Monday, December 28, 2009

Lipton: Pyramid Bags

I am a purist when it comes to tea and Lipton is at the bottom of the list for me. Lipton's tea is mass produced using tea dust or fanning, the industry's name for the lowest grade quality of tea. The tea is usually flavorless and dull and really gives people a bad idea of what tea is.

Today while shopping in Shop Rite, I came across a box of something that surprised me. Lipton Pyramid Tea bags with actual whole leaf tea, instead of the usual fannings. Although I would never go out of my way to purchase Lipton, I decided to try this new product. I purchased a box of the Vanilla Caramel Truffle.

From the website: "Our long-leaf tea is handpicked from only the top two leaves and a bud. LIPTON premium long-cut tea is delicately packaged in unique pyramid-shaped bags that allow the tea room to flow freely with real pieces of fruit for a truly authentic tea infusion. The result is an exceptionally pure tea flavor and aroma. LIPTON Premium Pyramid Tea Bags are now available in six delicious new flavors. Try them all. "

"A perfectly sweet indulgence. Delicate vanilla blends beautifully with pieces of real caramel and the taste of rich chocolate truffles. Go ahead. You deserve it."

Upon brewing myself a cup of Lipton's seemingly up to scale product, I'm sad to say that I was disappointed. I was really hopeful that perhaps this big step forward for Lipton would mean better taste. However, the caramel bits don't look real, and the black tea, although whole leaf, does not look high-quality. And the flavor is still lackluster. Even with added milk and sugar, I don't get the strong hints of flavor, which should definitely come out in this combination.

Although Lipton is taking steps forward to integrate into the quality tea world, I don't believe they have succeeded completely just yet. If you have tried the new Lipton Pyramid Bags, let me know your experience.

Thanks for reading!

-The Tea Gastronomer.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Art of Tea in Cramped Quarters!

Dorm-Apartment living is tough. I live with three other young men, in a very small Manhattan apartment. 2 people sleep in each living space, there is one bathroom, and a tiny kitchen. Ah, the life of an actor. Still, who's to say you can't enjoy a full out luxurious and relaxing cream tea under these circumstances? No one! I called my friend Kiley over this afternoon and did just that. 30 minutes before her arrival, I baked fresh scones. I use the Tea and Sympathy recipe every time. They came out beautifully. The texture was brilliant and the shape was awesome. I served the scones with fresh strawberry jam from the Union Square Farmer's Market and I opened up my jar of Double Devon Cream from the Devon Cream Company for the occasion. How delicious the two met when partnered on one of my homemade scones. I boiled Serendipitea's Coco-Loco in my new teapot from Chinatown.

Ah, when space is limited...we make a floor setting. I decided to go for a mismatched theme. I had two different bone china cups, my new teapot, my porcelain creamer, and new jam/cream servers from Broadway Panhandler. The LOVELY tea cozy is from Set to a Tea and they are available through me and the website.

Sitting on the floor can actually be fun! We enjoyed our chit-chat and I played some classical music in the background. Sometimes simple pleasures are the best...especially when shared with a good friend. Scared to do this on your own? Don't be. Set to a Tea will help you plan your very own afternoon tea event. Contact me and I'll help you plan an afternoon your friends won't soon forget! Of course, I'm sure you'll have more room to spread in your quarters than I do in mine! That's the Greenwich Village, lifestyle though ;-).

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend so far! Let me know about your tea stories! I'm here not just to type, but to listen!

Best and Blessing,

Ethan Nicholas!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Best Things in Life May Not be Free...

...but they sure are cheap! I just had to share this steal of a purchase I made yesterday. I was getting some groceries at Hong Kong Supermarket yesterday afternoon, and I was in the basement picking up Malaysian noodles. I ran across the homeware section to look at plates and chopsticks and right before my eyes...this gorgeous white porcelain teapot with blue flower detail. The price tag? $6.99! What a bargain! It certainly made my day! Ah, the tea to be drunk in this pot. Especially my favorite Set to a Tea flavor...Coconut Truffle! Get yours through me now!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tea and Sympathy, New York, NY


This is probably my favorite spot in all of the city. Located on my absolute favorite street, Greenwich Ave, Tea and Sympathy is about as British as you can get in New York City. I have been visiting this British Tea Room/Restaurant in it's tiny shop location for the past year and have already made multiple visits. Whether I am ordering a pot of tea and an order of scones with fresh clotted cream and jam, or going for a hearty dinner of Chicken and Leek pie served with mixed peas and carrots, mashed potatoes, and a smile I am always in for a treat. Their treacle sponge pudding is delicious and they do a full English breakfast the best this side of the Atlantic.

