The REAL TeaseMaid since 2011! Take a peep at my blog: a sweet and sexy cocktail of Tea and Tease, a cupcake and cream-tea blog with a burlesque twist. Let's face it, afternoon tea is the most fun you can have with your clothes on! So read on for some tasty tit-bits that you're not gonna get from the 'old dears' at The Tea Guild.... ;-) If you fancy coming along to my monthly Clandestine Cake Club, see the link below. And don't forget to check out the date of my next 'Avon' retro cosmetic party "Cake It On".... Love from The TeaseMaid xox

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Crimson Heart, Leonard Street, Shoreditch

Nestled down a side street just off City Road, Crimson Heart is a little gem of a place that opened in December. I was only made aware of this new tea venue at a recent Shoreditch Sisters meeting and I was very excited to be given the opportunity to pop in for a cuppa. I chose the perfect morning for it too, as there was something very comforting about descending the little staircase into the warm bosom of the cafe downstairs, away from the elements and the madness of the city in the sudden freezing weather we're having. 
Decorated in kitsch cool by the owner Mia, Crimson Heart is more like a nan's living room than a cafe, complete with retro games behind the counter and a disco ball to complement the crochet tablecloths and chintz lampshades. Everything about it is fabulous!
The cakes are home-made by Mia's sister and the menu changes every few days depending on what batch has been made. I had a very welcome cup of steaming coffee with a complementary heart shaped biscuit, and if the taste of that is anything to go by I'll be back there this weekend for a full cream tea!
Totally inkeeping with the name of the cafe, there will be a special set Valentine's afternoon tea for £10 a head which is a great price for London, and there will also be a pop up florist before the big day, so that men all over Shoreditch can keep their other halves happy.
However, the special thing about this place is that it is not only a cafe, but also a vintage store selling jewellery, homeware and other kitsch trinkets - as soon as I walked in something caught my eye which I promptly purchased on my way out...so much for my 'thrifty January'
I highly recommend you eschew all those massive corporate conglomerates in favour of the smaller, individual little businesses like this which keep the city from becoming a homogenous nightmare. It's open Mon-Fri 10-6pm and til 8pm on Thursdays (as well as a special opening of 10-8pm Valentine's Day,Tuesday 14th Feb.) Saturday openings are beginning in February,  and keep checking the website too, as there are many other events coming up such as clothes swapping parties and a book club: 

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Tophams? I'd rather top myself....

So January is the month after we've all overdone it at Christmas: spent too much money, eaten too much food, drank too much booze...and now we're all paying for it. So to be honest, the last thing my wallet or my waistline needed right now was another afternoon tea. However, this one was already paid for as I'd already bought a Groupon voucher for it before Christmas. And in all honesty, the tea itself wasn't so much the focus as a good gossip with a mate and a day out of the house during this austere month.
I wouldn't have chosen the venue myself. Tophams is a hotel in Belgravia that has just undergone a 2 year refurbishment, and although it was very nicely done that was the problem really - it was just, well, nice. It was far too homogenous for me as the decor was 'neutral' and me and my friend were very un-neutral so we really stood out. And that was before we'd started talking...
The place was completely chocka as it was predictably full of people taking advantage of the Groupon offer, so I was glad I'd booked us in late in the day so we'd gradually see people leave.
We started with a pink champagne and at £26 for two champagne afternoon teas I feel I can't complain too much about the wait between the bubbly and the actual tea itself, especially as the staff were rushed off their feet. But when it did come it was a lovely selection of finger sandwiches and scones, as well as many little mini cakes. 

