Hounslow Fun Palace 2016

There was much interest in the ‘living tea trolleys’  at the Fun palace event on Hounslow High Street.  Our vehicles were bedecked with teapots and teacups planted up with herbs and full of fruits. People made fresh teas, teabags to take home, tea paintings – and they also gave us lots of recipes to try out (see these at the end of the page). Everyone enjoyed being able to make concoctions – savouring the aromas and colours as part of the process. There was a choice of herbs and fruits – sage, fennel, hibiscus, nettle, ginger, dried apple and cranberries to name a few.  Everyone took time to consider and choose their ingredients, occasionally snipping or squeezing a leaf or fruit segment to add into their brew. The results were a collage of smells and visual delights as the materials were transformed into vivid colour and scents.   The street cleaner said his tea reminded him of his village back in Poland and there was much talk about plants, gardens and the things people liked to cook.

Just some of our eager tea-makers

What a beautiful arrangement of colour and form!


Some of the tea paintings made with participants’ concoctions; a very sensory record!


Purna’s Nepalese Tea – Cut fresh lemon grass into small pieces and pour over hot water: add salt to taste. Alternatively, use lemon leaves instead of lemon grass but you will still need to add salt!

Taj’s Indian Tea – Boil grated ginger in water, then add sugar if you want a sweeter drink. Then add crushed cardamon to this before then adding black tea( in teabags) to the infusion. Finally add milk- simmer this so that it infuses and continue to slow boil. Drink and enjoy! …..other variants we were given to this were to boil water with black tea and sugar and the following spices-cinnamon, fennel seeds, ginger, cloves and cardamon- and milk if you wish.

Naseema gave us lots of recipes. Her Kashmiri Salt Tea recipe uses Assam tea which you boil with a tiny amount of baking soda. She allows to boil for about half an hour until the water is reduced, then adds more water and boils it again until it reduces once more. She then shakes the mixture up and down and adds milk – which makes the tea go a wonderful baby pink colour. Then add salt to taste.

Naseema’s Kahwa Tea is made with green tea which she boils with green cardamon , cinnamon, and sugar. Sometimes she adds a pinch of saffron and crushed almonds and sugar. Yum!

We were told that Masala Tea is also delicious. Crush cinnamon, cloves, cardamon and black pepper- or use whole- and boil . Add tea, sugar, and milk. Some favourite combinations of flavours which were suggested to us by an Iraqi lady were: cinnamon and raspberry, mint and nettle, and ginger with lemon and honey- great for zapping colds. She told us that eating raw fennel after eating would keep us in amazing good health! As tea ladies we are going to try lots of post-meal fennel tea!

We heard that Somali Tea is often drunk strong and black, with up to ten spoons of sugar! Whereas Kenyan Tea is very wholesome and favourites are mint or green tea with honey.

Sudanese Tea uses roselle, a type of hibiscus, with sugar. It’s great for high blood pressure!

Mauritian Tea sounds amazing! We were told that you keep a vanilla pod in loose tea for a few days to allow it to infuse, which gives it a lovely vanilla flavour – you don’t need sugar. Or try keeping a vanilla pod in sugar and allowing that to infuse if you want to to a sweeter vanilla flavour to your beveridge.

Book the Tea Trolley Laboratory!

What is The Tea Trolley Laboratory?


It’s a mobile creative laboratory contained within a tea trolley run by artists and tea ladies

Amanda Thesiger and Sara Wicks



Delivering creative workshops, the Tea Trolley Laboratory uses tea as a trigger for experimentation; boosting relationships with and between participants; encouraging socialisation and learning; bringing self esteem, fun and a surprising diversion to routine for all ages. Activities include storytelling, tea-making with herbs, map-making, printing, drawing, painting, tea-party games etc – we can also adapt the activities in response to participants’ personal histories, experience and ability. Family groups get involved with our teatime activities; making prints from tea-bags, telling stories with tea-leaves and, of course, eating cakes!

We work with groups of all ages and settings, so please get in touch if you would like to develop an idea or discuss a visit by the Tea Trolley Laboratory to your venue. Our rates start at £125 for a half day session, inclusive of materials, but we can tailor workshops to suit your requirements.


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We had a fascinating final session at The Firs, where we did some tea leaf reading. Amanda and Sara, the Tea Trolley ladies, are now quite expert at identifying the portents and omens present in these leaves, and with the help of magnifying glasses, residents at The Firs saw all sorts of symbols. These ranged from letters, to men, to dolphins, to guns, to cats, rabbits, and galloping horses.

