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Posts Tagged ‘welsh afternoon tea’

Good old British tea, scrummy cakes, and Best Indian, Ceylon, Darjeeling and Lapsang Tea – who could wish for more!

We all need to belong, to connect, to be interested in each other. Enchanting Afternoon Tea allows the time for exploration of those needs. Sumptuous tea, with cake & jam & honey feels like a real treat, and evokes another era when you dusted off your best crockery. Tea with Mary Kate is all about inspiration for seemingly ordinary events, and turning them into wonderful connecting experiences. Enchanting afternoon tea gives us the opportunity to do just that, with a wonderful intrinsic ceremony to the event, and time to love generously.

 

5 Splendid Idea’s for Enchanting Afternoon Tea –  Idea’s and Inspiration from Tea with Mary Kate

Agatha Christie Inspired Afternoon Tea

Inspired by her amazing books, I think the “Queen of Crime” would be equally thrilled at the prospect of afternoon tea, as the cupboards at her own home at Greenway were packed full of beautiful china tea cups. The “Evil under the Sun” lemon tartlet and “The Clocks” macaroon look almost too good to eat – well almost!My SubscriptionsNEW


Glorious Welsh Afternoon Tea

Hurrah! Thank goodness that the 7th Duchess of Bedford was so ravenous, she was bold enough to order bread and cakes  to eat mid afternoon, unable to wait for dinner that was served very late in the evening in the 1840s! After the idea caught on with her friends, so started the regular gatherings, and over time, the tradition of British Afternoon tea.

Bara Brith - Gorgeous cake for a Welsh Afternoon tea

Rose Inspired Afternoon Tea

Do send an invitation for a rose inspired Vintage Afternoon Tea. The sheer delight of receiving such an invitation is a signal that it is special. I think 3.30pm is the perfect time, ideal to do your preparations, and still have enough time for you to get ready too.

Of course, lay the table the vintage table cloths. In my imagination, there is chatter and the sound of teaspoons chinking on bone china. Harlequin sets are quite lovely, and you are feeling terribly generous, you could even give everyone their tea cups as a gift from the day.

A Quite Splendid Vintage Afternoon Tea

The design of the Afternoon Tea menu enhances the vintage theme, beautifully decorated with ribbons and gorgeous fabrics. Alluring descriptions of the delights to come, including the tea to be sampled, add interest and create a talking point, although none is needed!

The tea served is from Northern Tea Merchants and is brewed to perfection:

Classic Blend – A bright, full bodied blend of Rwanda, Assam, Ceylon, East of the rift Kenya, picked at the height of the season

Rose Congou – An aromatic flavoursome black china tea blended with rose oil and delightfully mixed with rose bud petals

vintage afternoon tea menu

Inspiration for an Amazing Easter Afternoon Tea

I remember as a child my grandmother having a beautiful plate to serve the soft lettuce, and freshly cut bread onto which would be spread lashings of butter – it really did taste like nothing I have ever had since! Easter afternoon Tea is an indulgence, not only a feast for the appetite – stacks of gorgeous sandwiches, savouries, cakes and tea of course – it also a feast for the eyes – and there is a gift in its beautiful presentation, but the act of just doing it is all important.

vintage afternoon tea

My wish is that this has encouraged you to enter into the spirit of the moment, and indulge your creativeness to home bake and create an enchanting Easter afternoon tea.

time for tea

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Wandering through the ancient heart of Wales, we seize the moment for a magical visit to Powys Castle, with its magnificent architecture in a truly breathtaking setting.

Now, up front, I’ll declare an interest – I’m passionate about the National Trust (and the Scottish National Trust) . Both organisations do such a splendid job of looking after our national treasures in Britain, including Powys Castle. But suddenly I realise that our membership tickets are not with us – and oh, the kindness of strangers – the National Trust do a quick check and we are in!

Powys was built as a 12th century stronghold against English invaders, and you can understand why when you are there, you can see for miles! Its history is steeped in that of the Welsh Princes, and while there is still an Earl of Powis, the title is on its third creation.

Welsh afternoon tea at Powys Castle

While Powys Castle is amazing, the jewel in its crown are its glorious gardens.

Melding seamlessly into the imposing hills, the garden’s are spectacular, even outshining the idyllic setting of the magnificent hills that surround it. Apple blossom floats in the fresh spring air. There is a sence of enduring nature, particularly of the Yew trees, planted and clipped since the 1700s, now belonging to that ancient vista.


