A global field guide to design, (life)style and secret finds
est. 2007
  1. Sponsored post: A very Twinings tea party

    Back in the early days of Wee Birdy I was living in London and happily living out my obsession with tea. Whether it was having afternoon tea at the Dorchester (yes, that’s afternoon tea, not high tea, people – but that’s another post/rant altogether), visiting the original Twinings store on the Strand or running a ‘Week of Tea’ on Wee Birdy, I was pretty much in tea leaf heaven. So I naturally leapt at the opportunity to host a Twinings ‘tasting’ morning tea with my friends.

    Now for someone who likes a good cuppa, I’m surprisingly boring and predictable with my blends. Apart from a brief flirtation with Irish Breakfast during my university days, I’m a strictly English Breakfast bird. The only other tea I’ve ever fancied was the exquisite flowering tea I tried at Liberty, but it was more ‘performance art’ than a really good cuppa.

    I’ve had some pretty memorable tea experiences. There was time I was at the Dorchester and Dita Von Teese was having tea at the next table; and the decadent birthday afternoon teas I shared with my birthday twin in London at the likes of Fortnum’s, Claridges, The Ritz and The Berkeley (the Pret-a-Portea was particularly fabulous). Then there was the time I went to a serious tea café and attempted to have a rather intimate conversation with a friend while the proprietor sniffed deeply from the soggy leaf dregs at the bottom of cups.

    But I can now add my morning tea to my ‘memorable tea moments’ list – if not for my terribly acidic lemon bars that set everyone’s teeth on edge, but for the chance to properly sit down, without a bunch of toddlers demanding our attention, and have a proper catch-up with my friends. Pure joy!

    It was such a good day for a morning tea outdoors – I dug out my vintage table linen and threw it over the table in the backyard, and decorated it with my collection of teapots filled with flowers from the garden (wisteria, lavender, roses, gardenias, daisies and sprigs of may bush). It was also the perfect opportunity to use all my ‘fancy’ tea cups, vintage spoons and the vintage hand-embroidered napkin holders I found at a shop on Columbia Road in London.

    I briefly ran through the tea selection, ranging from lighter teas like Lady Grey to stronger blends like Twinings new Assam Bold, which is actually Twinings’ strongest tea in Australia. It’s a smooth and full-flavoured blend that certainly packs a punch, and if you’ve ever resorted to using double tea-bags to make your brew extra-strong, you’ll definitely get your tea fix with Assam Bold. It’s got a rich biscuity taste and I was tempted to hunt down a packet of Milk Arrowroots – purely for dunking purposes, of course. Predictably I sampled the English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast, but rather daringly tried the Australian Afternoon Tea blend, which was a bit of a revelation – it’s my new favourite post-dinner, pre-blogging cuppa!

    To accompany our tea tasting, I baked two batches of scones and served them with strawberry jam and double cream, as well as a plate of meringues, which I topped with cream and lavender. The unfortunate lemon bars were banished from the table, but luckily I had my ‘back-up’ Bourke Street Bakery flourless chocolate cake – which was also a hit. (I always have a lovely store-bought ‘back-up’ when I’m baking, just in case things go wrong… and they often do.) It was such a lovely morning, sitting under the trees in the dappled light and enjoying each other’s company. It was all too simple, really, and we all wondered why didn’t do it more often.

    Here is my trusty scone recipe – it’s never let me down:

    2 ½ cups self-raising flour
    1 tablespoon caster sugar
    30g butter
    1 ¼ cups of full-fat milk

    • Preheat oven to 220 degrees celcius and lightly grease a baking tray.
    • Sift flour and sugar into bowl and rub in butter.
    • Add milk – use a knife to cut thorugh the flour mixture until it just comes together as a soft and sticky dough. Whatever you do, don’t over-work the dough. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead lightly.
    • Press dough gently to around 2cm thickness and cut out rounds with a scone cutter (or a glass tumbler). Place scones on the tray and brush with a little extra milk.
    • Bake for around 15 minutes or until risen and golden brown. Don’t go opening up the oven and poking and peeking before then! Pop them on your prettiest plate and serve immediately with lashings of jam and double cream (or if you’re in the UK, a good dollop of clotted cream).
    • Eat up, buttercup!

    WIN! Twinings wooden tea chest (filled with tea, valued at $75).
    I’ve got one Twinings wooden tea chest (as seen in the top picture) to give away to one Wee Birdy reader. To enter, simply leave a comment below telling me what’s your favourite accompaniment to a good cup of tea. Entries will be judged on  creativity. Entries close 5:00 pm AEDST October 19, 2012. Sorry, competition open only to Australian residents. Click here for full terms and conditions.

    This post is sponsored by Nuffnang.

    • Karen

      Your tea party looks lovely, and I wish I could’ve been a guest! I’m also impressed you managed to ship all those beautiful vintage teaware from London and have them arrive in one piece. 🙂

    • http://www.facebook.com/astridvegassays Astrid Vegas

      I don’t usually accompany my tea with anything. The ritual of drinking said tea, having time to put it in a nice pot and sit down with a friend is enough for me.
      But, since I have the week off I am going to make some honey crackles, so maybe that would be a good thing to scoff whilst enjoying a civilised cup of the most excellent Twinings (which is my favourite brand I tells ya). It is by appointment to Astrid Vegas.

