St John's Wood mother sells afternoon tea to the Japanese

PUBLISHED: 00:02 03 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:02 07 September 2010

GIULIANA Orme is on a mission to give everyone the confidence to hold their own tea party. The mum-of-three has run home-baking and tea-making classes in her St John s Wood home for Japanese and American tourists for seven years. Now, she has set down in

GIULIANA Orme is on a mission to give everyone the confidence to hold their own tea party.

The mum-of-three has run home-baking and tea-making classes in her St John's Wood home for Japanese and American tourists for seven years.

Now, she has set down in a book her expertise in serving a quintessential British afternoon tea - in all its elegance and daintiness.

Afternoon Tea At Home (Canonbury Publishing, £14.99) reminds readers that it was a domestic tradition before being taken up by hotels and tea shops in the 1880s.

The opening pages run through the protocols of how and what to serve, debating the crucial issues of paper over linen napkins, sugar lumps or granules, and whether milk goes in before or after pouring the tea.

She then leads readers through a step-by-step guide on how to make afternoon tea, including scones, Victoria sandwich cake, shortbread, teabreads and dainty sandwiches.

"I have a love and respect for the traditional and a desire to preserve the British afternoon tea at home. We need to treasure this lovely, quirky institution," says Orme in her introduction.

Hailing from a large family, she always watched her mother baking and started to try it out for herself as soon as she was old enough.

"I find baking very satisfying and rewarding," she explains.

"It's a bit like gardening, you take the raw materials watch it grow in the oven and have a lovely end product."

In later life, she hit on the idea of offering tourists a class on how to make an English tea in an English home.

She first gives them a tour of her Victorian house in Acacia Place before taking them to the kitchen to make scones and shortbread.

The students then sit down to tea as Orme gives them a rundown on the history of the institution.

It was reputedly started by the Duchess of Bedford in the 1840s as a sociable stomach-filler between lunch at noon and formal dinner at 9pm.

"It's a fantastic way for them to learn about British culture and enjoy themselves," says Orme.

The book includes all the history of tea from plantation to pot as well as how to set a tea tray, a step-by-step guide to brewing up, and suggested topics of conversation such as travel, music, flowers and food.

She sings the praises of getting out your prettiest china and table linen to indulge your personal taste and gain satisfaction from laying on a lovely spread for friends.

"I'm keen to demystify the whole snobbery about etiquette and the anxiety about the difficulty of baking at home and to encourage people to adapt the tradition in ways that feel right for them.

"I want to reintroduce it to people's homes, to emphasise what a nice thing it is to do socially and to say, anybody can have a go."

Afternoon Tea At Home is available from Books For Cooks and Daunt Books or from Giuliana's website at www.afternoontealessons.com.


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