The spot is perfect to bring friends or a book. I tend to go alone when I'm feeling really overwhelmed and just need a break from the world. I can't even count the number of visits I've made to T&S, but it's always above excellent. I've never had a complaint. Nikki Perry, the owner and founder always is sure to give great service, along with the rest of the British girls who work there. There's so much on the menu that I'd love to try, and it's a goal of mine to enjoy, but I am a sucker for the cucumber and cream cheese sandwich which I usually get at lunch. They also do afternoon tea for 35 dollars at any time of the day! GO VISIT!

I might write a full review soon, but for now, here's a heads up. After my rehearsal at Lincoln Center for the Tisch Gala this past Sunday, I went in to enjoy a cup of Vietnamese Vanilla Black Tea with an order of scones. What a lovely afternoon!

Tea Dreams!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Pumpkin! Happy Fall!

We are certainly into the Autumn season. And if you haven't noticed by now, I LOVE pumpkin! I have been enjoying pumpkin tea, pumpkin scones, any pumpkin item I can get my hands on! Me and my roommate have a little pumpkin display on our mantle right now with some faux Fall leaves. In between school and rehearsals today, I decided to calm my nerves and do some baking. I prepared a lovely pumpkin bread, and with the remaining batter, added chocolate chips and baked some delectable pumpkin chocolate chip muffins! The smell of pumpkin and spice is weaving its way through my apartment right now. Delicious! Browse the internet and find your favorite recipe. There are so many. I'm using a secret recipe that I LOVE! Oh, also, those awesome pumpkin kitchen towels that go so well with the baked goods are from K-Mart! Cheap and perfect for the season. Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the change of colors!



Monday, October 19, 2009

Tea is for the Soul!

Sorry for the lack of updating lately!

This will be short, because I am really am so, so busy at this time in my life! Not only am I working on two shows (the first goes up in one week!), I am also singing at Lincoln Center on November 2nd, for NYU's annual Tisch Gala. I am more than thrilled, but with all of my school work, on top of rehearsals, on top of everything else that happens in this crazy city, it sometimes feels like too much. But there's an easy solution to rid myself of this fear, of course. A nice, hot pot of tea. It always does the trick. After a 9 am to 9 pm day at the studio and rehearsal, a cuppa never hurts! Right now I am enjoying a pot of Yorkshire Gold, one of England's favorites for your pot!

I will hopefully be updating more frequently soon!

Until them, Tea Dreams!!!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

High SocieTea and Set to a Tea, Wayne and West Milford NJ

Yesterday I had the honor to enjoy a delectable afternoon tea with Kathleen Rogers, owner of Set to a Tea. I am proud to say I am a new consultant of the wonderful business that brings the joy of afternoon tea straight to you. For tea lovers and novices alike, Set to a Tea is a wonderful way to gather a group of close friends at your home and enjoy a relaxing conversation over a pot of tea and fresh scones. We want to share our passion with everyone interested in learning about it! I am more than thrilled to start hosting parties. If you are in Manhattan and are interested, don't be shy to contact me! I was so touched to learn of Kathleen's beginnings in the tea world and how that shaped her business. This isn't about moving quickly and pushing for sales, but really about relaxation, joy, sharing, and the love of tea. It's a connection of people who want to take a break from the hectic world that many of us live in. The Set to a Tea shop in West Milford is beyond adorable and filled with the goodies you see in the catalog, designed so nicely around the store. I was in heaven from the minute I walked in and saw the teas, pots, and scone mixes! The shop is located at: 1616-H Union Valley Road, West Milford, NJ 07480 973-728-3300 and you can of course visit the website at:

Before I went to see headquarters though, Kathleen and I enjoyed such a delectable "Queen's Tea" at High SocieTea in Wayne. As soon as you step in, you are surrounded by a gift shop of to die for tea goodies. I was so tempted to make purchases! They have wonderful cups, china plates, teas, tea stationary, and more! We were promptly shown to our reserved table. The room is very nicely decorated, not overly done, and quite a nice size. The table was adorned in nice linen, and had a three-tiered tray sitting on it, with china set properly, tea cups, and two pots with cozies on them! A beautiful setting.

