Exploring, sipping & delighting in all things tea.
Just put the kettle on. One lump or two?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

No Time For Tea Breaks

Hello hello hello!

And how are you all?

We've been a tad absent over the last months as the time we previously had for posts went out the window, along with our much loved tea breaks (and kitkats too!).

When life isn't so hectic and tea time becomes the norm again, we shall get back to it.

For now, we hope you're all well and enjoying as many tea breaks as you possibly can and staying warm and cosy.

Chin chin...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Cake * Tea & Bakes Guest Post

We haven't had a Tea & Bakes guest post for a long while now, so here is special something from Claireabelle to get those taste buds tingling...

I must confess to having avoided Gluten Free cake in the past. Cake recipes should be traditional, right? Well I thought so until I discovered this simple recipe in 2008, from Good Food Magazine (also available online).

It contains mash potato.
Yes, you read that correctly, mash potato. IN A CAKE?! There are probably a few of you that think I'm barmy, but trust me, it's a winner and is my go-to gluten free cake recipe.
  • Serves 8 - 10
  • Prep 30 mins
  • Cook 40 mins (Including cooking potato)
  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 175g ground almonds (to make it nut free see below)
  • 250g mashed potato
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder (Supercook does one)
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar (for drizzle)
  • juice of 1 lemon (for drizzle)
NB: If you'd like to make this nut-free, as well as wheat-free, switch the ground almonds for polenta or wheat-free flour.
  • Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line a deep, 20cm round cake tin.
  • Prepare potatoes and boil until ready to mash. There should be no lumps! Leave potato to cool.
At this point it feels like you are preparing an evening meal and not getting ready to bake, but stick with me.

  • Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, then gradually add the egg, beating after each addition.

This is where I almost had a baking fail on my hands when I noticed my ground almond supply is low. That will teach me to prepare my ingredients as I go along! Luckily, I always have a supply of polenta in the cupboard and used the same amount (175g) as a nut free alternative.

  • Fold in the almonds, cold mashed potato, lemon zest and baking powder. I love the silicone spatulas for this. 

It is only now that it begins to look like actual cake mixture.

  • Tip into the tin, level the top, then bake for 40-45 mins or until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack after 10 mins cooling. 

  • Mix the granulated sugar and the lemon juice together, then spoon over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. I actually used a gravy jug to pour the drizzle. Let the cake cool completely before serving.

The end result is a light zingy cake with no hint of potato whatsoever. I even sent the OH to work with a batch and nobody noticed the starchy ingredient. Secret squirrel! I've made lemon polenta cake before and found it slightly crumbly, but somehow the potato binds everything together to make a great sponge. 

I will be enjoying my (jumbo) slice with some wonderful loose fruit tea sent by a friend in Canada.

Happy baking!
Claireabelle x

Thanks Claireabelle for the scrummy post. A very good reason to put the kettle on indeed. And we love your tea accessories!

For more sweet treats and crafty goodness pop over to the pretty blog

If you are a baker, caker or biscuit maker and have a fabulous recipe, send it on over to us as a Tea & Bakes guest post. For more info click and send us a message.
Chin chin...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bonne Journée!!

Bonjour from France!!

We thought we would pop by and say hello from a little place called Herrison, (which means Hedgehog in English) situated in the middle of France.

Some of the Isle of Tea folk used to live in France and were pleased to find teas that were long ago drunk amongst these parts and we shall tell you all about them very soon.

In the meantime, we have a fab Tea & Bakes post coming up and we were wondering what you thought of our new header? There's still more changes to come, but all slowly slowly.

And we do hope the weather is as lovely as it is today over here, as it is wherever you are.

Chin chin...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Unlucky Losers Get Lucky...

We received a lovely little message earlier from our friend at Chash Tea (who you must surely be acquainted with now after the big tea giveaway) and we thought it would be mean not to share it...
"As promised, I wanted to show my appreciation to those who entered but didn't win the competition
So... if you want to let your readers know that for all who didn't strike it lucky, if they enter voucher code 'IsleOfTea' in the cart they will get a WHOPPING 20% of their tea order for FREE!!!  
I will keep the offer open until Monday"
Oh what a lucky bunch of tea drinkers you are indeed. And for those of you that may have missed the end of the giveaway, we announced the TEN winners here.

Here's just a taster of the wide range of Tea Pouches, Loose Leaf Teas, Flowering Tea Balls, Rare & Special Teas and more...

