10 reasons why the Wellington Afternoon Tea could be London’s #1 Afternoon Tea

Wellington Afternoon Tea InterContinental Park Lane LondonThe tradition of Afternoon Tea began in England and the English certainly know how to do it and how to do it right. At every top London hotel that serves Afternoon Tea, the ambience, the tea and the tea food is excellent, a few perhaps marginally better than others.

If beautiful surroundings, excellent tea and delicious tea food form the baseline for Afternoon Tea at every top hotel in London, then what are the factors that would make one Afternoon Tea stand above all the others?

Red question mark

I found myself pondering that question after an Afternoon Tea I experienced last week-end. It was the Wellington Afternoon Tea at InterContinental Park Lane London. And it was the best Afternoon Tea I have yet ever had.  (You can read about it here.)

It was easy to identify the things that made it so special, so here is my list of 10 reasons why the Wellington Afternoon Tea in London stands out above the others:

 

Teacup image with the number 10 in itA take-away box Yes, it’s a simple gesture, but it’s one of those little things that make you feel  pampered. It’s like your own miniature tea hamper and it’s a lovely way to extend the tea experience once you’re back home. Here’s a picture of the Wellington Afternoon Tea take-away box that I brought home with me.

 

 

 

 

Teacup image with the number 9 in itOffering tea for purchase There’s nothing worse for a tea enthusiast than discovering a fabulous tea, then not being able to source it. The Wellington Blend is one of two special teas created exclusively for the Wellington Lounge by London’s Tea Palace. You won’t be able to buy it at the Tea Palace – but you can buy it at the hotel shop.

 

 

 

Teacup image with the number 8 in itHonouring Afternoon Tea The InterContinental Park Lane London is mainly a business hotel, and has offered Afternoon Tea for a while. Two years ago some changes took place and they set out to turn their existing Afternoon Tea into something exceptional. They have succeeded, and to me this shows that they honour and value the tradition of Afternoon Tea.

 

 

 

Teacup image with the number 7 in itThe well-researched theme If you read my review of this tea you will know that I love a themed Afternoon Tea, but many of them go no further than coming up with clever names for the food. There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s fun – but the Wellington Afternoon Tea had real substance behind its theme. Chef Paul Bates must also be a history major to have masterminded a tea sandwich using Spanish Monroyo ham and Monte Enebro cheese – ingredients that are a nod to the Duke of Wellington’s 6-year campaign in Spain. It’s served on potato bread, too – a cheeky reminder that England’s beloved military hero was actually born in Dublin. And that’s just one example of the level of thought that went into the creation of this tea menu.

 

 

Teacup image with the number 6 in it Presentation In a quest to be different, I suppose, I have noticed a growing number of variances in the way that Afternoon Tea is literally being served at table. The last time I had tea at a certain world-renowned London location, an empty plate remained on the tea stand until later replaced with a plate of warm scones . That just didn’t look right, and it just didn’t feel right. At the Wellington Afternoon Tea, I loved the fact that the 3-tiered tea stand arrived at the table filled with food, and that the tea guest chooses when to have the warm scones brought to table. I also really liked that they offer a signature sandwich, and a signature dessert. This allows  those two items in particular to periodically change so as to take advantage of seasonal foods and holidays.

 

 

Teacup image with the number 5 in itTea knowledge The level of understanding and knowledge that our waiter Mohammed had about Afternoon Tea and the tea beverage was incredible. It wasn’t a scripted, rote familiarity but a genuine grasp of what tea is all about. For a tea enthusiast like me, it was a real treat. But for someone who may be new to Afternoon Tea, this kind of guidance and expertise would be priceless.

 

 

 

Teacup image with the number 4 in itValue When I think back to tea last week-end and re-live it through my blog post and pictures, I remain amazed that the cost is only £28. The food alone is worth that price, but add in the level of service and all the other amenities that make up this tea experience and it simply has to be the best Afternoon Tea value in London. Try it for yourself and see if you don’t agree.

