Posts filed under hot tea

To A Tea | Number Sixteen

If you’ve read this blog for anytime, you’ll have heard about my friend, Amber. We’ve been friends for a long time during our London adventure- through good times and bad. She held my baby shower for me. My sisters came and crashed at her flat when the girls were born. We flew to Hawaii to be in her wedding with her Tyler. (Makes it easier when your friends have the same husband name as yours, doesn’t it?) We have been through a lot over the past years… and one of the ways we have stay close is, well, constantly rotating being pregnant between us! 

Each time we have a baby to celebrate, we do it in style. Whether its a traditional baby shower, a girls day trip to Paris, a posh picnic in the park…. We do what we can stop and celebrate the moment together. 

For this sweet baby, Amber booked us a girls day out in London. First up: massages in Mayfair at Illuminata. We had lush massages there and then cruised on to our afternoon tea at a place I had been dying to try- Number Sixteen Hotel in South Kensington. I had mentioned it ages ago, and as good friends do, she made a mental note and made it happen for a special day out. 


NUMBER SIXTEEN HOTEL

To start, I should say that this hotel is owned by the same group (Firmdale Hotels) that owns Ham Yard Hotel, which I blogged about previously, I feel like the branding of the group definitely overlaps between properties, but are both independently worth trying for their own merit. The price point and setting at both feels relaxed and cool… with a great sense of design. 

As you may quickly note, the two wow factors of afternoon tea at Number Sixteen Hotel are the garden and the price. The gorgeous garden is intimate and a plush oasis in Central London. There are very few tables, so be prepared to wait if the person seated at the table in the booking decides to perch. (We waited for 45 minutes to be seated from our booking time, as the person at our table decided to put in her headphones and pull out her laptop. Yuck.)

The garden has a small water feature that runs through the back half of it, a coveted gazebo at the far end, sparsely dotted with small tables throughout it, and a seemingly endless green background of pretty plants and flowers.

If the weather turns soggy, there is a small airy dining room (The Orangery) just off the garden where the tea service continues. While it doesn’t have the draw that the garden has, it’s definitely still a lovely backup.

When your tea arrives, expect the classic three-tiered offerings: sandwiches on bottom, scones (plain & fruited) with cream and jam in the middle, and a variety of homemade cakes and sweets crowing the top. There is a small, basic selection of teas to choose from- afternoon blend, earl grey, etc- to choose from included in the price, or you can upgrade to a more extensive list for a few pounds more. Find the full afternoon menu for the Number Sixteen Hotel here.

While the food and setting is ideal, the price really makes it the perfect moment- £29 for the summer Grayson Perry themed afternoon tea, and £22 for the standard afternoon tea tea resumes after September 10. It’s a price that is hard to beat in Central London.

To book your own table, book through the booking form on their website or contact the hotel directly at +44 (0) 20 7589 5232


NUMBER SIXTEEN | 16 Sumner Place, London SW7 3EG | sixteen@firmdale.com 




*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

St. Andrews | Afternoon Tea at The Old Course Hotel

On my last work trip before this baby arrives, I headed up the East Coast of Scotland for a long weekend trip to St. Andrews and beyond. While we were headed to some lovely sites outside of St. Andrews, I have to be honest; I was the most excited about this portion of the trip. I absolutely love St. Andrews, and have gone through silly trains of thought that have nearly made me relocate there just for the sheer pleasure of residing in that sweet coastal town in Scotland. (Okay, Tyler wouldn’t really ever let this happen… but if I weren’t married to him, who knows where I’d be.)

Since the group that I’m with is all females, we opted to have afternoon tea at the Old Course Hotel with them. At £20 per person, this is one of the most reasonably priced teas that I know of… and it’s setting in the airy conservatory along the golf course with the sea alongside it is just, well, perfect.

The conservatory is slightly ethereal and the crisp design of the space makes it feel extra special. The actual afternoon tea is really yummy, too. Warm scones, fresh jam, homemade cakes and pastries crowning the plates of little sandwiches just feels perfect. The hotel also boasts some great teas to choose from, too. 

