Monday, 11 December 2017

Afternoon Tea Lovers Gift Guide - Part One


It's the most wonderful time of the year, which means that you officially have permission to throw caution to the wind and indulge in ALL the treats, and what better way to celebrate than with a whole host of afternoon tea goodies?

Whether you're a generous gifter or hopeful receiver, take a moment or two to indulge in our Tea Lovers Gift Guide, before picking out your faves and sending on to Santa, with the subject heading: "All I want for Christmas is a brew"


1. Bettys Christmas Coffee and Biscuits Set | RRP £10.50 (Currently out of stock online, but alternatives available here)

Whilst perhaps best known for their tea, it's fair to say that Bettys also make a great cup of coffee. This limited edition Christmas blend with all-butter ginger shortbread proves just that, with a full bodied yet smooth texture teamed with just a hint of chocolate to get you in the festive spirit!

2. Oliver Bonas Saskia Cat Mug | RRP £12.00 available to buy online here

Oliver Bonas is a sure fire winner when it comes to cups - and everything else for that matter - but the Saskia Cat Mug has to be one of our all time faves. Styled as the most kawaii feline you'll come across this side of Christmas, this is one for tea and cat lovers alike. (PS: They also have a matching candle, if you're into coordination!)


3. Clippers English Breakfast Gift Caddy | RRP £10.00 available to buy online here

There are so many different tea varieties out there, but sometimes all you want is a good old fashioned cup of Breakfast tea - and when it's presented in a beautiful pink and purple tin, there's really just no saying no. Still need convincing? All of Clippers' products are also 100% Organic and Fair Trade, so it's really a gift that keeps on giving. Available in three varieties (breakfast, green and sleep) these will make the perfect stocking fillers for the tea lover in your life.

4. The Tea Leaf Company Four Tins in a Gift Box | RRP £29.99 available to buy online here

You really can't beat a tin of loose leaf tea and with the Tea Leaf Company's Gift Box you get four! Available to mix and match until your heart's content, you can choose a quartet of any of the following flavours: Hide and Seek, Hush Hush, Smugglers Spice, Royals and Rogues, No 5 Blood Orange, No 6 Simply Green, No 10 Apple & Cinnamon, No 16 Green & Mint, No 24 Lemon & Ginger; No 25 Chamomile; No 28 Simply Mint, and No 66 Jasmine & Lychee - there's literally something for everyone!


5. Tea Tourist Subscription Box | RRP from £12 per month, available to buy online here

Imagine having tea delivered to your door every month for a year? Well with Tea Tourist, you don't have to. Available as a one off purchase or an ongoing subscription, this letter box sized delivery will arrive at your door on around the 20th of each month, with enough tea to keep you going for the next four weeks. Each box comes with six packs of loose leaf tea from a variety of suppliers, along with tasting cards and discounts on full product purchases. We tried out the December box and were really impressed with the Christmassy flavours that they had going on - be sure to try the mulled wine infusion by the Rutland Tea company, it's delish.


6.  Find me a Gift, Cat Face Filter Cup | RRP £8.99, available to buy online here

As you've probably guessed by now, we like cats, in fact we LOVE them and even though we're both a little too old to be filtering away on Snapchat all day, tea cup filters are an entirely different kettle of fish - coincidently, a kettle of fish is EXACTLY what the cats would order if they went for tea, don't you think? Anyway, we love this teacup and think you will too!

What will you be asking Santa for this Christmas? Tell us your dream Afternoon Tea gift in the comments below and look out for the second instalment of our gift guide coming this weekend!


Words & Photography: Caroline

SHARE:

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Afternoon Tea at Sculpture Hall Cafe, Manchester Town Hall


If you’re in Manchester around Christmas time, its famous Christmas markets are compulsory visiting - the smells, the lights, the push and shove, are all part of the annual experience. But not to be all bah humbug, this year the crowds seem to have gone into overdrive and you’re a more worthy fan of pulled pork than us if you manage to fight your way to the hog roast station without an umbrella to at least one eye.


Luckily for Christmas market veterans like ourselves, there is an oasis away from the madness that rests just behind the wooden huts and below where the giant illuminated Santa perches from November to December. Inside Manchester Town Hall nests the beautiful Sculpture Hall Cafe and our choice of afternoon tea venue this past weekend.


