The Great British Brew


Here in Britain we love a good cup of tea…but just how much do you really know about the humble brew? As a part of a campaign to explore the nation’s love affair with the cuppa, our tea drinking friends at Sykes Cottages created the most adorable tea themed infographic, illustrating our favourite ways to drink it, to what we call it and its role in our culture. So if you’re a fan of the great British brew, then keep reading to find out more about our favourite beverage and give yourself something to ponder over the next time you boil the kettle!

Infographic British Brew

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Time for Tea – An Infographic from Emma Bridgewater


Emma Bridgewater began making her unique pottery in 1985, and today runs the highly successful and much-loved company with her husband Matthew Rice.


Emma Bridgewater pottery

Emma Bridgewater pottery

Quintessentially British, their cosy, charming pottery is made in Stoke-on-Trent, the traditional home of British pottery. (The little blue & white teacup on the Tea in England banner represents the pottery-making heritage in Stoke.)

Recently, Emma and Co. sent me this Tea Infographic to share with you.  I must admit, I am a fan of infographics. I love bite-sized chunks of interesting facts and figures, and their Tea Infographic is full of them.

I especially like the ‘What kind of tea drinker are you?’ section. I am ‘The Escapist’. Which one are you?





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Top 3 Posts on Tea in England in 2013

2013 Tea in England Year in Review

I wish to thank all of my readers for their support, comments and friendly emails in 2013. Your enthusiasm is contagious and I appreciate your many kindnesses.

If you haven’t already, please do pop over to our Twitter and Facebook pages and join in with other Tea in England fans for a cuppa and a chin-wag.

In the meantime, here’s a round-up of the Top 3 Posts on Tea in England in 2013:


#3: Wartime Tea Making Tips, c.1941

Drinking a cup of tea in London during the Blitz




#2: A Potted History of the Brown Betty Teapot

Denise's Brown Betty Teapots





#1: London’s Cabbie Tea Huts

 Russell Square Cabbie Tea Hut




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The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental London Park Lane

Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.Musical note On the first day of Christmas Musical notemy true love gave to me Musical note a partridge in a pear tree ~ in the form of a partridge pie, washed down with a whiskey/pear/Champagne cocktail. Intrigued? I hope so, because I am about to tell you about a most fantastic Christmas Afternoon Tea in London.

In the past week alone, both Mr. Tea and I have been approached by people seeking a recommendation for Afternoon Tea in London. Without hesitation, we suggested (as we always do) the InterContinental London Park Lane. No surprise there, for readers of this blog already know how impressed I am with the service and tea food at the InterContinental, and I was very excited recently to be invited in to try their Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. And, once again, the experience was flawless.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea

The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental London Park Lane is the perfect holiday indulgence. The only non-indulgent thing about it is the price.

Executive Chef Paul Bates is a master at creating and crafting a sophisticated themed Afternoon Tea (check out the Wellington Afternoon Tea) and his Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea, based on the English Christmas carol, is an absolute delight!

Eleven Pipers Piping
It is, after all, the season to be merry, so what better way to start a Christmas Afternoon Tea in London than with a tall, elegant flute filled with good cheer and topped with a sprig of decorative winter holly.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea begins with a festive cocktail of Champagne very subtly flavoured with Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey and Xanta Pear Liqueur (a nod to the pear tree where that partridge is hiding).

You may be asking yourself, as Mr. Tea and I did, “Whiskey and Champagne?” Trust me, it works and it works fabulously well. Splendid!

P.S. I like to think of the effervescent Champers bubbles as Nine Ladies Dancing:

Festive Champagne Cocktail. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane Wellington Lounge.

Partridge in a Pear Tree
Once all those pipers and dancing ladies have left the tea table, it is time for some of the rest of the pressies from your true love, and they arrive on a 3-tier server. The gift giving begins with a Mountbatten Estate partridge and morel mushroom pie. The melt-in-your mouth pastry was flaky and buttery, and the warm filling was rich and savory. A starter like this is perfect for a winter’s day Afternoon Tea:

Mountbatten Estate partridge and morel mushroom pie.The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.

Tea Sandwiches

The tea sandwiches in The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea have been cleverly devised.  To make the most of all those lovely flavours found in tea sandwiches, it is best to eat them in order from mildest to strongest, and it did not escape me that the tea sandwiches here were plated in just that order. It is precisely little things like this that set Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental London Park Lane apart:

Tea Sandwiches. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.
Three French Hens
The sandwich course begins with a French hens egg mayonnaise and cucumber in wholemeal bread sandwich. The light, delicate egg mayonnaise was a nice contrast to the crunch of the thinly sliced (but not too thin) cucumber.
Two Turtle Doves
A squab and wood pigeon white bread sandwich is next. I had never eaten squab or wood pigeon before, and found it reminiscent of chicken – but with much more complexity and flavour. It was really, really good and now I wish I had ordered seconds! (Seconds are encouraged by the Intercontinental at teatime.)
Ten Lords a-Leaping
No Afternoon Tea is complete without a salmon sandwich, and The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea version is a Speyside Scottish salmon with ‘Lord of the Hundreds’ cheese in granary bread sandwich. The combination is lovely, the salmon being nicely lifted by the strong, almost Parmesan-tasting cheese. (The unusual name of this cheese, which is made in a village dairy in Sussex, refers to tax collectors who worked on behalf of the local Lords who, during Saxon times, would oversee a region consisting of 100 Shires.)