      • http://www.facebook.com/astridvegassays Astrid Vegas

        On second thought – a good frock is always the right company for a lovely pot of tea.

    • Trish

      Home-made, hand shaped warm , buttery scones ,with fresh strawberries, jam and double cream would be my favourite accompaniment washed down with a dainty tea cup of Twinnings Afternoon tea.
      I love that flavour of true Australian tea and that it comes in box of 100.

    • http://www.facebook.com/judi.adams.967 Judi Adams

      Nothing beats a cup of Twinings Tea, How good can this new blend be, Served with sweet and savoury, high tea is perfect to accompany, My Assam blend won free.

    • dhey

      great friends and good conversation always makes my tea more enjoyable

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tracy-Martens/637199523 Tracy Martens

      Anything sweet is always a good match with a great cup of Twinings. Some gorgeous sweet friends to share a lovely pot of tea with is my favourite way to drink my Twinings…

    • dean

      Its pretty easy for me – tea is for sharing with friends and family – so my favourite accompaniment to a cup of Earl Grey is…….Friends and family

    • http://www.facebook.com/anita.black.311 Anita Black

      A great accompaniment to a cuppa tea is shortbread biscuits….awesomely delicious.

    • Emma-Lee

      My favourite accompaniment to a good cup of tea is a good book – and a comfy couch 🙂

    • Melissa

      SILENCE! With 3 young kids a quiet moment alone is very much a thing of the past. I love them all dearly but when grandma & grandpa take them out there is nothing I like better than to sit down with a cup of tea in silence. And prehaps some chocolate, because everything is better with chocolate, right?

    • http://www.facebook.com/roberto.colombi.144 Roberto Colombi

      A Tim Tam for dunking… sweet as 🙂

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Heather-Hopley/531039761 Heather Hopley

      Boiled fruit cake!

    • Deb

      Jam Drops or Orange cake

    • Micaela

      Sao Biscuits, with butter and vegemite

    • Chrissy07

      Nothing nicer with a good cup of tea is fresh berry muffin. My absolute favourite and great for taking a break.

    • Anonymous

      This is so lovely, what a special tea. I like lemon drops myself! x

    • http://www.facebook.com/beverley.ryder.3 Beverley Ryder

      My favourite accompaniment to a good cup of tea is my homemade Lemon Drizzle cake – it’s perfect for enjoying with good company 🙂

    • Lele

      The only thing that soothes my deep, aching longing for the Motherland is a cup of Twinings (yes, Im an English Breakfast girl too!) and a McVitties Chocolate Digestive! Sighhhhhhh…..

    • JenG

      I just finished a cup of Twinings Earl Grey and a sizeable piece of fresh-from-the-oven choc coconut slice whilst sitting in a small patch of afternoon sun to stay warm in windy Brisbane. Bliss.

    • Deb

      When I have a longing for Old Blighty it has to be a cup of English Breakfast with a bacon butty, followed later in the afternoon by some Ginger Nuts (the perfect biscuit for dunking) and a pot of Earl Grey. There’s nothing a cup of tea and a biscuit can’t fix!

    • http://twitter.com/therealamylou Amy Lou

      Well I’ll start with my lovely stainless steel kettle filled with fresh water. Continue with the water poured into a beautiful antique teapot (Royal Doulton roses, a treasure!). Filter the Twinings tea leaves through my Grandmas beautiful silver tea strainer. Add some milk from the matching Royal Doulton milk jug (the luxury of matching china, thank you to the power of eBay!). One single sparkling white sugar cube, using tongs if I’m really feeling fancy. Wait for the tea to cool just slightly… and then the natural accompaniment to a cup of tea: a satisfied sigh, and the serenity. Oh the serenity!!

    • Ceri

      My perfect thing to have with a cup of tea is an empty house and silence. It’s been almost 7 years since I’ve had a whole cup of tea at home. Sometimes, if I’m VERY lucky I get to have a sip of fresh tea, but usually its a gulp of lukewarm no-longer-passing for tea as I rush out of the door and that makes me sad. I love my boys but I miss my tea.

    • http://www.facebook.com/fatima.shah.718 Fatima Shah

      Silence after my kids are asleep. I’m just about to head off to make one now! I have my tea with dates which is traditional 🙂

    • Goldie

      accompaniment? Hard to pick just one, so I’ll say a good book, a couch to put
      my shoeless feet on and, ideally, a window that gives me a view of nature. Last
      week it was Assam Bold accompanied by Anna Funder’s ‘All That I Am’ in a room
      overlooking the long, beautiful Gold Coast; this week it’s been Ceylon Orange
      Pekoe with Lily Brett’s ‘Lola Bensky’ by a green terrace garden in inner-city
      Melbourne. And, wherever I happen to be, I like my tea in a large cup or mug. Perfection!

    • Leanne Renehan

      I love a melting moment with my cup of Lady Grey, or if I have none left I will settle for some lemon and yogurt cake…Now I’m hungry!