 

 

 

Teacup image with the number 3 in itTiming Several minutes after each fresh pot of tea was delivered to our table, Mohammed would return to subtly remove the small infuser basket from the pot. His timing was spot on and the first time he did it, he explained why it was being done. Seasoned tea drinkers know it’s so the brew doesn’t become too strong, but persons new to tea drinking will find the procedure fascinating and perhaps not even realise that they have just been given a very important lesson in the art of making tea. Proof again that Afternoon Tea at Wellington Lounge is about so much more than just eating tea sandwiches and drinking tea. It is about honouring and respecting a tradition that is such an important part of the fabric of English life.

 

 

Teacup image with the number 2 in itTraining  By now it should be apparent to you that Afternoon Tea at Wellington Lounge is taken very seriously by those in charge. They live and breathe it and one of the ways they do that is through a unique training programme that, among other things, allows staff members to go out and experience Afternoon Tea for themselves at different venues in London. What better way for them to see firsthand what works and what doesn’t work at tea, and what a great opportunity to observe the good and not so good tea services currently practiced in and around London. I applaud this kind of diligence, and am very impressed with the results as the entire team at Wellington Lounge personify professionalism at its best.

 

 

Teacup image with the number 1 in it Customer service I have given you nine reasons why the Afternoon Tea at Wellington Lounge stands out among the others in London, but here’s one more and it’s the number one reason: our waiter, Mohammed. From beginning to end, he was friendly, knowledgeable, efficient, professional (yet relaxed) and his timing (on everything from tea brewing to knowing just when to check in with us) was impeccable. He was easy to talk to and very adept at being able to anticipate our needs. I’m sure that the entire team are trained to this high standard, but if you ever have Afternoon Tea at Wellington Lounge, Intercontinental Park Lane London, be sure you ask for Mohammed.  He will treat you like royalty, and you will leave feeling very special indeed. And to Mohammed: Thank you!

 

 

 

 

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The Wellington Afternoon Tea – Flawless and Fit for a Duke

Wellington Afternoon Tea at the Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

As a tea enthusiast who has over the years enjoyed many an Afternoon Tea, I have by now developed a keen awareness of what I love in an Afternoon Tea – and one thing I love is a themed tea. Whilst there are indeed a few elemental things that every Afternoon Tea should contain, the ‘art’ of Afternoon Tea crys out for personalisation and creativity, and nowhere can this be better personified than in a themed Afternoon Tea.

Today I want to tell you about a themed tea that has surpassed all others I have ever had. It is the Wellington Afternoon Tea at Wellington Lounge, InterContinental London Park Lane. And it is in one word, flawless.

 

Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Readers of this blog learned in my post about Apsley House that British military hero and twice Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley, a/k/a the 1st Duke of Wellington, was quite the tea drinker. He travelled extensively through India and Europe on his campaigns, drinking tea and enjoying exotic food. With a taste of his exploration subtly woven throughout, the Wellington Afternoon Tea honours the Duke by using the best of British ingredients infused with influences from his international destinations.

Talk about the art of tea!

 

The Wellington Afternoon Tea

 

Surroundings

With just the right balance of light and space, the ambience in Wellington Lounge is magnificent – sophisticated elegance, yet comfortably informal.

Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane LondonAfternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

I love the view out the window across to Wellington Arch:

Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Table Setting

The exotic green Anthuriums on the tea tables in Wellington Lounge are quite handsome and immediately evoke a sense of the Duke’s worldly wanderings.

The Wellington Lounge tea ware is striking. Its silver geometric design is a fresh change from what you normally see used at tea.

Wellington Afternoon Tea Wellington Lounge InterContinental London Park Lane

Tea Beverage

The extensive Wellington Lounge tea menu offers tried and true favourites, unusual teas, and a few exclusive house blends created through a collaboration between Executive Chef Paul Bates and the London emporium Tea Palace.

For our tea, we opted for their bespoke Wellington Blend, ‘a blend that embraces the spirit of a wonderful English tea. A balance of Assam, China Black tea, Earl Grey and softened by English cornflowers and mallow blossoms.’   It was outstanding – bright and full-flavoured with a gorgeous aroma.  Mr. Tea declared it the best tea he ever had! This from an Englishman. Need I say more? (We even brought a tin home with us. It can be purchased at the hotel shop.)