After the tea, my colleague and I tucked into the hotel’s incredible Kohler Spa. Ever since staying at the hotel when I was first pregnant with the twins, I’ve been dreaming of trying out the spa. (It was fully booked when we stayed at the hotel!) So a week in advance, I called in and got us treatments booked for after our afternoon tea. 

The spa experience there was all I hoped it would be- with Kohler owning the hotel, the water fixtures are impeccable. Every aspect is perfectly done- because they have such great water fixtures. Expect fantastic showers, expansive pools and steam rooms, a rooftop hot tub overlooking the golf course and relaxation rooms to sit in all along the way

I had the NEOM pregnancy treatment.  It was a massage + body scrub for 80 minutes. It was only £90, which felt like a steal compared to the prices for luxury hotels in London. The treatment was lovely, and is something I’d definitely recommend to all my pregnant friends. (Find their complete listing of services and treatments here).

After my session, they brought me into the Deep Relaxation Room and tucked me in (literally) on a little reclining chair with a cosy blanket, got me a drink and some nibbles and left me to it. I spent another two hours in the spa- relaxing there, taking a long shower and lingering doing extraneous grooming that I never have time to do at home (like shape my eyebrows and shave above my knee). It was glorious and I felt entirely unrushed. It was how all spa treatments should be, in my opinion.

So while the spa at the Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews is one that is a bit too far away for me to enjoy on a regular basis, I can definitely say that it is completely worth visiting when you make it to St. Andrews. Not only was it one of the best pregnancy massages I’ve had, the entire spa experience made it feel even more enjoyable.


A FEW TIPS 

Book in advance of your stay to avoid disappointment. You can email to book at reservations@oldcoursehotel.co.uk

.

Bring a swimsuit. The spa has so many great rooms, pools, sauna/steamroom- you really miss out if you don’t have a swimsuit to enjoy them.

 

Give yourself a good buffer of time before and after your treatment. You’re going to want to enjoy the spa for all it has to offer.


Pregnant and feeling like you need a spa break? (You probably do!) Find my reviews of other great UK spas here:

FOUR SEASONS  |  BAGLIONI HOTEL  |  COWSHED SPA  |  ROSEWOOD LONDON


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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Winter Wonder | Fresh Mint Tea

When we were living in Paris in the spring of 2012, it was one of the coldest winters in Europe in a hundred years...

The freezing temps meant we were ducking into cafes as often as we possibly could in hopes of warming up. The thing is, if I drank coffee every time I needed to warm up, I'd be spazzing out from the constant caffeine buzz.You would see me jittering down the Champs Elysees a hundred miles an hour. Eventually, I opted for fresh mint tea- or "the a la menthe." And thank goodness I did.

I stumbled upon a guilt-free treat that I can enjoy without any sugar intake or unwanted caffeine. And, man, it is so flipping good. When the weather turns chilly, I turn on the kettle and pluck a few leaves to make my own brew. (You can drizzle a bit of honey or a spoon of sugar in, if you prefer it a bit sweeter.) It's such a simple & elegant way to warm up…

Enjoy!

 

* tea 

image

Posted on December 4, 2013 and filed under "Paris", "hot tea", paris, hot tea, afternoon tea.

To A Tea | BRGR.Co (Say What?)

Tea?

At a burger joint?

Indeed.

Sometimes, my friends,

you gotta shake things up.

And speaking of shakes,

this tea included a mini shake...

so I had no choice but to try it immediately.

BRGR.Co

is a cute place in Soho

that has often intrigued me,

but I'd typically always been heading to another room

when I saw it,

so never had a good excuse to try it out.

Fortunately, my friend

Grace

forwarded me an email about their

version of "Afternoon Tea."

After reading of sliders (chicken, lobster & cheeseburgers!),

mini pots of fries, 

cheesecake, donuts, the aforementioned miniature vanilla shake,

iced tea (because what "tea" would be complete without it)

and a glass of prosecco

all for £17,

I realized this was my moment to check it out.

So off we went.

The staff was so friendly

and sat us 30 minutes before our reservation.

Food came out quickly

and was super good.

I was a big fan of the sliders, the fries, the donut, the tea...

well, I guess we could say

I pretty much liked everything.

Viola even had her first high chair experience...

giving her convenient access to swiping at food.

Obviously, I watched her grab at the cheesecake and fries

with true motherly pride.