I ordered Taste of Blarney tea which was a full bodied mixture of Assam and Ceylon. I quite enjoyed it, however because the tea leaves were in the pot and not decanted at any point, the tea became too bitter after a while, so we had to change our teas after a bit. Kathleen had the caramel chai, which I tried and really enjoyed! The taste of caramel was not too overpowering, but was just enough. I really loved both teas!

Our first course was a delectable salad with nuts, dried cranberries, and feta over a bed of spinach leaves dressed in an AMAZING homemade maple vinagrette. I am never usually a fan of vinagrettes, but this dressing was delectable! The salad course was served with a warm asparagus quiche which was very yummy.

Next came the scones course! Homemade and delectable! My mouth is watering just thinking about them. There were two warm caramel apple scones, and delicious maple cinnamon scones. They were served with fresh cream and lemon curd, and plated with watermelon slices and oranges.

Then came sandwiches followed by sweets. The sandwich plate was great! Cucumber and cream cheese done just right, sliced thin on white bread, egg salad on light wheat, and chicken salad with apple on dark wheat was accompanied by Parmesan crostini and mini quiches. I was in heaven and already getting full, but of course we had some sweets to devour with the rest of our tea.

The shortbread hearts were light and buttery, the peanut butter brownie bites were chocolaty and rich, and there were apricot crumble bites that I didn't try, but the leftovers are eagerly awaiting me in my kitchen!

Kathleen and I were both too full to enjoy the plated desserts, so we had them wrapped up to go. I am so excited to taste my carrot cake triangle sitting in my refrigerator. The cream cheese icing looks so rich and tasty!

Overall, High SocieTea is a definite five stars! I loved it from start to finish. And it was of course made better that I had such wonderful company. Kathleen and I shared wonderful conversation both tea and non-tea related and took time to really relax and enjoy our tea, something that we all sometimes take for granted. Thank you Kathleen, for such a terrific afternoon!

As a new member of the Set to a Tea family, I invite you all to browse the catalog online and feel free to contact me. I am so excited about starting to share something that I love with others. Enjoy your Sundays and relax before the week starts up again!

Peace and Tea Blessing!

-Ethan Nicholas

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rainy days and Mondays...

...Or Sundays! The time to curl up, get your work done, and do some baking! Today is a gloomy day in New York so I think I'll make a pot of English Breakfast and make something yummy!

Let's share our favorite rainy day recipes here! Don't be shy!

My favorite dessert for the cooler months is a British staple. Treacle Sponge Pudding. The recipe I will provide is from Tea and Sympathy, here in Manhattan. The thick golden syrup that makes the pud can be bought at many grocery stores and all gourmet groceries. Don't be afraid to slather it in hot custard and enjoy the delicious combo of hot and sweet! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
A few drops of vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup (a little extra will do no harm).

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, along with the vanilla.
With a spatula, fold in the flour and baking powder and mix until smooth.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter and flour a 10-inch round Bundt pan.
Pour the syrup into the pan, then spoon in the sponge batter, gently smoothing the top with a spatula.
Bake for about 30 minutes; the sponge should be golden on top.
Remove the pudding from the oven and let it cool for 2-3 minutes. Place a plate on top of the Bundt pan, then quickly but firmly turn the plate and pan upside down to release the cake onto the plate.. You may need to loosen the edges very slightly with a knife before you flip it.
Serve with hot custard.


3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks

Heat cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat, whisk in egg yolks.

What do you love to bake?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rooibos Tea

One of my favorite teas as of late, this naturally decaffeinated red tea is good for any season. The taste is so unique and delicious, I'd recommend this South African native beverage to both tea novices and aficionados alike!