The problem was the cakes were all different and there was no duplication: queue much diplomatic discussion about who was going to get the cheesecake with the cherries in and who would get plain, who'd have the little choccy cake and who'd have 'vanilla' (I got that and it was even worse...lemon!) Then most importantly, who was going to have the cake that looked exactly like a little nipple..!
All in all it was OK, but it was my friend's first Afternoon Tea experience and I really wished I'd been able to take her somewhere a bit more subvert or full of character. Some of the old dears in their practically had a coronary at our conversation, and the most interesting thing I'm sure happened there all day was when I got up to go powder my nose and Heather had to pull me back as I had a MASSIVE split up the back of my skirt that I had no idea about. (I'm sure that must have happened when I was beating up a man in it 2 weeks ago but honestly, he deserved it...)
So, the proof is in the (chocolate) pudding....afternoon tea is what YOU make it, and this time all the glamour and drama came from us :)

"Sip"-Tease Rating: **
Pa"Tease"erie Rating: **
Boudoir or Boring? Rating: *
Service with (Nothing But a) Smile Rating: **
Cheap or Chic? Rating: **

Until next time...xox

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

It's Prim up North....
As you know by now, I blog about afternoon tea in London because I’ve lived here for 5 years and I love it. But I’m originally from Liverpool so, to me, both places have their charm. There are many things you see in Liverpool that you just don’t see in London (or anywhere else.) For example, girls shopping in the town centre wearing lovely clothes, full make-up….and a head full of rollers like a modern day Ena Sharples. Or The Scouse Brow which is just as synonymous with Liverpool as the Vajazzle is with Essex thanks to the TV show “Desperate Scousewives”.

Conversely, I see a lot of things in London that I’d never see anywhere else: people rollerblading with their arms full of grocery shopping, and women in smart suits and trainers carrying their heels in their bags. But my favourite has to be that uniquely London habit people have of being nose-down, totally engrossed in their book or newspaper as they’re walking through incredibly busy underground stations and packed streets, only looking up every few minutes or so to check they’re not ploughing into an old lady.
Anyway, another thing common to London but only just taking off in Liverpool is afternoon tea, so while I was home for Christmas I decided to try out a couple on home soil...
1 – Neighbourhood Cafe

The first place I went to was a relatively new hotspot called ‘Neighbourhood’ which, despite being a cosy little café in an ‘out-of-town’ suburb of the city, called Childwall, is a favourite of some  celebrities such as Coleen Rooney and Alex Curran. Good things evidently do come in small packages though, as this was actually one of the best afternoon teas I’ve ever tasted! It seems that many establishments focus mainly on the cake/patisserie elements of their afternoon tea and don’t give their savouries due care and attention. Neighbourhood did, and it was amazing the difference some decent seasoning can make to those finger sandwiches. Also, I was highly impressed with the amount of smoked salmon sandwiches we received, as most places opt to scrimp on this particular filling.
We were told they were out of jam so were served little glasses of fresh fruit for the scones, which was a really lovely touch and made us feel holier-than-thou since it counted as one of our ‘5 a day’ (despite the lashings of clotted cream). In addition to good teas and great food, the surroundings were charming and the table was set up well with a unique cake and sandwich stand, and lovely tablecloth (which caused many people in the café to glance jealously in our direction…)

We were offered extra tea as needed, and little foil trays to take home any leftovers (which we did need to do as we were absolutely stuffed.) The only negative thing I’ll say is that it did take a lot to get the attention of the staff who all seemed to be having a very engrossing conversation behind the cake counter – we found that waving the empty tea-pot in their air tended to have the desired effect and get someone’s attention. Being used to London prices I was pleasantly shocked by the economic value of this afternoon tea and highly recommend Neighbourhood to fulfil your Northern tea needs.

"Sip"-Tease Rating: ***
Pa"Tease"erie Rating: ***
Boudoir or Boring? Rating: ****
Service with (Nothing But a) Smile Rating: **
Cheap or Chic? Rating: *****
2 – Maritime Museum Cafe
I wish I could be as complementary about the afternoon tea at the Maritime Museum café on The Albert Dock but unfortunately it just didn’t compare. It was only £8 for a full afternoon tea which is a bargain but, with a price like that, it showed. The cakes weren’t very adventurous and all seemed to be small slices of similar stodgy favourites: fruit cake, sponge cake, ginger cake… However the scones were nice and we were offered a cute looking cupcake which made it a bit more special. Sandwiches were pretty bland and again, it was very difficult to get the attention of the staff.

The main saving grace was the spectacular view of the Liverpool waterline with it’s Liver Building  and the brand new Museum of Liverpool…..now THAT’S something you don’t get in London ;-)
Until next time…xox


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