Tag Archives: afternoon tea

National Afternoon Tea Week


Tiered Server for Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea Table

As I write this post on August 7, 2022, the forthcoming week of August 8-14th marks National Afternoon Tea Week in the UK. This is a week set aside to celebrate the wonderful leisurely genteel activity of afternoon tea. As those of you who are regular followers of my food blog know, afternoon tea is a passion of mine and I never pass up an opportunity to indulge in the menu of savory bites, toothsome scones with jam and clotted or English double cream, and an array of tantalizing desserts. Continue reading National Afternoon Tea Week

Celebratory Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea

Table with 3-tier server set for teatime
Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea

Today, we enjoyed a Celebratory Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea.  It’s not many people who can say they worked in the same job for 70 years and probably even fewer can boast of still being on the job every day with plans to continue! As I write this post, it is June 2, 2022, the actual 70th anniversary of the formal coronation of  Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (now aged 96) which took place on June 2, 1953. Continue reading Celebratory Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea

St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea Fare
Three-tier Server Brimming with Afternoon Tea Fare

I love an elegant afternoon tea on any given day of the year but there are certain holidays and special days that really open up many options for creative and inspiring tea events. For me, St. Patrick’s Day is one of them as the colors of the Ireland flag are great inspiration for the color theme of the tea table as well as for the food itself. What follows is my Irish-themed St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea. Continue reading St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea

St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea for One

Tea Table

It’s no secret that I love anything to do with afternoon tea. Living where I do, here in PEI, we do not have places that offer afternoon tea year-round but that really does not make a huge difference to me as I like to prepare and enjoy afternoon tea at home, whether that’s for one or more people.

Today, it’s a prelude to St. Patrick’s Day afternoon tea for one and the color theme is distinctly green with a hint of orange as, at the time of writing, we are mere days away from St. Patrick’s Day. Continue reading St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea for One

Holly and Roses Holiday Afternoon Tea

Christmas Afternoon Tea
Holly and Roses Holiday Afternoon Tea

Welcome to my Holly and Roses Holiday Afternoon Tea! If you are a regular follower of my food blog, you know I adore afternoon tea events. The Christmas season provides an excellent opportunity for a special holiday afternoon tea complete with seasonal china pieces and, naturally, all kinds of Christmas goodies.

This afternoon tea was inspired by my Royal Albert “December” teacups in the “Christmas Rose” pattern. These cups are from Royal Albert’s “Flower of the Month” series and the December pattern is aptly named “Christmas Rose”. Because the cups feature roses and holly, I have named this afternoon tea the Holly and Roses Holiday Afternoon Tea. Continue reading Holly and Roses Holiday Afternoon Tea

Lady’s Slipper Themed Afternoon Tea

As regular followers of my food blog will know, I love china teacups and teapots! I use them regularly and, in fact, enjoy my daily afternoon tea break with tea in one of the teacups from my collection. Today, my afternoon tea is a little bit more formal than usual and it is centered around PEI’s official floral emblem – the Lady’s Slipper which blooms in June.

Pink Lady's Slipper
Lady’s Slipper – The Provincial Flower of Prince Edward Island

The Lady’s Slipper is not an altogether commonly found flower in PEI though it does indeed exist in both pink and white. I have long adored these beautiful orchids and have amassed a collection of Lady’s Slipper themed dishes and china so, today, I have selected a couple of my Lady’s Slipper teacups, cake plate, teapot, and creamer for teatime.

My latest (at time of writing) Lady’s Slipper teacup acquisition is the lovely Lady’s Slipper pattern from Elizabethan’s Canadian Provincial Flowers series.

Floral Teacup
Elizabethan Fine Bone China Lady’s Slipper Cup and Saucer

The cup has a potbellied shape and sits upon a stylish little scalloped pedestal base. The cup features heavy embossing as well as gold trim on the rim, handle, and just above the pedestal base.  The handle is a classic loop broken style.

A large pink and white Lady’s Slipper set amidst green leaves adorns the front of the cup. A tiny Lady’s Slipper appears on the inside rear of the cup and a slightly larger on the reverse exterior, both mirroring the large floral display on the front exterior of the cup.

The companion cup and saucer I have chosen for my tea table is also from Elizabethan Fine Bone China but is in a different shape with straighter sides. The floral motif on this cup is the same as the potbellied cup above.

Teacup featuring Lady's Slipper
Elizabethan Fine Bone China Cup and Saucer Featuring Lady’s Slipper pattern

So, it’s obvious that pink is going to factor significantly into my color scheme for today’s teatime. I have selected tea-sized napkins with a pink background and, not surprising, a teacup pattern! A basic flat fold is simplistic, especially on a small tea table.

Teacup Napkins
Simple Flat Napkin Fold

As it is frowned upon to pick Lady’s Slippers because the orchids tend not to rejuvenate themselves if plucked from their natural habitat, I obviously do not have any of the lovely orchids on my table.  Instead, I went to my backyard flower garden and picked a selection of pretty pink and white tulips.

Tulips in vase on tea table
An Array of Pink Tulips from my Garden

My choice of teapot features, not only the Lady’s Slipper, but an iconic PEI lighthouse and a lobster fishing boat. There is no manufacturer’s mark on the teapot so I have no information on its origins.

Teapot with flowers, lighthouse, and fishing boat
Pottery Teapot Featuring the Lady’s Slipper, a Lighthouse, and Fishing Boat

I came across a small creamer that has a matching pattern to that of the teapot. The creamer was manufactured by Jubilee Fine Bone China (England).

Creamer with flowers, lighthouse, and fishing boat
Creamer with PEI Scene

I think the teapot and creamer make a lovely set. Today, for our teatime, the teapot is holding King Cole Orange Pekoe Tea.

Matching Teapot and Creamer with Lady's Slipper Pattern
Matching Teapot and Creamer with Lady’s Slippers, Lighthouse, and Lobster Fishing Boat

Because we are making teatime a little special event today, we are starting off with Grapefruit Mimosas, a lovely cool and refreshing drink.

Mimosa in tall glass
A Tall Glass of Grapefruit Mimosa

So, of course, we are going to begin with the savory course of afternoon tea and then work our way through the scones course, and then finish off with a selection of delectable small desserts. I don’t have recipes published for every food item in this posting but, for those that I do, I will put the hotlinks into the text for easy access.

Two-tiered server filled with scones, sandwiches, and stuffed croissants for teatime
Two-tiered server filled with Scones, Cucumber Sandwiches, and Mini Lobster-stuffed Croissants

Here’s what my tea table looked like with the savory and scones courses. While I will sometimes put all three courses on a three-tier server and serve it all at once to the table, today I opted to use a two-tier server for the first two courses and then cleared the table from courses one and two and brought out the sweets plate separately.

Teatime Table
Lady’s Slipper Themed Teatime Table

Typically, for the savory course, I will provide two to three different items. That, of course, is dependent upon what I am offering and how substantial the offerings are. On today’s tea table, I have two items, the quintessential Cucumber Sandwiches in open-face fashion and the more substantial Mini Lobster Croissants served on a bed of lettuce.

Cucumber Sandwich
Open-faced Cucumber Tea Sandwich

I have used mini croissants and stuffed them with the same filling as I use in my lobster rolls (recipe here). For teatime fare, I prefer to use the smaller canner lobsters as the pieces are much smaller and identifiable when used in smaller sandwiches or croissants. Using the larger market lobster means chopping the meat resulting in the shapes of the claws, etc., often being lost when used to fill small sandwiches. Everything for teatime should be proportionately small sized and dainty. The items are not meant to be full meal-sized portions.

Lobster Croissant
Mini Lobster Croissants Perfectly Sized for Teatime

How scrumptious does this look!

