Tea and Memories at the Cutty Sark

Tea & Memories at Cutty SarkNext week marks the arrival of the Cutty Sark in Greenwich and to honour this momentous occasion we are hosting an extra special tea party at the Cutty Sark on 10th December 2014 to mark the ship’s arrival in Greenwich exactly 60 years ago on that day in 1954.

The Cutty Sark has had an interesting and varied history, as the ‘fastest and greatest tea clipper of her day’; she was built specifically to serve the China Tea Trade and loaded her cargo at Shanghai and Hankou. She made a total of eight voyages from China to London with tea during 1870-1877, usually loading over 600,000 kg (1.3 million lbs) of tea on each of her tea voyages back from China, now that’s enough tea to make over 200,000,000 cups! Thereafter she served the Australian wool trade for 12 years, in 1895 she was sold to a Portuguese shipping company, she came back to England in 1922 and became the first vessel since the Golden Hinde to be displayed as a museum ship, moored in Falmouth, Cornwall.  Finally, she was brought to Greenwich by the Cutty Sark Preservation Society as ‘an icon of the bygone era of sail and a memorial to the Merchant Navy in 1954’.That’s quite a journey she has undertaken!

The Cutty Sark arriving in Greenwich in 1954

The Cutty Sark arriving in Greenwich in 1954


The Cutty Sark are inviting you to share your memories of the ship via afternoon tea, bespoke parlour games and lively conversation as we explore what Cutty Sark means to Greenwich and why this ship is worth preserving.  We will be capturing memories of the ship’s presence in Greenwich over the last 60 years. The event is free, but booking is required and conversations will be recorded, to find out more visit the events page.

If you can’t make the event but still have memories to share, you can join in on the Cutty Sark Facebook page or on Twitter @CuttySark using the hashtag #CuttySark60.

Our War Tea Parties at Valentines Mansion

Our War Tea Parties

In September to mark the centenary of the First World War we are working with Eastside Community Heritage to bring to you a series of free pop-up tea parties themed to the ‘Great War’ at Valentines Mansion.  The ‘Our War Tea Parties’ will explore tea drinking habits which fortified troops during the War. Guests will be encouraged to share family stories they may have about the war and can bring any mementoes, although this is not essential. Here are details:

English Tea Party

Sunday 14th September

11am and 2pm (each sitting lasts around 90 minutes)

Indian Tea Party

Sunday 28th September

11am and 2pm (each sitting lasts around 90 minutes)

Booking is essential, places very limited. Contact 0208 5533116 or email office@ech.org.uk for bookings.

‘Eco’ Tea Party in East London

On Friday 15th August 2014 we hosted an ‘Eco’ inspired tea party as part of the project ‘From the Roots’ with Squared Root, an organisation that helps communities to build a more sustainable future. The project worked with 15 teenage girls from East London exploring issues around sustainability in a fun and creative programme of activities including a bespoke tea party with eco-inspired parlour games.

Using our bespoke parlour games, the participants were able to explore sustainability, looking at and investigating climate change, recycling and how to make small behavioural changes to benefit the environment we live in. At the end of the tea party each individual made a pledge that they would commit to, to add to our ‘Teapot of Pledges’. We had some simple pledges like;

‘Walking or cycling to school’ 

‘Turning lights off if leaving a room for a few minutes’

‘Turning the tap off whilst brushing teeth, instead of leaving it running’

‘Recycling glass, cans and paper’

All of these can contribute to the sustainability of our environment, and we were really impressed with the girls’ ideas.

The girls even got to try a spot of herbal tea making, sampling and mixing up a concoction of herbs to create their very own herbal teas during the tea party, chocolate mint seemed to go down a treat!  We had a fabulous time designing and hosting this eco-friendly experience and hope to do it again soon!

Here are some photos from the day:

(c) Sadia’s Tea Party


Victorian Tea Party at the Charles Dickens Museum

Sadia's Tea Party at the Charles Dickens Museum

Last month, we had a wonderful time hosting a glorious Victorian inspired tea party at the Charles Dickens Museum. Taking inspiration from Charles Dickens and his love of tea we designed a bespoke high tea with Dickensian parlour games and a menu inspired by his wife Catherine Dickens’s cookbook What Shall We Have for Dinner?