I happen across a favourite portrait, that of Lady Henrietta Herbert, painted in 1777 by Sir Joshua Reynolds, still hanging at her ancestral home

I adore this painting, its captivating and her beauty radiates. Lady Henrietta lived life, and I am inspired by her adventurous nature, by all accounts, she was quite a character. Her collection of Indian artifacts remain at the Castle. It reminds me I have yet to visit India…..

Who could resist having afternoon tea and gorgeous butterfly cakes at Lady Violets Tea room.

It is warm enough to sit outside under the soft blue sky, surrounded by the first flush of the brightest scarlet red tulips, my sweet tooth satisfied by afternoon tea, who could wish to be anywhere else in the world.

Butterfly Cakes at Lady Violets Tea room - Glorious afternoon tea at Powys Castle

I am delighted to find my favourite ethical company Zimbolic are also here at Powys Castles’ lovely Garden Shop.

Their beautiful and ethical garden sculpture is enchanting, and I’m particularly taken with the cormorants that stand guard on the battlements.

Tea with Mary Kate seeks to connect us to the ancient beauty that radiates around us, where we are often in danger of just rushing past.

There is a palpable sence of belonging at Powys Castle, to its history and to the spectacular and ancient lands that surrond it. If only for the gorgeous afternoon tea, but for much more, do visit as soon as you can!

Tea with Mary Kate's Beautiful Tulips

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so was born the very British tradition of afternoon tea……

Hurrah! Thank goodness that the 7th Duchess of Bedford was so ravenous, she was bold enough to order bread and cakes  to eat mid afternoon, unable to wait for dinner that was served very late in the evening in the 1840s! After the idea caught on with her friends, so started the regular gatherings, and over time, the tradition of British Afternoon tea.

The glory of British afternoon tea is that it declares time to stop!

I heard rumour that it is now becoming so popular that it may even replace the power lunch. A shudder passes over me at mention of this – perish the thought that close by my tea table there would be an open lap top that is competing with a gorgeous stand of goodies beautifully presented – the whole occasion would  be ruined frankly if there was just one mobile phone trilling, or even worse, a blackberry going off at random intervals to interrupt the conviviality and sociability of the occasion.

Most will immediately think of scones, jam and cream at the mention of afternoon tea, but I’d like to suggest a glorious alternative –  Welsh inspiration for afternoon tea

Now, the traditional Welsh costumes are not obligatory but could be interesting! What is though are some ancient recipes that have been handed down through the generations in Wales.

Welsh cakes or Picau ar y maen are quintessentially Welsh

There’s no excuse for not making these amazing creations as I include quite marvellous instructions for making welsh cakes. Their alternative name is bakestones if you’re from South Wales.

A good griddle is the way to achieve a gorgeous Welsh cake.

But there is a skill here, an art to waiting just long enough from when they originally landed on the hot griddle stone to rise before they need to be turned, very carefully for their other side to cook. Now, I could say that a thick based sauce pan would be sufficient, as many do, but in the spirit of honesty I will need to declare that my view is that a good griddle is the way to achieve a gorgeous Welsh cake. I treasure my griddle, lovingly hand crafted from mild steel, the legacy of a steel works in South Wales.

Another critical Welsh cake ingredient is mixed spice

Bakestones are fine without it but unbelievably morish with this magic ingredient. Sprinkle with sugar when they are still warm – the smell of a freshly baked Welsh cake is home, warm fruit and moist spiced cake, no wonder many never reach the stage of actually being cool.

Bara Birth or Speckled bread is almost as famous

The recipe is simple, the bread delicious, spread with butter and enjoy.

E Smith Twiddy’s book has these, and many more wonderful Welsh recipes, I can highly recommend a copy.

Wonderful Welsh Tea, home grown in Pembrokeshire is the perfect accompaniment

I made a fantastic discovery earlier this year, that tea was actually being grown in Wales by The Pembrokeshire Tea company. You can even adopt your own tea plant, the company’s aim is to be 100% home grown by 2015.

The essence of afternoon tea is that it is an indulgence, a time to relax, to catch up with friends and enjoy some gorgeous things to eat.

My wish for this post is that it has inspired you to gather your friends to create a wonderful Welsh Afternoon tea. Keep the occasion special, a sanctuary from our usual all too busy lives.