Lobster Croissant
Mini Lobster Croissants and Open-faced Cucumber Sandwiches

I have opted to use plain scones for today’s teatime. The recipe I have used is my Currant and Orange Scones (click here for recipe) but I have left the currants and orange zest out, resulting in melt-in-the-mouth plain scones. Can you see the layers of buttery good flakiness!

Scones on two-tiered server
Homemade Scones

The toppings for today’s scones include the traditional strawberry jam along with rhubarb curd (recipe here) and clotted cream, of course.

Three-tiered mini server filled with scone toppings
Strawberry Jam, Rhubarb Curd, and Clotted Cream for Scones

I added a wee bit of pink gel food coloring to my Rhubarb Curd to achieve this pretty deep pink color. Left to its natural color, the curd is more of an orange shade.

Rhubarb Curd
Pretty Pink Rhubarb Curd for Scones

I am not going to venture to weigh into whether the proper way to apply clotted cream is before or after the jam or curd is applied to the scone. I am going to take the diplomatic approach and say I like it both ways!

Scones with toppings on plate and pretty teapot in background
Scones Course of Afternoon Tea

And, then of course, there is the pièce de résistance – the dessert or sweets course! Again, I typically provide a selection of 2-3 sweet treats for teatime, sometimes (but not always) featuring a signature dessert as I have done today.

Desserts for Teatime
Sweets for Teatime

Miniature Victoria Sponge Cakes filled with strawberry jam and whipped cream and topped with a fresh strawberry are the signature dessert for today’s teatime.

Victoria Sponge Cake filled with Strawberry Jam and Whipped Cream
Miniature Victoria Sponge Cake

Pretty little pink French Macarons are often a teatime offering and they certainly fit into today’s color scheme! Vanilla flavored, the Macarons are filled with buttercream icing.

Pink Macaron
Pretty Pink French Macaron

Melt-in-the-mouth Melting Moments Cookies covered in a delectable pink buttercream frosting are always a teatime favorite. The recipe for my Melting Moments can be found here.

Pretty Pink Cookie for Teatime
Melting Moments Dressed in Pink Buttercream Frosting

As an added treat to the sweet plate, I have included some locally handmade artisan chocolates produced by Jane and Sue Chocolate of Stanley Bridge, PEI. How grandly did the color of these marbleized chocolates fit in with my tea table color scheme! I simply could not resist including them.

Marbleized Chocolates
Pink and Purple Marbleized Chocolates

A sugar high for days!

Cakes, Cookies, and Macarons for Teatime
Plate of Sweet Treats to end off Teatime

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into our afternoon teatime! Have a lovely week, everyone!

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Lady's Slipper Cup and Saucer for an Afternoon Tea

Teatime in the Lupins

Cup of Tea and Cupcakes
Lupin Patterned Cup and Saucer by Windsor Bone China

June is one of my favorite months of the year. Prince Edward Island is so incredibly colorful with verdant green fields and the tilled red soil freshly planted with crops at this time of year. Against this backdrop are the many wildflowers that bloom in June and none are more prolific or more beautiful, in my opinion, than the tall, elegant, colorful lupins. These stunning wildflowers are the inspiration for today’s Teatime in the Lupins.

Lupins alongside one of PEI’s red clay country roads

Lupins grow wild along many country roadsides on the Island and in abundance on my mother’s property which is where we have chosen to enjoy afternoon tea today. Put the kettle on, make yourself a brew, and come along on a recap of our lupin-inspired teatime adventure.

Below is a photo of what the sloping hill beside my Mom’s house looks like in June and this is the background I have selected for our teatime today.

Wild lupins
Lupins on the Hillside

Purple, in its various shades, is the predominant color of lupins in PEI though there are certainly pinks, whites, fuchsia, and variegated shades to be seen.

Pretty purple and pink lupins
Colorful PEI lupins

Other less common colors may include peach and yellow shades but those, most likely, would have been planted from imported seed. Lupins can often be found around patches of wild phlox. Mother Nature’s way of doing her own floral designs!

Colorful lupins
The Shades of Lupins

My Teatime in the Lupins event was, in part, inspired by the lupins and partly by my Windsor Bone China “Lupins” patterned cup and saucer. The cup has embossed panels all around the cup which is trimmed with gold accent on the rim, base of the cup’s pedestal, and on the cup’s handle which is the loop broken style. A smaller floral spray of lupins adorns the back exterior of the cup.

Lupin themed teacup
Lupin Cup and Saucer

The matching saucer also features embossed panels to mirror the cup’s design and the saucer features sprays of lupins matching the cup’s floral motif pattern.

Pretty lupin-themed teacup
Windsor Bone China Lupin-themed Teacup and Saucer

Because I only have the one lupin-themed cup and saucer in my collection, I had to choose another floral teacup to pair with it. My choice for the second teacup is Royal Albert’s cup and matching saucer that features tri-colored violets set amidst green leaves with a blush of pale yellow in the background. This blends in well with my teatime color theme.

Violet Teacup
Royal Albert Tri-colored Violet Teacup

The stylish-shaped cup is narrow at the bottom of the bowl, widening to the top with gently ribbed panels from base to rim. The cup with its broken loop handle style has a scalloped rim with a narrow band of embossing just below the rim level.

Yellow and white teapot featuring larkspur
Royal Denby Teapot with Larkspur Floral Motif

My choice of teapot is Royal Denby’s Larkspur Pattern (no. 301202/reg no. 768985). This summery teapot has pretty rose and blue colored larkspur set against an ivory background trimmed with a yellow band and thick green line accents. I think this vintage teapot pairs well with my lupin cup and saucer since I don’t have one with the lupin motif on it.

Three-tiered server with cupcakes and cookies
Cupcakes, Cookies, and Chocolates for Teatime

Because the predominant color of PEI lupins is purple, I have chosen purple to be my main color theme for the cupcakes.  Melting Moments (my recipe here) decorated in a contrasting turquoise blue frosting are also included on the plate. Nothing says it’s afternoon teatime (well, apart from the teapot and teacups, of course) better than a tiered server.

The three-tiered server I have chosen is from Royal Tudor Ware by Barker Bros (England). The plates feature a purple and brown floral motif with turquoise accents so fit in well with my color scheme. The artisan chocolates on the top tier were handmade by Jane and Sue Chocolate from Stanley Bridge, PEI. This is a new chocolate shop just recently opened at the time of writing so, if you are in the area, be sure to check them out.

Aynsley’s “Garden Gate” pattern tea plates blend in well with the tablesetting.

Pretty floral teaplates
“Garden Gate” tea plates from Aynsley

Those plates need some teatime treats!

Cupcakes, Cookies, and Chocolates for Teatime
Vanilla Cupcakes, Melting Moments, and Artisan Chocolates

Vanilla cupcakes, Melting Moments Cookies, and locally-made artisan chocolates make for a sweet teatime. What’s not to love!

Artisan hand-made chocolates
Artisan Chocolates Handmade by Jane and Sue Chocolate, Stanley Bridge, PEI

A sugar high for hours after today’s teatime!

Pretty cupcakes, cookies and chocolates on tea table
Pretty Cupcakes, Cookies, and Chocolates for Teatime

Do you enjoy teatime outdoors, weather permitting, or do you prefer to take tea indoors, regardless the weather?

Pretty teatable against a backdrop of lupins
Teatime in a Field of Lupins

Some day in our cold Canadian winter, I will look at these photos and try and recall the warm early summer breeze on the June afternoon when we enjoyed tea and sweet treats amongst the pretty lupins!