Taken from TeaMuse:

"Deep in the heart of South Africa, in the mountains and valleys of the Cedarberg region near Cape Town, vast vistas, fields of verdant green bushes, fill the landscape. Traveling throughout this precipitous expanse, one may not suspect that this bright bush, which the locals refer to as "Rooibos," (pronounced roy-boss), could be such a versatile and remarkable herb. Among Rooibos' many uses, Rooibos' most popular utilization is as a tisane, or herbal beverage. Also known as Red tea, Bush tea (no relation to our 41st or 43rd President) and Redbush tea, Rooibos tea has become the hottest trend in the tea industry."

Rooibos is fine to take properly in fine china at tea, but one should feel just as comfortable to sip it out of a mug. I like to boil myself a mug of Twinings Rooibos with milk and sugar before starting the day. It is also quite the soothing tea to help one fall asleep. Also, there are a variety of flavors. I recently took tea and scones at Alice's Tea Cup on 64th St. and enjoyed a lovely pot of their Admiral's Rooibos which included vanilla and chocolate essence within the tisane. There have been many varieties to the delicious blend. Go and enjoy! I think I'll go grab myself a cup now!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Podunk, New York, NY

Half empty or half full?
Fine sugar pot
Amelia is glowing
Seasonal berries up close
Berries, preserves, and cream OH MY!
Wonderful scone
Fresh pot of Vietnamese Vanilla tea
The scone platter. 8 Scones for 3!
Another view
Cucumber Sandwiches
Teapots and Sandwiches
Kiley basking in the surroundings
Very rustic, homey environment
The front counter

This lovely little "American Tea Room" sits nestled on the quiet, unprepossessing fifth street, between Bowery and 2nd Ave. Upon entering, mismatched lawn chairs and cute, homey decorations highlight the family-run establishment. Children books adorn shelves on the walls, and behind a lovely little counter up front is the woman who runs it all. Elspeth Treadwell, along with husband and daughter run this adorable room. Inspired by Scandinavian heritage, the extensive menu offers wonderful traditional tea items, plus Scandinavian dishes like potato crepes with cinnamon and cardamom cake, which I must try on my definite return visit!

I can't say enough nice things about Elsepth. Truly a kind heart, who appreciated me and my love for tea. I was joined by friends Amelia and Kiley. We ordered at the front and sat down around 3:00, just before the small room started getting busy. Elspeth makes everything to order, fresh and delicious. The three of us shared a cream tea, plus cucumber sandwiches and individual pots of tea.

I had the Vietnamese Vanilla. It was delicious. Just the right kind of black tea for this gloomy New York day. Kiley thoroughly enjoyed her house blended coconut-vanilla, and Amelia had a classic English Breakfast, with rose petals added on request. The tea menu is extensive, so if you have a hard time making choices, you might sit with the menu for an hour! They blend their own flavored chais, create some wonderful in-house blends, and even have an assortment of drinking chocolate.

Onto the food. The cucumber sandwiches were DIVINE! They were so delicately prepared, the bread so thin, the cucumbers sliced so meticulously. We savoured every last bite. Elspeth served the sandwiches to us with cheddar biscuits that she thought we would enjoy! They were delicious. Thinking back on it, they might be the finest cucumber tea sandwiches I have ever enjoyed! That is saying a lot.

Our scone plate was tremendous. 3 different varieties of scones for each of us to sample, plus three different preserves: orange, raspberry, strawberry. Instead of the traditional clotted cream, there was a fresh whipped cream. I can see how purists would scoff at this, however at the impossibility of having REAL fresh clotted cream in the states, and with the poor mock recipes I have seen, I rather appreciated Elspeth's dedication to freshness. The scones were divine, perfect texture! The plate included fresh berries.

All three of us were in a state of content upon finishing or delightful afternoon tea. The Dorchester in London, Podunk is not, however a wonderful at-home environment for enjoying tea sweets and savouries, while chatting with close friends for an hour or two, Podunk is. The three of us paid $22 each, which for the amount of food we received, was a great deal. I told Elspeth that I would definitely be back. Her kind heart and appreciation of my passion for tea was enough. The delicious food and tea was even more! I can't say enough good things about Podunk, so I will just tell you to go for yourself! Bring your friends, bring your mother, and enjoy a hot pot of tea while you nibble on Elspeth's wonderful foods!