    • http://www.facebook.com/lupita.lopez Lupita Yé-yé

      ooh! With a smokey Russian Caravan I like something sweet and creamy, like a mini pav with berries and a dollop of creme fraiche… YUM! With my English Breakfast I like nothing more than toasted crumpets with butter and cheese. YES!!! DELICIOUS!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/lynda.j.rennick Lynda Walters

      I enjoy reading the newspaper or a magazine with a good cuppa.

    • Kel Kelly

      My favourite although rare pleasure to accompany my delicious hot tea is silence! Peace and quiet! Note I said rarely as with 2 young boys it doesn’t come around often. I do enjoy on a more frequent basis shortbread biscuits, hmmmm – I am off to make a cup of tea.

      madmum[email protected]

    • Melinda Hughes

      Being 37 weeks pregnant with a 22 month toddler, having a quiet sup of tea is a treat. Tea has gotten me though some tough sleepless times. And my favourite accompaniment would have to be a vanilla cupcake. Yum.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1365469565 Rebecca Smith

      Softly playing classical music, a feather light scone and the sweet scent of roses – yeah right, more like The Wiggles, leftover cold toast and nappy stench in my place *lol*

    • http://www.facebook.com/amanda.okeeffe.56 Amanda O’Keeffe

      A friend with a great sense of humor, a winters day with the wood fire burning and a great Bee Sting cake, perfect.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tracey.a.kennard Tracey A. Kennard

      It really has to be an easter egg. Instructions as follows. Break off a piece, admire. Slightly scooped piece of chocolate gets dunked into the hot mug of tea until slightly softened, little pool of tea nestles in the scooped end of the chocolate.Then straight into waiting mouth . (Has to be a quick dip, or else you end up with chocolate tea , perfected over the years by myself) Try it. you will be pleasantly surprised. you need to buy your eggs in the sale after Easter (they often have a year long best before date) and store in a dark place away from children 🙂 lol…. crack open with a mug of Twinings …..

      • http://www.facebook.com/astridvegassays Astrid Vegas

        Oooh, what an interesting idea Tracey. I’m going to try it definitely.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tracy-Harris/1005056959 Tracy Harris

      A treasured piece of Shortbread, hoarded away from my family and hidden in the depths of my pantry. Bliss.

    • http://twitter.com/mrs_meep mrs_meep

      a hot bath and a good book!

    • http://profiles.google.com/anorina Samelia’s Mum

      A tim tam (or 3) to use as a straw. I can already hear the “Urgh GROSS” but its so good!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/laura.l.carey Laura Lauralai Carey

      A foot rub from my husband, of course! (although, if he’s just made me the cup of tea, he is often reluctant to do this, but I try to encourage him with words of kindness, and threats to take over the remote control!)

    • marilyn

      A good cuppa black tea 9twinings English breakfast) with gingernut biscuits. That’sa treat.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1057044009 Michelle Warwick

      After my children are in bed, I love quiet time by myself to enjoy a cuppa while engaging in my fantasies about Brad Pitt (occasionally I imagine him doing a strip-teas)! 😉

    • Fiona S

      favourite accompaniment……..hmmmmm with 4 kids, shiftworking husband, usually extra kids, animals etc being able to sit down and just enjoy is very rare. SO eating some fresh fruit off my trees, sitting in the mottled sun, listening to my chickens lay their eggs and looking at my garden slowly becoming the food forest I have dreamt it to be. Bliss

    • gemmie

      definitely fresh homemade scones and cream, accompanying a strong tea like the new assam bold! A perfect match between delicate light flavours and something with a bit of kick! The other perfect accompaniment is my little persian Cat Sooki, who loves nothing more to stick his paw in my cup when I am done and lick the tea drops off!

    • Kristina

      White Chocolate Mudcake (homemade) a family favorite. Perfect hospitali-tea ♥

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Laura-Jilka/100002349123510 Laura Jilka

      Peace and quiet with my tea,
      Makes for a happy me!
      My 5 minutes to sit still,
      To feel de-stressed and fulfilled!

    • http://twitter.com/ShanL06 Shannon Le Lievre

      Cupcakes that have been baked and decorated to perfection then deliciously devoured in seconds!

    • MarkB

      My wife’s custard tea cake – with her company too of course.

    • Kirsten W

      A coffee!

    • Jodie Taylor

      My favourite accompaniment to a good cup of tea, is my 86 year old nanna, she lives next door and visits every afternon when the kids come home and brings homemade cakes to enjoy on the verandah while we drink tea, she has schooled my girls in the proper way to have afternoon tea, and says making her yummy cakes everyday keeps her young!

    • kelly

      my really comfy couch with slippers, a blanket a good read and of course a piece of homemade lemon slice

    • http://www.facebook.com/dean.knobel Dean Knobel

      Definately just a good old fashioned Arnott’s ‘Nice’ biscuit and good music and good company

    • http://www.facebook.com/cfrancis1970 Chris Francis

      A scotch finger biscuit for dunking into my cuppa and a piece of nanna’s sticky sweet Baklava.