You should all know by now that I don’t need much of an excuse for a good old-fashioned tea party, so when Twinings sent me a box of their limited edition Australian Afternoon Tea it didn’t take long before I had (a) cracked open a packet of Iced Vo-Vos; (b) whipped up a batch of wattleseed cupcakes; and (c) dug out some of my choicest vintage Australiana china and linen. Add half a dozen lamingtons, a knitted cockie teapot handle cosy and a pot of Twinings full-bodied Australian Afternoon Tea and I was set: a very Aussie arvo tea. Heaven!
I used this recipe for the Wattleseed cupcakes, and I decorated them with handmade sprigs of marzipan wattle.
They’re dead-easy to make: just grab a packet of marzipan, dye three-quarters of it yellow with food colouring, and roll tiny balls with your hands (about 7mm wide). Then add some yellow food colouring to a bowl of caster sugar, and roll the balls in the sugar for a fluffy wattle-like coating.
For the leaves, add a drop or two of green food colouring to the rest of your marzipan, and roll it out to 2mm thickness. Use a sharp knife to cut out leaves and use a bread and butter knife to imprint veins. Arrange your little wattles on top of your cupcakes and you have a rather sweet tribute to Australia’s indigenous national flower.
As for the tea itself – well, let’s just say it was the little Aussie hero of the party. I like it. I like it a lot – it’s a brisk pick-me-up blend created by Kevin Rudd, of all people, and funnily enough it’s a feisty little character. Kevin won Twinings’ challenge last year to come up with an original brew that best reflected the taste of Australia. The top five blends were put to a public vote and Kevin come up trumps with a blend that stands up against the most languid of Aussie arvos.
Twinings has raised over $120,000 to date for the former Prime Minister’s chosen charity, the RSPCA, through on-pack donations. It’s a timely cause as the RSPCA needs extra support at this time of the year with poor wee injured animals from bushfires.
Limited edition Twinings Australian Afternoon Tea is available in Coles stores now, while stocks last. So best be quick! You can purchase it in a splendid keepsake tin (as pictured above), or in a twin pack with either English Breakfast or Early Grey. The lovely Twinings people are also increasing donations to the RSPCA, with 50c from every tin and $1 from every twin-pack going to the charity. Tea-riffic! (sorry, couldn’t resist.)
WIN! Twinings Australian Tea
I have five tins of this lovely limited-edition Twinings Australian Afternoon Tea tins to give away. To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below telling me in 25 words or less what you would serve with a pot of Australian Afternoon Tea. The giveaway is open to all Australian residents 14 years and older, and it ends at 5pm AEDST on Feburary 1, 2013.
Entries will be judged by Nuffnang and the winners will be the ones deemed most creative. There will be five winners, all of whom will receive a limited-edition tin of Twinings Australian Afternoon Tea. Click here for the full competition terms and conditions. Please don’t forget to leave your email address in the space provided in the comments section – it will only be visible to me.
This post is sponsored by Nuffnang.
Here’s something I’ve been working on for a little while: the Wee Birdy buyer’s guide to the 20 best tea pots. The value of a good tea pot should never be underrated, especially if they pack in as much charm and good looks as these little beauties. From chintzy rose buds and polka dots to a modern interpretation of the classic Willow pattern, these little pots do more than brew a good cuppa – they add a splash of personality, colour and good design to the diurnal grind. Essential qualities, really.
1. Oranges and Lemons hand-painted tea pot, £75 from Tobyboo’s Etsy shop.
2. Camellia tea pot, £35 from Pierrot et Coco.
3. White lace hand-painted tea pot, US$58 from Clayful Impressions’ Etsy shop.
4. Mr Jones tea pot by Polly George, AU$84 from Everything Begins.
5. Lace tea pot by We Love Kaoru, AU$105 from Everything Begins.
6. Vintage enamel mid-century tea pot, US$85 from Hindsvik’s Etsy shop.
7. Salt and Pepper green tea pot with infuser by Salt and Pepper. Click here for your nearest stockist.
8. My Teapot’ in yellow with an anthracite lid by Anouk Jansen, £45 from Howkapow.
9. The New English x TNE Studios Benday cobalt tea pot, £122 from Culture Label.
10. London Willow tea pot by We Love Kaoru (features Big Ben, London Eye and the BT Tower), AU$96 from Everything Begins and £60 from Culture Label.
11. Gordon Ramsay Maze by Royal Doulton blue tea pot, AU$39.95 from Royal Doulton.
12. Provence rose tea pot, £18 from Cath Kidston.
13. Blossom tea pot by Swedish designer Camilla Engdahl, £30 from Howkapow.
14. Cupcakes tea pot by Poppy Treffry, made from fine bone china in Stoke on Trent, £24 from The Green Apple.
15. Blodwen white enamel Caernarfon tea pot, £35 from Liberty.
16. Wedgwood Polka Dots teaware tea pot, AU$89.95 from Wedgwood.
17. Royal Albert Polka Rose Vintage tea pot, AU$199 from Royal Albert.
18. Miss Etoile Gold polka dot ceramic tea pot, US$63.04 from Oliver Bonas.
19. Limogues pink tea pot, price on enquiry from The Bay Tree.
20. Wedgwood Butterfly Bloom Teaware tea pot, AU$125 from Wedgwood.
It’s A Week of Tea on Wee Birdy. WIN a stunning Twinings wooden tea chest packed with Twinings tea – click here to enter now!