So yeah, add

this place

to your list.

Whether it's for the "afternoon tea"

or just for a good bite

while your strolling Soho or shopping on Oxford Street.

It's a good one.

And the regular menu looks pretty awesome, too. 

Check it out!

***

Not your cup of tea?

Check out some of my other favorite places for tea

here

.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

To A Tea | The V&A

I love the

V&A.

Pretty much everything about it...

The architecture.

The pieces inside.

The fact that Victoria & Albert created it

to be a museum for the working class

and made it accessible to them by keeping it open late

(and, controversially, by candlelight)

so people could come after working hours.

I love the sitting area outside in the courtyard.

{And, of course, I love the fact that it is free to visit.}

BUT I REALLY LOVE THEIR CAFE.

I mean, honestly...

how gorgeous is this place?

It's one of my favorite places to meet up.

Not only is the food great

and the setting amazing,

but I like to do a quick run through the museum

to learn one new thing every time I'm there.

I kinda feel like it's a waste if I'm in a place

that is so amazing

and don't even see the exhibits.

{Then again, I'm a bit of a dork.}

When Megan was in town

on her bon voyage tour,

we went for a girls day.

It was wonderful.

I ate a lot.

I'm going to call it "emotional eating" because Megan was leaving...

but it might also have been because those scones were awesome.

However you want to call it.

Either way,

the V&A rocks.

A few things to know:

The V&A doesn't do giant tea trays of small sandwiches & treats.

Instead, they have serving lines of hot food, cold food, baked goods & drinks.

It's, basically, the most gorgeous cafeteria you've ever eaten it...

and with some of the best/freshest food, too.

Get more information on opening times & location

here on the

Victoria & Albert

website.

****

Not your cup of tea?

Check out some of my other favorite spots for tea in London here.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

To A Tea | The Drawing Rooms at The Ampersand Hotel

My friend Kelsey

invited me to tea

with some of her friends today

at the Ampersand Hotel.

Since I never say no to a chance

to sit around with baked goods

under tha guise of testing new tea rooms

and getting out of the house, 

I happily obliged.

To be honest, I'd never heard of this hotel before,

but I'm so glad that she had...

because, y'all, 

this place is cute...

The hotel is in a great location in South Kensington-

just feet away from the tube stop,

making it the perfect way to round off

a day visiting the V&A

or toodling around the halls of Harrods.

We had tea in the hotel's

Drawing Rooms.

And I have to say,

it might be one of my new favorite spots.

Here's why:

The scones were warm and delicious.

Not many tea rooms bake fresh scones

for each tea order...

most of the time, 

they are pre-cooked

and waiting to be served.

To have a hot one

makes it oh-so-much better.

{Editor's Note: This also applies to donuts & rolls.}

The place was cute,

but it wasn't pretentious.

It also wasn't a scene....

which I enjoyed for an easy afternoon out.

When I arrived at 2pm,

the place was fairly empty...

by the time I left,

there was a fun social buzz of chatter in the room.

Comfy, cozy chairs abound

for lounging and chatting.

Baby Mama Friendly?

Indeed!

The staff was so sweet

and the room had plenty of space

for our "push chair" brigade...

but the steps into the hotel are steep

and tough to do by yourself!

It's not crazy expensive.

The afternoon tea

-you know, with the pretty tied tray-

is £23 per person.

It has all the classics

like scones & sweets,

but offers yummy open sandwiches

that make the standard tiny triangles

that most other places offer feel a bit dated.

I, being cheap, opted for the "Cream Tea" for £7-

but was perfectly pleased with it.

A Cream Tea gets you two warm scones

-complete with clotted cream & jam on the side-

plus a pot of tea of your choice.

Perfect, I dare say.

And look how cute the tea pots are?

{They remind me of

this Bodum teapot

which I have been wanting for ages.}

All in all?

Tea in The Drawing Rooms was a definite win!

Check out

The Ampersand

for your next trip to London

or it's

Drawing Rooms

for your next afternoon with the ladies.

_____________

If this place doesn't look like your cup of tea,

check out some of my other favorite places to do tea in London

here.

To A Tea | Bea's of Bloomsbury

One of the last places

I'm going to highlight

is a new twist

on a London favorite.

