awards, making them the world’s most-awarded international brand in high-end luxury tea. So naturally, I was keen to try their range and I’ve steadily been working my way through the goody bag. I have to say I am loving Newby Teas’ Milk Oolong blend, which is a yellow green in colour with a natural sweetness and creamy aroma of caramel. I’m also enjoying the green tea and earl grey blends.

Thank you to Newby Teas for the invite to the awards and to AfternoonTea.co.uk for putting on such a fabulous event.

***All the fabulous photos in this post were supplied by AfternoonTea.co.uk***

 

16 Thoughts I had about food in America

FoodTeaLife has been more than a little quiet lately, I could blame wedding planning, career changes and time abroad but it’s mainly that I’ve also been busy researching and thinking a lot more about nutrition lately…but that’s a whole other blog post.

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For now, I’ve just got back from America (a Californian road trip with a stop in Las Vegas) and of course, I thought about food a lot. The differences both positive and negative amused and intrigued me, so here goes…my thoughts about food while in America:-

  1. Coffee with cream in it?! What? That sounds SO ridiculously indulgent, yet it seems so everyday in the US. It seemed wrong but I have to say I soon got into it and kind of enjoyed it. Also, good coffee seems much more widespread over there. The UK has some catching up to to do on the good coffee front.
  2. On the other hand…the tea situation is pretty dire. No-one drinks it at breakfast like the Brits do and when you ask for milk you sometimes get hot milk, SO WRONG! Plus, why is it called ‘hot tea’, surely it’s just Tea or it’s iced tea? Tea is always hot unless otherwise stated isn’t it? I’m a tea fiend so this probably got me to me more than it should.tea solves
  3. Avocados, Avocados…Avocados everywhere! Woohoo! I LOVE avocados and ate one virtually every day whilst in the US, they’re grown in California so that may explain their abundance on menus. While avocados are pretty popular in the UK too, there are plenty of cafes that don’t offer some kind avo-centred dish, but happily this was not the case in the US.
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Breakfast of my dreams in LA, beautiful avocado toast!

4. Damn…the pies! Talk about pie porn! Sweet dessert pies, like Key Lime Pie were epic looking. The one slice I did have while out there was delicious.

5. Oooh so much amazing Mexican cuisine, so delicious and I’m in guacamole heaven…uh-oh, ate too many black beans, my tummy will not thank me for this.

6. Is In-N-Out Burger really that different to McDonald’s? I don’t get it.

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7. What exactly is a pound cake?

8. Wow sourdough is popular out here! Is that because all the other bread is sooo sweet? Either way I’m happy it’s an option.

9. The cheese situation is not great…what’s with all the liquid orange ‘cheese’? Yet the butter here is delicious…how does that work? Sort it out America. It made me realise just how spoilt for cheese choice we are in Europe.

10. Is bacon always crispy here? Would American’s be disgusted by the classic British Bacon Butty?

11. Ahh the international language of Subway, the same across the continents. I’m fluent in Subway and got a lovely fresh salad bowl whilst out on the road, on our way to Vegas. Although, American subway has banana peppers and fresh coriander in the salad options, we need these in UK (pretty sure my local branch doesn’t offer these).

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12. California’s got good wine.

13. Actual molten butter on popcorn….what?! I am a huge fan of popcorn (the lightly salted kind). It’s a cinema must for me. So when we went to ‘the movies’ in LA and I was offered buttered popcorn, it seemed like a classic American thing to try! It was good at first, but soon became not good (shouldn’t have got a large). What’s wrong with just sweet or salted?

14. Ooh Fever Tree mixers are out here too, how great (although there did not seem to be any in Vegas though). I always judge a bar or pub if it doesn’t have a good tonic like Fever Tree.

15. Dam nachos are epic out here!

16. Loving all the free and regular water top ups in restaurants, I can never get enough water, so this is amazing! The ‘soda’ tops ups are not so good though, have seen people drink two or three cokes with a lunch because of this…nobody needs that much sugar!

As you can see, I thought about food rather a lot. We had an absolutely amazing trip, full of adventures but right now I’m happy to be home in the land of good cups of tea and smaller portions.

I’m sure there’s plenty of things US visitors would find weird and wonderful about eating and drinking in the UK too (probably our tea obsession would factor highly!).

xXx

 

Introducing OTeas

I’m well known for my love of tea and trying new blends, so I was delighted when the lovely people at OTeas wrote to me to tell me about their range. And what a range it is, featuring some of my favourites including Earl Grey and Moroccan Mint as well as some fruit, herbal and green teas, plus a detox collection.

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Just a selection of the OTeas range

Over the past few weeks I’ve been enjoying making my way through the OTeas range, including their 14 Day Detox Teas. My somewhat haphazard mission to be healthier and embrace cleaner eating is something I’ve spoken about before, so I thought these teas might just help me stay on the right path. There’s a daytime tea and a night time one, each with different ingredients to help cleanse your body. The night time blend was my favourite with pleasant citrus notes that made for a soothing evening drink. I’m always looking for new options to keep me caffeine free in the evenings, usually I choose hot water and lemon, so the OTeas night time detox blend made for a nice change. Drinking the teas seems to have had a positive impact, I feel better and they’ve certainly been setting me up on the right track for the day and encouraging me to unwind and prioritise sleeping in the evenings.

