Thursday, 6 October 2016

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: Tower Ballroom, Blackpool

Blackpool rock, The Illuminations, The Big One - there are many things that Blackpool is famous for but perhaps the biggest one, the one you spot first when driving up from the M55, is the iconic Blackpool Tower. Last month, we took a trip to the seaside to visit this historic landmark for a spot of Afternoon Tea. Cue ballroom dancers, finger sandwiches and something called a Wurlitzer.

Tea is taken in the Tower Ballroom where tables surround the dance floor which is in full swing with couples waltzing away to the Tower’s resident organist - a particularly exciting sight for these two Strictly Come Dancing fans! The decor here is spectacular, the details are so rich and ornate brushed with golds and deep reds, it really makes you feel as though you’ve been swept away to a completely different time. 

The tables are already set with blue traditional style wares and guests are allotted an hour and 30 minutes sitting and a choice of teas or coffee to start, we opted for pots of both. 

There’s something so northern about this experience, the finger sandwiches are simple, laid back, “everyone’s favourite” kind of flavours presented alongside a handful of salted crisps, they’re not super fancy deconstructed creations that you might find in a London hotel, but that’s perfect for this place and set amongst the backdrop of one of the most beautiful venues you could ever hope to visit, it’s already got the upper hand. Flavours include a range of ham, beef and cheese - caution, these sandwiches do go quite heavy on the cheese so if you’re not a fan, it’s probably worth mentioning so in your booking for an alternative. For us, we would have liked some salmon or chicken fillings but there was plenty to pick from regardless. 

Sandwiches are followed shortly by a large fruit scone each, accompanied by individual jams and huge dollop of clotted cream and finally a range of miniature sweets including; chocolate tiffin, strawberry and cream meringue, honeycomb and fudge bite, and a fruit tart. It’s a really pretty and balanced mix of cakes, none of which are too heavy, and our favourite had to be the sweet and light meringue.

We left feeling nicely full and ready to go score some tokens in the famous seafront arcades. Overall, this tea is pleasantly informal and there’s a unique atmosphere to be found here, something that remained throughout our visit with the hall steadily full of people. It’s quite magical to think that every weekend, there are hundreds of people spending their afternoons twirling around in a grand ballroom and stopping to partake in something as simple as finger sandwiches and tea. We’re so glad we got to experience it, and highly recommend that you do too. 

Tea for Two is priced at £50. For more information and to book visit:

Whilst we were provided with a complementary afternoon tea for review, all thoughts and opinions are our own!


Monday, 3 October 2016

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: Claridges, London

Okay, so I'm a bit late with this one, but better late then never, eh?

If I'm honest I couldn't decide whether to post or not, as my photos were all a little dark. However, I've had a play in Photoshop and they're now at a *reasonable* enough standard to share.

So what did I think of Claridges? 

Cards on the table, I was a little underwhelmed. The room and ambiance were both incredible and exactly what I'd hoped for, with chandeliers, squishy armchairs and a grand piano to boot, but there was something a little disappointing about the food. Don't get me wrong, it was nice enough, but for the price I wanted better than 'nice enough' - I wanted the best afternoon tea I'd ever had!

Perhaps I was expecting too much, or perhaps I've been over-exposed to the many more 'experimental' teas out there, but it just didn't rock my world. I'm usually a bit of a stickler for tradition and love the simple classics, however I found Claridges to be almost traditional to a fault. It's hard to explain, but after sampling Cherish Finden's tea at the Langham a couple of weeks previously, I went to Claridges with similar expectations of delicate showcase sandwiches and cakes.

That said, I wouldn't want you to think that it's not worth a look because I actually had a lovely time. The service was prefect, the food limitless and the crockery, some of the prettiest you'll find in London.

I think if you're looking for absolute tradition or a taste of British quintessence at one of the UKs premier establishments, then you can't go far wrong with Claridges!

Have you ever been to Claridges? What did you think?


Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Tea Makers of London Review

The popularity of green tea has grown a lot over the last few years and it seems as though no desk snack draw is complete without a loose leaf pick me up. Famed for its supposed healing properties and skincare benefits, the choice of brands and flavours is vast and forever growing. We recently got the chance to try some interesting blends from British tea company, The Tea Makers of London - here's what we thought ... 

The Tea Makers of London was founded by a Sri Lanken tea expert with the goal of sourcing and creating a unique tea experience, or to quite simply “create the perfect cup of tea”. The company kindly sent us three different flavours to taste, each with its own tantalising exotic name: Jasmine Dragon Pearls, Dragon Well and Sencha Supreme.