BONUS: Tipping is strictly prohibited! Elspeth will never accept a tip, no matter how big your party is! If that isn't enough to get you running, I don't know what is!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!

Last night, I made a fresh batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins. I found the recipe on Joy of Baking, and it came out so delectable, that I could not resist sharing it with you! Enjoy these muffins with a nice cup of your favorite rich black tea, and a splash of milk. I will have more pumpkin coming your way, along with a belated review of my favorite spot in Manhattan, Tea and Sympathy, after my hectic week ends.

Be well,


Friday, September 4, 2009

The Season Draws Near...

The Starbucks Pumpkin Scone

...For pumpkin! One of my favorite food items! There are so many delicious treats that can be made using this wonderful gourd-like squash that becomes of season in the fall. And we already start to see cafes selling pumpkin flavored beverages and treats. Additionally, Tea Time magazine, in their most recent issue, has six pumpkin recipes, including: pumpkin-chocolate turnovers, mini gingerbread trifles with pumpkin custard (YUM!) pumpkin-leek tarts, pumpkin risotto bites, pumpkin scones with maple butter, and pumpkin-bread and cranberry tea sandwiches. One could make quite the delicious pumpkin-based afternoon tea around these recipes. I advise you to purchase this issue!

In related news, I woke up this morning at 5 AM to purchase rush tickets for Next to Normal, the new spectacular Broadway show. This will be my fourth time seeing it, if that says anything about how wonderful it really is (Alice Ripley is phenomenal! And she won the Tony this year!)! Me and two friends (Rebecca and Frankie) arrived at The Booth theatre on Shubert Alley at about 6 AM and waited for four hours, first in line, to get front-row center tickets for only $25.00. We will be at this evening's performance! In dire need of food, Rebecca went out on a bagel-hunt. I shamefully admit that every now and then, I can't resist using the convenience of Starbucks for my tea needs. I am a really big Iced Chai Latte fan, and Starbucks' version of the popular beverage isn't half bad. Although I would always rather support the small, non-corporate businesses, in times of need, the fragrant, well-spiced chai certainly suffices.

Of course their menu now offer the seasonal pumpkin latte, and on display with the baked good, pumpkin scones! Of course I picked one up. American style (triangle shaped), the Starbucks scones can actually be quite good. I dislike most of the baked good items at Starbucks, however the petite vanilla bean scones are delicious. I brought back a pumpkin scone for Rebecca, Frankie and I to share. The scone is completely iced, so the flavor is a little too sweet for my liking, but everyone enjoyed it. The scone was a nice, not too dry-not too moist consistency, with a good, strong pumpkin flavor. It went quickly, and so will the season, so go out pumpkin hunting.

My good friend Danielle has been baking pumpkin scones the past couple of weeks, perfecting a secret recipe she has. She is now studying abroad in London, but if we are lucky, perhaps she will send over the recipe, and I can have it up in time for the holidays.

Enjoy the lovely day, stay well, and enjoy the search for the perfect pumpkin treats! If you find anything exceptional, let me know, and I can post about it right away!



Monday, August 31, 2009

Alice's Tea Cup, New York, NY

After a productive morning of jogging, buying textbooks, running errands and setting up the apartment a bit more, I decided to treat myself to some untried scones. I had heard very good things about the three Alice locations in the city, but have never visited. I did not sit down, so I cannot write a full review, but I did get scones and can tell you how wonderful they were!

Taking the Q to 42nd St, and transferring onto the 2 up to 72nd, I exited into the Uptown air and quickly found my way traveling down 73rd St. The storefront is extremely cute and the clerks inside were so welcoming and kind. I picked out a pumpkin scone and an unsweetened buttermilk scone. There were a couple of other varieties, and other sweets on display, including an elaborate and delicious looking carrot cake. I also received tiny to-go containers of clotted cream and raspberry preserves which was a delight.