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My morning detox blend from OTeas

Speaking of sleep, the OTeas wellness range includes a special ‘Sleepwell’ tea which I’ve also been enjoying in the evenings. It’s a refreshing and aromatic blend of chamomile and green rooibos, with notes of orange, peppermint and lemon too. I do love my rest and actually take preparing for a good night’s sleep quite seriously – it’s the one thing I cannot be without! So I loved having a tea specially designed to aid a restful night’s sleep.

As a big early grey fan, I normally judge a tea range by it’s earl grey and the OTeas blend didn’t disappoint, it was light and enjoyable and the 15 tea bags in the pack were soon gone! I loved the fresh Moroccan Mint blend too, made with the roots of mint leaves for a strong but pleasant flavour, just the thing after a meal.

This is just a small selection of the OTeas range, it’s a really fantastic collection with a wide range of blends. From black teas including traditional English Breakfast to some delicious sounding fruity blends such as Date & Lime Tea and Orange & Ginger Tea – there’s something to suit all tea drinkers and all moods.

Has this short post tempted to you try the OTeas range? Take a look at their website to learn more about the blends on offer www.o-teas.com.

 

Birthday Bliss

So the other day/month I turned *not-quite-30* and was treated to a day of pure loveliness by the people I love best. The sun was shining as headed to my parents house and we all set off for a brisk country walk with the family pack of labs (okay only two of them). It felt so luxurious to take a little bit of time off and be free of phone signal in the middle of the week! And spending time with my family in the fresh air means so much to me, it was just all round joyous.

Of course what birthday walk in the country would be complete without a pub lunch pit-stop? Tasty fish cakes were followed by this delicious little dessert…

Eaton Mess in a delightful little cup with strawberry ice cream

Eaton Mess in a delightful little cup with strawberry ice cream

Back at the family pad I was treated to cake, cards and presents! So lucky to have such an amazing family who know me very well, I received some simply wonderful things. Seriously, it mists my eyes now thinking about how awesome my family are.

I actually received many fabulous foodie presents from everyone including some seriously special cocktail making kit, a recipe book, champagne and lots of tea. All of which I plan to show off in several blog posts to follow.

 

As I headed home there were more treats, with fabulous things to open and dinner at the Black Rat – my favourite. Sitting outside at the Black Rat is so magical, you’re cosied up in your own little hut drinking wine and feeling happy. And that’s before you’ve even eaten anything, the food is always an exciting culinary experience…and well, just very tasty. The allotment bread to begin with was so good and then this came…

A beautiful crab and avocado

A beautiful crab and avocado

This was followed by a fabulous fish main course…

Delicious!

Delicious!

I am one very very lucky lady, this was such a special birthday – how will I ever top it when I turn 30 next year? An enormous thank you goes out to my lovely family and friends for making my birthday so magical, food filled and fantastic.

THANK YOU XXXXXXXXXXX

Two Tea Treats

FoodTeaLife’s been a little quiet lately, mostly thanks to a holiday diet and denying myself the pleasures cheese and wine far too much. However, there have been a few indulges to brighten the diet days – you’ve got to have things to look forward to after all.

First up was a fabulous afternoon tea in London at The Berkeley, a real girly treat. Named Prêt-à-Portea, it’s something of an unique twist on the traditional afternoon tea, with all the cakes and treats inspired by designer fashion and the latest trends. It was a colourful affair, reflecting the Spring/Summer 14 season’s designer collections with cakes and biscuits in the shape of shoes and bags and colours straight off the catwalk. It was delicious too, from the delicate sandwiches to the chocolate shoes – I ate a lot of fashion themed treats that afternoon!

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Beautiful fashion inspired treats – thanks to Aminah for the image

The staff at The Berkeley were wonderful too, taking the time to explain the fashion inspiration behind every sweet treat and bringing more of anything you wanted! I haven’t even started on the tea yet (which there was unlimited supply of!). I sipped earl grey and later moved on to a delicate fresh mint tea. My companions however enjoyed a caramel tea and a ginger tea – there were plenty more interesting blends too. Even the coffee was fabulous too.

Cutest cappuccino ever? Thanks again to Aminah for this lovely image

Cutest cappuccino ever? Thanks again to Aminah for this lovely image

I must say a huge thanks to Aminah for organising such a wonderfully decadent girly get-together and for the beautiful photos! It certainly was an occasion to remember.

Treat number two was a little more local, a special pre-birthday indulgence with my mum and sister at The Winchester Hotel and Spa. I was treated to a manicure, something I’ve never actually had before. I was delighted with the results – I’m loving my elegantly coloured nails! Let’s see how long I can keep them chip free for.

We followed our beauty treats with a foodie treat, a cream tea! And what a spectacularly generous cream tea it was, we got far more that simply scones and tea…

Tea at the Winchester Hotel & Spa

My wonderful birthday treat at The Winchester Hotel & Spa

There were rhubarb pastries, strawberries, miniature éclairs and more. It was a real feast and we enjoyed it sipping earl grey outside in the sunshine. Perfect weather and the best company – probably the best Sunday ever I’d say! A massive thank you of epic proportions goes to my sister and mum for this special treat.

Feeling very lucky right now (and full of cake).

xXx

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