Posts Tagged ‘inspiration for tea and living’

When Miss Kate Cranston asked Renie Mackintosh to design the now famous Willow Tea rooms, the marvellous Scottish tea tradition was firmly established. Tea with Mary Kate has taken the inspiration for this tea from that heritage and Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burn’s, to create this Burn’s night tea.

Burns night is all about celebrating Robert Burn’s life and works.

Robert Burns Night Tea

Choose your favourite Robert Burn’s poem and add a few lines for inspiration to your tea menu – finish it off with beautiful tartan ribbon to contrast with the crisp white table linen. My favourite lines are from “to a mouse”:

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!

I love the line “best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley” as quite honestly my dears, that so captures life!

Burn's Night Tea

Burn’s Night Tea

Vegetarian haggis with miniature nepes & tatties

Smoked Salmon on wholemeal bread

A generous portion of clottie dumpling served in vintage tea cups

A strong Scottish leaf Tea – Taylors of Harrogate

A traditional Clootie dumpling - Perfect for Burn's night Tea - from Clootie.co.uk

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Paper Tea Cup - Edinburgh international book festival

I stumbled across this story recently and adored it! Imagine the surprise and interest when several creative paper objects, made out of books, appeared as if by magic overnight at the Edinburgh literary festival –  my dears of course my absolute favourite is the paper tea cup. The quite marvellous thing is that the identity of who ever created this wonderful tea cup still remains a mystery – how splendid! Not quite practical but definitely beautiful – Tea with Mary Kate just loves it!

Do have a look at the paper tea cup creation in full from the Edinburgh international book festival nothing beats a nice cup of tea. Has anyone confessed yet?

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Brief Encounter - Afternoon Tea at the refreshment Room

A terribly British and the most romantic film I have ever seen

From the moment of kindness when the unsuspecting Laura Jesson (the quite perfect Celia Johnson) has a speck of coal removed from her eye by the charming and very capable Dr Alex Havey (Trevor Howard), to the last scene, where their final precious moments are interrupted by an acquaintance of Laura’s. It is an accidental love, and all the more tragic for that – neither was seeking it in their married situations.

We never see but have to imagine the delicate Madeline, Alex’s wife. We do meet Fred though, Laura’s solid and understanding husband. In the opening scene of the film, Laura is speaking to us, as she starts to tell us the story from her arm chair by the fire with Fred, an insight into her life with him. He loves her – and she him, but not in the way that we come to see she has loved Dr Harvey.

Noel Coward’s film is an emotional journey

It is of innocent kindness, unconscious love, passion, and then guilt, with a dreadful, painful separation that neither will probably ever totally recover from. On the train journey to return home, Laura imagines the life that could have been with Alex, had they met earlier without their current commitments – the image fades as she arrives nearer home, and in the most depressing scene of the film, you witness her utter desperation and sorrow.

The Brief Encounter Afternoon Tea is a tea for a rainy day

With Rachmaninov’s Piano concerto No 2 the perfect music which plays throughout this amazing film. Include time for a viewing of the film in your afternoon tea. China is vintage, old fashioned and plain white, do include sugar in the spoon as there was in the film. For an authentic touch, add Bath Buns to your menu – although they never eat them while they sit at their tea table. Fare is simple and very traditional to echo the time when the film is set in 1945 when there would have been rationing from the war still.

Brief Encounter Afternoon Tea

Egg mayonnaise sandwiches on white bread

Victoria Sponge with strawberry jam

Bath Buns with lashing of butter

Brief Encounter afternoon tea - Victoria sponge - BBC recipe

A strong Leaf Tea –  like Henritta Lovells Royal Air Force tea

Old fashioned Afternoon Tea Henrietta Lovell’s Royal Air Force Tea –

Rare Tea

Filmed in 1945 at Camforth Station, the tea rooms have now been restored. Tea with Mary Kate hopes your brief encounter at your Afternoon Tea is a memorable one.

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A Tea with Mary Kate Future Tea Trends Prediction for 2012 is the Tea Dance

With the gaining momentum for afternoon tea, and our increasing interest in dancing, what more sublime a combination is there than the tea dance. Amazing locations, vintage frocks and enchanting music. It is an invitation to step back to another era – a time of beautiful china cups, convivial conversation, and beautiful dancing – quite a wonderful a combination.

Future Trends in Tea - The Tea Dance

Imagine being whirled around the dance floor, with a wonderful afternoon tea waiting to be served in the wings – well, my dears, you’ll need something to keep your strength up! And what’s more, it is virtually guilt free! All that energy expended dancing quite marvellously redresses the balance of that sumptuous afternoon tea. Tea with Mary Kate is predicting the tea dance as a healthy future trend in tea if ever there was one.