Damask Rose Buds

Darjeeling 1st Flush

Heart To Heart Tea Balls

Vanilla Chai
Chocolate Tea

What a marvellous end to a glorious day.

Chin chin...

Gwyneth Depport's Tea experiments * T.ART

Good day to you. We hope you've been having a wonderful week. The sunshine has been delightful!

We haven't had a T.ART for a while, so we thought it was about time and here we have Gwyneth Depport's creative Tea experiments.

Over to Gwyneth...
I like to work with a wide selection of both new and recycled textiles, using stitch, both – hand and machine, also paints, pastels and inks, embellishment, layering, found objects, photos and paper, wire, employing block, screen and digital printing. The outcomes often involve the creation of surface pattern for printed textiles and/or form.

Project: ‘Conversation’
For my final year projects work I amalgamated two main areas of inspiration:


The Blackwork inspiration came from a specific piece of Blackwork from the Victoria and Albert Museum.                  

The V & A’s 16th Century piece was particularly influential because of the combination of words and symbols.             

Due to crown copyright I can't include an image but here is a link to the piece, here.

I also made study visits to Gawthorpe Hall, Padiham, in Lancashire to see and experience Blackwork in Kay Shuttleworth’s Embroidery collection.


My second source area was my personal experience of the well practiced activity of drinking tea the inspiration from both the drinking of tea and the conversation experiences and sometimes the silence, that accompanies it. I also worked on the asscociated parahernalia such as cups, teapots and teabags.
I conducted many experimental trials to take an original idea through to finished pieces and here are just two of them.

 A page from my experimental trials sketchbook

Another page where I was considering a 'teabag gingham', I soaked teabags and then pressed them onto cloth

I picked out the contours of one with the tiniest stitch possibleon

I used Photoshop to manipulate the teabag and had it printed onto silk satin, sorry no photograph, my daughter now has ownership of it!

For another experiment I took teabags and replaced the tea with words clipped out of magazines

 I chose my favourite and again sized it up through photoshop having it digitally printed onto silk satin

I'm currently populating my website and have my own blog Pop over and see me, let me know about your blog too!

Thanks Gwyneth!
Chin chin...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy First Birthday Isle of Tea!!

It's our birthday! Our very first. And to celebrate... we completely forgot about it and ate cheese and biscuits in the garden with friends, went to a carboot and visited the seaside and ate icecreams. Yes... our birthday was yesterday and we'd been anticipating our birthday for a while, but had somehow, in the confusion of good weather/bad weather (we must have just been having so much fun this weekend with the surprise sunshine) we shamefully admit that it passed us by.

So today, once we had realised (some people may have noticed our shock and realistion tweets) we decided we'd drink Proseco from wine glasses (teacups!!) and have a little gathering dans la jardin Isle of Tea with something sweet.

It has been a very fun and interesting year and we've met an awful lot of good folk through our Guest Posts, Tea & Bakes Posts and our We Love posts.

Still being a work in progress, we have things to come and things we want to change. You may have noticed that we've been moving things around a little as we're quite overdue a bit of a revamp. We will be adding new things over the next couple of weeks too, so keep a little eye out for a new header that's no longer wonky and a new shop load of tea inspired goods.

As it's our birthday and our spirits are high (and a tad squiffy on proseco) we thought we'd give all of all blog viewers a whopping 20% off everything in our Etsy Shop. Be warned... we know it's not full to the brim of stock at the moment but there is a mighty bargain to be had with the last of our Vintage Tea Dresses and a scattered selection of upcycled crockery. We're hoping to start afresh with our shop, so all the stock must go.

To make use of our 20% off anything in our Etsy shop use the coupon code ILOVETEADRESSES.

And don't forget about the Big Tea Giveaway that ends on Thursday. There's a total of 10 winners, so the chances are high!! (Here's a little clue for the *New Question* on the rafflecopter at the bottom of the giveaway post for another 5+ entries - Notice anything WE may have made!?!).
A little scamp was quick off the mark to nab the top of the cake!
So here's to one whole year to Isle of Tea and we hope there's many more to come...

Chin chin...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

BIG TEA *Giveaway*

Oh how we wish the sun would brighten up the sky, so we could sit on the lawn with tea, cake and cucumber sandwiches...

However, to brighten up another rainy May day, today's the day the teddy bears (you lovely lot) enter the big Chash Tea giveaway (or...you could have an indoor picnic!)