For starters, little tip, if you plan on visiting the Sculpture Hall, go AROUND the markets and use the Lloyd Street entrance - we didn’t and felt like we had well and truly earned our champagne by the time we battled our way through. It’s an elegant setting surrounded by stunning architecture, but a casual affair which was honestly quite a pleasant change. Guests are allowed to choose their own table and we would recommend a window seat so you can still take in the markets from a safe distance.


From now until December, the cafe is serving up a festive twist on its traditional afternoon tea served on a simple stand where you’ll find a checklist of all of the season’s well-known flavours. For starters there was a selection of savouries including prawn and marie rose sauce finger sandwiches, turkey and stuffing wrap, brie and cranberry on ciabatta, and roast chestnut and blue cheese tart. Unfortunately neither of us are fans of seafood, so the four prawn sandwiches were a little disappointing, and for two non-cheese connoisseurs, the blue cheese was mighty strong in the tart, overpowering the wintry chestnut. However, the wrap was good and overall the selection was a nice nod to some typical Christmas fare.


Next the scones were small but super tasty - packed with cinnamon and cranberry flavour and served with clotted cream and jam or butter. We lobbed on the jam and cream and honestly I could have eaten three more, they were lovely. Finally the festive theme continued throughout the sweet selection the with a Christmas sponge cake, mini macaroons, rich chocolate and orange mousse and bitesize mince pies. I loved all of them, particularly the sponge cake, a really good mix and just the right size too. 


This afternoon tea comes as either standard or with champagne for an extra £5 and we must say, it was a generous pouring of fizz so worth splashing out - Christmas comes but once a year afterall. Plus you have your standard choice of tea or coffee, of which we had one each, a latte and breakfast tea. We visited quite late in the day so can’t confirm if this was refillable but I would assume, given the price, it is not.


If we were bigger fans of prawns and cheese, perhaps we would have enjoyed this tea more - still it is rather unusual to get four sandwiches with the same filling during afternoon tea. Nonetheless, the sweeter side was great and the environment itself wins back some serious points - how often do you get to slump back in a studded leather armchair surrounded by sculpted busts and Christmas trees pretending you are the Lord or Lady of the manor? 

I would definitely like to go back in the new year to try the Sculpture Hall’s traditional tea menu - at £14.95pp (£19.95 with champagne) you really can’t argue with the price. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for somewhere to experience the quieter side of Christmas in Manchester, the Sculpture Hall Cafe is a good place to start. 

Words - Laura
Photography - Caroline 
SHARE:

Friday, 1 December 2017

Christmas competition!


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...

It's the 1st of December, the first doors of our advent calendars are open and that means we are officially allowed to start feeling festive!

To celebrate the most wonderful time of the year, we are giving you the chance to win some Christmas tea goodies.

One lucky winner will bag themselves a Cath Kidston Christmas mug and Whittard Christmas Tea -  perfect for cosying up with on those gold winter nights. 

To enter, all you have to do is follow us over on Twitter at @TeacupReview and retweet the competition to be in with a chance of winning.

The competition will close on 10th December so get your entries in quick! (T&Cs below).

Good luck! 
Laura & Caroline x

Open to UK residents only. Only one entry per person. Competition will close at midnight (BST) on 10/12/2017. The winner will be chosen and announced on 11/12/2017. The Afternoon Tea Club's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. The Afternoon Tea Club is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied by third party connected to this competition. There will be no cash alternative. Winner will be notified via Twitter. By entering the competition the winner agrees to participate in such promotional activity on our website and Twitter. No responsibility can be taken for any entries which are not received for any reason.
SHARE:

Friday, 3 November 2017

Afternoon Tea at The Chester Grosvenor



London tends to steal the limelight in a conversation about the best places for a classic afternoon tea experience. But we would argue, we’re quite lucky here in the North West to have some distinguished venues that offer a traditional tea experience, such as Crewe Hall or The Midland in Manchester, that don’t require a two-hour Pendolino trip down south. One that seemed to fit the bill and had been on our list for a while upon recommendation from friends (aren’t we supposed to be the tea experts around here?), was The Chester Grosvenor, so we decided to check it out last month. 