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Happy New Year 2012

I adore these lovely biscuits that herald the new year, just perfect with a gorgeous cup of tea! Tea with Mary Kate’s wish is that each one of us can find moments of true contentment and belonging. What is your wish for 2012?

A big thank you to the creative Daisy for her culinary skills.


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Take a New Year Cup of Kindness, my dear,  for the sake of Auld Lang Syne

New year is always a time of reflection. In the famous tune, Auld Lang Syne, composed in 1799 by Robert Burns, it asks us to remember, to think about our memories and recall past events. Burn’s makes such an evocative request, it cannot fail to provoke a strong emotional response. Scotlands nostalgic pipers echo the past, their sound seems to reach almost through time itself.

This New Years Eve Afternoon Tea party is inspired by Auld Lang Syne. It is old fashioned and drawn from traditional Scottish fare. It is quite deliberately comforting, as this time of year can be hard – for those who are on their own, who are facing difficulties, or past memories that end of year events prompt a return anew. It is a time also of opportunity, of renewal, a perfect time to turn over a new leaf.

Take a Cup of Kindness - Scottish New Year Tea Party

A Traditional New Tears Eve Afternoon Tea Menu

As you will be familiar, Tea with Mary Kate is a fan of leaf tea – oh, I hear you cry, all that mess and fiddling – but friends, that is the point, to take time, to make the act of making tea a pleasurable one, and frankly, one that gives a much better brew. The leaf Tea for our new years eve tea party is a strong Scottish Blend, malty and full bodied. Crisp white linen adorns the table, candle light and beautiful tartan ribbons, tied on menus, around cake stands and vintage china. The fire is roaring, and all is right with the world.

New Years Eve Tea Party Menu

Tea Cups of hot Scotch Broth

Traditional steak pie filled tea cups, draped with pastry

Smoked Salmon sandwiches on wholemeal bread

Black Bun

Lavender Shortbread – served with sparklers

Traditional Scottish Black Bun - New Year Tea Party - from Delicious Magazine

Time is fleeting. Tea with Mary Kate wishes that this new year’s eve is one where you choose to take time to reflect. May it be a time of contentment and happiness for you – have a memorable New Year.

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Beyond the health benefits of drinking tea

Indulge me, I know you will be converts already to the health benefits of tea. Indeed, while no other reason is required for the wonderful experience of drinking tea than it is a comforting, calming pleasure, alongside that unavoidable fact that there is a fantastic diversity of flavours to tantalise the taste buds –  I think there is another  addition to the health benefits of drinking tea. As well as inner health, what about the outer benefits?

The Beauty of Tea

The Beauty of Tea - Miss Retro's Blog

Let’s start with the conventional – Beautiful Skin Tea!

A rather lovely blend from Neal’s Yard Remedies. I make no apology of my blazon support for this quintessentially British Institution. Pioneers in natural therapies when most were focused on the chemical & synthetic, its vision was to bring the apothecary back to life – I love the fact that Neal’s Yard wanted to connect with the knowledge of the past – & it is really resonating now more then ever. Drink your way to beautiful skin indeed!

Neal's Yard remedies Beautiful Skin Tea

The Beauty of White Tea – A healthful alternative to Drinking it!

White tea is the precious newest part bud, packed with high quality of antioxidants which can mop up free radicles that damage & ages skin. The lovely part here is that is all smells gorgeous too. My favourites include organic eye make up remover, White tea eye gel, but there is also a white tea enriching facial mask that looks rather tempting. I do think this an alternative for the tea industry of the future. What do you think?

Neal's Yard White tea products - The alternative to Drinking Tea!

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By February 14th, you are more than halfway out of the dark.

And very much, Valentine’s Day  feels like an opportunity for the next bright start after the new years celebrations. It is a chance to practise the day you would wish to have everyday, to put your best side forward, to love as you would wish to be loved.

Valentine’s afternoon Tea – Mary Kate & Shawn’s Wedding in The Quiet Man

Valentine’s Day is but one day in the year, and while it is an opportunity to be romantic for a day, I think it can act as a portal for how to be everyday

Last Valentines, I wrote about David Whyte’s book, The Three Marriages, and his thesis that highlights a triangle of relationships. The first is the conventional one with your significant other, the second with your work, which I think most of us would recognise even if we would not wish to acknowledge, & finally, & perhaps most importantly, the third marriage is with yourself. Now while there are elements of each of the “Three marriages” that will have greater or lesser resonance with us, I concede that it is the first one that can really provide a base camp to allow the others to manifest. To have the absolute trust & care of another is simultaneously slightly scary & a quite wonderful thing.

Idea’s for a Valentine’s Tea to Fall in Love With

The true gift of a Valentine’s Tea is that thought & time have been spent to create it.