 

The Wellington Tea Blend Tea at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Tea Service

The Wellington Afternoon Tea is served in the traditional style – with a bit of a twist. The tea stand is brought to the table and displays tea sandwiches on the bottom tier, sweets on the middle tier, and a crowning glory signature dessert on the top tier. The ‘twist’ is a distinctive, independently presented tea sandwich served at the start of the tea.

 

Wellington Afternoon Tea, Wellington Lounge at Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

The Twist

Do you remember my saying how a themed tea crys out for personalisation and creativity? The unique, stand-alone tea sandwich served at the start of the Wellington Afternoon Tea is a perfect illustration of what I mean. Made with Spanish Monroyo ham and Monte Enebro cheese, the ingredients are a nod to the Duke of Wellington’s 6-year campaign in Spain. And it’s served on potato bread – a cheeky reminder that England’s beloved military hero was actually born in Dublin. Well done, Chef!

Spanish Monroyo Ham, Fig, and Monte Enebro Cheese on Potato Bread:

Spanish Monroyo Ham, Fig, and Monte Enebro Cheese on Potato Bread Tea Sandwich at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Tea Sandwiches

The Wellington theme continues with the Duke’s local association reflected in a Chilled Sirloin of Gloucestershire Beef with horseradish sandwich, served alongside an anything-but-boring Hen and Duck Egg mayonnaise sandwich with celery cress on brown bread. And thanks to the Portuguese Sardine with sherry vinegar and honey dressing sandwich, we’ll never forget Wellington’s protection of Portugal from the French army.  Who says history can’t be fun? (And delicious.)

Additional sandwiches are offered, should you desire. The sardine sandwich was so good, I asked for another. Up until then, I had never eaten a sardine in my life and wasn’t particularly worried about it either, but this sandwich was luscious.

 

8 Tea Sandwiches at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Scones

I appreciated that at the beginning of the tea service, our waiter Mohammed (more about him on Friday – a fabulous individual) gave us the option of choosing when to have warm scones brought to the table. This little nugget of information ensures that the customer is served fresh, warm scones precisely when they want them, and that is exactly what happened when the plate of homemade Sultana scones and Buttermilk scones arrived as requested. Generous scoops of clotted cream and strawberry preserve rounded out the interlude, one that is paramount to every proper English Afternoon Tea experience.

The scones were just the way I like them: light and soft on the inside, with a hint of delicate crunch on the outside. It’s my opinion that the hallmarks of a perfect scone (besides taste and appearance) are a good rise; a substantial yet light density; and the presence of a natural break line in the middle allowing it to be gently pulled apart in half.  These scones ticked all the boxes.

 

11 Sultana and Buttermilk Scones with Devon Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserve at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Sweets

You’re full already, aren’t you? I know! But who can resist cakes at tea time?

In his duties as a military and political leader, the Duke of Wellington spent time in the Netherlands, India, Spain, Portugal, France, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, England and Ireland. The final course of the Wellington Afternoon Tea salutes his global travels with exquisite sweets of Blackberry and Vanilla sponge Bavarois, Coconut tart with Pistachio confetti, Gateau ‘Basque’ with comfiture of black cherries, and Raspberry Meringue with vanilla cream.

Do not let the 2-bite size of these little gems fool you – each one packs a flavour punch that will literally curl your lips with satisfaction.

My favourite was the meringue, whilst Mr. Tea preferred the coconut tart with its shards of fresh, sweet coconut.

 

9 Sweets, Cakes and Pastries at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Waterloo

It all began when the Duke of Wellington was taking care of business in Vienna and Napoleon decided to take care of unfinished business in France by escaping from Elba – so what Wellington themed Afternoon Tea would be complete without a worldly cake offering of the Sachertorte, Austria’s famous chocolate torte. This was my first Sachertorte. The chocoholic in me is saying that it won’t be my last. Read here about the interesting history of the Sachertorte.

Sachertorte:

10 Sachertorte at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Remains of the Day

Even after all these years of Afternoon Tea-ing, it still surprises me how filling tea food can be. The experts at Wellington Lounge know this, and will be happy to box up any leftovers so you can continue the experience later on at home with your own cup of tea.

