Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Afternoon Tea Club Discovers: Tea Pairings

We just came across this cute little Whittards video that we think you'll love. Focussing on tea pairing, this short clip made us smile and taught us a thing or two about perfect couplings. Enjoy!

Do you pair your tea and cake? What's your favourite blend?

Laura & Caroline

The Cake and Bake Show 2014, Manchester

This weekend was a particularly cake-filled affair, as we shelved our diet plans and headed into Manchester for a weekend of baked indulgence at the Cake and Bake Show 2014.

Armed with my trusty camera and blogging buddies - Sarah, Katie, Anna and Alex - we headed into Manchester Central on Friday to fuel our treat habit with a whole lot of sugared indulgence.

Having attended last year's disappointing Cake International (which, I must add, is in no way connected to the Cake and Bake Show) I entered the show with a little trepidation. However, my fears were soon alleviated, as I realised that this show was going to be anything but disappointing. Complete with its own cake jungle, The Cake and Bake Show is everything that I'd hoped of Cake International and much much more. 

Afternoon Tea Cake - just our thing!

The great thing about this annual show, is the inspiration that it offers aspiring bakers, and from sugar craft stalls to competitive bake-offs, there's something for everyone. One of the most impressive things on display was a giant cake elephant, which a team of bakers worked on throughout the weekend as a centre piece to the exhibition's Cake Jungle. 

Other highlights included the celebrity demonstrations, which took place throughout the weekend, from baking stars such as GBBO winners Frances Quinn and John Whaite, Rosemary Schrager, Simon Rimmer and Mr Cake Boy himself Eric Lanlard.

Afternoon Tea Crush, Eric Lanlard
As you know, Mr. Lanlard is a firm favourite with us ATC ladies, so it was an absolute delight to be able to watch him doing his thing on stage (if only briefly), whilst Frances Quinn was a true pro and a pure treat to watch. 

Unfortunately, we didn't get the opportunity to meet any of our baking heroes this time 'round, but there were plenty of chances throughout the day to nab an autograph and photo, for those willing to queue at the various book signings and classes taking place. 

GBBO Winner Frances Quinn

Showcases aside, there were also lots of opportunities to indulge in cakey treats at the various stalls. On this front I must admit, I went a little bit crazy, sampling anything and everything available. Some of the best things I tried were the Cheshire Cheese Comapany's fine array of fare and the Little Round Cake Company's Black Forest layer cake & Meringues - yummy!

Black Forest
Delicious Meringue

However, all caked out by the samples available, I opted (somewhat unconventionally) to purchase a selection of bread and cheeses. For these I went to the Snowdonia Cheese Company and More Artisan Bakery, and bought an unbelievably delicious cheese & onion focaccia, and Black Bomber and Red Berry Cheese to take home for my tea - no regrets whatsoever!

More Artisan Bakery
All in all, I had an absolutely fantastic weekend at the Cake and Bake show, and will definitely be back again next year!

Martins Bakers

If you missed out this time, fear not, because the Cake and Bake Show 2014 is coming to Earls Court London this Autumn. Check out their site for more information about tickets and dates. This is a definite must for any cake lover!

Did you visit the Cake and Bake Show this year? What did you think?

Friday, 21 March 2014

Taking Tea: Afternoon Tea Tips

When it comes to afternoon tea, we like to think of ourselves as experts - From its invention date (1840 by the way) to the optimum tea-bag brewing time (3 minutes) we have it covered. 

However, that's not to say you can't always learn something new, so when we heard about this lovely infographic from the Landmark Hotel London, we couldn't resist taking a look. 

Detailing everything from afternoon tea etiquette to that age old question of when exactly to add your milk, this handy little guide will get you up to speed in no time.

Have a look and let us know what you think! (To zoom, simply click on the image)

Click to enlarge!

Unsurprisingly, 98% of Brits love a drop of milk in their tea - are you one of them? Or do you prefer your brew au natural?

Let us know in the comments below or at @TeacupReview!

In collaboration with the Landmark Hotel, London

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: The Rosewater Bakery

For The Afternoon Tea Club, cakes and tea appearing in our mail is a bit of a regular occurrence  - and makes us incredibly popular amongst friends! However, the novelty has by no means worn off, especially when it’s as beautiful as the packages we received last week from the Rosewater Bakery.