Bea's of Bloomsbury

has, up until recently,

been a treasure of the neighborhood of,

well, Bloomsbury. 

Their new location in the swanky retail spaces

around St. Paul's Cathedral

offers more people a chance

to meet for a sweet afternoon out

in Central London.

I got to meet my friend,

Andrea

,

and her darling baby, Mae, there

one afternoon early this spring.

I think this is another great recommendation

for anyone wanting to stay in Central London

and have tea in a less-stuffy (and less-expensive) setting

than most of the famous tea rooms in town offer.

While you can do their

cute and quirky afternoon-tea

for a quite reasonable £19.00 per person,

the a la carte options are also really lovely...

and very affordable.

It's new location right by St. Paul's

makes a stop at

Bea's

easy

for anyone visiting the cathedral,

Shakespeare's Globe or the Tate Modern.

{It might have been a little untraditional for tea time,

but they make some mean banana bread...

and you should definitely have it toasted!}

The original

Bea's

location in Bloomsbury is at

44 Theobald's Road, WC1X 8NW.

Their new location at St Pauls can be found at

83 Watling Street, EC4M 9BX.

___________

Not your cup of tea?

Click through

here

for more of my favorite places for tea in London.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

To A Tea | Fortnum & Mason

In efforts to help out your future adventures in London, round out the final days of my pregnancy with shocking caloric intake, & spend time with my girlfriends in cute places...

I took on the task of trying out different places for tea in London for you to enjoy during my transition into motherhood. See, the thing is- visitors always seem to have this on their bucket list when planning a trip to London.While there are many institutions that do tea service well, my goal is to give you a handful of opportunities at several different price points & styles within different neighborhoods in London.

While most of the places I'm trying are smaller and lesser known,it only seemed right to start with a real London classic for afternoon tea. So here you have it... Fortnum & Mason Afternoon Tea.

__________________

Within the famous department store, Fortnum & Mason, is one of London's favo(u)rite tea rooms. It used to be known as the "St. James Tea Room," but was recently renamed "The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon." In honor of, well, you guessed it- the Queen's Diamond Jubilee last summer. My mom treated her daughters {and their daughters} to ladies tea on Christmas Eve, and while it was a pretty big splurge, I think we would all agree- it was an awesome memory.

My mom & me, fresh in from the winter rain.

Here are a few things to know about having tea in this special place:

It's fancy.

Yes, you need to make reservations... which I recommend doing online to avoid the long-distance call and to have a physical, printed copy of your reservations. Never hurts.

You need to dress appropriately.

People go here for a splurge... so don't yucky up their special day with eyesore fashion like tennis shoes & ski jackets. You'll have more fun dressing up and sitting like a well-heeled Londoner, too... take my word for it. {Plus, certain dress requirements are required by guests.}

Tea Time here is a feast.

When you order  the "Afternoon Tea," you can expect the standard silver-tiered tray of yummy sandwiches, scones with clotted cream & jam & tiny cakes and sweets served with your choice of one of F&M's famous green pots of tea. {£40 per person}

***

With "High Tea" you start with a main plate {think eggs benedict, lobster omelette, cheddar & haddock soufflé} and THEN you have the tiered tray of scones & cakes served with your choice of tea. Definitely don't plan on eating anything before this, or you won't have any room to enjoy it. Go on and consider it your lunch... and then some. {£44 per person}

***

You are going to be unbuttoning your fancy dress pants under the table to make room for all of this goodness.

Editor's Note: If you flip back a couple of pages on the menu, you can find a la carte items, which has more variety and can be a slightly less expensive way to craft your visit at F&M. If you'd like a main + scones or cakes, the staff is happy to piece together whatever you like.

***

If you have kids, don't hesitate to ask for the Children's Tea which comes with their own tea pot of tea, hot chocolate or juice and a special selection of treats... which, if your kid is anything like my niece, will absolutely tickle their fancy. {Children's Tea: £20}

________________________

I'll be posting more great places to enjoy tea in the great city of London over the weeks to come... but in the meantime, have you had tea anywhere special while you were visiting the UK? {I may need some more places to add to my list!}

 

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

** If you'd like additional information, you can read about my previous visit to Fortnum & Mason for tea here

.