12 Takeaway Box of Extras at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Conclusion and Recommendation

The Wellington Afternoon Tea at Wellington Lounge InterContinental London Park Lane is from all perspectives the best Afternoon Tea I have ever experienced. There are a number of reasons for this and I’ll be telling you about them on Friday, but in the meantime I strongly encourage you to book in and see for yourself.  You will be treated to beautiful surroundings, delicious food, impeccable service, and unparalleled value. An adventure the Duke of Wellington himself would have enjoyed.

Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane LondonHow to Book the Wellington Afternoon Tea

 

Served Monday to Saturday from 1pm to 5pm, the Wellington Afternoon Tea at Wellington Lounge is priced from £28

Bookings are essential and can be made by ringing +44(0)207.409.3131

InterContinental London Park Lane – One Hamilton Place – Park Lane – London – W1J 7QY

 

 

 

 

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Tea, Apsley House, and the Duke of Wellington

The Duke of Wellington's Teapot

Silver teapot used on campaign by the 1st Duke of Wellington

One of the reasons I write this blog is to share my tea experiences in England with an audience of readers who, like you (and me!) love tea and love England. Another reason is to reveal the sometime obscure tea connections that I seem to find woven throughout the places I visit here. Here’s one of them.

 

Apsley House

 

Apsley House, with its prestigious address of Number One London, was the London townhouse of Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852) – better known as the 1st Duke of Wellington. Besides defeating Napoleon at Waterloo and being a two-time Prime Minister, Wellington did all that other stuff that gets your name on hundreds of pub signs in the country puts men like him into the history books. You can read more about his adventurous life here.

Because it contains one of the finest art collections in London, a stunning collection of silver and porcelain (including tea sets – gifts to the Duke to celebrate his military and political prowess), and a massive nude statue of Napoleon (and we always thought that Napoleon’s “complex” was due to his small …….. stature), a visit to Apsley House was on the Tea in England Bucket List. And so it transpired.

I can report that Apsley House is a fantastic property to tour. English Heritage have done well in keeping the interior of the house much the same as it was during the occupancy of the Iron Duke. (P.S. The Wellington family still live there!)

 

"Tea. Now."

“Tea. Now.”
The Duke of Wellington

 

The Tea Connection

 

Then

Many 19th century military officers traveled with their own dinnerware, and Wellington was no exception. His traveling canteen, displayed in the basement at Apsley House,  includes plates and serving dishes, beakers and tumblers, knives and spoons – and a silver tea set.

Wellington was a dedicated tea drinker who appreciated its qualities, and whether at home or away on campaign, a pot of tea was never far from hand. He wrote that whilst planning the [Spanish] Battle of Salamanca, “Tea cleared my head and left me with no misapprehensions.”

So it is true: Real Men Drink Tea

 

And now

There could be nothing more perfect after a visit to Apsley House than to treat yourself to a Wellington-themed Afternoon Tea in London. Impossible? Not at all! The Wellington Lounge at Intercontinental Hotel London, a stone’s throw from Apsley House and in the shadows of Wellington Arch,  honours the original Duke of Wellington with its magnificent Wellington Afternoon Tea that uses British ingredients infused with influences from his travels.

Wellington Afternoon Tea, Wellington Lounge at Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

The Wellington Afternoon Tea

 

I was recently invited to experience the Wellington Afternoon Tea and I can’t wait to tell you about it. It was flawless! Look for my review on Wednesday.

In the meantime, don’t take my word for it that the Duke of Wellington was a tea drinker. See for yourself:

 

 

 

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Tea and Scones with Pat and Debs

Keep Calm and Bake These Scones

Pat and Debs live on opposite sides of the ocean. They’ve never met one another, but both of them know how to bake  (they really know how to bake) and both of them love and appreciate  a proper cup of tea. Pat used to own a popular, successful tearoom back in Maryland. Debs, an American expat living in Devon, owns the popular, successful blog Debs Dust Bunny.

Once upon a time, early in my tea journey when I lived in the States, I had a dream of opening a tearoom. I used to make Pat’s day drive Pat bonkers with question after question about how to run a tearoom. She was – as she still is – gracious and kind and always more than happy to share her knowledge and expertise with me. We even met in person when she traveled all the way down to South Carolina to help me with a tea event. Tea friends are the best.