Your true love has definitely saved the best gifts for last:

Desserts. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.Twelve Drummers Drumming
Dark chocolate torte drum, rolled in crushed walnuts and complete with mini drumsticks:
Dark Chocolate Torte Drum. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.Eight Maids a-Milking
A three-milk flan, cranberry and mandarin compote:
Three-Milk Cranberry and Mandarin Flan. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.Seven Swans a-Swimming
Swan shaped choux bun filled with Strawberry Chantilly and sprinkled with air dried raspberry:
Strawberry-filled Swan-shaped Choux Buns with air-dried Raspberry. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge
Five Golden Rings
Treacle tart decorated with gold leaf and topped with a sugar-spun spiral of five rings:

Treacle Tart with Gold Leaf and Five Gold Rings.The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.

Tea and Scones

We did of course also have [numerous!] pots of tea, and scones.

The tea menu at InterContinental London Park Lane is extensive, but we opted for their Wellington Blend tea because we fell in love with it during our last visit and, well, there was just no question about not having it again. It’s a delicious blend of Assam, China Black, and Earl Grey tea, softened by English cornflowers and mallow blossoms.

The scones, warm and homemade, are served with Devonshire clotted cream and Chef Bates’ renowned Kentish strawberry jam. I am so glad that they continue to use this particular scone recipe. These scones are flawless, the best I have ever had. Anywhere. You can read why I think these are the best scones in London.


Service with a smile

As with the last time we visited, the service we received throughout the tea was impeccable. This time, it was the lovely Indre taking care of us. She was warm, friendly and super-efficient and not only explained the nuances of the food to us, but also kept us updated on what was coming up next. She kept us happy with fresh pots of tea, and provided clean plates between some of the courses. She knew the details of everything, from beverage to the food, and although she had other patrons to look after, managed to make us feel as if we were the only ones in the room. Thank you, Indre – it was lovely meeting and speaking with you!

Team leader Linesh also stopped by our table to say hello and check on us. He, too, was so nice and took time out to explain the creative process behind the crafting of this themed tea. It was very interesting. Pleasure to meet you, Linesh.



The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea at InterContinental London Park Lane is an exceptionally superior Christmas Afternoon Tea. Food presentation, taste and quality; service; value for money; atmosphere – it simply cannot be beat.

I highly recommend this tea during the holiday season, and urge you to make a reservation as soon as you can. (You could even make it an extra special holiday afternoon by walking over to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park after you finish with tea, which is what we did.)


Booking details

The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea InterContinental London Park Lane is available 1pm to 5pm, seven days a week between 29th November 2013 to 6th January 2014. The price is £38 per person. It could be the best £38 you will spend this Christmas.

Denise LeCroy. The Tea in England blog. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge

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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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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:



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



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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The story behind the Tea in England banner

I Love My Blog

One of the things I especially love about my blog is my banner. I’m not really sure how many people click on that little ‘About’ tab at the top of the page and take the time to read the About Me, About This Blog, and About My Banner pages, so I thought I’d be a bit cheeky and splash them out to you over the next few days.

The Tea in England banner was a collaborative effort between myself and London illustrator Emma Block. (Okay, okay, yes, she did the hard part.) I knew what I wanted in the banner, and the very talented Emma made it happen.

Dotted across the illustrated landscape of the Tea in England banner are representations of what I believe to be the more important contributions to England’s tea history:



The Tea in England Blog Banner

Tregothnan, Cornwall – Tea Plant · Home to the first tea grown in England.

Devon Tearoom  · See that cute little sign in the window? There’s nothing like a Cream Tea in Devon, birthplace of the Cream Tea.

Stoke-on-Trent – Teacup · Teacups, teapots, teawares – and more. England’s ceramics industry base for over 300 years.

Woburn Abbey · Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, lived here and in 1840 she ‘invented’ the ritual of Afternoon Tea.

Village Féte · I love fete’s, fairs, and county shows. Look for me in the tea tent.

Big Ben · Represents London, a city I love and one with a rich tea history. Appropriately, it’s three o’clock – teatime!

Locket engraved with Rex CII & Regina C · In 1662, Charles II’s new bride arrived in Portsmouth from Portugal. Her name was Catherine of Braganza and she brought with her an impressive dowry: money (lots of it); a city (little place called Bombay); and tea. Catherine had tea trending in England long before the Twitter hash tag.

Teapot Balloon · In the 17th and 18th centuries, hot air balloon rides were given at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, London’s famous tea gardens. So that’s me up there, teacup in hand, travelling across England visiting fantastic places and tea-centred spaces.

Cutty Sark · The great tea clipper. Newly refurbished and now a living history museum in Greenwich, just east of London. If tea clippers could talk . . . . .

I hope this post has been an enjoyable insight into the people, places, and things that I consider to be important factors in the story and history of Tea in England.


The Tea in England blog button

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Steamy Valentine Greetings from Tea in England




Vintage Tea Valentine


 Happy Valentine’s Day from Tea in England