Tea table in a field of lupins
Table set for Tea amongst the Lupins


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Lupin cup and saucer

Teatime to Celebrate 9th Blogiversary

Table set for afternoon tea for two
Teatime for Two

Today marks nine years since I began My Island Bistro Kitchen food blog. Regular followers of my food blog and social media channels will know of my love for anything and everything to do with afternoon tea! So, it would only seem fitting that my focus for celebrating this milestone would be a celebratory afternoon tea. Of course, in my case, it’s any reason at all to enjoy afternoon tea! Continue reading Teatime to Celebrate 9th Blogiversary

Lily of the Valley Afternoon Tea


Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley

The sweet little Lily of the Valley, with its dainty bell-shaped flowers, has long been a favorite flower of mine. Many, many years ago, a very dear friend of mine had a cottage on the shores of Rosebank (now Stratford), PEI.  Every spring, I’d make the trek to the cottage to pick a couple of bouquets of these fragrant flowers and there would be a posy on the dining room table and another on my desk at work.  I was thrilled when the offer came for me to dig up a clump of the Lily of the Valley roots from the prolific crop by the cottage front step.  I transplanted them at our family home. A cottage and two house builds later and transplants of the lilies have occurred at each property, all derived from the same clump of lilies that came from the Rosebank cottage. When I see the lilies bloom each spring, particularly by the cottage front step, I am reminded of sweet memories of another cottage long ago and its owner who is no longer with us.

The birth flower of May, Lily of the Valley has various meanings and significance. Said to signify traits of humility, trustworthiness, chastity, sweetness, and purity, it is also believed to bring luck in love and mean the return of happiness. This, undoubtedly may be the reason why it is often used in wedding decorations and bridal bouquets. There have been some very famous brides who have incorporated Lily of the Valley into the composition of their bouquets. Kate Middleton, in her 2011 wedding to Prince William, included Lily of the Valley in her bouquet as did her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, when she wed Prince Charles in 1981.

Lily of the Valley Afternoon Tea
Lily of the Valley Afternoon Tea

I often feature different favorite flowers on my tea tables but I have never featured Lily of the Valley, primarily because it is a short season flower and it is always in bloom during a very busy time of the year for me. This, despite the fact that I have cups and saucers and plates that have Lily of the Valley designs.  So, this year, I decided I would make time for an afternoon tea that features Lily of the Valley and my themed cups and saucers.

Valley China Cup and Saucer
Valley China Cup and Saucer

It’s not necessary to have matching cups and saucers on a tea table. In fact, I think it’s much more interesting to have a variety of China cups and saucers.

Adderley (England) Lily of the Valley Cup and Saucer
Adderley (England) Lily of the Valley Cup and Saucer

Not all afternoon teas have to have three distinct courses – scones, sandwiches, and sweets.  Today, my tea table has only two courses – sandwiches and a single dessert.  In keeping with the freshness of early summer on PEI, I have opted to go with open-faced sandwiches, providing three varieties — Island lobster, egg salad, and ham.

There are two different trays of sandwiches on the table – the ones with a white bread base (shown in the photo below) are gluten-free.

Gluten-free Open-faced Tea Sandwiches
Gluten-free Open-faced Tea Sandwiches

And, of course, for tea sandwiches, the crusts must always be removed.

Open-faced Tea Sandwiches
Open-faced Tea Sandwiches

The little purple pansy adds a burst of color to the ham sandwich and dresses it up for the table.

Open-faced Ham Tea Sandwich
Open-faced Ham Tea Sandwich

Lobster is very common on PEI and lends itself well for presentation on an open-faced tea sandwich. Can’t you just taste that succulent lobster!

Open-faced Lobster Tea Sandwich
Open-faced Lobster Tea Sandwich

Egg salad makes a wonderful topping for open-faced tea sandwiches.  A burst of purple color from the pansy and the green alfalfa sprouts make these sandwiches stand out on the tray.  I picked up the fresh alfalfa sprouts at the Summerside Farmer’s Market. They were grown locally in Pleasant Valley at “Our Old Island Market Farm”. I frequent both the Charlottetown and Summerside Farmers Markets and I love to make new discoveries of products being produced by our Island farmers.

Open-faced Egg Salad Tea Sandwich
Open-faced Egg Salad Tea Sandwich

Curious as to what’s in the little white teapots? One of my favorite teas is Assam Banaspaty which I buy at David’s Tea in Charlottetown. That’s the blend in the individual teapots on today’s tea table.

Individual Tea Pots
Individual Tea Pots

Assam Banaspaty is a lovely rich, smooth tea from India. It has some honey notes with malty undertones. It boasts a lovely amber color. I like a spot of milk in my tea and Assam Banaspaty has enough tannins that it can take a splash of milk without the tea’s flavor being smothered. I’d class this as a robust tea yet it is suitable for all courses of an afternoon tea. I am, therefore, serving just one blend of tea at my afternoon tea today.

Assam Banaspaty Tea
Assam Banaspaty Tea

I like tea cups that carry the design to the inside of the cups. It makes them just a bit more interesting.

Assam Banaspaty Tea
Assam Banaspaty Tea

Rhubarb is in season in PEI around the same time as the Lily of the Valley bloom and, of course, one of my all-time favorite desserts is Rhubarb Custard Torte which graces my table for the dessert course today. Sometimes, it is nice to have a variety of dainty tea squares and cookies and, other times, a signature dessert like this torte make a splashy and ever-so-tasty statement.

Rhubarb Custard Torte
Rhubarb Custard Torte

I hope you have enjoyed a little look into the offerings on my tea table today. Can’t you just smell the intoxicating scent of this bouquet of Lily of the Valley!

Lily of the Valley Bouquet
Lily of the Valley Bouquet
Lily of the Valley Themed Afternoon Tea

“Scents of Summer” Afternoon Tea in London

Scent of Summer Afternoon Tea (Photo courtesy of the Intercontental Park Lane Hotel)
Scents of Summer Afternoon Tea (Photo courtesy of the Intercontinental London Park Lane Hotel)

I was recently in London and, of course, a visit to London for me without having afternoon tea would not be complete! On each visit, I aim to have tea at a different venue.

My travels this visit took me to the Intercontinental London Park Lane Hotel which occupies a prominent and historic location near London’s Hyde Park, in the heart of Mayfair. Afternoon tea at the Park Lane is served in the Wellington Lounge which occupies the former site of 145 Piccadilly that was Her Majesty the Queen’s former childhood home. This location remained her home until 1937 when the family moved to Buckingham Palace. The home itself was destroyed during war. Between 1968-1975, the Intercontinental London Park Lane Hotel was constructed on the site.

The Wellington Lounge of the Park Lane, in its taupe and white hues, is elegant and sophisticated, yet casual. Comfy chairs invite a time of leisure lingering over tea. Three menu options are available for afternoon tea: The Market Garden Tea, the Royal Tea, and a seasonal tea which changes regularly throughout the year. We experienced the new “Scents of Summer” Afternoon Tea that boasts a menu inspired by the beauty of British summer time. The menu had only been introduced four days prior to our arrival and will be available throughout the summer season until September 27, 2015.

Scent of Summer Afternoon Tea (Photo Courtesy of Intercontinental Park Lane Hotel)
Scents of Summer Afternoon Tea (Photo Courtesy of Intercontinental London Park Lane Hotel)

Our afternoon tea was as much a treat for all the senses as it was for the palette. Unhurried, my Mom and I spent a most enjoyable three hours savoring the creativity of Executive Chef Ashley Wells and Edward Bodenham of British Family Perfumers, Floris London. We found the servers to be knowledgeable, attentive, and accommodating without being intrusive. Rather than simply delivering the customary three-tier server with all the food on it at once, the Scents of Summer was served in individual courses. For each course, Luigi, Senior Associate, Tea and Coffee Expert, explained the food, the best order in which to consume items, and suggested appropriate tea pairings to complement the food.