That tearoom dream of mine never came to fruition – but I did gain something invaluable from Pat: her scone recipe. It is flawless and perfect and the only scone recipe I have ever used. It has never failed me.

Recently, Debs has been experimenting with scone recipes and blogging about her results, so I knew that I just had to share Pat’s scone recipe with her. If you’d like to see how it turned out (and get a copy of the recipe for yourself), pop over to Debs Dust Bunny and read all about Pat’s Decadent and Delicious Scones.

 

Tea, poetry and breast cancer

8 year breast cancer survivor

Today, I celebrate 8 years being cancer free. My breast cancer was detected in July 2005 during a routine mammogram. Early detection can save lives – please be diligent with attending your mammogram apppointment.

A couple of years ago, I discovered this poem by Londoner Jo Shapcott that on this day in particular expresses my thoughts and feelings about the whole thing to a tea:

 

PROCEDURE

This tea, this cup of tea, made of leaves,
made of the leaves of herbs and absolute

almond blossom, liquid touchstone which lets us
scent its true taste at last and with a bump,

in my case, takes me back to the yellow time
of trouble with blood tests, and cellular
madness, and my presence required

on the slab for the surgery, and all that mess
I don’t want to comb through here because
it seems, honestly, a trifle now that steam

and scent and strength and steep and infusion
say thank you thank you thank you for the then, and now

 

– Jo Shapcott
From  Ten Poems about Tea
Candlestick Press

 

 

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House: Another Winner

2013 Wimbledon Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House Hotel, London

As an Anglophile and mum to a son and a daughter who, in their youth, were talented tennis players, Wimbledon has always held a special attraction to me. The pure Englishness of it all – strawberries and cream, dress code, Royal patronage –  is enough to melt the hearts of even those who could care less about the game. And this year the world, and especially we here in England, celebrated with great enthusiasm, the long-awaited and much-anticipated victory by Britain’s Andy Murray.

I may only live 20 miles from Wimbledon, but I wasn’t privileged enough to attend any matches. (It’s on my Bucket List!) But recently, I was privileged enough to attend an event much more comfortable (in terms of surroundings) and perhaps more satisfying than Wimbledon tennis – and that was the Wimbledon Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House, London.

Grosvenor House Wimbledon Afternoon Tea Tropical Fruit Salad appetizer

Tea in England readers know that this wasn’t my first trip to Grosvenor House for tea – last autumn, I enjoyed the Downton Abbey ‘Upstairs, Downstairs Afternoon Tea’ at Grosvenor House. It was pretty impressive, and today’s tea was much of the same.

There are so many places in London that do Afternoon Tea – and do it well – so it must be somewhat of a challenge to fashion unique aspects that will make your tea stand out. One of those unique aspects at Grosvenor House is the Tropical Fruit Salad that they serve as an appetizer. I just love the teensy-weensy cubes of fresh mango, pineapple and melon swimming in tangy, mouth-watering  fruit juice. It’s a real wake-up for the taste buds, and totally refreshing.

 

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea sandwiches at Grosvenor House, London

The first course of an Afternoon Tea – the bottom plate on the tiered-server – is tea sandwiches, and Grosvenor House recently changed their service to include two plates of sandwiches. It may be a heavy start for some people, but others will appreciate the abundance. Variety wise, there is something for everyone:

  • Smoked Chicken and Tarragon (my favourite that day)
  • Cucumber with Mint Butter
  • Clarence Court free-range Eggs with Mayonnaise and Cress
  • Roast Sirloin of Beef with Creamed Horseradish
  • Loch Fyne Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese and Dill
  • Coldwater Prawns and Marie Rose Sauce
  • Ham with Somerset Cheddar

 

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea scones, Grosvenor House, London

The second course of an Afternoon Tea is usually reserved for scones, and at Grosvenor House they offer both raisin and buttermilk. I can tell you that Grosvenor House know how to make a good scone. They are not the most attractive scones I’ve ever seen on a tea table, but they are warm, light, [slightly] crunchy-on-the-outside-but-soft-on-the-inside, and full of flavour. So frankly, who cares what they look like. At the end of the day, taste should overrule appearance when it comes to a scone. (Do you agree?)