Choose favourite things to eat. Create a special menu, and include a reference to a favourite poem. It will add a quite thoughtful & lovely touch. Dust off the china, lay a crisp white tablecloth, light a scented candle, or even a few sparkling tea lights, the intent being to create a rather special atmosphere to savour the aesthetic & treasure the moment in time. For more afternoon Tea idea’s inspiration, do have a look at Five splendid idea’s for afternoon tea, which includes a wonderful Rose themed afternoon Tea menu, just the ticket for Valentines, with gorgeous sandwiches & sumptuous cakes.

Spectacular Valentine’s Tea – Cake from Thoughtfully Simple

As a Valentine Tea is such a special occasion, do remember to make a gorgeous cup of Leaf Tea

No if’s or buts or excuses, as advise on Top Tips on Brewing the perfect Cup of Tea is at hand. You will be amazed at how gorgeous a properly made cup of tea tastes.

I confess that Tea With Mary Kate’s one weakness is for China Tea Cups

I adore Wedgwoods Queen of Hearts china tea cups. In fact, I love the pattern so much that somehow the tea pot, milk jug, sugar bowl & cake stand managed to find their way into possession, but do chose you own favourites. If you are feeling rather generous, the china could also be a gift, but, ahem, do wash it before it goes out of the house.

Valentines afternoon tea in beautiful Queen of Hearts Wedgwood china tea cups

Perfect for Valentine’s afternoon Tea – Beautiful Queen of Hearts Wedgwood china tea cups

A few final thoughts from Shakespeare's sonnet 116
 Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no! it is an ever-fixéd mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose Worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom: If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved 

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Now your first thought on slurping may legitimately be why master this slurping business at all?

Quite honestly, isn’t it just a very impolite, uncouth, & rather noisy method of drinking tea, especially when it is too hot to drink? Well, you might well be right on all those counts but  read on as there is an exception…………

It takes 5 years to become a tea tasting expert – and all the tea tasters in the world are expert slurpers.

Slurping is key to being able to really taste tea. By rolling the tea around your mouth, it gets to all those taste buds. The method basically allows development of a very sophisticated palette absolutely critical  for that all important task of evaluating the essence & flavour of various batches of tea.

As you can imagine, it’s a bit of a challenge to get these folks on film showing their craft

Which is why I absolutely loved this short video from Yorkshire Tea. Glorious sound effects & a really amusing commentary from one of their tea buyers offers unique insight into the final stages of quality control at Yorkshire Tea. My favourite quote is Suzy extolling the virtues of a job where you can spit on your boss & still remain employed, how marvelous!

Guess how many teas Suzy slurped and you could be in with a chance of winning a year's supply of Yorkshire Tea!

Master the art of Tea Slurping - Yorkshire Tea buyer demonstrates how to be a tea taster

The next must have item for all your tea loving friends – a proper Tea tasting spoon

The other rather charming element is the special piece of equipment required – a larger than average spoon. Frankly  a teaspoon is just not big enough to hold sufficient liquid to slurp. I adored the beautiful spoon that Northern Tea merchant’s James Pogson had especially commissioned, made from Sheffield steel, the home of quality British steel manufacturing, it has a uniquely angled handle that allows tea to be scooped from a cup for slurping.


James Pogsons specially designed tea tasting spoon

Mary Kate has decided that slurping is the way forward for Tea tasting

It is a method that really allows you to properly taste tea, and one that also helps to develop your palette, aiding in that all important decision on what tea you really like. My one caveat though my dears is in consideration of the potential social impact,  perhaps practise & conduct this newly found slurping activity in the privacy of your own homes.

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Royal Wedding Bells are in the air

I was very excited to see that a beautifully designed  commemorative China has been  issued to celebrate Prince William & Miss Kate Middleton’s wedding day on 29th April 2011. I love the gold with muted grey & soft blue colours & regal design of doves, hearts & garlands with their initials intertwined, inspired apparently by decoration in Clarence House. And even better,  it is manufactured in good old Blighty in the traditional Potteries town of Stoke on Trent , a splendid touch.

Official Royal Wedding Commemorative Tankard

Beautiful official royal wedding commemorative Tankard


Although the tankard is very nice, I confess though that I am an avid fan of partaking of my favourite brew from a china tea cup.

I live in desperate hope that someone in the Stoke factory will expand the range & manufacture a gorgeous celebratory Royal wedding china tea cup! Quite frankly, I would love to be sipping my tea from a beautiful china tea cup as the day unfolds. It got me to thinking of Mary Kate’s Wedding day and their picture, a wonderfully old fashioned, formal pose & slightly startled expression from them both. I do anticipate that Prince William’s & Miss Kate Middleton’s pictures may be slightly different! Tea with Mary Kate implores you to join the campaign for a commemorative Royal Wedding tea cup!

Mary Kate on her wedding day


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