Saturday, November 24, 2012

Just Tickled Pink: A Tea Place Review

When it came time for an end of year mini celebration for some lovely lady friends and myself I knew high tea would be the way to go. We are, to put it simply, high tea kind of people. We appreciate the detail, the china, the decor, the presentation of the food and of course the food itself.

Whilst lovely little Adelaide has several dessert bars, we are lacking traditional, old fashioned tea rooms, which for someone like me and many people I know is very disappointing. Regardless, I posed the question to Google, 'high tea in Adelaide'. He/she shot back a few options for us, however one that stood out was Just Tickled Pink. It looked cute and somewhat old fashioned but in a modern way, if there can be such a thing. I booked us in for high tea, which you should do too as they don't do high tea for walk ins. They do however have a cafe menu too and some incredible looking cupcakes if you are just dropping in.

After I booked I looked at some reviews on the internet; ok, so I did it the wrong way around! It was then I started to get worried, the reviews were very much less than complimentary, it made me nervous.  Those nerves however would not last as when I arrived and walked inside I was transported to another world. The staff were lovely and friendly and when we were seated we were provided a champagne glass of something with some bubbles and berries, it was non alcoholic. We concluded it was some kind of cordial and sparkling water combo. It was nice and refreshing.

The interior of JTP is, as you would expect, predominantly pink. It's not a tacky pink and is nicely done to compliment the interiors of the older shop front in which it resides. Lovers of high ceilings, fancy cornices, pretty archways and ceiling roses wont be disappointed here. The store retains the pretty original features which so many new places lack; I believe they call it 'character'.

I never really got caught up in the Audrey Hepburn hysteria that seemed to sweep through a few years back. All those cheap handbags with a photo of her from Breakfast at Tiffany's, I never owned one and nor did I desire to. Yes, I think she did have a certain way of dressing that was pretty and elegant, but I never saw the hype. Just Tickled Pink could be seen as somewhat of a Hepburn shrine, there are photos everywhere, even a giant screen (the old fashioned room divider) with a huge picture of her face. I found it possibly a little creepy, but maybe that's because I just don't get the appeal of the long gone star of yesteryear. Despite this, she doesn't seem to overtake the rooms completely and the other nick-nacks  and decorations provide enough distraction. There are photographs of the interior on their website, the details of which are at the end of this post.

Our service started with something that I can't name, only describe, as we were never told what it was. It was like a petite omelette garnished with a little smoked salmon and what I assume was a chive creme-freche concoction. Not being told what we were consuming was a little odd however it was yummy and a nice starter. When the tiered stands emerged they looked gorgeous. Again it would have been nice to be provided with a little more detail about what it was we were about to devour. And yes, my gluten intolerant friends, you will be pleased to know they offer a yummy gluten friendly option.

The food was very well presented, with some finger sandwiches even presented in the shape of a high heel shoe! The scones were divine, or so I'm told. There really was an abundance of food and it took us a good hour to pick through about 80% of it. I was glad that I hadn't eaten any lunch as this was lunch and dinner combined. As a plus, they boxed up the treats we were unable consume and we were able to take them home.

As we slowly worked our way through our treats the food for another table came out and it was one of the guests birthday so the staff sung happy birthday for her which I thought was a lovely touch.

On to the tea. As with most of what we ate we weren't told what tea we were drinking, nor did we have a choice. It was most likely English Breakfast, which I didn't mind. It was served from a large silver tea pot into our cute little tea cups. I would have like to have a choice of teas here. Perhaps we could have made a decision and had a little tea pot sitting on our table to pour as we pleased. The focus here was definitely more on the food than the tea.

Overall, Just Tickled Pink was nice and the thing that made our high tea experience great was indeed the company of likeminded friends and some discussion about the finer things in life and life itself. High tea here is $40 per person, one of the most expensive in Adelaide. Whilst I don't believe it was worth the full $40, I would price it at $35 perhaps, I didn't feel 'ripped off' as some other internet reviewers have stated. This may be because my expectations were for a nice celebratory afternoon with  friends, and that expectation was met.

The Verdict

Tea Place: Just Tickled Pink
Location: Unley Road, Hyde Park, Adelaide, South Australia
Contact: Website
Rating: 4/5
Comment: A cute store front, nice atmosphere and yummy food. The downside was the lack of tea and lack of choice of tea. It would also have been nice to be told what we were eating. Overall, a good afternoon.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Brush With Royal-tea! Prince of Wales: A Tea Review

I couldn't resist the royal-tea pun after my brush with royalty this past week. It was the first time I have ever seen any members of the royal family and possibly will be the only time. A friend and I battled the crowds of over enthusiastic elderly royal fanatics, one of whom not only stole our spot but then provided everyone in her vicinity with a running commentary of events AND got on the television news. Have I mentioned before that luck doesn't seem to follow me. Anyhow, we saw Prince Charles and Camilla, albeit fleetingly, and I left feeling satisfied enough to be able to say that I've seen some of the Royal Family.

As the royal car approached the cliches began. The rowers started to row down the river and the little river cruise boats positioned themselves for the photos. It was as if they had rounded up every swan from the river and contained them to just the portion they would see. It made me chuckle as I wondered how annoying it must be for them to go everywhere and have everything constantly be a superficial show. Personally, I'd get tired of it very quickly. You couldn't pay me to be a royal. As the car slowly drove past us we had a peek inside and waved to Charles and Camilla. Something amazed me about seeing them in person; they looked better than on television. In fact, Camilla was a very beautiful woman for someone her age. The car pulled up not far from us and they jumped out and straight away started to shake peoples hands, after all they only had 10 minutes to greet around 500 people. We didn't get a hand shake but that didn't matter to us, we had seen the royals!