 

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea sweets, Grosvenor House, London

And finally, at the point where you are so full you cannot think of eating another bite, you reach the third and final course of an Afternoon Tea – the top plate on the tiered-server – which is the sweets. And the rule is, no matter how full you are, you must eat all of at least some of them. They are so beautiful and tempting.

The Wimbledon Afternoon Tea sweets included Chocolate and Orange Roulade; mini Victoria Sponge; Pistachio Macarons (to die for!!); Champagne Jelly with Berries (lovely!!); Vanilla Panacotta with Strawberries and Mint (Mr. Tea in England’s favourite); and a Strawberry Opera Gateau.  Everything was delicately delicious, but the macarons were my favourite. Confession time: I asked for extras!

 

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

I have left out details about the tea beverage itself, but our pots of Twinings tea were perfectly brewed, and served with panache by our efficient and friendly waiter, Mihail.

One detail I do, however, want to share with you are these charming sleeves that contain the artificial sweetener. Don’t you just love them! Until now, I’ve never seen an elegant camouflage for those ugly little pink packets; it’s a perfect solution and one that you could easily achieve on your own tea table with a bit of DIY.

 

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

An added bonus to the Grosvenor House Wimbledon Afternoon Tea was the availability of even more cakes and goodies located on a table in the centre of the room.  Talk about indulgence!

 

Park Room, Grosvenor House, London

Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House is a delightful and immensely satisfying treat. The atmosphere is dignified and grand – but the service is relaxed and friendly, and this is one of the things I find most appealing there.

Like the games themselves, this year’s Wimbledon Afternoon Tea has ended. But it’s always teatime at Grosvenor House, and they are now taking reservations for their signature Anna’s Tea – named for the woman who started it all by ‘inventing’ the ritual of afternoon tea: Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford.

Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel, is served from 2pm – 6pm daily in the The Park Room & Library overlooking Hyde Park.

When was the last time you went to Afternoon Tea in London? It’s time to treat yourself! Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House is an experience not to be missed.

 

 

 

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Macaroons from Bettys (or are they Macarons?)

Bettys Macaroons in a teacup

When it comes down to spelling differences between one country and another, is there still sometimes a definite ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – or does it all just depend on which side of the border you’re standing on?

Take the case of the ‘Macaron’, for example. Or should that be ‘Macaroon’?

 

What an American calls a Macaroon

 

As an American, I grew up knowing the macaroon as a small cookie made with coconut and sometimes dipped or drizzled in chocolate; and the macaron as that lovely French meringue delicacy. (Until now, the best macarons I have ever had were at Mariage Frères Salon de Thé in Paris, and Ladurée (at Harrods) in London.)

But here in England, I have seen the word ‘macaroon’ used to describe the French ‘macaron’ and have been told that ‘macaroon’ is simply the British spelling of ‘macaron’.

 

Bettys Macaroons

 

At the end of the day, what matters more to me than how it’s spelled, however, is how it tastes – and Bettys (whom I have written about before) recently sent me a box of their gorgeous macaroons to taste and, as expected, I was not disappointed.

Bettys macaroons are handmade weekly, using only natural ingredients and no preservatives or artificial flavourings or colour. The beautiful box of six macaroons are raspberry, pistachio, lemon, and chocolate.  I know this is going to sound cliche, but honestly – they burst with flavour! You can really tell that they are 1) fresh, and 2) made with top quality ingredients. (My favourite was the pistachio.)

If you are looking for an extra-special treat, Bettys macaroons would be perfect. They are exquisite.

Handmade macaroons from Bettys

How do you feel about the whole spelling thing? Is it wrong to refer to the French ‘macaron’ as a ‘macaroon’ ?

 

 

 

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A Brief Encounter Over Tea

Brief Encounter tea roomAs a tea enthusiast, I’m always on the look-out for anything related to tea. As an Anglophile, I’m always on the look-out for that English connection. And as a lover of cinema, I’m always on the look-out for a good film.

I found all three in a 1946 English film called Brief Encounter.

Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter is the quintessential English romantic drama. It was filmed in black & white and is very atmospheric thanks to the well-known and talented director David Lean. What makes it absolutely brilliant, of course, is the fact that a large part of the film’s action takes place in the refreshment room (i.e., tea room) of a train station. It is a bittersweet love story, enhanced in the film by the haunting melody of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto.