To start, the packaging is simple but elegant and stamped with ‘The Great Taste Awards 2016’ seal of approval. The large pyramid tea bags are also minimalistic, showing off the high-quality loose leaf tea inside. 

Who wouldn’t want to try a tea with such an interesting name? Christened Dragon Pearl because of the pearl shape of the tea, this artisan tea is made from silver needle green tea leaves and Jasmine flowers which give it a yellow hue. A gorgeous fresh, floral scent that hits you straight out of the box and a pleasant smooth taste.

This emerald green tea is made up of a selection of pan-fried teas and is apparently chock-full of vitamins. This is your all-rounder tea classic green tea, it’s mild, easy to drink, which makes it the ideal kind of brew to just chill out with. A great choice for any time of day as it's not too strong.  

This Japanese blend benefits from 800 years of tea-farming which has led to this unique flavour. This one is a little more of an acquired taste, it’s slightly more bitter than the others and its aroma is quite pungent. However for avid green tea drinkers, we think the heightened sensual experience make it an interesting choice for those after authentic flavour, soaked in a rich history. 

So, have the Tea Makers done their job? Have they created the perfect cup of tea? In the land of green tea, they're certainly in the running and we can understand why they've racked up so many 'Great Taste' stars. 

A traditional choice, but a classic for a reason, our favourite was the Dragon Well flavour, a lovely smell and just the right amount of flavour for a satisfying green tea. If you're looking to try a selection of teas that offer an expansive range of tastes and styles, we would definitely recommend checking out The Tea Makers of London.

To find out more, visit

This post was kindly sponsored by the folks at The Tea Makers of London. As usual all thoughts and opinions are our own!


Thursday, 22 September 2016

"Farewell to soggy bottoms" - A sad day in the land of cake

It was just like any other Thursday - I woke up, went to work, sat down at my desk with my first cuppa ready to tackle the day and then, the news presenter on the radio said the words we’ve been dreading hearing since it was announced the Bake Off tent would be decamping to Channel 4 - “Marry Berry has quit the Great British Bake Off”. 

Queue the biggest communal gasp I’ve heard since the leave vote was revealed. Our Wednesday nights will never be the same again.

Those of us who love nothing more than stuffing our faces with an entire pack of jaffa cakes every Wednesday (because you can’t watch people making cake without needing cake) had just begun to accept that fact that Mel and Sue would be no more in the GBBO’s new home and therefore so would classic lines like “They’re sort of the page 3 of drizzle” and “The terror of a soggy bottom has been keeping me up all night” - this latest news is just the very watery icing on top of a very soggy cake. Sob, sob.

Let’s be real, sure we all love our Technical Challenges and Showstoppers but truthfully, GBBO is less about the cakes and buns and more about our weekly dose of light-hearted magic that can only be created by Mel, Sue, Mary and Paul (who is making the move to C4) - it’s hard to imagine that spirit successfully matched across the airwaves. 

In Mary's official statement, she said: "What a privilege and honour it has been to be part of seven years of magic in a tent - The Great British Bake Off. The Bake Off family - Paul, Mel and Sue - have given me so much joy and laughter ... Farewell to soggy bottoms." 

Oh Mary stop, we can't take your loveliness!

Who knows what the future of GBBO will look like - for now I think it’s okay to wallow, just a little, and use this day as an excuse to eat cake in celebration of a great seven years of TV with the Queen of cake.

Farewell Mary Berry, and the Great British Bake Off as we know and love it. 

Laura x 


Monday, 19 September 2016

Coffee Break: Milk Jam, Manchester

With decadent 'heart attack' cakes and milkshake bars becoming increasingly popular, it only seems natural that Manchester's Sweet Queen Bake Orama should set up her own dessert shop.

Now, we've been following Charlotte O'Toole on twitter since our very first trip to Home Sweet Home back in 2013(ish) and have always been astounded by the beauty of her cakes, so when we heard that Milk Jam had opened just around the corner from Caroline's office, we knew we had to visit.

Milk Jam is not only the brain child of Bake Orama, but also Nicki of Lush Brownies and Claire from Ginger's Emporium, who together bring ALL of the desserts to Mancheser on a daily basis (around 18 varieties of Brownies, to be precise!)

As you can imagine the combination of these three specialities make for an incredible sugar rush, with a choice of cakes, brownies, ice creams and milkshakes available to satisfy even the sweetest of teeth.

With menus that change constantly, we'll leave the taste testing up to you, but rest assured you'll love everything that they have on offer. Oh, and if this isn't enough, the ladies are also putting together a hidden dessert banquet on Thursday 6th October as part of this year's Manchester Food Festival - be sure to book in if you'd like to have your cake and eat it - for EVERY course!

Have you tried Milk Jam yet?

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