It's the Little Things: Kusmi Tea

I might have been born with a cheerful disposition, it's true.

My mom says that I was born sunny side-up...

though I think she's alluding more to the fact that I was, indeed, face up.

{Sorry, mom.}

I'm not sure that things don't bother me

like they seem to bother everyone else.

In fact, I can get really worked up

over some really simple things.

{My good friends are nodding their heads and saying "Amen" right now.}

But maybe my reputation for always being cheerful

comes from somewhere else....

I really enjoy small things!

Little aspects of a day can really captivate me.

It makes me feel great to stop and enjoy one small thing.

So today, I'm enjoying a little tea break while working from home.

All it takes is a few simple things

to make my moment seem perfect.

My favorite glass, the

Bodum Pavina

.

A pretty tea strainer to do the magic.

Gorgeously fragrant

kusmi tea

that I brought back from Paris

The Prince Wladimir is orangey and floraly... 

and, well, I just love it.

It makes me feel like a lady.

I let it sit for a few minutes

while I

rummage through the cabinet for cookies

wait.

Voila!

It's ready.

I can perch in my favorite new chair

and enjoy the sunshine.

{Editor's note: Yes, it is 3pm and I'm still in a robe. Busted.}

What's a small way that you enjoy the day?

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on September 7, 2012 and filed under "hot tea", "life", "lovely", hot tea, afternoon tea.

Tea With The Queen

How many times have Americans joked

about going to Buckingham Palace for

tea with the Queen?

I mean, personally, I've heard it

at least 100 times

since we moved to England.

The worldwide total would be a number

that rivaled the number of girls (and their mothers)

who dream of winning Prince Harry's heart.

Seriously though,

it's a silly statement

because

-obviously-

the notion of having tea

at Buckingham Palace is simply ludicrous.

Except for the fact, 

you actually can have tea at Buckingham Palace.

{Who knew?}

While the Queen is away for the late summer

exploring her castles in Scotland,

Buckingham Palace opens to the public

for a 1.5 hour tour of the state rooms.

Apparently, visiting the palace

must be a well-kept secret

within the English geriatric community...

as 90% of the guests were females over 75.

{I suppose a girl's dreams of being a princess are timeless.}

This summer, the Duchess of Cambridge's dress was on display.

I got to see it even closer up than

from my abbey-side perch

at

the Royal Wedding.

It was displayed in the Ball Room

that the wedding reception was held in,

and designer, Sarah Burton,

was featured on video

discussing the design features

 of Kate's iconic dress.

Most of us have been to the White House or a castle on a trip at some point,

but I have to say-

no home I have ever seen

begins to rival the opulence of Buckingham Palace.

That place is no joke.

{Though no pictures are allowed inside so you'll just have to trust me.}

Bravo, England.

Not only do you let a commoner marry into the Royal Family,

but you let schleppy folk like myself

tour your home

and have tea on your back porch.

the cafe overlooking the garden. too gorgeous to explain.

we had to break the rule, and order a mid-day cappucino.... just for the crown.

Made me feel right at home...

in fact, 

I could get used to living in a place like that.

The other great thing

was the gift shop in her backyard.

Basically,

the nicest yard sale...

 ever.

Seriously, look at the crowd here. It could rival an Alaskan cruise.

The store offers some really great merchandise:

china, lotions, soaps, towels, ornaments & chocolates.

I bought myself really posh

 (but disappointingly unused by HRH)

shower cap.

{I'm not kidding.}

The walk out the to the back gate

felt like a stroll through Central Park.

Pinkies up!

If you are looking for a place

that almost feels as fancy & nice as Buckingham,

head to my friend, Debby's blog

Inspired Design

and check out

my feature

for fall!

Debby's

blog

is great,

and I highly recommend it for your daily blog reads!

For more information on taking your own tour of Buckingham Palace,

check here

for openings & dates when the palace is open to the public.

Pre-ordering your tickets is recommended and simple.

Posted on September 27, 2011 and filed under "England", "London", "museums", "travel tips", hot tea.

Tea for You

A few weeks back,

I hosted a group traveling through London

that were

studying the history of tea.