We first began with a palette cleanser of rose pearl wheatgrass, bushe berries, gooseberry, and citrus mist.  This grass-based starter, served on a small tuft of grass, was a tribute to the earth.

Palette Cleaser: Rose pearl wheatgrass, bushe berries, gooseberry, and citrus mist
Palette Cleanser: Rose pearl wheatgrass, bushe berries, gooseberry, and citrus mist

This was followed by a selection of four different, colourful, and tasty pinwheel/scroll sandwiches presented on the plate in a design that resembled the shape of a butterfly.

Pinwheel/Scroll Sandwiches
Pinwheel/Scroll Sandwiches

Luigi recommended the order in which to most effectively consume the pinwheels starting with a light rose-pickled cucumber and Mascarpone on Peruvian bread followed by the more hearty salmon and Bergamot served on lemon bread.

We then progressed on to a slightly spicy pink peppercorn and thyme chicken pinwheel on tomato bread and, finally, the honey roast pumpkin with crumbled feta on spinach bread.

The tea we enjoyed with this course was Second Flush Darjeeling which some claim to be the ‘champagne of tea’.

Second Flush Darjeeling Tea to Accompany Sandwich Course
Second Flush Darjeeling Tea to Accompany Sandwich Course

The server plates were deftly removed and were replaced with the elements of the course that featured scones. Dainty buttermilk scones, fresh and still warm from the oven, were brought to the table and placed on the server along with small dishes of Devon clotted cream, wild strawberry jam, lemon curd with pink peppercorn, and Bergamot-infused Earl Grey butter.


Scones Course
Scones Course

This was accompanied by a spritz of a citrus-based spray as a “sensory” introduction to the scones course.

The scones – two plain and two sultana — were the most tender scones I have ever tasted!

Luigi recommended to first spread the jam on the scone half, then top it with the clotted cream. Literally, these scones melted in the mouth!

The recommendation of tea to pair with the scones was a full body Earl Grey Assam Tea. I must admit I have never been an Earl Grey tea fan and I usually put milk in my tea. However, Luigi recommended no milk and I found this tea was indeed a fine complement to the scones course.

Then came the pièce de résistance – the selection of sweet indulgences. Truly, these were nothing short of a work of art in the presentation that was only surpassed by the sublime melange of flavors, scents, and tastes.

Again, Luigi expertly explained each item on the tray, offering suggestions for the order in which to partake. He also recommended that the palette be cleansed and refreshed via the fresh summer berries or chocolate “pebbles” in between consuming each sweet so that the true flavors of each could be fully appreciated.

Everything you see on the tray in the photo above was edible, including the very realistic looking pebbles and the fresh pansies. A quick spritz of a floral spray with top notes leaning into Jasmine scents set the stage reminiscent of an English country garden in summer.

We first sampled the petite Jasmine Tea Cake which was delicately flavored and ever-so-tasty.

Jasmine Tea Cake
Jasmine Tea Cake

We next savoured the luscious Violet Cream and Grapefruit Tart.

Violet Cream and Grapefruit Tart
Violet Cream and Grapefruit Tart

Then, we moved on to the Bergamot and blackcurrant flower macarons which were ever so light, delicately chewy, and yet airy. For those who are connoisseurs of French macarons, they know that it is a skill to achieve the perfect macaron and these certainly fell within that category.

This was followed by the Peach Melba mousse encased in chocolate to create a realistic looking peach that could have just been picked from a tree.

The grand finale, the “Flower Pot”, was designed to be shared between two people. This consisted of rose water and pink peppercorn jelly with wild strawberry mousse served in a chocolate Terracotta pot and decorated with chocolate roses.

The tea recommended for this course was the #1 Park Lane Signature Tea which proved itself a wonderful accompaniment to the desserts.

A glass of Moët & Chandon berry floral Rosé was served with the dessert course.

Overall, I was highly impressed with the calibre of food and level of service and hospitality at the Intercontinental London Park Lane’s Wellington Lounge. I found the Scents of Summer Afternoon Tea included traditional tea items like the scones but also stepped it up a notch with the creativity of the choice of bread, and ingredients in, the sandwich pinwheels/scrolls and the selection of sweets that comprised the dessert course. We quite enjoyed having the food served in courses as opposed to simply having a standard three-tier server delivered to the table with sandwiches, scones, and sweets all on it. It lent an element of surprise and anticipation to the experience which was relaxing and unhurried. I was also impressed with the expert advice on tea pairing with each course which I felt added to the quality experience.

If you are in London this summer and go to only one afternoon tea, I recommend the Scents of Summer at the Intercontinental London Park Lane Hotel.

If you are in London this summer and go to only one afternoon tea, I recommend the Scents of Summer at the Intercontinental London Park Lane Hotel. Great thought and care has been taken with the creation of this afternoon tea menu. We spent a most relaxing and enjoyable afternoon over tea at the Park Lane and it was one of the highlights of our 2015 visit to London. Now, if I could just justify another trip to London, I would go in December to experience their holiday tea which Chef Wells is already designing. Based on his Scents of Summer creation, I can only imagine how extraordinary the Christmas afternoon tea will be.

The Scents of Summer afternoon tea experience costs ₤45 + gratuity (generally about 15%) which, at the time of writing totals approximately $100. (CDN) per person.

The Intercontinental London Park Lane Hotel is located at One Hamilton Place, Park Lane, London, England, W1J 7QY (Tel: +44(0)20 7409 3131. Reservations are required for afternoon tea which is served from 1:00pm – 5:00pm daily. For more information, visit the hotel’s website.

My thanks to the Park Lane for the opportunity to experience their Scents of Summer Afternoon Tea and for the fine hospitality. My afternoon tea at the Intercontinental London Park Lane Hotel was complimentary for the purpose of conducting a review of the new Scents of Summer offering. However, this in no way influenced my opinions of the afternoon tea experience.  All opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

To read my reviews of afternoon tea at the Georgian Room at Harrods and at The Orangery at Kensington Palace, click here.



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Tea for One

Sometimes, amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s nice to simply curl up by the fire with a good book and a fine cup of tea.  But why stop at a cup of tea when you can while away the afternoon with tasty fare served up in style.  So, when you have no one else to please but yourself, you can still pamper yourself and enjoy a fine afternoon tea.

Curious about what’s on the tea table today?  Let’s have a look-see what’s on the two-tier server.  Anyone who knows me really well knows I love my tiered servers!

Let’s start with the sandwiches.  Today’s offering is a simple egg salad sandwich, nice and easy to prepare, but ever so tasty!

Today I am serving a traditional scone with clotted cream, blackcurrant and blueberry jam, and my own lemon curd.

On the sweet plate, a selection of treats that include a macaron, melting moment cookie, Hello Dolly square, fruitcake, and some fresh raspberries.  Are you drooling yet?

The macaron is filled with just a wee bit of buttercream icing.

This personal-sized teapot was a thrift shop find several years ago. It holds just two cups of tea, perfect for one person.

Today’s tea is Stash’s Decaf English Breakfast, one of my all-time favorites.

While they are not a matched set, these tea plates work with the cup and saucer. Sometimes, mismatched china actually adds charm and character to a tea setting.

I love the blending of the pink shades!  It’s very girly!


Thanks for dropping in for a spot of tea.  Enjoy your week!


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A Savory Afternoon Tea by the Fireside

Brrrrr, it’s been a cold day on Prince Edward Island.  Our first cold snap of the season.  Temperatures were around -13C but, with the wind chill, it certainly felt a lot colder than that.  A good day to curl up by the fireside with some tasty food and a good cup of tea.

Was overseas to New Brunswick yesterday and, of course, that meant a stop at Tony’s Bistro and Pâtisserie in Moncton.  I introduced you to this great French Pâtisserie back in November (click here for the link to the story).