                                                                *Made by us!*

You may remember us mentioning Chash (The Fine Tea Company) a little while ago when we sampled their Flowering Tea Ball and made a video documentation of the Tea Ball opening.

Here's a little reminder...

And so now is your chance to enter our biggest giveaway so far and receive a whole £10 worth of Chash Tea goodies...

What could you win?

If you take a little look around the Chash Tea site you will find an array of exquisite blends of loose leaf teas that all look tantalisingly inviting.

Want to know a little more about Chash Tea?

"For 3 years Chash has selected the very best full leaf and flowering teas of the World. Our simple aim is to rediscover and showcase quality tea. We are passionate about putting fine tea into the British tea cup.Our name is derived from 'chashitsu', Japanese for Tea Room."

Ooooh look at that lovely assortment of teas.

Oh, but there's more! Not only will there be ONE winner, no, no sweet little crumpets...there will be TEN and we will be giving you a whole two weeks to enter.

You could win a selection just like this!

What you need to do, up until 24hrs May 17th:

The winner will be selected at random by the Rafflecopter below, so get thee entering now. You can up your entries by tweeting from the Rafflecopter below for more chances of winning.

Good luck ladies & gents!!

We will be announcing the ten winners on Friday 18th May. Lets get this party started.

Click Read More below!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Moving IOT Headquarters


You may have noticed the lack of posts recently, here at Isle of Tea, but alas, we're back! IOT headquarters has moved (down the road) and we're still awaiting to get reconnected to the internet.... tapping fingers... (there's only so much of internet cafes we can take) Harrumph.

And whilst we've been away there have been many changes brewing. Remember we mentioned a ceramic studio we were going to be renting, to enable us to stock our shop with a wider range of new and exciting tea wares? Well... this didn't exactly go to plan. However, there are even bigger and better things on the horizon and the new IOT Towers has the perfect space/studio that backs onto a beautiful large garden with many fruit bushes and a lily pond. Aaaah. Bliss.

In the meantime, we thought we'd do a little catching up and finally show you this tea plate we received as a gift at the end of last year.

It is a commemorative plate from Ringtons which was made in 1994 to celebrate the Rington's tea family, (which is made by Masons) and shows The Story of Tea.

From plucking, transporting, delivering and tasting.

Must dash time's running out and we're parched. Tea time!!

Don't forget we have the Chash Tea Giveaway coming up very soon and some tremendous tea tingling guest posts too.

And new-ish tea drinker A Thrifty Mrs (guest post here) has only gone and come up with an Oat & Green Tea homemade face pack so if you're not such a big fan of drinking green tea, follow the link and stick some on your face for a simply thrifty, refreshing and uplifting treat for your skin.

Chin chin...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Flowering Tea Ball and exciting news!

We received a little gift in the post a couple of weeks ago from Chash, The Fine Tea Company. We were very excited about it and decided that when we could finally get our hands on a glass teapot we would make a video for you all to see.

"For three years Chash has selected the very best full leaf and flowering teas of the World".

Their, "...simple aim is to rediscover and showcase quality tea." And "passionate about putting fine tea into the British tea cup."

This is what the tea ball looked like to begin with...
Photo directly from Chash 

We really had no idea what was about to happen... but here it is!

How very amazing is that?! And hands up who who who wants one...?

We have sped the video up, so you can watch how the tea ball unfolds and flowers. Truly quite beautiful.

It had a very delicate, yet sweet taste that was like a subtle green tea with a hint of sweet lychees, but you'll have to try them out for yourselves. And they are extremely well priced here. They're ever so thrifty and ever so nifty and only £10 for a set of 10.

Pop on over to Chash  to find out all about their Specialist & Rare Teas, a long list of testimonials (including his mum!), hosting a tea party, a wide range of loose leaf teas, Chash tea bags, tea cups and teapots and of course their amazing flowering tea balls.

However, we've got something else up our sleeves as we have teamed up with Chash (whose name"derived from 'chashitsu', Japanese for tea room") and over the coming weeks we're having a Chash tea giveaway right here at Isle of Tea with ten (oh yes!! We did say ten!) lucky winners.

So keep a little eye out and you could be one lucky little tea peep.