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter was filmed at a railway station (Carnforth) in the North of England during the war. This particular location was chosen partly because it was far enough from Southeast England that, should there be one, sufficient warning of an air-raid attack could be given allowing time to turn out the filming lights to comply with wartime blackout restrictions.

Carnforth station and it’s real-life refreshment room has become a bit of a mecca for Brief Encounter fans. It’s on my Bucket List, that’s for sure! (Read my post about another real-life refreshment room in Hampshire.)

I have owned the Brief Encounter DVD  for many years and I never, ever, ever tire of watching it. It’s a love story – a sad love story – and stars Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard (whom I adore).

Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter
Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter

The Brief Encounter Story

At a railway station refreshment room, housewife Laura Jesson meets doctor Alec Harvey. Although they are both already married, they gradually fall in love with each other. They continue to meet every Thursday at the station, although they know that their love is impossible.

Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter

The film was released amid the social and cultural context of the Second World War when ‘brief encounters’ were thought to be commonplace.

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter

If you have never seen it, I strongly encourage you to buy a copy of the Brief Encounter DVD, brew yourself a pot of tea, and spend a couple of blissful hours watching this beloved English film. It will satisfy every tea-drinking Anglophile film fan.

 

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter

 

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It’s all about me!

My name is Denise and I am the creator and writer of the Tea in England blog. I’ve recently shared with you the story behind this blog and the story behind the blog banner, so today I thought I’d tell you a little bit about myself.

I love England and have been an Anglophile all my life. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I don’t exactly know how that happened, but suspect that Rex Harrison in ‘The Ghost and Mrs. Muir’ had something to do with it.

I love Tea ~ and not just drinking it. I am fascinated with its history, ceremony, and the entire tea experience.

The only way I could eventually get around the whole Anglophile/Tea thing was to marry a tea-drinking Brit and move to England. So I did! Three years ago, after living for six years in the States, we returned to the UK; later this year I will obtain British Citizenship which I am very excited about.

I live and work in a small village not far from London, and have been designated by The Travel Institute as a London Destination Specialist. I can tell you how to get from Twinings on the Strand to the Ritz London in Piccadilly in time for Afternoon Tea, just please don’t ask me whether it’s jam or cream first when the scones arrive – I’ve not even finished my sandwiches yet!

I am also a UK Tea Council Tea Masterclass graduate – which just means that when it comes to tea, I can talk for England. This blog was created to let me do just that.

Thank you for dropping by! But before you go having a good snoop about, what do you say we put the kettle on?

 

 

 

 

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The story behind the Tea in England blog

Gravitea for Two by Duy Huynh

The longer I live in England, and the more I see and do, the more I discover that in one way or another almost everything here has a tea connection. Some are fairly obvious, others are pretty darn obscure – all of them are captivating.

After two years of posting my adventures and these unique finds on my personal Facebook page, I decided that it was time to start sharing it all with you and the rest of the tea-drinking-England-loving world, so I created Tea in England.

But … it’s not all about me. (Well, okay, sometimes it is.) This is a place for you to talk about tea, England and Tea in England, so please join in the conversation by leaving comments and telling me about your favourite Tea in England places and experiences. #sharethetealove

Tea in England

Although my husband – yes! that’s him in the drawing above 🙂 – thinks that I know everything (shhhhh, it’s taken me nine years to get him to this point), the truth is: I don’t. There’s still a lot to learn about tea and about England. I hope you won’t mind my dragging you around with me as I do so. Bring a flask. Extra points for Tunnock’s Tea Cakes.

Speaking of going places, isn’t my blog banner sensational? London illustrator Emma Block has captured perfectly – in her talented, imaginative, charming way – my personal journey of discovery across this Land of Hope and Glory and Tea. Emma likes charity shops, tea, and very sharp pencils. Her latest book is called Tea & Cake. Oh yes, our kind of girl.

 

Tea & Cake by Emma Block

 

So there you have it ~ the Tea in England blog. I’m so glad you’re here! Now then, one lump or two?

 

 

 

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