We had lunch at Tony’s yesterday and, naturally, I had to bring home some goodies that we could have for afternoon tea today.  Ready to have a peek?

Let’s start with these tasty little quiches.  Nice flaky pastry, these were delicious!

Then, there was the White Chocolate Rocher cake. This was seriously rich and decadent!  Layers of decadence!

Did you check out the little white meringue trees?  Light as air.

My choice of tea today was the Lady Slipper Blend from Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley.  You can read the story I previously published on this tea company by clicking here.

The China cups and saucers are Royal Vale but I could find no pattern name on them.

This will be my last afternoon tea of 2014 so thank you to those who have visited my tea table over the past year. I will also be joining Sandi’s last Tea Time party of the year over at Rose Chintz Cottage.

And, if you find yourself in Moncton, New Brunswick, I recommend a visit to Tony’s Bistro and Pâtisserie at 137 McLaughlin Drive.

Happy New Year, everyone!


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The Christmas Poinsettia Afternoon Tea

One of my absolute favorite ways to celebrate the holidays is with a festive afternoon tea.  It’s a relaxed way to entertain whether it’s one guest or several.  The best part of entertaining with afternoon tea is that much of the preparation can be done in advance before guests arrive.

Today, my afternoon tea setting is for two in front of the warm and cozy fireplace and beside the Christmas tree.  It’s a reason to stop, pause, and relax during the busy Christmas preparations.

I have been fortunate in finding some pieces of Christmas China over the years that just beg for an afternoon tea experience. The teapot and teacups are made by Sadler.

The tea is being served on a tea trolley.  I like the versatility of trolleys as they can be used solely as a serving unit beside a larger table or even, depending on their size, as a miniature self-serve buffet.  Or, either one or both of the trolley extensions can be lifted, turning the unit into a tea table as I have done today.  This tea trolley is the larger of the two I own.

A few years ago, I found the delightful Christmas table square in the photo above. With its poinsettias and candles, it became the canvas and theme for today’s tea.

I like the miniature poinsettias like the one in the photo above.  I use them on tea tables, in placesettings, and on bed trays because they are just the perfect size and add a touch of Christmas wherever they are used.

I have been searching for some time now for a small set of sugar tongs.  I found the antique tongs in a local second-hand shop recently. The  tea plates in the photo below are Royal Adderly “Poinsettia” pattern.

I love tiered servers and, while there are many pretty floral ones available, my preference is for the plain white because the food really stands out against the white background.  I can mix and match my teapots and cups and saucers much easier with a white server than with a floral.

I have followed the traditional order of placement on a three-tier server:  sandwiches on the bottom plate, scones on the middle, and sweets on the top tier.

The green spinach tortillas with the dots of dried cranberries add color to the sandwich plate and the fresh raspberries add a splash of red against the white bread.

Toothsome cranberry scones in the photo above were enjoyed for the scones course.

An easy way to get a taste of cherry cheesecake when you only want a couple of servings is to make them individually in tiny glasses.

Of course, a traditional tea tray would include fruitcake.  This is my own recipe which I developed and shared earlier and you can find it by clicking here.

Here is the menu for the tea.

~ Eggnog with a sprinkle of Nutmeg ~

~ Selection of Tea Sandwiches ~

Egg Salad

Sliced Turkey with Cranberry Mayonnaise

Cucumber with Herbed Cream Cheese

Pinwheel Spinach Wraps with Cream Cheese, Fig Goat Cheese, Sliced Turkey, Green Onions and Dried Cranberries

~ Scones ~

– Cranberry Scones served with Butter and Homemade Strawberry Jam ~

~ Sweets ~

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Dark Fruitcake

Melting Moments

Miniature Cherry Cheesecake

Brown Sugar Fudge

~ Tea Selection ~

Kenyan Tinderet (David’s Tea)

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my Christmas afternoon tea.

My best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful Christmas season.


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Christmas Afternoon Tea
Christmas Poincettia Afternoon Tea

Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley

If you are a regular patron of the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market and happen to be a tea drinker, chances are you are familiar with Katherine Burnett and the Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley brand of teas and tea bar at the market.

Lady Baker's Tea Trolley Tea Bar at the Charlottetown Farmers Market
Katherine Burnett, owner of Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley Tea Bar at the Charlottetown Farmers Market

I recently sat down with Katherine for brunch at the farmers’market to learn more about her tea business.

Katherine Burnett, Owner, Lady Baker's Tea Trolley
Katherine Burnett, Owner, Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley

Katherine grew up on PEI but lived off Island for many years before returning in 2006. In 2001, while living in Charlotte, NC, Katherine began hosting tea parties as a ministry for the elderly. She named her afternoon tea party business “Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley” as a tribute to the memory of a friend, Irene Baker, who enjoyed the finer things in life, like afternoon tea. Interest in the tea parties grew to the point where Katherine was soon hosting afternoon teas for corporations, churches, and even the opera.

As her tea party business grew so, too, did her interest and knowledge in all things tea-related. She pursued online courses in tea blending and attended specialty tea conferences and is now at level 3 (of 4) of the process to be designated a tea sommelier. Katherine is also a member of the Tea Association of Canada.

In the fall of 2007, with just 16 varieties of tea and 2 tea-making machines, Katherine set up a tea bar at the popular Charlottetown Farmers’ Market. The teas come from the major tea-producing countries of India, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Taiwan. The imported teas follow strict guidelines, are low in pesticides, and most come from members of the Ethical Tea Partnerships.

Katherine blends some of the teas herself and now sells some 60 varieties of loose tea.

She tells me her most popular blend, which incidentally is her personal favourite, is a black tea she calls the Lady’s Slipper Blend, aptly named after PEI’s official provincial flower. Her pumpkin spice blend enjoys popularity as well with her patrons who favour it for lattes. At the Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley bar at the market, look for specialty tea blends like Abegweit Lullaby to aid sleep and Pink Lady Grey which is an eye-appealing blend featuring Earl Grey tea and pink rose petals. Who knew where a small, modest personal collection of 13 china cups and saucers would lead Katherine!

Since there are several options to brewing tea (e.g., tea bags, loose leaf with infuser or loose tea directly in the tea pot), I asked Katherine for her preference. She says she prefers to brew loose leaf tea in an infuser in the tea pot. Katherine also recommends that the water for the tea first be filtered and then brought to a boil. If brewing green tea, let the water sit until it drops to the proper temperature (85°) before adding and brewing the tea leaves.

I asked Katherine if she sees any trends emerging in tea drinking. She says she is noticing a renewed popularity in tea drinking with specialty tea shops opening and with the wide variety of tea-brewing equipment and stylish infuser mugs readily available. As well, she notices an increased interest in green teas with information and research on its health benefits becoming more widely known. Additionally, there seems to be a new market for teas – those of high school and college age. In fact, this year Katherine prepared special tea packages to be included in the UPEI student welcome kits. With the university being located just across the street from the farmers’ market, it’s likely some of the students will visit the Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley bar on Saturday mornings. Katherine also sees more tea being used in ways other than as a beverage. For example, Chai and Matcha are now often used in baked goods such as muffins and energy bars. In fact, Katherine sells yummy homemade tea energy bars at her booth. Tea lattes are also becoming very popular — ⅔ cup of a strong tea topped up with ⅓ cup of foamed milk. Iced teas remain popular in the hot summer months when many find the drink hydrating and refreshing. Fruit blends of green teas, such as Katherine’s Island Strawberry blend, have become very popular iced teas.

Tea, like coffee, is an enduring popular drink. It’s a beverage that is moving with the times. With its various varieties and blends along with new ways of drinking tea and using it in baking, it’s proof of tradition blending successfully with modern trends.