Chin chin...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day * Tea & Bakes Guest Post

There's nothing I love more than a cup of tea, except a cup of tea with a slice of cake. My tea of choice is either a Rooibos or a Nettle Tea because I find these refreshing. Rather oddly, however, if I have an Afternoon tea I want nothing more than a good old Breakfast tea, which is exactly what I shall be drinking with this Chocolate and Raspberry cake. Perhaps a special occasion cake, this is made with spone, raspberry syrup, chocolate mousse, chocolate glaze and raspberries. All are fairly simple to prepare and Valentines give us the perfect excuse to indulge. If you have any questions about this recipe you can find me on Twitter at MariaKelly17 where I will be happy to help.

For the sponge:
4 eggs yolks + 4 egg whites

125g caster sugar
90g flour, sifted
30g unsweetened cocoa, sifted

1. Prepare 3 baking trays with parchment paper and turn oven on to 180˚C, making sure you have 3 shelves in place. Trace on circles or heart shapes (for you romantics).

2. Combine the egg yolks and 60g of the sugar, beat until pale yellow and creamy. Separately whisk the egg whites, gradually adding the rest ofhe sugar util this is glossy, smooth and has stiff peaks.

3. Gently fold in the egg yolk mixture, then the flour and cocoa powder.

4. Pipe this mixture using a round nozzle, working outwards, following the shape closely until filled.

5. Bake for 8 minutes, then set aside to cool.

For the Raspberry syrup:

100ml water
50g caster sugar
50ml raspberry liqueur

1. Place the water and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil.

2. Remove from heat to cool. Once cold add the liqueur.

For the Chocolate Mousse:250g dark (55%) chocolate
500ml whipping cream

1. Chop the chocolate and place over a bain-marie until the temperature reaches approx. 45˚C on a cooking thermometer.

2. Beat the cream until it forms stiff peaks.

3. Add 1/3 of the cream into the chocolate beating briskly to combine.

4. Pour this mixture over the rest of the cream and fold in gently.

For the Chocolate Glaze:
140g dark chocolate
200ml whipping cream
25g mild honey 1. Chop the chocolate and place into bowl.

2. Heat the cream and honey until simmering and pour this over the chocolate, stir until combined.

For the Decoration:
350g fresh raspberries


1. Place one of the sponges onto a rack and brush with the raspberry syrup. Spread 1/3 of the chocolate mousse and arrange 1/3 of the raspberries on the mousse.

2. Place the second sponge on top and repeat.

3. Place the remaining sponge on top then spread the remaining 1/3 of the mousse all over the cake and place in fridge to set for 20 minutes.

4. Pour the chocolate glaze over the top and refrigerate for another 50 minutes to set.

5. Decorate with the remaining raspberries.

Enjoy and Happy Valentines Day!
Adapted from The Chocolate BIBLE, Le Cordon Bleu.

You can find more food and bakes in Maria's Kitchen!Thank you Maria for our delicious treat for Valentines day!!

Chin chin...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Reading Tea Leaves By a Highland Seer

Good arrrfternoon tea friends. We had a little trip to one of the many charity shops in Bridport just the other day and spotted this little book. Reading Tea Leaves...

What a find, right?! We have (like many of you lot must have) heard all about reading tea leaves and had a little wink-wink-knudge-knudge-chuckle about it all. However... is there more to this form of fortune telling or is it just a load of wishy-washy tea-tosh or balderdash? So in we delve...

Just the beginning paragraph of the Introduction (by James Norwood Pratt - would be wrong to...*ahem*) is possibly convincing us otherwise...
"Who hasn't heard of reading tea leaves? If you buy this book, you may have the good fortune to discover that it is no joke but an exercise of insight and intuition, not infrequently shading over into genuine psychic ability."
Fairly interesting, if you are a believer of psychic ability and whatnot, as we may have just found your answer to getting even more from that beloved cuppa.

Mr Pratt goes onto mention that it is probably "the oldest book in English on the subject. just recently rediscovered by the distinguished tea merchant John Harney"... Ooooerrrr!

You are invited to "simply close the book," if you don't believe in this sort of thing ... which is fair enough... but in we shall delve a little farther...

The first quarter of the book is taken up wholly with the Intro and Preface but lets get to some of the nitty-gritty.

From here on the titles are as follows:

  • Chapter 1: Tea Cup Reading and Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves * Introduction to the Art of Divination from Tea Leaves
  • Chapter 2: Ritual and Method of Using the Tea-Cup
  • Chapter 3: General Principles to Be Observed in Reading the Cup
  • Chapter 4: An Alphabetical List of Symbols with Their Significations 
  • Chapter 5: Collection of Specimen Cups, with Interpretations * Interpretations and Illustrations
  • Chapter 6: Omens

And so who is itching to have a little looky at some of the Interpretations and Illustrations?! Here are just two examples for you lucky lot.