You can’t get much more central Chester than this hotel, situated right in the middle of town amongst the flurry of shoppers on Eastgate Street and practically on my doorstep, it wins at the location game. Afternoon tea is served in the The Arkle Bar, a sophisticated lounge seeped in deep greens and mahogany, offering a similar atmosphere to that of our favourite London tea venue, The Milestone. Good start. 

There are three types of tea to choose from: Traditional, Gentleman’s and Indulgent. We went for the Indulgent (because why not?), which comes with a glass of champagne and strawberries with clotted cream. As regular afternoon tea-goers, those kinds of touches always stand out for us and the fresh strawberries were delicious. 



Soon after, tea arrived on a three-tier silver stand, a pretty selection of sandwiches, scones and cakes but nothing too thrilling. We tucked into the sandwiches, flavours included, beef and horseradish, ham and tomato, salmon, and cheese and onion. A good choice of flavours and once finished, we were offered a refill so eagerly topped up on the salmon.

Then on to the scones of which there were two each; one fruit, one plain. The scones were quite small but in my opinion - and as someone who's eyes are usually bigger than their stomach - this is a good thing because you never want to overload on scones and leave no room for cake. 



Finally the cake selection, which while absolutely beautiful, did feel a little lacking. We noticed a few tables around us seemed to have a slightly different variation of cakes to ours but that said, the ones we did have were very good and faultlessly decorated. This included a strawberry cheesecake topped with white chocolate and fruit, a raspberry pie, chocolate and lemon on a biscuit base, and polenta cake with pistachio. It’s quite common with afternoon tea to not get two of everything, and that’s fine unless you both end up fighting over the chocolate cake, but I think for an ‘indulgent’ afternoon tea, two cakes each just didn’t feel enough and perhaps a couple more would have done the job. As a side note, we did spot a table next to us were offered a refill, whether this is usual for this afternoon tea or because we were the last sitting of the day, we can’t say for definite but unfortunately we were not offered a cake top up. 



To drink we went for Earl Grey and coffee which came served in one of the most beautiful tea sets we have seen. The coffee pot in particular had an almost steampunk vibe to it which gave the setting a little quirky kick.



This is undoubtedly a ‘traditional’ afternoon tea from the venue right down to the sandwich fillings and while that can be a good thing, it can also mean it misses the wow factor. This is often why ‘traditional’ or ‘classic’ is a tricky game to play. Not everyone needs punk fries or brioche with dipping chocolate to stand out from the crowd but there still needs to be something that makes it special. At £45pp the Indulgent Champagne Afternoon Tea is not the cheapest and therefore I would have expected a little more, particularly when you compare to some London venues which are on parr with the price and offer a lot more for your money. But if classic is your style and you’re looking for a luxury tea setting up North, then this could be right up your street.

Words - Laura
Photography - Caroline

SHARE:

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Royal Afternoon Tea at The Midland Hotel, Manchester



Birthdays always call for afternoon tea, and what better way to celebrate than with a trip to the Midland's recently opened Tea Room in Manchester.

This is one that's been on mine and Laura's radar for some time, particularly because of their fresh approach to dietary requirements (not only do they have champagne and traditional afternoon tea, but they also offer vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and children's options as standard - a massive plus when one of your group is a veggie) so when my friend Caroline suggested that we visit for her birthday, the answer was a resounding yes.




Although relatively new to the afternoon tea scene, their reputation is already strong across Manchester, with bookings for our weekend filling up six weeks ahead of time - a clear sign business must be booming. It was so busy in fact, that we couldn't even manage to sneak in ten minutes earlier on the day and had to wait for our reservation time in the lounge.

Once we managed to sit down, the tea experience began. As I mentioned, the main USP of the Midland is its focus on catering for dietary requirements (I've heard that the Tea Room's manager has tried out every tea in the city, with the aim of creating the best that Manchester has to offer) and as a group who have often struggled to find restaurants and tea venues that are 100% clued up when it comes to vegan, vegetarian and pescetarian menus, I have to say that this makes for a most welcome change.