Now, we don’t know about you, but there’s little more exciting than a huge pink box filled with cake - it's just a fact. Wrapped in luxury gold gift paper, the Rosewater Bakery’s delivered Afternoon Tea hamper is a winner from the get go and girly girls will absolutely love the array of rosy accents and ribbons. 
All care has been taken to make sure these hampers arrive in top condition and they are packaged thoroughly in an insulated hamper which keeps every section perfectly fresh.
Time for Tea

The presentation from the Bakery is enough to make these hampers a must try alone. From the Rosewater Bakery seal, to the gold foil lining the box, they haven’t missed a single trick.

Mini Cupcakes

On to the important stuff, the food! Inside is a selection of sandwiches, scones, mini cakes and tea time treats to give you the full experience of Afternoon Tea at home.
Brownies and Fruit Cake

All of our favourite sandwiches were there including; salmon, ham and tomato, beef and horseradish and egg and cress – with plenty to go around too (To quote Laura’s dad during our test: How are you going to review this properly if you don’t share some with your dad? – nice try, nice try.)
There are four scones in each hamper, two sultana and two of the Bakery's signature Rosewater and passionfruit flavour. We always love when bakers have their own unique scone recipes so these were a real treat. Pop these in the oven for 10 mins and you’re ready to go. These are accompanied by portions of tangy blackcurrant jam and clotted cream. Just delicious!

Sandwich Selection
Afternoon Tea Favourites
Next, the mini cakes. There’s a perfect balance of tea time favourites and the Bakery’s own concoctions including peach cupcakes, red velvet, chocolate with mixed berries and cherry bakewell tarts. The peach cupcakes were our faves, an unusual flavour and the buttercream was delicious. But of course you can't beat a good red velvet cake too!
There’s even more cake to follow as the hamper comes with a bag of brownie miniatures and fruit cake. These are great for sharing a little later on when everyone’s had a bit of a cake overload.

If you're searching for a great gift idea that's a little bit quirky or perhaps just fancy Afternoon Tea in your pajamas then a Rosewater Bakery hamper might just be the thing. 

Rosewater Scones

For more information and to order from the Rosewater Bakery you can visit their website here.

DISCLAIMER: As is common in the catering and leisure industry, we were provided with complimentary services for review purposes. However, all views and opinions are our own!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Friends for Tea: Science Tea at the Ampersand Hotel, London

Ampersand Hotel

The Ampersand Hotel is a quirky, boutique Hotel located practically opposite South Kensington tube station in London. It's known for its wonderful interior design and its superb location, so I was excited to experience their equally wacky Afternoon Tea!

Running for a limited time only, (until the 21st March) I was lucky to get in quick and experience the magic of Science! My friend and I had a lovely table by the window and the service began promptly with a glass of champagne and the taking of our tea order.

Science Tea

I opted for the Jasmine blend whilst my companion had a fresh mint tea at the recommendation of the server, who also managed to delay the tea service until we'd finished our glass of bubbly.

And so to the main event! The three tired stand arrived and stood proudly on our table, with dry ice flowing freely from the top, adding to the anticipation and to the magic. The sandwiches were unusually created using choux pastry buns, which were delicious and a nice change from the normal finger variety. My favourite fillings were the coronation chicken and the smoke salmon that also included a little salmon roe on the top - delicious.

The scones were equally as tasty, consisting of one plain and one white chocolate scone each, served with jam and clotted cream. There actually wasn't enough jam served with these, but this was probably a good thing as it meant that I didn't finish the whole portion!


On the top tier was the sciency part, featuring chocolate dinosaurs, a brightly coloured drink in a test tube and a pistachio macaroon with raspberry coulis served in a pipette. It was visually very stunning and the taste was actually pretty good too. Unfortunately I was far too full to finish everything off completely, but I did get to try all that was on offer and I came out feeling satisfied.

All in all, The Ampersand has had a good go at a themed afternoon tea and have managed to combine something that looks good with something that tastes good, which can sometimes be difficult! I'd like to return to taste their traditional afternoon tea as I'm sure that this is also delightful, but it's also worth just popping by for a coffee and sampling one of the many fresh cakes, pastries and biscuits that they have temptingly on display!

For more information and prices, please visit the Ampersand website here.

Written by Amy Sefton of 'Never Fully Booked': Never Fully Booked started out as a place to review and document the books I’d read, but soon ended up being more of a place to post about travel and Afternoon Tea! The blog now seems to refer to the places that I visit and my hope that they are indeed, never fully booked!