Fig 3: Principal Symbols - Crescent moon, Bird Flying, Triangles, Flag, Initial A in conjunction with sign of a letter in official envelope, Other initials, H and two Ls (???)
"This shows, by means of the crescent moon on the side, prosperity and fortune as the result of a journey denoted by the lines. The number of triangles in conjunction with the initial H indicates the receipt of a legacy from some person whose name commences with that letter, and, being near the rim, at no great distance of time. The bird flying towards and near the handle, accompanied by a triangle and a long envelope, denotes good news from an official source. The flag gives warning of some danger from an enemy."
Ok then... so what do you think of that then tea peeps?

Fig 8: Principal Symbols - Coffin in bottom, in conjunction with V, Flag in conjunction with rifle on side, Sceptre on side, Large initial K with letter sign near sceptre, Astrological sign of Mars between them, Initial V near flag and rifle (???)
"This tea-cup appears to give warning by the flag in conjunction with a rifle and the letter V that some friend of the consultant will be wounded in battle, and as there is a coffin in the bottom of the cup that the wounds will be fatal. On the other side, however, a sceptre, surrounded by signs of honours, seems to indicate that V will be recognised by his sovereign and a decoration bestowed upon him for bravery in battle, shown by the initial K accompanied by a letter-sign, and by the astrological sign of Mars, intervening between these and the sceptre."
Wow. We're a tad stumped what to say about that one...

Hands up who can see the symbols in the tea leaves!?!

Just to give you a little more insight into this spectacular book, as we thought it wouldn't be fair not to, here are some examples of the Symbols and Significations:
"Abbey: Future ease and freedom from worry. Apes: Secret enemies. Apple Tree: Change for the better. Badger: Long life and prosperity as a bachelor. Bear: A long period of travel. Birds: A lucky sign; good news if flying; if at rest a fortunate journey. Camel: A burden to be patiently borne. Clouds: A serious trouble; if surrounded by dots, financial success. Cock: Much prosperity. (Ooooerr *Ahem*) Comet: Misfortune and trouble. Deer: Quarrels, disputes; failure in trade. Dog: A favorable sign; faithful friends, if at top of cup; in middle of cup, they are untrustworthy; at the bottom means secret enemies..."
We think you may have possibly got the gist, but be sure to stay clear of seeing a Kettle in your tea leaves as it means Death and we're certainly not wanting any of that around us thank-you-very-much.

It is all rather interesting, but it has got us thinking about the origins of the superstitious symbols and their significations. We know throughout many culture's histories there has been a strong link between superstitions and animals brining fortune or misfortune, but wonder if the superstition has to be concrete or could possibly change. We would like to think that Kettle would be a positive bringer of good things (tea perhaps!) rather than Death anyhow...

The Chapter titled Omens digs a little deeper and stumble upon some of the old ones you may or may not have heard of. Such as;

  • Monday's child is fair of face... (and so on) 
  •  Putting your clothes on backwards is a sign of good luck (but you must not alter them or the luck will change) 
  •  A cow coming into your garden is a very prosperous sign ... (ok...)
  •  Crickets are a lucky omen as they foretell money coming to you, but they should not be disturbed 
  •  Magpies (we all know this one, surely?) 
  •  A new moon seen for the first time over the right shoulder offers the chance for a wish come true 
  •  Nightingales are lucky for lovers if heard before the cuckoo 
  •  Owls are evil omens. Continuous hooting of owls in your trees is said to be one of ill health (Eeeeek!) 
  •  Singing before breakfast and you'll cry before night. (*Sniff*) 
  •  It's best to put your right shoe on first
So there you have it. Whether you take it with a pinch of salt like us or really believe you may be able to predict your future, here's a place to start with those tea leaves. Otherwise we've heard they're very good for Rose bushes!

Right then... we're off to put on some clothes backwards, drag a cow into our garden, put some microphones into some long grass and tiptoe off, get some binocs for the magpies, remember to look over our right shoulder, listen out for those Nightingales, keep our eyes and ears covered around Owls and always remember it's the right foot!

Think we'll just make a cuppa instead...

P.S. This will be going into our Tea Reads page very soon!

Chin chin...
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