In addition to being available at the farmers’ market, Lady Baker’s teas are available across PEI at specialty shops and are also found served in many of the Island’s finest restaurants and at select bed and breakfasts. The teas may also be ordered online via the Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley website at http://www.ladybakersteatrolley.com/

Now, it’s time for tea!

I decided to try the Lady’s Slipper tea blend for a late summer afternoon tea. This is a lovely, mellow tea blend with hints of vanilla.  I have some pieces of Lady’s Slipper china so it seemed only fitting to feature them with this blend of tea.

The quintessential tea time sandwiches of egg salad and cucumber were served on my Lady Slipper plate.

I used two different styles of Lady’s Slipper china cups and saucers.

The great thing about afternoon tea is that several different pieces of china can be blended and used with success.  Not everything has to match perfectly on the table.  It just needs to blend.

These dainty little pink glasses blend well with the china and are the perfect size for an afternoon tea table.

The little pottery Lady’s Slipper vase in the photo below was a gift from an elementary school teacher.  We had gone on an end of year school outing to a local theme park which had a small gift shop in a flying saucer (readers on PEI will likely guess which theme park I’m referring to).  The teacher told us each to pick out something we wanted and it was her gift to us.  Even as a small child, I liked pretty things and opted for a vase instead of a toy!  I won’t tell you how many years ago that was but let’s just say it wasn’t yesterday!  The lovely flowers in the vase are from Island Meadow Farms in York, PEI.

Fresh blueberry pie and vanilla ice cream for dessert!

I always say the sign of a true homemade pie is when some of the filling bubbles out 🙂  (Well, that’s my story anyway and I’m sticking to it!)

The blueberries for the pie came from Murray’s U-pick in North Tryon.  They grow wonderful high bush blueberries.

I hope you have enjoyed meeting the lady behind Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley and dropping by for a spot of her Lady’s Slipper tea blend.

I will be joining Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday this week.


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Ruffle Cake for Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea

Happy Mother's Day


While Mother’s Day is over, I thought I would share some photos from my Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea.  We celebrated pretty much the whole weekend.  On Saturday, I made and decorated this ruffle cake.  Doesn’t it remind you of the old-fashioned ribbon candy that used to be so popular around Christmas time.

I don’t tend to use this method of decorating often because it takes a powerful amount of icing…surely enough to set anyone on a sugar high for days!  However, it is a real feminine cake style so it is perfect for Mother’s Day.  The photos are showing the color of the icing quite a bit deeper than it was in reality.

My tea this afternoon is really simple.  Just the cake and a good cup of “brew”.  I don’t worry too much about having everything perfectly matched.  Part of the eclectic charm of afternoon tea is having a mixture of china cups and saucers, plates, and teapot.  This teapot is a new acquisition to my collection.  So long as the colors blend together, they work.

This is a Sadler teapot.  I like its “perky” shape and simplistic floral design.


A cut slice of cake reveals just how much icing is on that cake!

A nice sweet treat in the middle of a Saturday afternoon!

Good thing there is a huge pot of tea to go with all that icing!


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A Tartan Day Afternoon Tea

Prince Edward Island Tartan Teacup and Saucer
Prince Edward Island Tartan Teacup and Saucer

Today is National Tartan Day.  Tartan Day is celebrated each year on April 6th which coincides with the signing of the Scottish Declaration of Independence — the Declaration of Arbroath — in 1320.  It is a day of observance to recognize and celebrate the Scottish heritage and the contributions of the Scots and their descendents to Canada’s history, development, and culture.  In Canada, the day first originated in Nova Scotia in the late 1980s and then later spread across the country culminating with it being proclaimed, on October 21, 2010, by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, as an observance day all across Canada.  I understand it is also celebrated in several other countries around the world.  Tartans are, of course, synonymous with Scottish descendents.  Tartan Day has a particular significance on Prince Edward Island because, according to the PEI Government website, people of Scottish descent make up the largest ethnic group in the Province[1].

Canada, as a whole, has the Maple Leaf Tartan as its official tartan which became an official national symbol by ministerial declaration on March 9, 2011.   Most provinces also each have their own unique official tartan.  The PEI tartan was designed and registered in 1959 by Elizabeth Jean MacLean Reed from Covehead, PEI.  Through an official tartan design contest, Mrs. Reed’s tartan was selected and adopted as PEI’s official tartan on June 16, 1960. 

Official Prince Edward Island Tartan

The colors of the tartan each represent some aspect of the Island:  The overall reddish-brown color signifies the redness of the Island soil; the green portrays the grass and trees; the white represents the whitecaps of the waves that lap our shores, and the yellow is said to stand for the sun[2].  If you have ever had the opportunity to fly in over PEI on a beautiful, clear, sunny day in spring, the landscape of the Island does look like a tartan checkerboard with green fields and trees and the red land.  The traditional PEI tartan is a very good depiction of the colors of the Island.

In addition, the Island also has an official dress tartan. 

Prince Edward Island Dress Tartan
Prince Edward Island Dress Tartan

This tartan was designed by Ben Taylor, Scott MacAulay, Barbara Brown, and John (Jock) Hopkirk.  Unveiled on June 25, 1992, the dress tartan is a different design from the official provincial tartan although it maintains the overall reddish-green color scheme.[3]    The PEI dress tartan substitutes white blocks for one of the darker colors in the traditional tartan.[4]

I recently spoke with Barbara (Brown) Yorke, one of the designers of the PEI dress tartan, to find out when the dress tartan would be worn.  Ms. Yorke tells me that the dress tartan is often worn by highland dancers who favor the lighter color (than traditional tartans which tend to be darker) because the kilts, with matching socks, made of the lighter tartan makes the dark shoes of the dancers stand out.

The following photo shows the comparison of the traditional and dress Prince Edward Island tartans with the dress tartan (on the left-hand side of the photo) being much lighter in color.
Traditional (Right) and Dress (Left) Prince Edward Island Tartans
Traditional (Right) and Dress (Left) Tartans of Prince Edward Island

My celebration of Tartan Day involves an afternoon tea using, of course, my Prince Edward Island tartan teacups and saucers.  My tea selection today is Bentley’s Lemon, Honey & Chamomile Herbal Tea.  

On my menu for Tartan Day are egg salad sandwiches with dill, along with fruit cake, coconut roll dates, and Scottish oatcakes, of course, to represent my Scottish heritage.  

I am using my small ivory and gold-colored teapot this afternoon since it fits in with the rich tones of the Island tartan.

Let’s take a closer look at the elements on the tea table and the significance they bring to a Tartan Day afternoon tea.
One of my favorite tea sandwiches is the traditional egg filling sandwich which is particularly good flavored with dillweed.  The yellow egg salad filling represents the yellow in the tartan.  The dill and green grapes depict the green in the tartan.
Scottish Oatcakes seem appropriate for my tea table today along with some fruitcake which, incidentally, has the colors of the Prince Edward Island tartan (you’d almost think I planned that but I didn’t!).  I added a couple of coconut roll dates to round out the sweet tier.
I used my small two-tier server today.  It’s ideal when I am only serving two courses at afternoon tea and it doesn’t take up much room on a small tea table as I am using today.
And, when it all came together, here’s what my tea table looks like today.
My choice of flowers for the tea table are these bright and colorful tulips, grown on PEI in the Vanco Farm greenhouses in Mount Albion.  It has been such a long miserable winter, with blizzard after blizzard for the past four months on the Island, that I need colorful flowers to brighten my life!  The colors of these seemed to work with my color scheme for today’s afternoon tea.
I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into how My Island Bistro Kitchen celebrated Tartan Day today.  Do you celebrate Tartan Day?  What are your traditions for the day?
Happy Tartan Day!