Upon returning home, I boiled myself a pot of Serendipitea's loose Coco-Loco tisane and slathered the cream and preserve onto my pumpkin scone. The tea is a favorite of mine (tisane, so not exactly a tea, but naturally caffeine free and very delicious), and paired with the scone worked excellently.

The scone was sweet and pumpkiny, but not overly sweet. The clotted cream and raspberry preserves were divine. The texture on the scone was nice and crumbly, and the scone was shaped properly and baked just right. The pumpkin glaze was also a definite plus. I took a nibble at the buttermilk scone and it tasted very adequate, but very good nonetheless.

I look forward to enjoying more scones from Alice's. I hope to take tea there soon and report on it afterwards.

Thanks for checking in!


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lady Mendl's Tea Salon, New York, NY

After reading splendid reviews on yelp, I was quite excited to try out this rather pricey, traditional afternoon tea. My grandfather and his wife, both avid tea drinkers, invited me and best friend, Amita, to accompany them this afternoon. The tea room is located in a lovely old brownstone on Irving Place in The Village. It has gorgeous Victorian charm both inside and out. A doorman opened the door and led us into the gorgeous first floor lobby where we were promptly greeted. We were a bit early for our 2:30 reservation, but we were taken right away to our table. We were led up a staircase. The main dining room was being occupied by a bridal party, but looked quite nice.

The upper room had only three tables and was gorgeously decorated in antique furniture and beautiful wall hangings. China teaware was displayed behind a glass case. Each place setting included fine bone china matching sets (white with golden rim). Sitting on the saucer was a beautiful sugar cube, delicately adorned with a sugar daffodil. The surroundings were too much to ask for! SO lovely.

The tea service promptly began, and this is where the review takes a rather negative turn. I had read such lovely things about the tea room, so I was looking forward to a traditional afternoon tea like what I had just one month earlier at The Dorchester Hotel in London (an extremely wonderful tea). The tea menu was set at each place. I ordered the Lady Mendl Blend, a Darjeeling infused with scented oils. I had to ask for milk and sugar, as it was not offered when the tea came. The tea had a rather bitter aftertaste, although it was not over brewed. I tried Amita's Assam, and although better than my blend, it still lacked the body of other Assams I have tried in past. My stepgrandmother ordered an Elder Flower tea which smelled delicious, so perhaps it was the black teas that were troubled.

We were quickly served an amouse-bouche of artichoke quiche with sun-dried tomato topping. It was quite good and a nice way to start off the meal.

The Sandwich course followed. The staple finger sandwiches included cucumber and mint creme fraiche on brioche, a turkey cranberry sandwich on white, smoked salmon and cream cheese of wheat, and egg salad on grain tea bread. The sandwiches were a bit bland. Cucumber, my favorite, lacked body and the bread tasted a bit dry, as though it had been sitting out for a bit, and not freshly made. The turkey cranberry was quite good, and different from what I had expected. I also enjoyed the smoked salmon, but for the most part, they were plain and certainly not as fresh as they could have been.

Scones followed. We received two varieties, a typical plain scone, and a cranberry-raisin scone. These scones were done right for an afternoon tea. They are the smaller variety, just like what I received when taking tea in London. The texture was nice and crumbly, and the clotted cream and raspberry preserves were delicious. This was probably my favorite course of the tea. The setback was that the scones were not warm. The texture and consistency made up for the lack of warmth, however I wish they brought around seconds.

The dessert course came next. We were served a layered crepe cake, divided by a fresh whipped cream served over raspberry coulis. I had never eaten a crepe cake, so it was quite new and refreshing. Light and moist, just as any tea cake should be, it was. However, I did not love it. That is not to say I didn't like it, because I did. I just would've preferred Victoria Sponge or something of the like instead.

The last course included Belgian dipped strawberry and vanilla-fondant and sugar-brushed cookies. They were all very good. Keep in mind, these are sweets hard to screw up. I particularly enjoyed the heart-shaped vanilla-fondant cookies. They had a nice sweet flavor that went quite well with the tea.