Now, on to the tea... Twining's produce a popular black tea blend known as Prince of Wales. The tea is not named after Prince Charles the current Prince of Wales but was named and blended for Prince Edward VIII, the Prince of Wales. You might think you have no idea who he is but really you do. Prince Edward VIII became King of England in 1936. He was King for less than a year due to his abdication involving his relationship with American divorcee Wallis Simpson. There was a recent film about their relationship, W.E, and they featured, well actors playing them, in the fantastic film The King's Speech. When Edward abdicated that meant his younger brother Albert was to become king, which he did. Our current Queen, Elizabeth II, is the daughter of Prince Albert, later known as King George VI. I should add that Prince of Wales is a title given to the person next in line for the throne, so one day you would imagine this title would go to Prince William.

Twining's blended their Prince of Wales tea in the 1920's. It is a mild black tea blend similar to English Breakfast however has a little more of a bold smooth flavour whereas English Breakfast, I feel, has a slightly sweet and smooth flavour. It is a nice afternoon tea. It is a popular blend and is readily available in the supermarket in both tea bags and loose leaf blends. If you enjoy English Breakfast and want a change without wandering too far then this blend fits the bill. Brew this tea at 100 degrees celsius for 2-4 minutes. If you brew for too long it will become bitter and loose it's smooth flavour.

The Verdict

Tea: Twining's Prince of Wales
Store: Most Supermarkets
Rating: 5/5
Comment: A great afternoon tea and a nice alternative to English Breakfast

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tea Tastes Better in a Pretty Cup!

It's true. I don't know why or how but tea tastes better when you drink it from a pretty cup.

I have a cupboard literally bursting at the hinges full of cups and teapots and I wouldn't have it any other way, however it seems my husband would! I have been banned from buying more cups. So for now all I am allowed to do is look and dream...

If you know a tea lover, perhaps one of these would make the perfect Christmas gift!

Donna Hay for Royal Doulton at David Jones, Waterblossom by Essence at David Jones, Signature Cup by Christina Re

Chantilly Lace, Enchante and Aviary all Cashmere by Maxwell and Williams
Regency Tea Cup and Saucer from Dot Com Gift Shop
Blue, Ivory and Pink Botanical Breakfast Cups from Dot Com Gift Shop

Fleur De Lys, With a Twist and Watercolour Petals tea cup from Anthropologie

Sari tea cup and saucer from T2

Cups and saucers by Pip Studio from Amara

Polka dot cup and saucer from Wedgewood

-  -  -

Anything take your fancy?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Harrods Earl Grey - A Tea Review

I have to admit, I’ve never much been a fan of Earl Grey, the tea that is. Unfortunately I never met the man, he was a British PM in the 1830’s. The origins of the tea are disputed however it is regarded by the Grey family that Twinings were the original mass provider of the blend and yes, it was named after a man called Earl Grey.
Whenever I think of Earl Grey I for some reason see Nigella Lawson and hear her saying ‘citrusy bergamot’ in her sexy cooking voice. What on earth is a ‘citrusy bergamot’! Good question, thanks for asking. Well it turns out a Bergamot is simply a type of orange, grown predominantly in Italy for its oil and not juice, and Earl Grey tea is China black tea infused with the oil from the rind of this orange. It goes a long way in explaining why I’ve never been too fond of the brew, I don’t really like orange flavoured anything.

I can pinpoint the moment where I first developed a dislike of Earl Grey. I was at the house of an acquaintance and she very poorly made me a cup of tea, the unfortunate victim was Earl Grey. The teabag was steeped in that cup for such a long time that by the time the tea touched my lips the flavour was bitter and overly strong. I can remember that when she excused herself to use the bathroom I quickly tiptoed to the kitchen, poured some down the sink and added several spoonfuls of sugar then tiptoed back to the lounge where I continued to drink the hideous beverage under the watchful eyes of my host. I could not have simply poured the whole thing down the drain, that would have been far too obvious.

Fast forward five years and a lovely friend gave me a beautiful mug with a box of Earl Grey’s for my birthday. It was time to try again.
I boiled my kettle and prepared my cup. I placed the tea bag in and poured over the water. I pulled the tea bag out after what could only be described as the longest minute of my life. I wanted to start mildly. The ‘citrusy bergamot’ aroma wafted through the air and to my surprise was actually rather pleasant. Once the tea had cooled I tasted it; to my great surprise it was lovely!
Earl Grey wont replace English Breakfast as my go to black tea but it makes a very nice pick me up.

Where does Earl Grey take me when I close my eyes? Probably not where you’d expect, or maybe it is…

If you guessed riding on top of an elephant in British ruled India with a giant parasol, then you were correct! Maybe it's the spicy citrus flavour that makes me think of Indian food?

The Verdict

Tea: Earl Grey
Shop: Harrods - available instore, online or in Australia at selected David Jones stores
Rating: 4/5 if brewed correctly
Comment: Now we know what ‘citrusy bergamot’ is this tea makes more sense. An uplifting black tea that makes a nice change from the regular black tea blends such as English Breakfast. Steep your teabag for 1-2 minutes for a light and refreshing flavor.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Open to Suggestions...

Whilst I really enjoy writing about tea, tea places and everything in-between, what I'd love to know is what kind of topics you'd like to read about on this blog.

Are there any teas you'd love to try but want to know more about them first?
Want to go to a tea room but don't know that much about it?
Do you want some recipes or ideas for tea party treats?
Would you like more factual and historical tea-ventures?

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you would like to read more of!

~ A