[1] Source:  The Government of Prince Edward Island website. http://www.gov.pe.ca/infopei/index.php3?number=1526

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Source:  College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada website. http://www.collegeofpiping.com/aboutus.php

I will be joining Rose Chintz Cottage for this week’s Tea Time Tuesday.

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.

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Valentine’s Afternoon Tea – Petit Fours and Tulips

Is there anything more genteel than afternoon tea!  And, is there anything more perfect for a tea event than petit fours.  They are so dainty covered in poured fondant; it’s like each one is a tiny parcel waiting to be unwrapped to see what lies inside.  For these, I used a simple white cake sandwiched together with rich strawberry jam.

Petit Fours
Petit Fours

Today’s tea is more on the sweet side.  A selection of some of my favorite squares, melting moments, divinity fudge, and macarons.

Tea Table Fancies
Tea Table Fancies

The addition of a lovely fruit scone never goes wrong, particularly when spread with delectable homemade strawberry jam.

Fruit Scone with Strawberry Jam
Fruit Scone with Strawberry Jam

What would Valentine’s be without chocolate-dipped strawberries.  In keeping with the pink theme and the delicate pink dishes, I have dipped the strawberries in pink chocolate.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

These dishes with their dainty pink rose design are perfect for a Valentine’s tea.

These hand-decorated cookies are sure to be a conversation piece.

This four-tier server is perfect for small tea tables since it doesn’t take up much space yet accommodates the different courses of the tea.

While roses are the most commonly associated flower with Valentine’s, there are other flowers that are equally as beautiful.  Today, I have chosen delicate pink tulips from the greenhouses of Vanco Farms in Mount Albion, PEI.

Tulips are said to symbolize perfect love and the different colors of tulips have different meanings.  Pink tulips symbolize affection and caring.

Can you tell the color theme was pink!

These scones, fresh from the oven, and lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar, melt in the mouth and are a perfect prelude to the next course of sweets!

I like this antique silver teapot.  It lends elegance to the table.

Even Cupid drops in for a visit!

There is something cozy about a winter afternoon tea by the fireside.

I love this pink and white tea set. So delicate.

The tiny flowers on the cookies and petit fours are made from fondant.

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my Valentine’s Tea.

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Red Plaid Christmas Afternoon Tea

The warmth and glow from the fireplace and tree lights sets a beautiful soft mood for a quiet and peaceful late afternoon tea on a cold winter’s day as the snow falls gently outside the window.  Want to take a peek?

I like this red plaid tablecloth – it looks so Christmasy and matches my Christmas tea china perfectly.

I was fortunate enough to find this Sadler teapot and matching cups and saucers a few years ago.  I like to find occasions to use them over the holidays.

This delightful little teabox (seen behind the teacup in the photo above) is perfectly sized for small tea tables.  I have a larger teabox but there is no room for it on my round tea table.

So, what was on this afternoon’s tea menu presented on a traditional 3-tier server?

Let’s start with the sandwich plate – I served one of my all-time favorite sandwiches – egg salad on white, oatbran, and multigrain breads.

Fruit-filled scones with homemade strawberry jam and crabapple jelly rounded out the next course.

And, of course, what afternoon tea would be complete without the sweet tray!  Mincemeat tarts, checkerboard sugar cookies, peanut butter balls, Scotch cookies, and the quintessential fruit cake all found their way on to the sweet tray.  All seasonal favorites in our house.

And, for the sweet finish-off, these candy cane meringues that dissolve on the tongue.

Beverages included Sparkling Cranberry Apple Juice from Verger Belliveau Orchard in Memramcook, New Brunswick.  I love how it sparkles in the cut glass.

Today’s tea selection was Bentley’s Pomegranate.

My choice of centerpiece was very simple – a rose bowl with a sprig of holly from just outside my front door and a floating tea light.  My tea table is not large so space is at a premium so any accent centerpiece has to be small.

Time for tea!

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I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my Red Plaid Christmas Afternoon Tea.  May the peace and joy that Christmas brings find its way into your homes this Christmas season.


Christmas Afternoon Tea
Red Plaid Christmas Afternoon Tea

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Afternoon Tea in London!

As those of you who regularly follow my blog will already know, I love a classic afternoon tea….the more formal, grand, and elegant, the better.

On previous trips to London, England, I always seemed to miss out on classic afternoon teas for one reason or another.  I certainly had had cream teas (scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam, and a pot of tea) at some hotels but never was able to make it to a formal tea.  I always said that the next time I was heading to Europe, I was going to visit London for no other reason than to have proper afternoon tea.

That opportunity arose earlier this month when we were heading out on a Greek Islands cruise from Venice, Italy.  I had my travel agent book us a stop-over in London for a couple of days so that we could experience the quintessential British tradition of formal afternoon tea.  I spent countless hours over the spring and summer researching which afternoon teas I wanted to experience.  As those of you from London and area (or who have visited there) will know, afternoon teas in the city can be pricey.  Many restaurants and hotels in London offer a classic afternoon tea of some sort and the higher-end venues range in price from around ₤40.00 pp. upwards (VAT inc.) + 12.5% service gratuity.  At the time of writing, the current rate of exchange is $1.68 against the Canadian dollar so that can edge a Canadian visitor around $100.00 or more per person for afternoon tea.  Many venues also offer champagne afternoon teas and adding a glass of bubbly to the afternoon tea experience can translate into an extravagant price – some as high as ₤85.00 pp plus service gratuity of 12.5% which converts to about $160.00 pp, CDN$.  So, due to the cost, deciding on which afternoon tea to experience is not a decision to be taken lightly.  This is not to say that all afternoon teas in London are this pricey – I was able to find afternoon teas less than ₤30.00 pp but even that translated into an expensive repast when converted into Canadian currency.

We were staying in the Kensington area of London and I wanted to do more than one afternoon tea on this trip (and not break the bank!) but did not want to have to spend valuable and limited time traveling far so I opted for tea at “The Orangery” at Kensington Palace which was within walking distance to our hotel and the other in the Georgian Restaurant at Harrods department store where we spent a complete day.  We had planned to spend time again in the food halls at Harrods (a foodie’s mecca) anyway so, because our time was so limited in London and didn’t allow for much travel time around the city, we combined a visit to Harrods with afternoon tea in their Georgian Restaurant and it did not disappoint.

Hotels and restaurants offering afternoon tea will usually have a number of sittings throughout the afternoon and some in to the early evening as well with most ending by 7:30pm, or earlier, local time.  Dress codes vary with smart casual being the norm and with some of the higher-end venues requiring more dressy attire.  Reservations are generally recommended, particularly for the more popular venues, and I recommend inquiring of the dress code when making reservations (note that some venues require reservations several weeks or even months in advance).  Many have their afternoon tea menus and dress codes posted online as well.   We were able to get a table when we arrived at “The Orangery”  mid-afternoon on our first day in London.  On the day we visited Harrods, we made reservations mid-morning for our afternoon tea in their Georgian Restaurant.  However, I expect that during the busy summer months as well as around Christmas and other holiday periods, reservations farther in advance of same day would be advisable (Claridge’s website at time of writing is indicating that they are not accepting any more afternoon tea reservations until January 2014 due to high demand).  Part of the experience of a formal afternoon tea is the decor and ambiance of the venue which often includes a pianist at the grand piano.  One of the things that fascinates me most about afternoon tea in London is its enduring popularity across all age groups.

For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with what comprises a classic afternoon tea, there are four components:  1) the tea beverage blend; 2) savories; 3) scones; and 4) patisseries and cakes.  It is common to present the food on three-tier servers.