While finish our pots of tea, we all enjoyed conversation regarding Ted Kennedy (RIP), foreign culture, and travel. We were rather surprised when the waiter came over to tell us that we had to leave in five minutes. The whole tea felt rather rushed to begin with (one course right after the next) but no one was really complaining. It was just rather disheartening to be rushed out.

In totality, I would give Lady Mendl's full points in appearance. The dining room and whole facility are just beautiful. But in food quality and service, the tea room would be wise to improve. I expected an afternoon tea that would so beautifully match my surroundings, however I was disappointed with the final result. And, with a $35.00 price tag per person, plus tax, plus tip, this is no cheap affair.

I will not be going back any time soon, but perhaps if I hear things are changing over there, I will revisit the facility.

It was quite an enjoyable afternoon in all. We followed tea with a walk through the Union Square Green Market. After parting ways, Amita and I strolled along Greenwich Ave to my favorite haunt Tea and Sympathy, where in the store we purchased loose leaf teas (T&S English Breakfast, and Serendipitea Coco Loco) along with a china teacup for me, and a brown betty teapot for her.

Thanks for reading and come check back soon!


Friday, August 28, 2009

The Scone Shoppe, Point Pleasant, New Jersey

I am going back to Manhattan on Sunday to begin my sophomore year at NYU. I am very excited, yet saddened to be leaving my humble state of New Jersey after a wonderful summer. I have spent the summer well: a balance of working and traveling and hanging out with my closest friends. On this rainy Friday afternoon before I leave to go back, my mother and I decided to do something special. I wanted to take her to The Scone Pony*, a beautiful little bakery in Spring Lake, New Jersey (The BEST scones I have EVER eaten!!!) Before that, though, we decided to take tea and a light lunch at The Scone Shoppe, in Point Pleasant New Jersey.

Located in a small strip mall along Bridge Ave, the Scone Shoppe's surroundings are not prepossessing, and the parking lot was rather small. However, upon entering the quaint, little shop, I knew I was in for a treat. Each table was delicately covered with fine linen. Napkins were fanned and fashioned inside a teapot napkin ring. Beautiful bone china teacups sat at each place setting upon a matching saucer. Our waitress was a lovely middle-aged Jersey Shore native. Adorned in bright pink nail polish, and a grin from ear to ear, she was wonderful from start to finish. She treated my mother and I like close friends and took precise attention to detail when we gave our orders. The selection of tea was not extremely elaborate, but definitely plentiful. My mother and I shared a large pot of British Breakfast blend. They use Republic of Tea brand. The only complaint I might have had about the shop was the use of tea bags over loose leaf. Although the tea was still quite good, there is a slight taste difference.

After enjoying a cup or two, our orders arrived. I opted for the chicken salad on croissant with lettuce (without tomato for me). My mother had turkey with mozzarella in a balsamic glaze served on a crusty baguette. The sandwiches are served with either soup or salad. We ordered one of each and then shared the two. The fresh greens were dressed in a balsamic dressing and the homemade lentil soup was delicious and perfect for the rainy day! My chicken salad was extremely fresh and the croissant was just the right amount of crusty and golden. My mother thoroughly enjoyed her sandwich as well.

With more than enough tea left, we happily prepared for the scones. Upon entering, you immediately see the large glass case displaying more than TEN varieties of scones! What a decision to make! I went for the white chocolate macadamia and my mother had chocolate delight! The scones were baked triangular, in the American fashion. Each scone was served with a side of jam and lemon curd. They were delicious! The texture was perfect. Nice and crumbly and not too cakey, just the way a scone should be. Also, the prices were nice and low. Our plentiful and filling meal cost a total of $23.00.

I will most certainly bring friends back to The Scone Shoppe. An enjoyable afternoon with my mom. The clientle seemed to be mostly older women, although there was some testosterone (three gentlemen, including myself). If you are in the area, definitely visit!

The Interior

A Fine Presentation

My Mother Enjoying a Cuppa

Thanks for reading! Happy Friday!


*The Scone Pony is located at 305 Washington Ave in Spring Lake, NJ. Although cakey and softer than typical scones, they are delicious! The vanilla bean scone is OUT OF THIS WORLD! If you have the chance to try one, TRY ONE! So delicious! Clotted cream and fine jams are sold at the shop as well.