Monday, 28 January 2013

Cupcakes!

As you may have seen in a previous post, we'd gone on a trip to New York last summer and enjoyed a cupcake at the lovely Magnolia Bakery!  So this Christmas just gone, we got the Magnolia Bakery recipe book as a memento and i couldn't wait to bring some ideas back to Tea Street! 


Cupcakes are the perfect fashion accessory to compliment your cup of tea; just the right size for your plate and decorated in your own individual style. We decided to try the Vanilla cupcakes with the butter icing, a nice simple start but leaving the more colourful choices to the decorating!

It may have been a bit early to experiment but i stay on a largely gluten-free diet and therefore decided to add gluten-free flour/self-raising flour to the ingredients.  There may be a slight difference in the taste of gluten-free cakes but these were delicious!


We used plain cupcake cases with pink butter icing and then decorated the top with hundred and thousands (as inspired by the recipe book cover), edible glitter and dolly mixture - definitely one for the girls!  For the other, we used Squires Kitchen Shop's hot pink baroque cupcake cases with a white butter icing and chocolate sprinkles.


We took some to a birthday celebration and people were quick to dive in and complement the taste!  The pink icing ones were the most popular but the chocolate sprinkle ones were more to my style and therefore my favourite.

I really enjoyed making these and love turning my kitchen into a temporary bakery - there's something so homely about it!  I'd love to see what you're all making so feel free to post to Tea Street's facebook page!  To see the Magnolia Bakery recipe book in kindle format Click on the link below or go to my recommended items to the right.  If you'd like the paperback version, i found ours at Sainsbury's.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Ferguson's Ceylon Black Tea

Having already enjoyed Chateau Rouge’s Rooibos teas, I just had to try their Ferguson’s Ceylon black tea when I heard it received the ‘Great Taste’ Gold Award 2012! So on went my explorer’s hat and off I went to find out where on earth Ceylon was and what I thought of this award winning tea… 

So first off was an imaginary trip to the Indian Ocean (don’t mind if I do!) to the British Colony of Ceylon, which we all now know as the beautiful Sri Lanka! You may notice this tea is called ‘Ferguson’s Ceylon’ which is inspired by ‘Ferguson’s Ceylon Directory’, a documented history of the country originally published in 1859. 


By combining the rich history described in this directory, with Sri Lanka’s stunning scenery, you can see why so many people are exploring these lands for luxury holidays. Most people are drawn to the golden sand beaches, timeless ruins and impressive wildlife but us tea types would probably make a beeline for their tea estates given half the chance! Or taking it further, you can even stay in a colonial tea planter's bungalow!

Ceylon Tea can be found on a variety of Sri Lanka’s tea estates and it’s therefore thought of as one of their specialities. You may therefore be forgiven for thinking you’ve tried Ceylon before - but not so fast because Ceylon tea actually varies in taste between estates! As with all tea-growing areas, this is down to the geography of the estates and the altitude in particular. 

I’ve got to say, the altitude from the Low lying Ratnapura District has definitely affected the taste of Chateau Rouge’s loose leaf Ceylon tea - but in a totally brilliant way of course! So good in fact, that they haven’t confused the delicate flavour with another by mixing it into a tea blend by the time it reaches us! 

I personally like the richness of a black tea in these colder months (not tropical here, is it darlings!) and find that loose leaf tea is the best way of infusing a balanced brew. Ferguson’s Ceylon can be brewed to taste and I preferred a delicate lighter infusion with a warm copper appearance, although a longer brew will become delightfully dark and tangy.

Either way, this has a medium body just perfect for me as I’m always on the lookout for black teas that taste good without milk. Some of us are yet to be convinced that tea without milk isn’t a horribly bitter experience (you know who you are!) but Ferguson’s Ceylon is smooth and soothing and I dare you to try it straight up with a twist, in the form of a pretty French pastry during your Chateau Rouge Afternoon tea! 

Luxury tea, it’s worth noting, can be an ethical tea for everyone and I was pleased to see the Fair-trade, Rainforest Alliance and ethical tea partnership stamps of approval. 

Does all of this sound tempting? Well, Chateau Rouge is offering 20% off of your orders of Ferguson's Ceylon this January in celebration of their new shiny Gold award! Just enter TASTEGOLD at their checkout!




Monday, 21 January 2013

The Ritz Hotel Afternoon Tea

As i mentioned on twitter and facebook recently, my Mum and sister went to the legendary Ritz Hotel for a special Afternoon Tea  - and they've passed on some photos to Tea Street blog to share with you!  

My sister had surprised my Mum with one of the The Ritz's gift vouchers for a special birthday and they were both so excited as Afternoon Tea at this glitzy London Hotel is famous worldwide and a British institution!

When they arrived the doorman was quick to open their London taxi door for them and was even happy to have his picture taken with them!

Inside, the luxurious interior looks like what you'd expect at The Ritz...  They even told me the Ladies bathroom was nice, with a sofa and painted walls!


Afternoon Tea in the spectacular Palm Court.  I can see why they have The UK Tea Council's Tea Guild Award of Excellence 2012!


Gorgeous tea service, there were finger sandwiches brought out, scones and cakes as well as the tea which they chose themselves.  My sister is vegetarian and she tells me the waiter was more than happy to ensure her sandwich fillings were suitable.  The scones came out after this picture as apparently they bring them out a little later so they're fresh and warm, yum!


My Mum chose The Ritz Traditional English Tea, a rich malty taste of Assam blended with the fine flavour of Ceylon giving it a delicious well-rounded taste.  My sister tried the Lapsang Souchong Imperial tea, a China large leaf tea from the Fujian region.  It's a smokey tea and not quite to my sister's personal taste, so the waiter was more than happy to change her pot for the Ritz Traditional English - obviously a winner!




There was a harp player playing music during the Afternoon Tea, but who expects anything less from The Ritz?  


Once they pulled themselves away, they took this lovely picture from outside in the Hotel's Piccadilly location...


Some lovely looking cakes over the road although they told me they were very full hehe!



They both told me they had a wonderful time and recommended The Ritz to me as an experience definitely worth trying!  It was all that they expected from somewhere as well-known as this and it's lovely to hear when a place lives up to the name.  It sounded like a great idea for a gift as it's the sort of thing you'd do as a special occasion rather than every saturday! 




Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Just wanted to say Happy New Year to you all and share a few food gifts we made as presents this Christmas!  I know it's not technically tea - but one has to put something on the saucer! 

First up, the Gingerbread houses.  These were as tricky as expected but were still standing!



Fudge, rum and raisin...


The fudge recipe was from the Ideal Homes Christmas magazine.  Gave their truffles recipe a go too!



For some savoury, Tangy Caramelised Onion Relish also from the Ideal Homes recipe...  These wines in the background were home-made from our garden apples too!


It was the first time we thought we'd try giving hampers of foods for people and think it went pretty well for a first attempt!

I got some lovely tea gifts as well so i'll post some pictures soon!  All the best for 2013!