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We all need to belong, to connect, to be interested in each other. Easter Afternoon Tea allows the time for exploration of those needs.

It feels like a real treat, it evokes another era when you dusted off your best crockery. There is an intrinsic ceremony to the event and all it takes is a few simple up front preparations (or quite frankly, you can cheat and buy it all in!).

Afternoon Tea with a beautiful retro 1950s tea set

Easter Afternoon Tea is a wonderful indulgence………

I remember as a child my grandmother having a beautiful plate to serve the soft lettuce, and freshly cut bread onto which would be spread lashings of butter – it really did taste like nothing I have ever had since! Afternoon Tea is an indulgence, not only a feast for the appetite – stacks of gorgeous sandwiches, savouries, cakes and tea of course – it also a feast for the eyes – and there is a gift in its beautiful presentation, but the act of just doing it is all important.

Tempting Easter Afternoon Tea Treats

Tempting Menu Idea’s for Easter Afternoon Tea

I recently came across the delightful Mrs Beetons Household Managements book. If you’ve never read it, it a really insightful step back in time, to the issues and challenges that faced the middle class house wife. I admire the inspiration for its creation, namely that Isabella Beeton could not abide to see waste and mismanagement. One of my favorite sections is on sandwiches, and I can honestly say that I have never quite seen as many options for filling that is provided by the resourceful Mrs Beeton. Now, our taste for anchovy & haddock may have waned, but I think it’s an inspiring look at some forgotten options that it would be good to resurrect. My eternal favourite is egg mayonnaise and cress, with the secret ingredient, garlic salt, it makes them divine! The ubiquitous cucumber sandwich is synonymous with all that is afternoon tea, and really easy, so I would include these too (Mrs Beeton even has advice to avoid soggy bread, p945). I also love salmon and I’ve recently discovered trout, with its earthy taste, rather lovely. A few savouries like scotch eggs and pork pies are also good. I do make home made mini quiche, again, if you want to make it really easy, buy in the pastry. I always include onions that are fried in olive oil with salt and pepper,  and a dash of thyme. I adore pineapple and cheese on sticks as well but would include a fresh fruit salad for an alternative to the cakes.

Ok, so I know that it’s traditional to have a simnel cake for Easter, but I’m going to be rebellious and suggest a delicious Lemon Meringue Cake, a Nigella recipe. And although you’re thinking, ooh, that looks tricky, I promise you,trust the instructions  and follow exactly, and it will turn outlook and taste fabulous! I made it this week in a trial run and there was not too much left!

Gorgeous lemon meringue cake from Nigella

Make a Gorgeous Cup of Tea Cake to enjoy for Easter Afternoon Tea

If after all that encouragement you’re still not feeling brave enough, then make “Cup of tea cake”. This is incredibly easy, and I guarantee will work out and taste delicious. It’s from a 1970s farmhouse fare cookbook that I had in my Christmas stocking as a child, and I’ve always loved it, because the receipts were collected from country house wives by farmers weekly and gives such insight to “country life”. I’ll spare you the receipt for Jugged hare, but let me know if you wish to see it and I’ll happily sent it:

Cup of Tea Cake – from Mrs Asquith, Harrowgate

4oz butter

1/2Ib mixed fruit ( currents, sultanas, candied peel)

1 cup tea

1/2 Ib self raising flour

4oz sugar

1 teaspoon each of bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice ( the secret ingredients that make it fabulous!)

1 egg

Melt butter in a pan, add fruit and tea. Bring to boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Cool. Sieve dried ingredients, add boiled mixture and egg, mix well. Bake for 1 1/4 hours at gas mark 4 in a 7in tin. Spread with butter and serve with lashings of hot strong tea.

Enchanting and Connecting Easter Afternoon Tea Inspiration

Tea with Mary Kate is all about inspiration for seemingly ordinary events, and turning them into wonderful connecting experiences. This Easter gives us the opportunity to do just that, time to love generously. My wish is that this has encouraged you to enter into the spirit of the moment, and indulge your creativeness to home bake and create an enchanting Easter afternoon tea.

And Tea with Mary Kate has even more Inspiring Afternoon Tea Ideas:

Agatha Christie Inspired Afternoon Tea

Glorious Welsh Afternoon Tea

Rose Inspired Afternoon Tea

A Quite Splendid Vintage Afternoon Tea

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