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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 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: Elaichi Chai in Pakistan

This month’s ‘Around the World in Tea’ is another homage to my roots and an ode to a tea that I have been drinking since I was very young. I have wonderful early memories of starting my day with my mother making a pot of elaichi chai (cardamom tea) for the family to drink over breakfast, it was the perfect start to the day, and I continue this custom today, with my first cup of tea, also my favourite, enabling me to prepare myself for the day and whatever lies ahead.

Sadia's Elaichi Chai 1

Elaichi Chai is drunk throughout Pakistan; tea drinking in Pakistan has become an important part of everyday life and has become embedded in the culture and social life there. The times that I have visited my parents’ home town in Pakistan, tea has played a pivotal role and epitomises the hospitality that guests receive, when visiting guests expect a cup of tea as a minimum. If you’re lucky enough to visit a Pakistani bazaar (market) you’ll notice that the shopkeepers drink tea on tap, quite literally!

Elachi Chai in Pakistan

A view of a tea shop in Karachi. Photo: Jalal Qureshi/ Express

Black tea in Pakistan was initially introduced during the colonial British era in South Asia. Cities like Lahore had a very vivid tea culture, the beverage quite quickly absorbed into local culture and the home. Today tea is consumed throughout the day, at breakfast, during lunch breaks, in the afternoon after lunch, and in the evening at home.

Pakistan tea culture is rich and diverse with various regions of the country having their own assortment of flavours and varieties. In Karachi, Elaichi Chai is popular, whilst Doodh Pati Chai (a very thick and milky version) is preferred in the Punjab. Varieties of sweet biscuits accompany and are enjoyed with tea. In northern Pakistan, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region they enjoy a green tea called ‘kahwah’. And finally in Kashmir, a ‘pink’ Kashmiri chai is enjoyed that is a wonderful concoction of pink, milky tea with pistachio and cardamoms. I’d love to share the recipes for these teas with you all over time on this blog.

Sadia’s Elaichi Chai

Serves 4


3 cups of water
1 cup of milk
10-12 green cardamom pods
4 tsp sugar
4 heaped tsp of your favourite loose leaf tea


Step 1. Bring water to boil in a stainless steel or non-stick pot.

Sadia's Elaichi Chai 2

Step 2. Split the cardamom pods and add to the boiling water.

Sadia's Elaichi Chai 3

Step 3. Add the tea leaves and sugar and simmer for a minute.

Sadia's Elaichi Chai 4

Step 4. Add milk and boil till the tea is a creamy caramel colour.

Sadia's Elaichi Chai 5

Step 5. Remove from the flame and pour into teacups, ensure you use a tea strainer to catch the tea leaves and cardamom.

Sadia's Elaichi Chai 6

Voila and serve with biscuits, I love a particular variety of almond and pistachio biscuits that you can purchase from most good South Asian shops in London.

Sadia's Elaichi Chai 7

‘Around the World in Tea’ Blog

This month we launch our monthly blog post ‘Around the World in Tea’, on the 5th of each month we’ll be talking about a tea from a different region of the world. Sharing our love for tea customs and cultures, we’ll explore the tea, its origins and history, share some stories and recipes and open the floor to you, our readers…Do you have any experience of the tea were sharing? Any stories, memories, anecdotes? Any recipes?  We look forward to launching the monthly blog posts this week and look forward to hearing from you! Have tea-riffic days all…

Around the World in Teas

Barkingside Takeover: Sadia’s Mad Hatter Tea Parties

On Saturday 15th June, we took over Barkingside High Street to host 2 very special Mad Hatter’s tea parties. To promote the forthcoming Fairlop Fair, we created a bit of buzz and some interesting presence as our tea party took place amongst the usual hustle and bustle of a high street full of shoppers and locals going about their daily business. We were lucky with some sunshine in the morning for our tea party with families from the local area! Here are some snaps:

Tea party guests were lucky enough to play our bespoke parlour games including ‘The Barkingside Question Round’ and others exploring and responding to their local area. By the afternoon, the skies had unfortunately opened and it rained and rained and rained. We had to retreat into Rowan’s Cafe and set up our second tea party in there. Nevertheless folks had  a great time exploring Barkingside and what it means to them.

We will be hosting two bespoke tea parties at the Fairlop Fair on Saturday 6th July at Fairlop Waters, book your free tickets here:

Tea parties commissioned by Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure.

Photo credits: Mikey Knott


Sadia_Tea @ Museum of Childhood

Hello all and welcome to Sadia’s Tea Party, on this blog page we’ll keep you up to date with all things tea.

Sadia’s tea parties offer a unique and vibrant experience, hosted by artist and tea hostess Sadia Ur-Rehman, using the idea of traditional afternoon tea, stirring it up a little with the addition of specially designed themed parlour games and an international theme that’ll allow you to travel the globe whilst you sup on your tea in fancy china.

The tea parties were born in late 2010. From January to March 2011, Sadia hosted six tea parties at Valentines Mansion as part of the project ‘A Local Dialogue’.  Using tea as a connector, ‘A Local Dialogue’ is an experimental approach to working with words and language for a project that inspires residents of a particular local area. As an avid tea lover Sadia decided to host the tea parties for local residents, creating a communal space for local people to meet and discuss the local area.

‘’The idea for the tea parties came about from my own love of the beverage and how a good cuppa can be the setting for a really good conversation. I wanted to create a space where strangers could connect and engage over a conversation and I thought about an activity that all communities and cultures shared, and tea drinking seemed apt.”

Each tea party served a different type of tea from a different part of the world, guests were able to experience how tea is drunk in South Asia, North Africa, Persia, China and of course England. An authentic experience was provided with each tea party, Sadia also set a topic of conversation about the local area and history designing fun and interactive parlour games for guests to play.

Since then Sadia has taken her tea parties to a number of locations including the National Maritime Museum and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Sadia even met the Queen in a special performative tea party as part of the London Pride Festival. In 2013 Sadia plans to take her tea parties far and wide, keep up to date with all delving’s and developments on this blog!