Tea for you and me

Join me on my epic quest to find the best tea ever


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Cotswold Garden Tearooms

Digbeth Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 1BN   01451 870994   (View on map)

The really big fireplace behind our table

Stow-on-the-Wold has an abundance of tearooms and cafes, but this was the one that fulfilled the important criteria of selling cream teas for A and I and sausage sandwiches for CP. It wasn’t that cold and so the large fireplace didn’t have a fire in it, but it still made it feel very cosy.

There was a wide range of food – breakfast, lunch, afternoon cakes and scones – and a good choice of tea as well. We’d had breakfast very late that day and so even though this was the afternoon we couldn’t quite get our heads round what meal this should be, but we were all hungry and in need of tea, so we just ordered whatever we felt like. This resulted in an intriguing mix of sandwiches, scones, fizzy drinks, tea and toasted crumpets with melted cheese on top. The crumpets sounded so enticing that I went to the counter to add some to my order after the waitress had left (all in the interests of research, naturally).

Our impressive spread of confused food

I can’t remember the exact name of the blend of tea I had – winter berry or winter spice or winter fruits? – but it was warming and fitted the festive feeling of the day. My cream tea was tasty, but the crumpets were so amazing that we ended up trying to re-create them for our breakfast the next day.

Having just looked at the photo of the table covered in food and drink I would like to point out that there were six adults eating and so we weren’t being as greedy as it first appears (though I suppose I was being quite greedy as I had a cream tea and crumpets, but those crumpets were definitely worth it!).

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? Yes, though a confusing tea strainer that I couldn’t quite get the hang of. I think those who had ordered ‘normal’ tea got teabags.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? Normal tea £1.65, speciality tea £1.99, Cotswold Garden cream tea (one scone) £4.25, sausage sandwich £3.75 (with the most sausages in one sandwich I have ever seen), toasted crumpets with melted cheese on top £2.50, cold drinks £1.40.
Cake? Yes and sandwiches, flapjacks, scones, crumpets, breakfasts.
Go again? Yes.

My cream tea and crumpets

 


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The Lowry Hotel

50 Dearmans Place, Chapel Wharf, Manchester, M3 5LH   (View on map)


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This was a special afternoon tea tasting trip with the usual suspects of H, E and N. H and E had organised this visit and N and I had chosen not to be told where we were going, but instead it was going to be a surprise. This suited me fine (once I’d checked the dress code and the price) as I like surprises. Perhaps because I didn’t know beforehand, or just because it’s a very stylish hotel, I got a bit snap happy and took lots of photos.

Before heading to The Lowry Hotel we had looked round the craft and design gallery of the Manchester Art Gallery. This had dozens of beautiful teapots as well as other beautiful yet useful things. I appreciated the design care The Lowry Hotel had put into their afternoon tea surroundings and food all the more after seeing the gallery.

Stylish as it was, the lack of carpet and liking for chrome meant the room was very noisy and this meant we couldn’t hear each other properly at times, but never mind. The Ritz‘s love of plush upholstery and thick carpet is justified. And they had sugar cubes – The Lowry only had sugar packets.

The menu was already on the table when we sat down and our first thought was ‘this is not enough tea’. The menu gave of a choice of about seven types of tea and only three of those were black tea. The choices were Earl Grey, Breakfast blend and an Afternoon blend (described as 50% Assam, 50% Darjeeling). H prefers a lighter tea and would usually have a Darjeeling. She ordered the Afternoon blend and found it too strong.

We sometimes have trouble with an equal amount of sandwiches as H and N are vegetarians, E will eat fish but not meat and I eat everything. The Lowry coped without any trouble and presented us with ham, salmon, cream cheese and cucumber, Lancashire cheese and tomato and egg – all to the correct people. I think H and N also had a hummus sandwich.

Scones were small and lovely with enough jam and cream to go round. The cake course had a raspberry and white chocolate cake, a passion fruit tart and a pistachio and chocolate mousse. They were all delicious, my only grumble was that the spoon we were given to eat the mousse with was too big to get all of the mousse out of the glass it was served in. A variety of methods were employed to try and get this last bit of extremely good mousse out and the favoured technique was turning the spoon upside down and using the handle. It’s not good table manners, but when there’s chocolate at stake…

All in all a reasonably good afternoon tea and the restaurant was decorated in my favourite colours so I was happy.

Teapot? Yes, but the three of us drinking the afternoon blend had to share a teapot that looked like a coffee pot. And we had to ask for hot water.
Leaf tea? Yes.
Milk jug? Yes, but only one between four so we had to ask for a refill.
Price? £19.95 each, but with service charge automatically added so it brought it to just under £22 each.
Cake? Yes.
Go again? Yes.


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Woodlands Park Hotel

Woodlands Lane, Stoke D’Abernon, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 3QB

Cakes, scones, tea and Pimms sorbet galore at the Woodlands Park Hotel

Cakes, scones, tea and Pimms sorbet galore at the Woodlands Park Hotel

For my Mum’s birthday (no, I’m not telling you which one) we all went to the Woodlands Park Hotel for afternoon tea. Drinking tea and eating cake is part of the family tradition, it’s no wonder that I blog about it too.

You have to give the hotel 24 hours notice if you want afternoon tea and we found out why. All the food was excellent and fresh. Sandwiches, amazing scones, fruit cake, cherry cake, chocolate and coffee eclairs, mini pavlovas, strawberry tarts and Pimms sorbet. Yum!

The tea wasn’t so good, I’m afraid. We each had a pot to ourselves but we had to ask for hot water and I lost count of the amount of times we ran out of milk. Two medium sized milk jugs for 9 people, who are all taking their tea with milk, is not enough. Tea bags too.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? No.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £18 per person.
Cake? Yes.
Go again? Yes.