(... does that sound really random...)

After weeks in India, Morocco, and Boston,

they were on the final leg of their trip...

and what better place to end a pilgrimage for tea

than London?

And, boy, did we do it right.

We had fancy high tea at

St. James

in the historic department store,

Fortnum & Mason.

Not for the everyday treat

at £45 per person...

but with lunch offering like Lobster Salad

or the Crab & Saffron Tart,

you definitely are paying for quality.

look at that delicious hunk of lobster. mama mia.

The main course is served between

savoury amuse bouches

and the delightfully obtrusive tea cakes & scones.

Heaven help me.

The next day, we went to

Twinings

(the original storefront along the Strand)

for a tea tasting.

Holy cow.

I mean, I drink tea.

I drink a lot of tea.

To be honest, 

I kinda consider myself a bit of a tea expert.

After our tea tasting, 

I realized I am actually just ignorant.

The making of tea is a bit complex.

It was like a visit to a vineyard

hearing them describe the method & process

behind each variation.

I had no idea so much thought & work went into my daily drinks.

Who needs champagne when you can have

20 cups of Darjeeling for half the price?

Ok... I guess it's not exactly the same.

Maybe you are smarter than me

(this is very possible),

but just in case you're as clueless as I was,

here are some things I learned during my morning at

Twinings:

1. Most tea comes from the same type of plant.

(camellia sinensis)

Green tea, black tea, white tea... you name it.

The variation of color comes from different parts of the tea leaves

and the differed time of fermentation.

2.

Tea is fermented?

Yes! Not all, but black teas are.

However, unlike wine-

it's only fermented in hot air for a matter of hours.

3. Tea is marked up about 3000x from the fields to the store.

Isn't that crazy?

4. When tasting tea, 

you make a very loud slurping sound

to allow half tea/ half oxygen in your mouth.

It's not very proper sounding, but proper form it is!

Twinings

did an amazing tasting for us,

and I would highly recommend them for groups traveling through London.

I mean, if they have been the official purveyo

r to the monarchy

for centuries...

I'm sure you might like them, too.

*All Twinings photos are taken by Noah Darnell, The Fledging Photographer.

Posted on June 23, 2011 and filed under "London", "hot tea", "tea time", "work", hot tea.

Tea Time.

It's the week after Christmas.

After a month of parties

with endless binging of all things... bad,

I. Am. Feeling. It. 

In hopes of redeeming my innards 

before the damage is compounded

with New Year's festivities around the corner,

I'm swapping pie for tea 

These days I'm sipping...

Marks & Spencer Tea

This trio is a staple in our cupboards,

but I'm really loving the Detox this week

in my efforts to ... purge.

Description: A cleansing green tea with a rich peppermint undertones.

Price:

£2.29 per box

Mighty Leaf Green Tea Tropical

The first tea that I loved...

and I promise you will, too! 

Description: A crisp green tea that trades typical muskiness for light, fruity notes.

Price:

$7.96 per box

Tazo Orange Tea & Passion Tea

Both of these teas are fantastic hot- but I also love them on ice.

Each of them have such unique flavors.

It's a great way to switch out for something new.

Description: Fruity flavors set the tones for these, and their bright colors will liven your breakfast table.

Price:

$9.90 per box

Posted on December 28, 2010 and filed under "holiday", "hot tea", "winter", holiday, hot tea.

Long Island Hot Tea

This week is proving to be crazier

than the Admirals Club in an ice storm.

Our largest trade show starts next week

(Hello Jacob Javitz Convention Center!),

Mr. Wonderful has a birthday tomorrow,

my sister's college graduation is Saturday,

and Mother's Day is Sunday.

YIKES!

I need a drink.

green-tea-tropical.jpg

But apparently, martini lunches

aren't as acceptable

as they once were.

Phooey.

Green_Tea_Tropical_Tea_Pouches.c.zoom.jpg

So I drink tea.

Lots..

and

lots...

of green tea.

And this kind is my absolute favorite:

Mighty Leaf Green Tea Tropical

It may not soothe the senses as much as wine,

but I do feel relaxed...

and maybe even slightly British.

Posted on May 6, 2010 and filed under "TK", "hot tea", "work", hot tea.