Our tea hosts wore traditional Victorian attire whilst serving our special menu and playing our parlour games with guests. Particular games that featured were ‘Mrs Dickens Story Maker’ and a ‘Dickens and Tea Question Round’ alongside our classic Coin Icebreaker. A tea-riffic time was had by all!

Here’s a small selection of photos from the day:

(c) Photos courtesy of Charles Dickens Museum London

And here’s some great feedback we got from the museum:

“Many thanks to Sadia and her wonderful team of tea ladies for delivering a fantastic evening at the Charles Dickens Museum. Our Victorian Tea Party guests were thrilled with the nibbles and bespoke parlour games. Sadia’s attention to detail and careful planning really paid off – our walled garden has never looked so beautiful!”

We’ll end this post with a lovely and quite famous Dickens tea quote:

“My dear if you could give me a cup of tea to clear my muddle of a head I should better understand your affairs.”

Charles Dickens, Mrs Lirriper’s Legacy

Tea Party on the Marks Gate estate

Last month, as part of the project ‘A Local Dialogue’ in which our artist and tea hostess Sadia Ur-Rehman has been commissioned to work with local residents on the Marks Gate estate in Barking & Dagenham, we were busy delivering a series of pop-up events and activities to engage people on the estate. We’ve been using our tea parties as a way to do this, providing a safe, creative space for people to meet, share and explore their local area. On the 27th May we had a wonderful time hosting a ‘Marks Gate’ inspired tea party at the Marks Gate Community Centre. The tea party was an opportunity for us to meet local people and hear their stories and experiences of the place that Marks Gate is today.

Alongside the tea party we had also organised a series of activities including our ‘Art is…..’ display, asking people to add their thoughts to what art was to them, it was interesting and insightful reading the responses to this extremely  important question! One guest wrote ‘Art is the Best’, well were definitely inclined to agree with this! We also captured people’s memories of the estate using a specially designed ‘Marks Gate Memories’ board, asking people to fill a memory tag with their memory and pin it to the Marks Gate Map. Last but not least, Sadia brought along the ‘Marks Gate Bunting’, a community bunting project in which people have the opportunity to design and make their own flag to add to the growing bunting. All of this whilst having tea and cake!

It was a lovely afternoon with some lovely conversations whilst creative juices were flowing. We were absolutely chuffed when local resident Pat Cambridge came in and donated 4 trios of tea cups, saucers and side plates. The trios originally belonged to her grandmother and are absolutely beautiful. Pat filled out a memory tag with us and we found out that she has lived on the estate for 58 years, that’s even before it was officially the Marks Gate estate in 1960! Here’s some photos from the day:

Photo credits: Connie Taylor Photography

Sadia’s Tea Party at the Museum of London

We’ve had a busy time at Sadia’s Tea Party of recent times, but we wanted to update you all on a very special tea party that we hosted at the Museum of London. On 29th April we delivered a bespoke tea party for the museum’s ‘Continue Creating’ programme. Continue Creating was a bi-monthly creative workshop programme run between the Museum of London and the Museum of London Docklands, for vulnerable adults. The programme culminated in our celebration tea party!

As part of the Celebration tea party, participants took part in our themed games, exploring tea in London, playing Sadia’s Tea Quiz and finally creating their own filled tea bags using loose leaf tea and a variety of spices in our ‘DIY Tea Bag’ workshop.

Here’s a small selection of photos from the day:

And here’s some lovely feedback we got from the museum:

‘Sadia delivered a bespoke tea party as part of the Museum of London’s Continue Creating programme, which caters to the museum’s vulnerable adults audiences. Sadia took care to understand the needs of this vulnerable group, supporting their engagement with her fantastic tea party format. The group had a wonderful time, and loved working with Sadia’.

We had a splendid time and particularly loved delivering our ‘DIY Tea Bag’ workshop, our guests created some interesting concoctions using cinnamon, ginger, cardamon pods, cloves, dried fruits and loose tea leaves! Lovely!

Around the World in Tea: Iraq

This month’s ‘Around the World in Tea’ takes us to Iraq. Iraqi-style tea; chai is found on the streets of Baghdad, in Iraqi restaurants, cafes and households worldwide.

Iraqi tea house

Iraqi tea is not far from Turkish or Persian tea in preparation, this ultimately derives from the Russian empire with the use of the samovar. Tea is mostly drunk black in Iraq and drunk throughout the day, wherever you go you will find tea stalls and vendors serving up Iraqi-style tea.

Our feature this month coincides with an insightful exhibition entitled ‘Welcome to Iraq’ at the South London Gallery in Peckham. It is a restaging of a group exhibition that was originally shown as part of the Venice Biennale in 2013. It was a lucky coincidence for us! The exhibition features works by eleven contemporary Iraqi artists all exploring the everyday nature of life in Iraq. As a visitor you are invited to relax and reflect on the works shown in the comfort of recreated spaces, it is much like stepping into a traditional Iraqi home. Sofas are strewn with traditional Iraqi throws and coffee tables are laden with books about Iraq, there is even a salon-like space set up with Iraqi tea and kletcha biscuits that you can enjoy. The added details give a lovely sense of welcome, as is in the title of the exhibition and speaks of the hospitality that one receives entering an Iraqi family’s home.

'Welcome to Iraq' at South London Gallery 1 'Welcome to Iraq' at South London Gallery 2

'Welcome to Iraq' at South London Gallery 3

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and recommend that you see the exhibition and taste the tea whilst it’s still open, a lovely introduction to a taste and a feel of Iraq in Peckham, London.

Here’s the recipe for Iraqi tea:

Iraqi Tea

Iraqi Tea


  • Samovar with teapot
  • Loose black tea
  • Water
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Tea glass and saucer.


1. Boil the water in the samovar.
2. Fill the teapot with some of the boiled water and add one or more teaspoons
of tea.
3. Return the teapot to the samovar and leave it brewing for 10–15 minutes.
It is most important that the tea doesn’t boil.
4. Pour tea into the glass and mix with hot water from the samovar according
to your taste. It can be very light, medium or dark. Add sugar. Enjoy.

Enjoy! And do come back next month when we feature another tea from a different part of the world.

A Victorian Affair: Tea Party at the Charles Dickens Museum

Sadia's Tea Party at the Charles Dickens Museum

On Saturday 14th June we’re looking forward to hosting a bespoke Victorian Tea Party at the Charles Dickens Museum. Here’s some more info:

‘Join us in the beautiful walled garden of the Charles Dickens Museum for a truly Dickensian Victorian tea experience!

Journey back in time for a delectable Victorian high tea at the Dickens’s ‘House in Town’, with delicious treats inspired by Catherine Dickens’s cookbook What Shall We Have for Dinner?

As you sip your freshly brewed English tea, you will enter the world of Dickens, his young wife, and his memorable characters. Take part in bespoke Dickensian parlour games and gain an insight into the history behind the terrifically English tradition of afternoon tea.

Following their tea party in the garden, guests are invited to collect a glass of champagne and sneak into the family townhouse at 48 Doughty Street for an out-of-hours private view of the beautifully designed interiors – upstairs, downstairs and everywhere in between!’

There are two sittings at 17:00 and 18:45, to book your tickets click here.


Around the World in Tea: India

This month’s ‘Around the World in Tea’ we find ourselves in India exploring the history and connection to tea. India is now second to China in tea production.Tea plantation in Assam, India

Tea was first introduced to India by the British in an attempt to break the Chinese monopoly on tea.  In the 1830s, the British East India Company were increasingly becoming concerned with the Chinese monopoly on tea, this constituted most of its trade and sustained the vast consumption of tea in Great Britain. The British, using Chinese seeds, planting and cultivating techniques set up a tea industry by offering land in Assam to any European who agreed to cultivate tea for export. In 1870, over 90% of the tea consumed in Great Britain was still of Chinese origin, but by 1900 this had dropped to 10%, largely replaced by tea grown in India (50%) and Ceylon (33%).

Consumption of tea within India remained pretty low until an aggressive promotional campaign by the (British owned) Indian Tea Association in the early 20th century, this encouraged factories, mines, and textile mills to provide tea breaks for their employees. It also supported many independent chai wallahs throughout the growing railway system.

Tea was officially promoted the ‘English way’ with small amounts of milk and sugar added. The Indian Tea Association were very disapproving initially of independent vendors’ tendency to add spices and increase the proportions of milk and sugar, reducing their usage of (and purchase) of tea leaves. However masala chai as its known today has firmly established itself as a popular beverage, not just outlasting the British Raj but spreading beyond South Asia to the rest of the world.

Today ‘India is run on chai’, as many people tell me! It is drunk copiously throughout the day. Milky, sweet and spicy it seems to be the perfect antidote to the Indian heat. Famous for its ‘Chai Wallahs’, wherever you go in India, you’ll find a chai wallah on a street corner brewing up some chai. They are everywhere, from train platforms to busy street corners, to pilgrimage sites, food bazaars, and outside offices.

Chai wallah in India

Masala Chai in India

One of the international tea parties that we offer is the South Asian Tea Party in which you’ll get to experience tea drunk the Indian way. We serve up a special brew of masala chai that we’ve honed over time. Here’s the recipe for you to all enjoy:

Sadia’s Masala Chai

MasalachaiServes 2 people


1 and a half cups of water

2 heaped teaspoons of Assam tea leaves

1/4 teaspoon of Masala Chai

Sugar to taste

1 cup of milk

3 crushed cardamon pods


  1. Boil 1 and a half cups of water, adding 2 heaped teaspoons of Assam tea leaves whilst the water is boiling.
  2. Then add 1/4 teaspoon of Masala Chai (this can be brought from any good Indian/South Asian shop).
  3. Bring water to the boil and then add 1 cup of milk and the cardamon pods and sugar to taste.
  4. Let the chai simmer for a few minutes (to let the milk heat up) and then using a strainer pour your tea out and serve.

Voila there you have it folks, Masala Chai. Enjoy. And do come back next month when we feature another tea from a different part of the world.


Around the World in Tea: Iran

This month’s ‘Around the World in Tea’, we journey to Iran in time for celebrations for Nowruz; the Persian New Year, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar.

Chaikhaneh in Iran

In Persian culture tea is so widely consumed that it is generally the first thing offered to a guest. Tea is the drink of choice in Iran; it is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner and throughout the day. Tea found its way to Iran from India in the 18th century and soon became its national drink. Seeds from India were planted and cultivated in northern Iran, today millions of people work in the tea industry. Iran has one of the highest per capita rates of tea consumption in the world; historically every street had a Chaikhaneh (Tea House). Chaikhanehs still play an important role in Iranian society today.

Iranian tea comes in an assortment of subtle flavours, it is defined by its deep reddish brown colour, and tea consumers can choose to dilute this with water depending on their preference of strength. Tea is served strong in Chaikhanehs, the stronger the cup of tea, the higher content of tannin and caffeine, so a good cup of Persian tea is much like a strong cup of coffee! Most Iranians prefer to have sugar with their tea due to its strength, the traditional way to do this is to place a sugar cube between your teeth, sipping the tea, and the sugar should melt. Particularly in the colder parts of Iran, Iranians tend to find this a more convenient way to drink multiple cups.

The taking of tea is a ritual, most meetings and formal occasions will commence with the offering of tea, and most meals will finish with it. Traditionally, tea is served from a samovar, this is a heating vessel originally imported from Russia. Samovar quite literally means ‘self-boiler’.

Sadia's Persian Tea

Here’s a recipe for you all to experience tea the Persian way:

Sadia’s Persian Tea


Loose leaf black tea

Handful of rose petals

Sugar cubes to taste



Electrical Samovar



  1. Fill the samovar with fresh cold water and bring to a boil. Warm up your teapot by rinsing it with some of the boiled hot water.
  2. Place 2 tablespoons of loose leaf tea in your teapot with a handful of the rose petals.
  3. Pour water into the pot over the tea and rose petals, fill it nearly to the rim and put the lid back on.
  4. Place the pot on the samovar; allow it to brew for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Rinse your glass teacups with hot water, warming the cups.
  6. Fill ¾ of each teacup with the tea, if you prefer your tea dark and strong, increase this amount.
  7. Adjust the strength of the tea in the teacups by adding some of the boiled water from the samovar.
  8. To add some extra flavour you can add the following ingredients to the teapot: 2-3 cardomom pods opened and/or 2 small sticks of cinnamon.

And all of this just in time for Nowruz and the special Persian inspired tea party that were hosting later this month….