Most venues (particularly the high-end ones) will have a tea sommelier on staff to help guests decide which blend of tea to enjoy with the repast.  The array of tea offerings can be daunting unless you are a tea connoisseur.  The savory course will consist of delicate sandwiches and sometimes petite tarts, and souffles.  Fillings for the sandwiches vary but you can generally expect to find cucumber, egg, smoked salmon, ham, roast beef, and/or chicken presented on various breads.  The sandwiches will always have the crusts removed and may be cut in either finger or triangular shapes.  These offerings will be found on the bottom plate of a three-tier server.  The middle plate of the server will contain the scones, clotted cream, and usually the preserves (although the latter may be presented on a separate flat plate on the table).  Often two kinds of scones will be presented – raisin or fruit and plain.  The top tier of the three-tier server is reserved for the patisseries and cakes.  The offerings for this course certainly vary between restaurants but you will often find, as a minimum, sponge cake, lemon tarts, and frequently French macarons and other sweet pastries.

So, today, I thought I would share with you some photos from the two afternoon teas I enjoyed in London in early October, 2013.  Apologies in advance for the lighting in some of the photos – these are travel photos and the natural lighting wasn’t the best on some of the interior shots.

“The Orangery” at Kensington Palace


"The Orangery" at Kensington Palace
“The Orangery” at Kensington Palace

On the day we visited “The Orangery”, in early October, 2013, it was still warm enough to enjoy afternoon tea al fresco style outside.

However, the interior of “The Orangery” is so striking that we opted to enjoy tea inside.

I was fascinated by the table setting with the plates set to the left of each place setting.

Afternoon Tea Place Setting at "The Orangery"
Afternoon Tea Place Setting at “The Orangery”

You can check out the menu for afternoon tea at “The Orangery” here.

The tables were simplistically set with this decorative china on white linen.

Are you anxious to see what was on the tiered server?

Each guest has his/her own tea pot and individual tiered server of tea fare.  Traditionally presented, the bottom tier contains the sandwiches, the middle plate bears the scones, clotted cream, and jam, and the top tier the sweet offerings.  Our choice of tea was “Afternoon at the Palace”.

Let’s look a little closer at the food.

The sandwiches were so tasty!

The buttery scones (one each – plain and with raisins) were served with clotted cream and strawberry jam!

And, to finish off, a selection of sweet cakes and patisseries.

One thing about afternoon tea is that it amounts to a full meal!

And, it is a leisurely way to spend a couple of hours.

Be sure to pace yourself so you can save some room for the sweets!

Afternoon tea at “The Orangery” is (at time of writing) ₤22.65 pp + 12.5% service charge (or about $44.00 CDN$)

The Georgian Restaurant at Harrods

Harrods Department Store
Harrods Department Store

Harrods is arguably the world’s most famous department store. It’s a fun place to spend time browsing, particularly in the food halls which are elaborate, to say the least.  This visit marked the first time I had eaten at Harrods.

Afternoon Tea at the Georgian Restaurant at Harrods
Afternoon Tea at the Georgian Restaurant at Harrods

The color theme of the Georgian Restaurant is in calming pinks and whites.  Each table has a pink undercloth topped with a white tablecloth.  The two photos below were taken early in the day when we made our reservations onsite.

Music from the grand piano adds a lovely ambiance to the afternoon tea experience.

These beautiful huge floral designs in ivory and soft green shades were found throughout the dining room.

This was a delightful afternoon and experience.

Tableware is white which really makes the colors of the food pop and stand out.

Each table is set with a single short-stemmed pink tea rose.

As soon as we were seated, this plate of preserves and clotted cream was delivered to our table.

Then, our server poured our first cups of tea from a small elegant silver teapot.  Our tea selection was the “Georgian Blend”.

The tea was, of course, served in Harrods signature cups and saucers.

A three-tier server of delectable finger sandwiches, scones, and a selection of sweets was soon presented at our table.


How delightful and inviting does this look!  You can check out the Harrods afternoon tea menu here.

Let’s have a closer look, beginning with the finger sandwiches and petite lobster rolls.

This was followed by an offering of both plain and raisin scones.

And, for the sweet tooth, there were lots of tempting options!

There was more on this tray than the two of us could finish!

Afternoon tea at Harrods at the time of writing is  ₤29.00 pp + 12.5% service charge (or about $55.00 CDN$).

If you are heading to London and planning to include a classic afternoon tea as one of your activities, I recommend researching in advance of your trip and checking with your choice of venue as to whether or not they require reservations and how far in advance.  You may also wish to inquire of their dress code so you can pack accordingly and not be disappointed on arrival to find that the venue imposes a specific dress code.  No matter your budget, you will find wonderful options for afternoon tea in London that will give you that experience without breaking the bank.  Have you already experienced afternoon tea at a London location?  Did you enjoy it and would you recommend it?

We thoroughly enjoyed our two afternoon teas in London (and, yes, I am already thinking about which tea venue I will choose on my next trip to London).

You may also enjoy reading my review of the “Scents of Summer” Afternoon Tea at the Intercontinental Park Lane Hotel in London. Click here to access that review.

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Anne of Green Gables-Themed Afternoon Tea

Today, I am joining Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage who is hosting an Anne of Green Gables-themed afternoon tea.  Many of you will, undoubtedly, associate both Anne and Lucy Maud Montgomery, the famed Island authoress of the “Anne” series of books, with Prince Edward Island.  As many of you will already know, Lucy Maud was an Islander and she set her fictional story about the little orphan, Anne, on PEI.

To the extent possible, I have tried to include elements in the tea that Anne and her bosom friend, Diana, would have had at the afternoon tea that Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote about in chapter XVI in the “Anne of Green Gables” book:  Raspberry cordial, cherry preserves, fruit cake, cookies, snaps, and tea.

I visited the Anne of Green Gables store in downtown Charlottetown this morning and picked up some raspberry cordial for the tea.

The other featured Island-made product at my tea today is the “Very Berry Cherry” jam produced by the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company in New Glasgow, PEI.

While biscuits weren’t mentioned as part of the menu for the tea in the “Anne” story, I’d be surprised if they were not standard fare at an afternoon tea of that era, particularly when preserves were included.  Homemade biscuits are still a very common staple today in many Island households, mine included.  Therefore, I have chosen to serve my homemade biscuits with the cherry jam.

I always tuck away a piece of my Christmas fruit cake in the freezer.  It is such a treat in late summer or early fall.  It made its way on to the tea table today along with some freshly made gingersnaps and melting moments, all of which would have been quite common tea fare back in the early 1900s when L.M. Montgomery was penning the “Anne” books.  As I went through some of my ancestors’ hand-written recipe books, these were indeed items they had recipes for in their collections.

And, of course, the guest of honour would have to be Anne, herself!  My mother gave me this collector’s doll for Christmas several years ago.

Anne looks like she might be eyeing those biscuits….perhaps it is time to eat.

This afternoon’s tea is Orange Pekoe and it is being served from my pretty pink and yellow rose Sadler teapot.

I am not sure Marilla would have trusted Anne and Diana with these delicate teacups but these were my choices from my teacup collection for today’s event.  The one below is Royal Albert Sunnyside Series and is called “Petula”.  I love the exquisite and elegant shape of the cup.

The beautiful cup and saucer below is also Royal Albert, Reverie Series.

Warm biscuits, not too many minutes out of the oven, are always so tasty!

And, with fresh creamery butter and a good slather of cherry jam, they melt in the mouth!

It’s hard to stop at just one homemade biscuit and jam!

Some fresh cherries before checking out the sweet tray.

Now, which will I try first?  The fruitcake?  A ginger snap? A melting moment?

Also on the tea table this afternoon is a Third Impression August 1908 version of the “Anne of Green Gables” book.  A great conversation piece.

I hope you have enjoyed coming along on my Anne-themed afternoon tea.

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