As standard, you are presented with a "Traditional" and "Royal" afternoon tea menu, with dietary requirements listed in a separate listing. As much as possible, the Midland have tried to make all of the teas as reflective as possible across the board, substituting ingredients well to create similar experiences for diners to enjoy together, regardless of their dietary needs.

For the traditional afternoon tea, the menu currently consists of the following: 

Sandwiches
Goosnargh chicken & BBQ sweet corn on a brioche bun, goats cheese with beetroot chutney on walnut bread, honey baked gammon with garden pea mousse on granary, smoked salmon on dark malt bread, duck egg & mustard cress on white bread

Scones
Plain and sultana scones served with devon clotted cream and Mrs Darlington's Jams - as an FYI whilst you get a dish of clotted cream for the table, the jams are silver served directly onto your plate by the waiting staff, which I found to be a little unusual, but I suppose cuts down on wastage.

Cakes
Dark chocolate delice, passion fruit & white chocolate tart with Italian meringue, pistachio & olive oil cake with orange curd and Scottish strawberry, champagne mousse and Victoria sponge.




My favourites on the day were the chicken on brioche and the chocolate delice. For the sandwiches, it was very pleasing to see such a good variety of bread types (including walnut bread!) as all too often you find that finger sandwiches are neglected when it comes tea planning. The cakes were similarly well balanced in flavour, if erring slightly more towards the mousse direction - which wasn't to the taste of my friends - but that's more of a preference thing. If I'm being critical, I think that there could've been another interest point in the desserts, perhaps a macaron or something of a crunchier nature, to balance out the mousse based treats a little more.



Overall, I was pretty impressed with the Tea Room at the Midland, but would say that they still have a little way to go before they can be crowned as the best afternoon tea in Manchester. This isn't for any particular reason, but I believe that there are a few elements that can be refined and polished even further to create the perfect experience.

It's early days, so I have no doubt that they'll get there, and whilst they do, they are still more than worth a visit - a booked out calendar of reservations can't be wrong!

For more information and booking, please visit:

- Caroline

SHARE:

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Afternoon Tea at Home Sweet Home, Manchester



Over the years, we've found ourselves wondering on more than one occasion, why Home Sweet Home have never done an afternoon tea. Famed for selling the most extravagant cakes in town, their desserts have been the stuff of legend for as long as I can remember, so you can imagine my delight when I heard that they were now serving afternoon tea.

In order to investigate further, I pencilled in some time with my blogging buddy Sarah of Sequin This, to pay them a visit and sample ALL the cake. As an FYI, the lighting in Home Sweet Home is super low (or atmospheric depending on how you look at it) so the photos for this one aren't as bountiful as usual, but don't worry, you get to see the cake and we all know that's what you came for!




As you'd expect, the afternoon tea at Home Sweet Home is very rough, ready and ridiculously over the top, with about as much decadence as you can pile on to the plate. If you're in the market for a delicate afternoon tea then you won't find it here, but what you will get is a full on sugar rush to keep you buzzing for days.

Starting off the sweetness overload, you're presented with a trio of mini bagels (Maple syrup BLT (YUM!) smoked salmon, and smoked cheddar & vine tomatoes) and BBQ crisps, followed by churros with 'dream-cheese' and Nutella dips, which are a replacement for scones. At the time, Sarah asked me how I felt about the absence of scones and to be honest I wasn't sure. I think I'll always miss scones when they're not there, but I do LOVE churros, so can get on board with the swap in this instance - and the dips were delicious too, which made it even better.



Moving on upwards, I have to say that the cake tier wasn't the easiest thing to share and when you consider that prices are listed per person, I would have ideally liked two of everything, to avoid any uncomfortable cake disputes. However, that said, there is more than enough of the sweet stuff to go at, with three cake truffles, a lemon meringue pie, trio of chocolate cheesecake brownies, a chocolate espresso mousse and cupcake of the month to keep you going. Out of this selection my favourite had to be the red velvet cheesecake brownies which had a delicious creamy taste, with the chocolate cake truffles coming in a close second.

