October 9, 2012
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
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.