Cost – £48.80 for a hamper (April 2020)
Parking and Access – This tea was taken in the outside area of the venue. There is one step down to enter the garden. The toilets are inside and up a flight of stairs with no alternative access. There is on-street parking available in front of the venue.
Background – I am on a mission to try some of the Afternoon Teas that are available by post during the Covid-19 pandemic. I am scoring them slightly different to ‘normal’ Afternoon Teas – see the end of this review. But, hopefully they can be compared easily with each other.
This time we chose the company Regency Hampers, which is based in the Cotswolds. They offer a wide variety of hampers, but only one that could be called an Afternoon Tea. This option is called the Afternoon Tea and Scones Gift Set.
Contents – Two large rectangular sandwiches (chicken and bacon sandwich filler). The sandwiches were not included in the Tea. Four large square fruit scones, a small jar of strawberry jam and four individual pots of clotted cream. Five shortbread biscuits, a piece of cherry and almond fruit cake. A packet of Assam loose tea leaves and a packet of Italian Blend coffee.
Options available – Various options can be added to your hamper. We added a bottle of Luscombes Sicilian Lemonade and a bottle of Luscombes Raspberry Crush.
Comments – We ordered our Afternoon Tea online to arrive on a specific date. Despite their website saying it could not be guaranteed, it arrived on time in the afternoon of the specified date, in a massive box.
Inside the box was an insulated package containing the four clotted cream portions. This package was still very cold! I opened the package and placed the cream in the fridge until it was needed.
The two bottles that we had ordered as extras were wrapped in bubble wrap and contained in two cardboard boxes within the large box.
Finally, there was a wicker basket wrapped in cellophane, with a large gold coloured bow on it.
This contained all of the remaining items of the Tea.
The gift set we ordered was described on the website as containing the following: An open bamboo tray, double chocolate biscuits, Mrs Bridges strawberry jam, Walkers luxury Dundee cake, four Roddas clotted cream pots, Taylors of Harrogate pure Assam tea bags, and Taylors of Harrogate Imperial ground coffee.
Unfortunately, what we received was: A wicker basket, plain shortbread biscuits, Cottage Delight strawberry jam, Cotswold Cherry and Almond cake, four Roddas clotted cream pots, Taylors pure Assam tea bags and Taylors Italian blend ground coffee.
This is substantially different from what we ordered, with only two items being provided as ordered. There was no note included to explain these differences and we were not contacted at all before dispatch. Luckily, there was nothing that would cause us a problem. If this had been sent to other members of my family, it would have been a problem in that they would not have liked one of the substitutes. I do feel strongly that this hamper was so completely different, that we should have been informed, and given the opportunity to change or cancel our order.
The first big change was the tray being replaced with a wicker basket. Whilst I can use a tray (for transporting Afternoon Teas!), I have no day to day use for a large wicker basket, so this was a disappointment.
We were serving our Afternoon Tea in the garden, as it was a beautiful day.
We set up two small tables beside a wooden bench.
We chose plates with a brightly coloured edge, with a matching teapot and a white milk jug along with china mugs with pictures of Paris.
The tea was made with the Taylors teabags. It was of good strength and flavour.
We served the sandwiches and cakes on a two-tier cake stand with pretty flower-patterned plates.
The scones were served on a separate cake stand decorated with strawberries.
The sandwiches were not included in the delivered Tea for obvious reasons, so I made my own. This time we chose to have chicken and bacon sandwiches made with a sandwich filler from Tesco. The bread was a delicious small wholemeal loaf from a local bread shop.
We had warmed up the scones in the oven. They were very large and roughly square shaped. They were a little crumbly, but were lovely and light. They still tasted fresh. The scones were packed in twos, which meant we didn’t need to eat the whole lot in one go. In fact, they were so big, we ended up only eating one each, saving the second for another day.
The jam provided was a different make to that mentioned on the website. However, it was tasty and had a few pieces of strawberry in it. There was not really enough for the large scones that we received.
Luckily, there was enough of the clotted cream for the scones. However, it was rather stiff, making it very hard to spread on the delicate scones.
The substituted shortbread biscuits were crisp and tasty.
However, there were five of them! They were not large. And were not double chocolate……..!
The Dundee cake we had looked forwards to had been substituted with a cherry and almond cake. I do love cherries, so this was not much of a problem for me, though my companion was disappointed.
In fact, the cake turned out to be a fruit cake that was topped with cherries and almonds, so it was not too different from a Dundee cake. Whilst the portion was not large, there was enough to keep a slice each for another day as well as eating some with our Tea. The cake was packed full of fruit and was moist.
As I mentioned above, I am scoring these postal Afternoon Teas in a slightly different way. I have based my presentation score on the way the package was presented and the state it was in when it arrived.
I have decided to give the sandwiches a full score of two. Not because they were perfect (!) but as I feel this is the best way to keep the score for the rest of the Tea in line with the scores for ‘normal’ Teas with everything included.
Finally, I have based my service score on the service we received from the on-line company. On this case, the website was well presented and clear. However, there had been so much substitution, without warning, that we felt we had not received the product we had ordered. Even though, the Tea as received was, luckily, perfectly acceptable to us.
Update – It seems that, although I didn’t think I had a use for a wicker basket, someone else decided it was very useful indeed!!