Overall I was pretty pleased with the Home Sweet Home afternoon tea. Knowing what their usual cake fridge is like, part of me was hoping for something even more OTT, but in hindsight I think something sweeter would've perhaps been a step too far. As it stands, this afternoon tea is on the perfect side of decadent with a good mix of tastes and textures to offer variety. Definitely one to try if you're a Home Sweet Home fan!

For more information and booking, visit their website:

At time of writing, Afternoon Tea is only available at their Great Northern restaurant, but be sure to check out the website for any further updates!

- Caroline

SHARE:

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: The Principal Hotel, York



As someone who lives in Chester and regularly has to deal with the masses attending Chester Races, what could possibly be the worst imaginable day to join the crowds on the train and pay a visit to one of your favourite UK cities, York? A York Races day of course! Thankfully for Caroline and I, there was light at the end of the suits-and-dresses-filled tunnel, and that was cake at The Principal York, Hotel.

Ideally located right next to York Station, you can literally hop off the train and into the Garden Room where an elegant tea oasis awaits adorned with neutral tones, highlighted by huge windows with views across the lawn - all the more spectacular on a summers day.




We started with a glass of champagne each before digging into the first course. The tea is served in two parts, first a small plate filled with three savoury miniatures followed by the main event. Bites included; Sweet potato, chorizo and sherry vinegar velouté, smoked mackerel mousse, and Yorkshire rarebit, fruit chutney. It’s very unusual to find anything soupy on an afternoon tea menu but the sweet potato velouté worked really well and was definitely a favourite. A strong start!

Moving to the first tier of the main stand, there aren’t as many sandwiches as you would normally expect but you won’t need them after the first trio. Here you will find an egg mayonnaise and watercress sandwich alongside a Yorkshire ham and pickle sandwich. Both really tasty, generous fillings and served on two types of bread, always a plus.




Moving on to the scones, which also come as a trio and offered up something a little different to your usual afternoon tea fare. You have your plain and fruit scones and then an additional cherry and almond served with raspberry jam and clotted cream. Cherry scones have always been a favourite of mine so I was excited to see these on the menu and they tasted delicious with lashings of cream. And just in case you’re wondering how you’ll manage three scones AND a plate of pastries, the scones are only small so you shouldn’t have to worry about saving room!




On to the last tier which features a pretty mix of colours and flavours - but there is only one of each kind so be sure to share/pick your favourites quickly! Sweets include a Yorkshire curd tart, salted caramel chocolate pot, passion fruit macaron, rhubarb gin cheesecake, Parkin loaf, and raspberry and white chocolate éclair. This was one of the best dessert selections we’ve come across thanks to its imaginative choice of flavours used in popular afternoon tea sweets - the rhubarb gin cheesecake and macaroon were our top picks both for their pastel palettes and great taste.

To accompany the food, The Principal serves Rare Tea Company loose-leaf tea, hand picked by ‘Tea-Lady’ consultant Henrietta Lovell. We opted for the Single Estate English Breakfast and Earl Grey, both sourced from the Satemwa Estate, Malawi.




We really enjoyed our afternoon at The Principal, York. It’s a beautiful hotel and in a prime location for anyone travelling from out of town. The tea menu is great, fusing the old with the new and features plenty of unique touches to make it stand out. If you’re planning a trip to York this Summer and looking for a quiet hideout from the crowds, be sure to put The Principal York on your list. 

Afternoon Tea is served daily between 11.30am-6pm at £22.95pp or £29.50pp with champagne. For more info and to book visit: https://www.phcompany.com/principal/york-hotel/
SHARE:

Monday, 14 August 2017

Afternoon Tea at Liverpool One - #TrulyScrumptious

Bills

Liverpool has always been a second home to The Afternoon Tea Club, so when we heard about the new #TrulyScrumptious campaign from Liverpool ONE, we decided to get involved and write a round up of the top three teas to look out for the next time you're in Merseyside - and with today marking the start of National Afternoon Tea Week, you have the perfect excuse to venture out and eat cake!

Browns - Afternoon Tea

First up is Afternoon Tea at Browns Brasserie. Browns was actually the first ever 'proper' afternoon tea that we visited as a club and will always have a special place in our hearts. If you look back far enough, you'll probably be able to find the review (with our terrible iPhone 4 pictures) but where the photos failed us, the food didn't and we can definitely recommend it as one to look out for when visiting Liverpool ONE bars and restaurants this summer.