You might like to also read about:
I’m curious. Which tea pot is your favourite? Tell me in the comments below.
How are you liking A Week of Tea so far? (I’ve got loads more tea finds to share with you, so it might end up being a slightly extended “week”.) I thought I’d round up the working week with a return to Frock on Friday, and my pick of the perfect tea dresses.
Now, before the pedants leap on the “comments” button, I realise the dress above is not strictly a “tea dress”, which according to Emily Post in 1922,
“is a hybrid between a wrapper and a ball dress. It has always a train and usually long flowing sleeves; is made of rather gorgeous materials and goes on easily, and its chief use is not for wear at the tea-table so much as for dinner alone with one’s family.”
Right. So far, so confusing. Especially since designers and high-street brands have a tendency to slap any old floral-print frock that falls below the knee with the “tea dress” label. And “ditzy”. But I’ve always interpreted it as a frock that falls somewhere between the knee and lower-calf with 1940s-style shirting, sleeves and prints – and this super-lovely pink silk tea dress by Sessun, £195 from Liberty (above) pretty much fits the bill.
Here are some of my other favourite tea dresses:
1. NW3 Mr Duck Dress, £169 from Hobbs.
2. Summer bloom tea dress, US$150 by Soho Mode on Etsy.
3. NW3 Winter Leaves dress, £149 from Hobbs.
4. Custom tea dress in yellow lila, US$184 from Soho Mode on Etsy.
5. Tea Shoppe Dress, US$397.99 from ModCloth.
6. Vintage landscape tea dress, US$150 by Soho Mode on Etsy.
7. Cute as a Fox wool crepe tea dress, £345 from Orla Kiely.
8. ASOS bird print 40s tea dress, reduced to AU$33.91, from ASOS.
9. ASOS tea dress in floral print with twist front, AU$67.82 from ASOS.
10. Bluebird midi dress, US$158 from Anthropologie.
11. NW3 Dandelion Dress, £169 from Hobbs.
And if you’re after some stellar advice on how to wear a tea dress minus the victory rolls and T-bar shoes (though I rather like them, too!), read this excellent piece by the Guardian‘s Jess Cartner-Morley.
It’s A Week of Tea on Wee Birdy! You might like to also read about:
Don’t forget to enter my competition to win a stunning wooden chest of Twinings Tea!
There are so many lovely tea-themed things around at the moment, and nowhere nails tea-time as well as the various designer-makers around the world who sell their wares on Etsy. Here are my top tea-themed picks:
1. Teapot made to order wall hanger, US$75 by Misako Mimoko on Etsy.
2. The earl & lady grey coasters, AU$30 by A Bird of Play on Etsy.
3. ‘Brew happy’ limited edition giclee print, US$25 by Helen Dardik on Etsy.
4. Tea Party note card set of five, US$8 by Bella Stationery on Etsy.
5. Smiling Tea Cup hand-carved stamp, US$12 by Doodle Bug Design on Etsy.
6. Kitchen Art tea print, US$19 by Handz on Etsy.
7. Big Ben London tea bag tidy by Cecily Vessey on Etsy.
8. A Cup of Tea Solves Everything giclee print, £4 by What Nikki Made on Etsy.
9. Tea on the Go linen tea towel, US$18 by Side Sideways on Etsy.
10. Happy Teacup necklace, US$44 by Mary Mary Handmade on Etsy.
11. Kitchen art print, US$19 by Handz for Etsy.
It’s A Week of Tea on Wee Birdy! You might like to also read about:
Don’t forget to enter my competition to win a chest of Twinings Tea!
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.
Welcome to a Week of Tea on Wee Birdy!
It’s been quite a long time since I last ran a themed week devoted entirely to tea, so I hope you enjoy it. Maybe you’d like to join in on your own blog?
This week I will be blogging about the best teapots, tea gifts and tea party essentials, my favourite afternoon tea spots as well as the morning tea I recently hosted for some friends.
I love this series of limited-edition screenprints (above) by London artist Maureen Valfort. Depicting sweet tea-time scenes with a charming retro aesthetic, each tea-themed print is hand-printed on Somerset paper and has four torn edges. They make extremely affordable art for your walls at £35 each, but you could also make a statement ‘tea’ wall with all four prints.
Clockwise from top left: ‘Laura‘, ‘Astrid‘, ‘Ellie‘, and ‘Anna’, £35 each from A Little Bit of Art.
Do you love tea? Let me know if you’re going to join in with ‘A week of tea’ on your blog!