June had a fortune which suggested lots of luck and prosperity, so we all tried to persuade her to tell us her lottery numbers! Carol’s leaves revealed an imminent journey, which was spot on as she was about to holiday in Iceland! Library - 3683

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Avril saw a watering can, a bird coming out of a shell, and a little animal, possibly a hedgehog.Irene saw an amazing array of images in her tea leaves: a ramp/building, a tap/mangle, a bird(pigeon?), a dog and a tree.


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The intrepid Tea Ladies at the Tea Trolley Laboratory made their longest journey to date- and had an exciting and action packed day at Watermans Arts Centre Fun Palace. We made prints on tea bags, did tea leaf reading, and made paintings with tea, all washed down with tea and the most amazing cakes provided by the cafe. Tired but elated we returned home having worked with lots of enthusiastic visitors of all ages, supported by the lovely staff at Watermans. A big thank you to all for a great day out! We look forward to more travels with our trollies soon!

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Last week we visited the Firs at Pine Lodge, taking jars of different teas, painting equipment and our ‘smell that teabag’ party game

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Marie sniffs a teabag!

Avril and her tea painting

Avril and her tea painting

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Marie’s nail varnish matches the fruit tea!

We played games and tried painting with tea. We discovered that June has an excellent nose-she wasable to correctly guess ALL the tea bags in our tea “pass the parcel”!

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Avril won the biscuits at the end though!

June and Daniel, Avril and Marie all made lovely paintings using pipettes and brushes.

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by Daniel

We had a lovely afternoon and look forward to some printing with the Firs this week…. here are some more of the tea paintings….

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Left picture by Daniel and on the right by Avril


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Paintings by Marie at the top and middle left: and on the middle right and by below by June

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Paintings by Avril


We saw an amazing array of images in our tea leaves today..with lots of interesting predictions for the week ahead.

Armed with magnifying glasses and paper, residents scrutinised the dregs of their tea cups and saw the following shapes from which we made readings…

Sybil saw a star on the rim of her cup, someone fishing, a dog across the middle of the cup, and an elegant lady’s shoe plus a bee and a bird at the bottom. She also saw a shape which reminded her of her mother cleaning the chimney.

Sybil and Sara discover the meaning of the leaves!

Sybil and Sara discover the meaning of the leaves!

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John saw a W shape and a tiny dinosaur,whilst Gwen saw a crescent, a triangle shape at the lip of her cup, a log shape and a setting sun! Barry saw a fish, a wave breaking, a Y shape, a lean dog, a tiny crescent and a C shape! And Mary saw an insect, possibly a bee, a tiny flag, a tiny butterfly, a duck at the bottom of her cup, and an owl sitting on a cat.

Finally, Eleanor saw a beard, an insect, a butterfly on the bottom of her cup, and a tiny heart.

Lots of very different and imaginative interpretations of the leaves: which fortunes will come true?

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Amanda and Sara were delighted to visit Pine Lodge for the first time today with the Tea Trolley Laboratory.

We played games with residents and heard lots of interesting stories. Audrey’s husband had worked for Twinings, and it soon became evident that he had shared all his knowledge of teas with her, as she was expert at identifying the unusual blends in our tea bomb.

Morgan also had lots of stories to tell but although he had travelled the world and visited lots of different countries, he didn’t sample much tea overseas as he preferred beer!

We also had a lovely chat with Betty about being a dancing champion and enjoying a long and happy marriage.

We’re looking forward to visiting again and making tea paintings with our specially brewed colours!


Daisy sprinkles tealeaves

Daisy sprinkles tea over the ink

Mary's print is revealed!

Mary’s print is revealed!


Pat's print, Sara with Sophie

The Tea Trolley Laboratory visited Mill House for a third time today, to make monoprints …and enjoy delicious tea and cakes! teatrolley4.9

The Tea Trolley Laboratory made some really experimental work during its 3rd visit to Mill House, which is at the heart of what it is all about – to see what you can do with tea! The care home lounge became a print workshop for a short while as residents used their side tables to work on inked-up perspex sheets, adding loose tea and teabags.  They sprinkled tea over the coloured surfaces to make patterns and textures – or fill in details where needed. Teabags became stencils, torn into shapes and arranged. Once the print was ready, paper was laid over the top and then it took lots of smoothing and rubbing with hands, rolling over with rolling pins and print rollers before the magical moment when the paper could be lifted off to reveal the print.

These are some of the lovely prints produced…


Mary made the beautiful prints above of a house with a kennel at the side for a dog: she told us how much she enjoyed walking her dog.


Ronnie also did a drawing of a house to make the vibrant images below.
Pat made the exuberant print below….
…and Daisy made this delicate print, which looks like a cloudy summers day.
Barry’s prints with tea bags look like strange faces…
For our last session at Mill House we’ll be doing tea leaf readings-so we expect to see more strange imagery, with prophetic possibilities!