Bills - Cream Tea

Next on the list is Bills, a homely but hip restaurant, which probably isn't the first place you would look to in search of cream tea but look you should, as Bills offers a great value selection of sweet treats with its 'Teatime' menu. Choose from scones with Bills jam and clotted cream (served warm, and absolutely delicious) to toasted teacakes or sticky toffee pudding and beyond to get your mid-shopping afternoon boost.

The Exchange at Hilton - Afternoon Tea

Towering over L1 and just a few short minutes away from the Albert Dock, stands the Hilton, Liverpool City Centre and inside, The Exchange restaurant which offers a modern afternoon tea in a minimalist setting that's popular with guests and daytrippers alike. We first visited years back (in the much missed days where every Monday for us, was an afternoon tea day!) but this tea remains popular due to its central location and traditional yet sophisticated afternoon fare served daily between 1-4pm.

Have you paid a visit to L1 for afternoon tea? Be sure to give us your thoughts and recommendations in the comments or over on Twitter @teacupreview using the hashtag #TrulyScrumptious.


#AD - This post is in collaboration with Liverpool ONE, but as usual all thoughts and opinions are our own!

SHARE:

Sunday, 13 August 2017

#BeeProud Afternoon Tea at The Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel, Manchester



This week we revisited one of our favourite Northern afternoon tea spots for a new Manchester-inspired menu in aid of the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund in partnership with the British Red Cross and the Manchester Pride Charity.

Served in the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel's contemporary Opus One bar which looks out onto Peter Street from the city's Free Trade Hall, the high ceilings adorned with bespoke crimson fixtures and ebony furnishing mean you will feel just at home sipping a cocktail as you will sampling its latest tea.



The theme is #BeeProud. Think Manchester, the symbolic bee, local favourites and you might have a good idea of what this tea consists of. But think again. The Radisson Blu has truly gone all out with this one, swapping out its traditional offering for a selection of thoughtful, artisan bites that will leave you needing around 30 minutes just to take enough Instagram-worthy photos - or maybe that’s just us.

To start, the sandwich selection is very good; honey roast ham with mustard on brioche, smoked salmon with lemon butter on rye, roast beef with horseradish on sourdough, and cheese and red onion on soda. A mix of breads always wins points with us and extra thumbs up for the delicious salmon filling (the cheese and red onion was a close second!).



Then to the scones, a plain and fruit scone each, served warm with strawberry jam and cream. As always, they were delicious and when we opted to leave a scone each to ensure we had enough room for cake, we were given an extra pot of jam to take home with our leftovers - a very nice touch.

Finally, the dessert selection is where the Manchester theme shines through. This included a classic Manchester tart, Eccles cake, honeycomb shortbread with cream (black and white of course), and cheesecake with caramel spiral art and pop corn on top. An impressive arrangement of sweets and a really sophisticated way of incorporating the #BeeProud theme without going over the top. Our favourites were the Manchester tart and the cheesecake which was as tasty as it was pretty.




To accompany, we each opted for pots of tea, earl grey and English breakfast, which were generously refreshed throughout, and also a glass of champagne - we are celebrating Afternoon Tea Week after all! 

Special mention must go to the great staff at the Opus One who made sure we had everything we needed for a lovely afternoon and kindly boxed up the few cakes we couldn’t manage, to go (it’s very unlike us to be defeated by cake!).



Overall this is a fabulous tea and the fact that proceeds are going to a great local charity makes it all the more worthwhile. If you’re looking for somewhere to indulge in tea and cake this Afternoon Tea Week or perhaps during the Manchester Pride big weekend, we can't recommend this tea enough.

The #BeeProud Manchester afternoon tea at the Radisson Blu Edwardian, Manchester is available from now until 31st August priced at £22.50pp or £29.50pp with Prosecco. 

For more info and to book visit https://www.radissonblu-edwardian.com/

We were kindly provided with a complimentary tea for review, but as usual, all thoughts and opinions are very much our own!
SHARE:
© The Afternoon Tea Club. All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig