I met up with the lovely Kathy of the eponymous Kathy YL Chan blog while she was here in London for a visit. Knowing her penchant for desserts, we first met at Maltby Street for St John’s famous custard doughnuts before wandering over to Borough Market in search of something savoury. Somewhere in between the two markets, after much discussing, a booking was made for afternoon tea at William Curley (the patissier-chocolatier) in Belgravia. On weekends, and it was a Saturday when we met, they open up their Dessert Bar and offer a dessert tasting menu for the afternoon. On all other days, they still sell their delicious chocolates, cakes and ice creams.

When we got there later that day, we settled into our table (the seats at the six-seater bar had already been booked up) and ordered a hojicha latte (Kathy) and a house blend tea (me) to get us in the mood for the desserts. We chose to share one menu between the two of us, which turned out to be just the right amount of dessert for two girls who’d previously been feasting on doughnuts and pork pie.

Hojicha Latte Tea Set

We started with a quenelle of Green Apple Sorbet, all tart and just slightly sweet in a good way! It was immensely refreshing.

Green Apple Sorbet

Next up was a Vanilla Pannacotta with Red Berry Compote and Champagne Granita. The pannacotta was very softly set, making it more like a pudding with the zingy compote and yes, straight up champagne ice. A very adult dessert.

Vanilla Pannacotta with Red Berry Compote and Champagne Granita

That was followed by an Apricot, Pistachio and Chocolate Pave with Marinated Apricots and Lemon Thyme Ice Cream. I loved the use of the seasonal fruit and the entire combination was delicious, especially that ice cream.

Apricot, Pistachio and Chocolate Pave with Marinated Apricots and Lemon Thyme Ice Cream

Our final main dessert was a generously portioned Passionfruit Tart and Mango Casket with Passionfruit Sauce and Guava Sorbet. That tart was delicious as was the casket filled with a mango fruit, mousse and cake and with a heart of chocolate ganache. I knew Curley was well known for the incorporation of Asian flavours into his chocolates and this was a good example of this.

Passionfruit Tart and Mango Casket with Passionfruit Sauce and Guava Sorbet

A selection of Petit Fours finished off our afternoon dessert tea. All the bites were just perfect: a blackcurrant and juniper chocolate, a pistachio dacquoise sandwiching chocolate cream, and raspberry financiers.

Petit Fours

The quality of the desserts was excellent and it’s not a bad deal at £15 for the dessert tasting menu we shared (drinks not included)! It’s obviously not your traditional afternoon tea but it’s a fantastic alternative. William Curley’s original shop is in Richmond and while there are cakes available to purchase there (along with his chocolates and ice creams), there’s no dessert bar there.

Do take a look at Kathy’s post on the rest of that Saturday!

William Curley Dessert Bar
Weekends only from 1pm
198 Ebury Street
London SW1W 8UN

William Curley on Urbanspoon

I held my Marie Curie Blooming Great Tea Party (my original post on this is here if you’d like to read more on the charity) this past Monday and I think it went well! I opted to hold mine at work, incorporating two neighbouring offices (about a dozen people), and to my surprise, everyone was quite enthusiastic about it – no one can turn down cakes and biscuits come 4pm. There was even a theme to the tea party – food from your home country, home being quite varied in our office as we have quite an international group here.

Tea Party

It’s not a a tea party without tea and our little work kitchen (if you can call it that) with its hot water dispenser sorted us out. We drank black tea (assam) with condensed milk, a nod towards the teh tarik (only without the pulling) from my birth country.

For eats, portability was the key when I planned my tea party menu; apart from the hot and cold water dispenser, we only have a fridge and sink in our kitchenette. Almost everything I made was prepared at home and transported to work – just the sandwiches were made on site. I made a platter of savouries, kuih bakar, lemon blueberry drops, graham cracker toffee and rather experimental mango cupcakes with lime buttercream. Yes, they’re almost all linked to my growing up and I’ll be blogging most of the recipes.

I had invited my colleagues to bring food if they wished and I was chuffed that they took me up on that offer! As the general theme was foods from your country, we also had an American blueberry cheesecake, British cakes, Pakistani pastries, Taiwanese mochi cakes and Chinese sesame sweets. All very yummy and we had so much food, we were snacking on the leftovers for a few days after! (Somehow we also ended up sampling American spray cheese…)

Thank you

I do have to say a big thank you to my colleagues for coming and donating generously – we raised over £100 for Marie Curie, not a bad effort for our little party, I reckon. If you’d like to donate to Marie Curie too, you can do so online.


Recipes! I’ll split these into two posts – savouries now and sweets another time. These were the three savouries I made and I think they went down quite well as the platter was quite empty at the end!

Curried Potato Mini Croissants
My mother used to make curry puffs at home but when she wasn’t in the mood to make the pastry and deep fry, she’d just make the filling and stuff them into hot, buttery, flaky croissants. I couldn’t heat them up at work but they still went down a treat cold.

Peel approximately 500g of floury potatoes and dice them into 1cm cubes. Chuck them into a pot of water and bring them to a boil, cooking until they are soft but not mushy. Drain and set aside. Chop two medium-large onions finely and fry with a little oil until soft. Add 4 tbsps meat curry powder and 1 tsp turmeric and a little water to form a paste and continue frying. After a few minutes, add the cooked potatoes and stir well to combine – add some water if this is difficult. Continue frying until the entire thing is quite dry. Season with salt and sugar. If desired, a little chopped chicken can also be fried in too – I left the meat out for safer storage. Stuff the mixture into mini or regular sized croissants.

Sardine Rolls
Apart from curry puffs, sardine puffs are also popular in Malaysia and Singapore. When pushed to create another dish for the table (we regularly ate multiple dishes with rice for dinner), she’d put together canned sardines in tomato sauce with lots of sliced chillies and shallots and lime juice. This is based on that combination.

Take two tins of sardines in tomato sauce (mine were 120g each) and take out the fish, removing the backbone. Add about 2 tbsps of the tomato sauce and 2 tbsps of chilli sauce and mash the fish roughly. Chop an onion finely and fry in a little oil until soft. Add in the fish and fry until hot. Add the juice of half a lime and continue frying until quite dry. Season with salt and sugar. Roll out shortcrust pastry, fill with this mixture as you would sausage rolls, brush with some beaten egg and bake.

Sambal Dried Shrimp Sandwiches
I’ve described this one before – essentially this is hae bee hiam and you make it just like the filling in this recipe. I used to get bags of this stuff sent to me from my mother when I was in university for putting into sandwiches or topping boiled noodles. I was actually very surprised at how well these went down – I didn’t expect my colleagues to take to the strong dried shrimp flavour. I would have made more if I had known!

Make sandwiches with plenty of butter, a good sprinkling of the hae bee hiam and some sliced cucumber (optional). Slice off the crusts and then slice into triangles or fingers.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Jing Tea. I’m always greatly pleased when I see their tea at a cafe or a restaurant as then an excellent cup of tea is guaranteed. I also don’t quite shut up about it and now one of my colleagues has started nibbling on the dried tea leaves I keep at work. I had met David of Jing Tea previously at The Botanist and had a fabulous afternoon then learning about various Chinese teas. When David contacted me again recently with the possibility of doing a matcha tasting, I jumped at the idea; matcha hadn’t really been my thing as I hadn’t enjoyed what I’d tasted in the past but I was keen to learn about matcha and how it is made and possibly even learn to enjoy it. And so last week one evening, I and Jen of DashiDashi joined David at Tsuru Bankside for a matcha tea tasting. To my surprise, David was there with a whole selection of amazing Japanese teas.

Tea Tools

David started us off with, not a Japanese tea, a potful of Jasmine pearls, one of their bestsellers. I do have a soft spot for jasmine tea and this one is one of the most delicious I’ve tried; the jasmine scent was gentle and not at all overpowering, which I find other brands can be.

Brewing Jasmine Pearls

The was swiftly followed by a potful of Japanese Genmaicha Green Tea with its toasted rice grains that impart a lovely toasty flavour to the tea.


Apart from tea, there was also the very important business of dinner. This was my first time at Tsuru, which is very well known for their fantastic Japanese lunch offerings – I wish one existed near my workplace. I had no idea they were located here behind the Tate Modern though nor that they served dinner too. The choice of venue was, of course, not an accident; Tsuru serve Jing Teas though this isn’t noted on the menu. For the main part of our meal, we all ordered Tsuru’s Sashimi Moriawase, a platter of tuna, salmon, mackerel and another white fish that I cannot recall. The sashimi was very generously cut, very fresh and quite good for the price.

Sashimi Moriawase

As one cannot survive on fish alone (well, I could but then again I cannot when I see a bit of deep fried on the menu), I also ordered one of their Chili Rice Bowls (steamed rice with their homemade chili paste) and a dish of Free-range Chicken Kara-age. Strangely, these took a very long time in coming but the chicken in particular was well worth the wait. The kara-age was a generous portion of piping hot, crispy crusted fried dark chicken marinated with garlic and ginger which went down a treat with the rice.

When our plates and bowls were cleared, we got to what we’d been looking forward to all night; we were going to learn how to prepare matcha tea! Now, I’ll be honest with you – I never used to like matcha tea, the tea most commonly known as that used for the Japanese tea ceremony. I remember tasting it first as a child when we learned about the tea ceremony in school and someone came in to give us a demonstration. I tasted a faint seaweed like flavour in the tea that didn’t appeal; I still remember that today. Anyway, David demonstrated how to prepare matcha tea and then we were given the opportunity to make our own bowlfuls.


We used their Matcha Supreme, which was a whole other animal to the cheaper teas I must have sampled. This tea tasted of…. tea. A very fresh green tea. As the entire leaf is consumed here, all ground up, I guess quality really does make a difference. I loved the frothy head formed when it was properly made and the delicious fresh flavour; it must be delicious first thing in the morning (if uh… I could be called on to be so active as to make a bowl at that time). I’m a convert!

Scooping Matcha

I Prepared Matcha Tea!

An unexpected treat soon followed the bowls of matcha. David had brought along some Handmade Gyokuro Supreme, a tea from Japan of which they only have 2 kilograms worth. With so little to hand, they’ve divided it up into 10g packets so that as many people as possible can have a taste. Needless to say, it is not cheap. However, it was the most remarkable un-tea-like tea that I’ve ever tasted.

Brewing the Gyokuro

I’m not saying that it didn’t taste of tea – it is indeed tea and yes, it tastes of it. But unlike regular teas, it had a bit extra to it. It tasted amazingly vegetal, almost like a spinach soup (and not in a bad way!), and so full of umami. It was rich and coated the mouth and felt quite filling. My description isn’t doing it any justice but really, what an experience!

Gyokuro Supreme Tea

For dessert, Jen had kindly brought along her scrumptious homemade matcha profiteroles, absolutely packed full of a brilliant green matcha cream. To go with them, David brewed some Hoji Cha Supreme, a toasted green tea with an almost smokey flavour, the perfect final tea in the tasting as I found it to be quite strong in flavour and apparently, it’s also quite low in caffeine.


Inside the Matcha Profiterole

What a fabulous evening; thank you again to Jing Tea for the invitation. I’ve now got a long shopping list of teas to purchase! (Is there space in my tiny flat for a matcha bowl?!)

4 Canvey St
London SE1 9AN
(it’s behind the Tate Modern)

Tsuru on Urbanspoon

After a relaxing afternoon visiting the Lama Temple and the Confucius Temple (blessedly across the street from each other!), Blai and I went off in search of a teahouse nearby, an activity we were both quite keen on doing. I did try looking for the one recommended to me by David of Jing Tea but somehow missed it and ended up at the Confucian Teahouse almost directly in front of the Confucius temple.

Not that this teahouse was inferior in any way – we adored the peace and quiet afforded by it. A menu listing quite a few teas was offered, all at different price points. We chose both an oolong (recommended to get the full teahouse experience) and a 1970 aged puerh – the latter was being prepared in the photo below.

Tea Hostess

I dislike the use of the word ‘ceremony’ when describing how the Chinese prepare their tea only because it feels like the correct way to enjoy it, even everyday. I wish all my tea was served with a teapot, a separate tea jug, a tea strainer and tea cups. The separate tea jug might feel like an extra piece of pottery but it means that your tea won’t oversteep in the teapot. And all that pouring of hot water all over the place means that the pottery is heated and will keep your tea hotter for longer. All very practical!

For the Oolong

And that’s exactly how our teas were brewed and presented to us – in a separate glass server. The oolong was lighter in colour on the left and the puerh with its rich smoky flavour was darker and in the jug on the right.

Oolong and Puerh

While the puerh was served in one teacup, we had these two for the oolong.

Sniffing and Drinking Cups

The taller is a sniffing cup while the shorter is for drinking. They weren’t used for the puerh as it’s not as aromatic as the oolong. The tea is first poured into the taller cup, you sniff it and smell it before inverting the shorter cup on top of it. Flip the two quickly and now all your tea is in the smaller cup (or all over the table) from where you can drink it. We were also shown how the still hot sniffing cup can be held over your eyes for a mini steam bath!


This was the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of Beijing and we whiled away a couple of hours here – your tea won’t run out in this time! Its quality means that it can be re-steeped many times. The Confucian Teahouse also sells all of the tea making paraphernalia and the tea itself, both of which make excellent presents or souvenirs.

Confucian Teahouse
28 Guozijian Lu
(across from the Confucius Temple)
Beijing, China

Earlier this month, I noticed that Twitter was abuzz with the announcement of a Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea being offered at the Sanderson Hotel for a limited time, to coincide with the launch of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland film. The menu sounded equally eclectic and adorable, with pastries designed to challenge the tastebuds, and I quickly arranged a girls only tea there. One is leaving for Hong Kong soon and what better way for one of many send offs – a surprise send off really and luckily for us, she was definitely surprised and delighted. We certainly don’t treat ourselves to proper afternoon tea often enough!

On Monday afternoon, we traipsed over to the Sanderson Hotel, located just north of Oxford Street, between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road. I didn’t even know there was a hotel here; according to reports online, GQ reported the Sanderson as being the “hippest hotel in the world” and I can possibly see why. It’s rather bling. We were shown to the covered courtyard where we were told that the heating wasn’t working that day and that they’d be glad to seat us in the restaurant instead if we so desired. But there were a few giggling ladies out there and it was far from a cold day and so courtyard it was. I’m so glad we decided that – there was lots of natural light and a fountain and a little garden and it’s all just so so pretty.

They bring us all little menus but really there’s only one thing on that menu: the Mad Hatter’s Tea. £20 for just the tea or £29.50 with a glass of champagne. And it’s the hotel’s restaurant, Suka, serving expensive contemporary Malaysian food, that’s running the tea. Hmm. Oh well, nothing Malaysian about the teas and tea offerings though.

Flowering Teas

Of the teas on offer, we immediately gravitated towards the flowering jasmine tea, which came presented in a glass goblet. I think they would have been more effective in a large glass teapot as the continued steeping in the glass made it too strong after a while but they were delightful to watch as they opened! The other teas were a bit of a disappointment, just being Clipper teabags in individual pots. I did expect loose teas (Clipper does do loose according to their website) but I guess as afternoon tea is not regularly offered here, they’d have a more limited selection than a dedicated tea hotel/place. You’re welcome to all the tea you can drink and we definitely got our money’s worth with two of the flowering teas apiece plus a pot of regular tea (Earl Grey for me).

After our first teas came our tiered plates of goodies – one for each of us! Ooooh, how decadent! The cake stands themselves are gorgeous, made with vintage crockery (you can even purchase them here).

Tiered Cake Stand

At the bottom were finger sandwiches and scones. The sandwiches were presented on rainbow coloured bread, all coloured with natural ingredients. They’re your standard, extremely dainty, sandwiches but the standout for me was the cucumber with black pepper. I need to recreate these at home.

Sandwiches and Scones

The scones came with beautiful soft strawberry preserves and plenty of clotted cream. These were just beautiful, so buttery and melt in your mouth good and if any more had been offered, I probably would have burst just from these alone.

The second tier was full of pastries. These were mainly ok – a little extra thought going into each of them would have made them much better.


The chocolate cup was filled with a strawberry mousse according to the menu but I found it to be more of a stabilised foam of sorts. That was gorgeous but the chocolate cup would have been more successful if it had been made of white chocolate (as originally stated on the menu) instead of the stronger dark chocolate.

Inside the Tea Cake

The hazelnut and passionfruit tart was also topped with dark chocolate, this time in the form of the White Rabbit’s pocket watch. The hazelnut cream was delicious as was the buttery pastry but the passionfruit was only there in the form of a tiny bit of syrup. I’m not yet convinced of this flavour combination but perhaps it would work with more passionfruit or just the removal of that and the addition of caramelised nuts for texture.

Hazelnut and Passionfruit Tart

The chocolate and raspberry crackle cupcake was topped with popping candy, something I always enjoy. Pop pop pop! Digging into the buttercream and down through to the cake, though, I found no evidence of raspberry. It was only when I was almost halfway through the cupcake that the single fresh raspberry emerged, buried under the mountain of buttercream. Not a bad combination but I did have to scrape aside some of that cream as there was much too much of it.

Chocolate and Raspberry Crackle Cupcake

Finally, the little teacup at the top of the cake stand held two intriguing lollipops. The little chocolate one was supposed to explode in our mouths and explode it did as the thin chocolate shell was full of melted mint ice cream! The pineapple one was supposed to make our mouths go hot and cold. There was a little bit of heat in the pineapple candy while the sugary layer did have something that cooled the tongue a bit, in the way that menthol cools. While not a big show stopper, I admire the attempt at kooky!

Top Tier

In all, the tea things were a bit hit and miss (though more mediocre than miss really). But for us, the real treat was just having the chance to relax for a couple hours with plenty of tea and some nice treats to keep us occupied. It was really enough for dinner too – I barely ate anything after that. I really like the idea of the tea and the attempt to keep to the spirit of the Mad Hatter and his tea and do think good on them for giving the idea a go. There’s still time to try it out too – when I first booked almost a month ago, the Mad Hatter’s Tea was only available for the month of March but I just learned that due to the popularity of it, it’s been extended to the end of May. At the very least it’s worth it just to check out the fabulous lobby of the hotel. We even rode up and down in the lift with its 3D depiction of the solar system – and then, of course, we hotfooted it out of there.

Almost Finished

Sanderson Hotel

50 Berners Street
London W1T 3NG